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By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 22, 2006

Notes on contemporary fine arts, from the Wall Street Journal (June 20):

In this year's summer show at London's Royal Academy of Arts, "Exhibit 1201" is a large rectangular tablet of slate with a tiny barbell-shaped bit of boxwood on top. Its creator, David Hensel, must be pleased to have been selected from among some 9,000 applicants for the world's largest open-submission exhibit of contemporary art. Nevertheless, he was bemused to discover that in transit his sculpture had gotten separated from its base. Judging the two components as different submissions, the Royal Academy had rejected his artwork proper -- a finely wrought laughing head in jesmonite -- and selected the plinth. "It says something about the state of visual arts today," said Mr. Hensel. He didn't say what. He didn't need to.

Moreover, the Royal Academy denies having made an error, for the plinth and hastily carved wooden support were, according to an official statement, "thought to have merit."

For those who despair that artists these days seem to have lost the skill of fashioning meticulously crafted objects, don't blame Mr. Hensel. While the slate base took only four hours to hack from a mortuary slab, and the little boxwood prop less than an hour, he had painstakingly carved and polished that laughing head for two months. ...

"The sculpture is a mixture of heavy stone with a light piece of wood on top," the Daily Telegraph quoted a Dane as explicating last week while admiring the plinth. "I like the total effect. It is a really nice contrast."

Doctor Moneo, call your office.

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  • Posted by: - Jun. 24, 2006 12:07 AM ET USA

    Are you suggesting, Uncle Di, that the new cathedral actually got lost in transit, and what they have have in Los Angeles is only the foundation? Weird looking foundation, but it makes me feel better, in a way. Have they tried submitting it to the Royal Academy of Arts?

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