Published  14/12/2004

Flight from the Barricades Or \'where have all the intellectuals gone?\'

Faces in the Crowd: New stories of Modern Art

How did the video craze start? What were the precedents in the art of the 20th century? The newly opened show [Faces in the Crowd, 3 December 2004 - 6 March 2005] at the Whitechapel Gallery in London is designed to clear up some of these queries. This is an important survey, which sweeps across boundaries. It makes a radical stab at the already solidifying 'new' story of modern art that is laid on at the newly opened Museum of Modern Art, New York. Manet is positioned here as the starting point, with his 'Masked Ball at the Opera'.

In this version, Cézanne is no longer the trailblazer. Toulouse-Lautrec and George Grosz are then intermingled with Magritte, Beckmann and Munch. Amazingly, a Hopper from the 1920s is there too. But, slowly, film and photography are seen to predominate. The climax is achieved, predictably now, with the recently premiered work of Jeremy Deller. He has his genealogy now. The show is on until next March. It is a must, and may even change the course of art history, or at least some art history courses.

Photography deserves a special mention. Apart from Atget, Brassai and Cartier-Bresson there is Robert Capa, Helen Levitt, Walker Evans. This show is perhaps one of the great surprises of 2004. Some of the spirit of the great Centre Pompidou shows of the 1980s is alive here, intact in minuscule.

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