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Tag Archives: David Bromley

Coz you’re a bore

When I saw the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao in 2000 I should have been paying more attention to “The Art of the Motorcycle”. The exhibition in the main hall was an exhibition of motorcycles, not modified or customised, just a showroom display. I thought that I was seeing the triumph of corporate design culture over art. Rather this is not about a capitulation of institutional gallery’s reputation that exposes their lack of any educational, aesthetic and moral integrity. The exhibition summed up the attitude of the institution; anything to get the corporate sponsorship, anything to get people through the door.

Different art galleries will tend to exhibit different types of art depending on their objective (see my post on types of art galleries). Some of the crypto-objective of the NGV are now more obvious from its choice of exhibitions — it is all about marketing.

The NGV exists as a high end venue, to sell fashion, market cars (it is the ultimate car showroom in Melbourne), and, most importantly, to be a tourist attraction for the city. The infotainment in a spectacular location to be rented out for corporate and wedding receptions. As such it is little different from the MCG or Flemington Race Course.

The visual arts, like music, is a vast field of styles, techniques and purposes in which there is everything from advertising jingles to some of best things made by humans. There are works that are very popular and make large amounts of money. There are works that can help sell products or make someone look majestic or simply display wealth. High end art can be a manufactured product, the twenty-first century equivalent to handmade lace, very expensive and serving no purpose other than decoration and status. And without political and critical thought the artist remains a decorator for plutocrats.

Granted that there are decorators for plutocrats but that doesn’t mean that they should be exhibited at the NGV or that I should bother to write about them. Selling a lot of product for a lot of money should not be the entry qualification.

I don’t write about art because it is popular or expensive but because there is something worth writing about. So I won’t be writing about any of David Bromley’s, Ken Done’s or KAWS exhibitions. There are a lot of artists whose exhibitions I won’t bother to even attend because the content, aesthetics, style and meaning of their art is so obvious that it bores me. I understand that it doesn’t bore everyone and that some people might want it. However, just because there are is a lot of fans or a lot of money doesn’t make the art any more interesting.

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David Bromley in magazines

David Bromley is a notable Australian pop artist, 3 times Archibald Prize finalist, whose paintings are in state and regional gallery collections. His paintings typically feature children by the seaside both from 1950s and ‘60s children’s book illustrations or bare breasted nymphets. His use of gold and silver leaf on the nudes adds more glamour. Bromley’s paintings are bland but attractive; easy looking pop art (or is that just interior design?). Pop art for Bromley is about designer nostalgia in a popular style.

There are other Melbourne-based pop artists, including Dennis Roper, Maria Kozic and many other lesser-known artists, but David Bromley works the publicity and marketing machine like Warhol. Smyth Gallery in Auckland notes, on their website, that “He has recently featured in articles in both Australian Vogue and Inside Out.” Australian Vogue and Inside Out do not have a reputation for art criticism or editorial independence; they are both fashion magazines. David Bromley has also featured in the free fashion magazine Attitude, according to my wife, Catherine who reads fashion and interior design magazines.

It was Catherine who pointed out that David Bromley is featured in an 11-page article in the March 2009 issue of Real Living. The article is part of the food section and has plenty of photographs of “David Bromley and his partner, designer Tori Dixon-Wittle” along with tuna carpaccio with black sesame seeds, fragrant her salad with fresh radish and chilli crab. David Bromley is photogenic, as is Tori. Along with the recipes, a short biography of David Bromley and promotion for his store, A Day on Earth. There is even a short entry on how to make “child-like artwork” like “Tori and David” in 8 steps.

There are a few other magazines that Bromley has appeared in that the galleries who represent him are not so keen to point out. In Feb 2006 there was an anonymous half page advert in Juxtapoz (v.13 n.2 p.103) featuring an obvious David Bromley-style image of children in a rowboat. The advert read: “Studio Assistant Wanted for Australian (Melbourne) based artists… I am looking for a very gifted and productive artist to help with every facet of daily studio grind. Someone whose talent outweighs their ego and is willing to contribute their skills & insight with respect & honesty.”


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