Show Me the Monet
Hanging Committee: David Lee, Roy Bolton, Charlotte Mullins
Lucky Day Productions for BBC Two, 9 May 2011 to 27 July 2012 (25 episodes in 2 series)
This punning title was presaged by this very here site over ten years ago and, strike us down with a pallette knife, someone's now only gone and done it.
Artists from around the UK show off their work to three judges - called, ho ho, the Hanging Committee - for them to look at, ask questions about, and generally prod at. Artists who pass muster earn a spot at a special exhibition at the Royal College of Art, where the work is put on sale for the price set by the artist. Although the content is high culture, the format is all very X Factor - artists need two 'yes's out of three to go through to the exhibition, and that well-known figure of the art world BBC Breakfast's sports reporter Chris Hollins is a shoulder to cry on in case it all goes Titian-up.
The editing is a mixed bag - the plodding, spoonfeeding voiceover slows the pace down to a crawl. But when an artwork gets the nod, we don't have to wait until the end of the series for the resolution (or indeed, not to the end of the programme) because we cut straight to the future exhibition. The artworks are bid on by sealed bids, and Hollins reveals to the artist whether any bids were received and what they were. The artists receive the highest bid, if they accept, less 10% for the exhibition agent, VAT, postage and packaging.
One can't help wonder if there isn't something more that could have been done with the format. The artworks are just 'there' in the room when each segment begins, so we miss the judges' initial reaction to the paintings. The 'two yes' format is all very well but a bit staid, and perhaps more drama could have been got out of the resolutions too. Maybe the artworks could've been auctioned to the highest bidder, or the sealed bids are revealed in a more dramatic way. And while the Royal Academy is all very white box-modern, it has the world's worst acoustics - making the chat very hard to hear.
Nonetheless, it's not flogging houses or collectibles for once, and thou 'art' grateful for that.