If you happen to be within striking distance of the centrally westerly bit of London, I can recommend a visit to this year’s summer pavilion at the Serpentine Gallery.
As you probably know, it’s designed by Frank Gehry. Rather shamefully, this brings the total number of Gehry buildings in Britain to two. The other is Maggie’s Centre in Dundee, which also features exuberant use of wood, and a scale that lifts the spirits without being imposing.
Inside the pavilion is plenty of staged seating, being used (I imagine) exactly as intended – for sitting, chatting, waiting for friends or just enjoying the space. When the sun shines, the roof panels (all different as far as I could tell) play interesting shadows on the floor.
And the evenings bring a series of talks, discussions, screenings and live performances.
Just to make this a public space that can hold its head up with the best in Europe, there’s also an excellent kiosk (run by Gail’s Bread) with some fabulous filled rolls and good coffee.
The Gallery – Richard Prince: Continuation
The show in the Serpentine Gallery next door is also worth a mention. Richard Prince is known for his reworkings of existing artefacts, often of classic Americana, from the illustrations adorning pulp novels – Dude Ranch Nurse, anyone? – to cowboy imagery and casts of car hoods.
Some are fairly straight translations, while his de Kooning series portrays more disturbing, distended figures, with porn-derived genitalia.
The standout for me in this eclectic selection was his monumental “joke” paintings. At a distance, they portray a gag pulled from a stand-up routine or magazine But the fine working that becomes visible at close inspection shows Prince to be not just a clever conceptual magpie, but a fine craftsman too.
Richard Prince: Continuation er, continues until 7 September.
And finally a word for the overall setting of the Serpentine Gallery and its pavilion – Kensington Gardens and next-door Hyde Park.
On a sunny day, there are fewer nicer places to be than an urban park, with its opportunities for people-watching:
stealing a little solitude:
or showing off: