Last January I posted
about how the careless installation of a Robert Irwin work at PAM effectively destroyed the work and lied about its meaning.
Last week I was at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and saw this installation of Robert Rauschenberg’s Winter Pool, 1959:
Note the goofy extension of the baseboard/floor—a plinth. I cannot find any rationale for this plinth other than the idea that because this is a “painting” it needs to be hung at a similar height to other “paintings” on the wall. And then the ladder needs something to sit on.
But there is a difference between a ladder extending to the floor and a ladder being supported by a plinth. And The Met knows it is supposed to be a floor. From their own website:
The work, in exceptionally fresh condition, consists of two separate canvases, each about the height of a man. A wooden ladder bridges the gap between them, and its legs extend to the floor, inviting the viewer to climb into the picture.
You might be “invited to climb” from your place on the floor, but less likely from a reserved space on a plinth. BTW, here’s The Met’s own pic of the work from their website:
You can see that someone there thinks it is correct to have it be on the floor.
This isn’t as bad as the PAM/Irwin fiasco, but it does distort the meaning of the work. It’s just dumb.