(Published on ARTSCLASH)

Michael Landy has said that his main aim for his National Gallery show (reviewed here) was to start the process of people relearning their saint’s lives. Even if that’s not successful, you can learn a lot from this exhibition, like…

1. Medieval painters invented slapstick comedy.

Many have argued that slapstick was invented along with the silent film as the best way to convey humour without dialogue. These people obviously have never seen Carlo Crivelli’s painting of Saint Peter Martyr,  which Landy has used as the basis for his Multi-Saint…
spmIt’s all there: the comedy ‘knife-through-head’ prop, the ridiculous haircut, the ‘tchuh what am I like getting stabbed in the head?’ eye roll. In fact, despite my attacks on the NatGal on the grounds of boredom, if this show tells us anything it’s that…

2. Medieval saint paintings can only be described as batshit mental.

If you find yourself stuck in the National Gallery (with, say, excitable family members visiting London,) and start to find all those dukes and stallions a bit tedious, just head over to the medieval collections for a little fun. It’s clear why Landy chose these works as the basis for his show. For every stuck-up noble in the permanent collection you have Saint Michael standing on the devil in the coolest pair of leggings this side of Pretty Polly…

michaeland for every country manor, there’s a Virgin Mary being zapped by a space laser (OK, I’m being facetious and it’s probably supposed to be God, but even so… SPACE LASER)

3. National Gallery patrons are a stingy bunch

Landy’s show features a donation box featuring the likeness of Saint Francis of Assissi, who smacks himself in the face with his crucifix when you put in a donation. Definitely worth the 40p I put in – I enjoyed it so much I put in two 20ps. While I was there (and I’ve been twice now) no one put any money in it at all. So the visitors to this show are obviously tight bastards.

Or don’t have the same weird sadistic drive as me. Either or really. And on that note.

4. Watching Jesus’ disembodied chest being punched is oddly watchable...

As well as being Richard Dawkins’ wet dream…

I’m watching that on a loop.

5. Even Saints have off days


An artist’s reconstruction…

I’d love to tell you about his sculpture of Saint Apollonia, the saint who had all her teeth taken out with pliers. I’d love to, but I can’t because it’s broken down for repairs. But to be fair, if I had to spend my days pulling my teeth out, I’d bloody break down too…


One thought on “5 Things We Learned at ‘Saints Alive’ at the National Gallery

  1. Pingback: Mechanised mARTyrs: ‘Saints Alive’ at the National Gallery | ARTSCLASH

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