Galleries - October 2010

through Africa for some years, the depth of her feeling for the fragile beauty of its animal population evident everywhere in these alert and loving images. Meanwhile in Stockbridge, in a gallery special- ising in the art of the dog, one painter, Sam Sopwith and two sculptors, Georgie Welch and Kate Denton make it no less clear that the art of the animalier is still very much alive and well. A new acquisition by the Imperial War Museum , recently placed on long-term display within its main atrium in London, is hardly your typical war trophy – it’s a rusting, eviscerated family saloon car. Titled Baghdad, 5 March 2007 , the vehicle, presented by artist Jeremy Deller, was mangled in a suicide bombing attackthat killed 38 people and wounded many more in the Al-Mutanabbi bookmarket, a location at the heart of Baghdad's Although it tends to be thought of these days as a rather specifically European and 19/early 20th C. form, the art of the animalier – the sculptor of animal pieces – has never really gone away, only the name by which we call it chang- ing. The Egyptians were doing it for their tomb sculpture, for ex- ample, as were the Chinese, a thousand or more years B.C., and now a whole generation of gifted younger sculptors, aided by some remarkably advanced casting know-how, (and, in patronage terms, by the explosion of ever more adventurous travel pack- ages) are pushing the art on again. An excellent example of this is currently to be found at the Gallery in Cork Street where an- imal artist Hamish Mackie is holding what seems to be becom- ing a triennial event. Africa predo-minates though the Arctic also looms large and the English scene is never far away either, the enormous range of his enthusi- asms fuelled by an insatiable curiosity and anatomical under- standing – technical accomplish- ment too. It is a good month in general for lovers of animal art with a debut UK show of Caroline Gibello’s atmospheric photographic studies of African wildlife at the Menier Gallery (presented by Myerson Fine Art) and, closer to home, the workof 3 young and adept prac- titioners of contemporary dog portraiture and sculpture at the Stockbridge Gallery. Gibello has been a compulsive traveller intellectual life, for which no-one has ever claimed responsibility. At the beginning of the 20th Century, when the Imperial War Museum was founded, civilians accounted for 10% of all casual- ties in warfare; now that figure is 90%, so it is only right, but still brave, that the IWM has punc- tuated its crowd-pleasing atrium collection with a brutal reminder of what all those shiny planes and tanks are capable of doing and what war now means more than ever – violence against the inn- ocent. It might have been a very different project if Deller's proposal to place the car on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square had been selected instead of Antony Gormley's media-friendly One & Other , but Baghdad, 5 March 2007 seems especially poignant amo- ngst the institutionalised militaria of IWM, where museum visitors – families, veterans, history buffs and curious tourists – will be confronted by this contemporary ruin and experience a jolt of horror at how modern warfare has be- come even more pitiless. The 19th Century German military strategist Carl von Clausewitz famously wrote that “war is merely the cont- inuation of politics by other means.” Likewise, Deller has little interest in making his point aesth- etically; for him art is an anti-war protest continued by whatever ultimately serves this goal best. WILDART N icholas Usherwood JEREMYDELLER Pryle Behrman C aroline Gibello ‘Reveria’ photographic print on fine art paper at Myerson Fine Art. Jeremy Deller Project ‘Baghdad’ at the Imperial War Museum