Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Sorry. That's too big.

I recently visited the Gauguin exhibition at the Beyeler Foundation just outside of Basel with an art loving friend.

Beyeler Foundation

As it was my first time at a major exhibition, I decided to take a serious camera with me and not rely on snaps from my capable mobile phone because I wanted to have some of the resulting images printed out in postcard size as a memento for my friend and thought that I would probably need to crop or zoom in if there were too many people there.

I chose my EOS 5d MKII together with the 24 - 105 zoom and a Speedlite 430ex.

Not acceptable

It was a beautiful day when we arrived and the waiting queue of people was not that long. The exhibition has been extensively advertised as a "blockbuster" type of event and has tried to capture public attention by its use of high-tech guides and even bringing in Hollywood star Keanu Reeves to open it!

After a short wait of only about five or six minutes, we reached the cloakroom and left our jackets there.

"You'll have to leave your camera behind." One of the attendants told me.
"Why?" I asked.
"That's the rule here" was his response

Reluctantly I handed over the camera and made my way through the next checkpoint.

The art gallery makes fantastic use of natural and artificial illumination. Lovely shadowless light that you normally experience on a cloudy but bright day. I looked around to take it all in and realised that THERE WERE LOADS OF PEOPLE TAKING PICTURES!

There were mobile phone cameras, bridge cameras, compacts, video cameras and even Tablet devices merrily snapping away.

I decided to join them and reached inside my coat pocket for my mobile phone only to discover that I had left in in my car. The car of course was too far away for me to go back to and I didn't fancy waiting amongst the people waiting at the entrance, which was growing longer by the minute, to get back in.

I really wanted to take some pictures for my friend so I approached one of the employees. We had a conversation something like this:

"Excuse me. I see that there are lots of people taking pictures here. Is that allowed?"

"Yes" he replied "But if there is a sign next to the painting forbidding it, then obviously we ask that it not be photographed"

"I tried to bring my camera in but they wouldn't let me". I said.

"Is it a big camera? Was his response?

"It is large in size. Yes"

"Then that is not allowed"

"But some of the people in here have cameras with perhaps better resolution than mine" I argued

"Big cameras are not allowed" was his reply.

"How about if I make it smaller?" I asked.

"That would be permissible" Said the guard.

"Great. Thanks", I replied. An idea forming in my head.

I made my way through the swelling throng of visitors back to the cloakroom and retrieved my camera from the attendant. To make my camera "acceptable", I simply removed the battery grip and the Speedlite.

Acceptable for exhibitions

As I mentioned previously, the lighting inside the Beyeler art gallery is ideal for photography. I took a spot meter reading of the palm of my hand and used the resulting reading, 1/50th @5.6 with ISO 800 for all the shots taken in the place. Such was the lighting consistency that I didn't need to change anything.

"Polynesian woman with children" (1901)

 Riders on the beach (II) (1902)

 Visitors inspecting Gaugin's largest piece of work.
"Where do we come from? What  are we? Where are we going?" (1897/98)

So if you are thinking of attending the Gauguin exhibition in Basel please be assured that you can take pictures but only with a compact, tablet device, video camera or mobile phone. if you want to use your (D)SLR, then try and make it as small as possible.

You can read more about the exhibition here.

P.S. As I have mentioned before on this blog, I am a bit of a philistine when it comes to art. 

As ever. Thanks for reading.