Keith Arnatt ate the last cracker

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Bring me home, please

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Untitled from the series Notes from Jo, 1990 - 1994 Copyright Keith Arnatt

On Tuesday and Wednesday i took the train to Cardiff to visit art galleries and museums. A couple of spaces i'd been recommended were in-between shows and closed but i did strike gold with the National Museum (aka Amgueddfa Cymru) which has recently opened six new contemporary art galleries. I hope to tell you more about them soonish but since you're not allowed to take picture there i have to rely on the goodwill of the press people of the museum to send me some images of the works and views of the space.

Fortunately uncle google provided me with plenty of pictures and information about an artist whose work i discovered at the museum. Keith Arnatt was English but moved to Wales in 1969 and shame on wikipedia for not doing justice to his life and talent. Arnatt was photographing dog poo decades before Andres Serrano thought it would be worth a look, found photo material in trash, campy tourists and notes abandoned by his wife. Everything he shot is witty and never sarcastic (whereas Martin Parr's work is certainly witty but i wouldn't want to be the target of his camera.)

Have a look:

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Keith Arnatt, Untitled from the series The Visitors, 1974 - 1976

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Keith Arnatt, Walking the Dog, 1976-1979

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Keith Arnatt, Walking the Dog, 1976-1979

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Untitled from the series 'Pictures from a Rubbish Tip', 1988 - 1989

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Untitled from the series 'The Tears of Things (Objects from a Rubbish Tip)', 1990

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Untitled from the series 'The Tears of Things (Objects from a Rubbish Tip)', 1990

I particularly liked 'Self Burial', 9 photos picturing him slowly sinking into the earth. A very literal take on the buzz word of the late 1960s, the 'dematerialisation' of art brought by the conceptual movement. If the art disappeared, so should the artist.

For the television version of the piece, Self Burial (Television Interference Project), each of the images was transmitted without explanation for two seconds on successive nights on WDR Television, in Cologne, Germany . The mystery was cleared at the end of the week by an interview with the artist.

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Keith Arnatt Self Burial, 1969

The work by Arnatt i found most brilliant is not shown at the museum, it's a series of blown-up images of the notes left around the house by his wife shortly before she died.

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Untitled from the series Notes from Jo, 1990 - 1994 Copyright Keith Arnatt

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Untitled from the series Notes from Jo, 1990 - 1994 Copyright Keith Arnatt

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Untitled from the series Notes from Jo, 1990 - 1994 Copyright Keith Arnatt

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Untitled from the series Notes from Jo, 1990 - 1994 Copyright Keith Arnatt

Of you're in Cardiff, check out Keith Arnatt and Richard Long: Ideas into Art at the National Gallery. Entrance is free. In the meantime, if you're curious about Wales, then visit Wales on fb.

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