Monochrome at the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London

Monochrome was one of those exhibitions at the National Gallery that  I booked for more out of a sense of duty. How wrong I was!! it was fantastic. It was amazing that drawings and paintings looked so much more 3D in black and white than in colour.

‘La Grande Odalisque’ in black and white. The pillars are in the glaring yellow colour of the last room of the exhibition

Ingres’s  (1780-1867) La Grande Odalisque was so much more sensual and fleshy in monochrome than in colour. You have to go to the exhibition and see Ingres’s own black and white version to see just what I mean.

Ingres’s La Grande Odalisque in colour

The  paintings and drawings of stone sculptures were so life-like you could imagine that seen by candlelight without bright daylight or electricity viewers would believe they were real. Some incredible trompe l’oeil. A must see.

Image of a young girl painted to look like a photograph

 

Once photography became commonplace, some artists regarded it as an enemy. Others like the author of this delightful portrait of a young girl meant his work  to be like a photograph. Artists were told to Imitate,  Rival or Challenge.

My only caveat. The last room deigned by Olaf Eliasson  was lit entirely in very bright yellow – ostensibly to make it easier to see details. But I ended up with flickering lights behind my left eye for ages. I think there should have been a warning and the possibility of missing that room – though I couldn’t have known it would affect me so adversely.

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