The Royal Academy's Apocalypse exhibition opened to confusion over conflicting pre-launch messages, of hope for public shock yet a declaration that there was no intention to be provocative.
Criticism from academician James Butler that it was little more than a 'seaside waxworks horror show' (Times, 29/8), was followed by disappointed press comment that 'we were promised fire, but we get marshmallow' (Sunday Times, 24/9).
The Sunday Telegraph's John McEwen surmised that it represented 'the art gauge at zero; the amoral, cynically detached gimmicky and soulless stuff of nerdsville' (24/9).
Accusations of gimmickry, deliberate sensationalism and commercialism through the creation of controversy was boosted by reports that the Chapman brothers' T-shirts were disappearing from the gift shop quicker than a 'sheep on formaldehyde' (Independent on Sunday, 24/9).
However, the Daily Mail's Sir Roy Strong, a self-confessed traditionalist, claimed the exhibition was 'brilliant' (20/9), while Adrian Searle admitted that it was either 'banal' or 'profound' (Guardian, 21/9).
Analysis and commentary by Echo Research.
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