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Van Gogh in the shopping mall

16 September 2018

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Time was when it took a pilgrimage to a great museum to see the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh; now, it seems, you needn’t travel further than your local shopping mall. Yes, you read that right. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has packed a selection of highly detailed replicas of the artist’s masterpieces off to America – for a tour of some of the country’s ‘premium malls’.

Odd though it seems, there is a logic to placing Van Gogh’s works in a context traditionally associated with Hallmark Cards outlets and zombie invasions. The museum will be able to reach a wider audience than it otherwise might. And perhaps a few shoppers will head to the mall for a new pair of sneakers but come home to book flights to Amsterdam.

Van Gogh isn’t the only artist who’s taken a trip to the mall of late. Last year, the Scottish artist Rachel Maclean spent an entire month living in Birmingham’s gargantuan Bull Ring shopping centre, creating a body of work for a Channel 4 documentary.

Alas, it seems the experience was not altogether to her liking. Speaking to the Guardian recently, she described the period as ‘the residency from hell’, reserving particular vitriol for the Bull Ring’s dining options. ‘I had Cafe Nero, Pret a Manger, and Leon. I had dinner every night at Leon and even the food can be saturated by that strange environment.’

In other news…

A work of public art in Toledo, Ohio, has become a runaway success – of sorts. The piece in question, a giant, red rubber ball created by artist Kurt Perschke, had been placed on a major public thoroughfare in the city centre as part of an exhibition entitled ‘Play Time’. Unfortunately, it seems nobody checked the weather forecast ahead of installation. When a storm hit the city in August, the ball broke its mornings – rolling merrily through Toledo’s streets and creating a scene reminiscent of the 1950s B-Movie The Blob. ‘It can really move in high winds,’ Perschke said.


In the latest of his unlikely ventures into the art world, Kanye West has announced that he is to teach a course at the Art Institute of Chicago and the American Academy of Art. One snag: the school says he isn’t…

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