Tanagras Archive: The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie

Art Life , Exhibitions , New Work Jun 22, 2015 No Comments

From Stella Rosa McDonald

Madeline Preston’s Tanagras Archive is shaped by a healthy disillusionment with all things art. In the tripartite installation, Preston reproduces—in rough and ready clay—objects from the Louvre’s significant collection of Tanagra figurines. Produced in the rural Greek town of Tanagra in 300 BC, the mold cast figurines were coveted by the French middle class as purchasable taste. Preston’s series of paintings, from which the exhibition takes its name, are interior scenes in a faded palette and allude to bourgeois interiors where either meals or celebrations have taken place. The artist’s idiosyncratic text, The museum in the expanded field, is really the final component of the installation and is critical of history making, museological practices and the myths of artistic production.

Tanagras Archive

The installation—in which the imitation ceramic vases and trophies sit in front of Preston’s original paintings and drawings—borrows from the anachronistic convention of the museum display, where works are shown together despite being from distinct geographical and temporal locations. As imitations of imitations, the status of the Tanagra’s is historically unique. As Preston writes, they were “ancient and modern, serial and fake” and exist, now and then, as a metaphor for the appetites of the art market. Often incorporating real or invented collections, Preston’s work addresses the museum as a medium and regularly uses the index as an aesthetic convention to critique histories. Preston reminds us that there is a self-consciousness to history making, as if history were a diary whose pages were written with a reader in mind.

Until July 4th
Archive Space, Newtown
Pic: Madeleine Preston, Tanagras Archive: The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie, 2015. Oil on paper, plinth with printed linoleum, 600 x 800mm. Stoneware glaze fired ceramic vase, dimensions variable. Photo: Brett East

Stella Rosa McDonald

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