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From Death to Death and Other Small Tales: Masterpieces from the Scottish national Gallery of Modern Art and the D.Daskalopoulos Collection

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One) until September 
8th 2013
5 stars
From the opening tease of Magritte, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed 
physically and mentally by this major mix and match collection of 
twentieth and twenty-first century work from the moment you step into 
the first corridor. Which, for a show that’s about the body, but which, 
in its epic parade through both floors of Modern One, says just as much 
about mind and spirit, is how it should be.

The first room sets the tone by off-setting Sarah Lucas’ spindly and 
be-stockinged Bunny Gets Snookered #10 with Otto Dix’ more bulbous 
Madchen Auf Fell, and things seem to swell up into something 
spectacular with each wonderland entered.

Cock, balls and cunt are of course in abundance, but this is no 
prick-tease, despite the rise and fall of Matthew Barney’s stunningly 
glossy five-screen Cremester Cycle of phallic fantasias (the cremester, 
of course, being the muscle that lifts and separates the testicles) 
which at times resembles the ups and downs inside Terry Gilliam’s head. 
Paul McCarthy’s equally monumental multi-screen film installation, 
Pirate Party, transforms Pirates of the Caribbean into a grotesque 
limb-hacking blood-n’-guts extravaganza a la Marat/Sade. Marina 
Abramovic’s film-works too give food for thought, as a naked man and 
woman are gate-keepers of an entrance which cool dudes are forced to 
squeeze past.

It’s an astonishing archive, which, seen together at such close 
quarters, becomes a living, breathing organism in itself. Seemingly 
apposite in execution, it in actual fact finds every artefact joined at 
the hip with gloriously throbbing umbilical abandon. 

The List, February 2013

ends

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