Benefits of working in an art gallery: invitation to a National Gallery press and marketing breakfast for their blockbuster Rebels and Martyrs exhibition before work. Load up on coffee and dry danish before taking a quick whiz round the pictures. It’s all about artists in the romantic mode, from bohemians to dandies, lots of self-portraits: Courbet, Delacroix, Schiele, Van Gogh.
- What a self-important bunch they are with their big bushy beards and their dicks out, their tortured expressions and stubby fingers dipped in their own stigmata
- A quick poll reveals that between 1990 and 2000, reproductions of paintings by Egon Schiele were very popular indeed on student bedroom walls.
- After a fairly revolting room devoted to ‘the muse’, the best picture in the exhibition is of course by a woman, Paula Modersohn-Becker. Nude, pregnant, reflective, it’s inscribed “I painted this at the age of thirty on my sixth wedding day. PB”. She wasn’t pregnant, and had just left her husband to pursuse painting. More poignant than theory can express.