Already, before it has run the curtain down, we have the reflections, the comment pieces, debating on whether it’s been a good idea or not; whether it counts as art, or just summertime fodder for the masses.
If you’ve seen it in the Square you’ll have your own views. You might have caught it via the webfeeds (technically very accomplished, with sharp pictures and fairly clear sound) available here. I wrote about it back in July (doesn't that seem a long time ago).
Sky have also been running a round-up programme each week on Sky Arts 1 on Friday evenings.
The Guardian’s critic Jonathan Jones got in early, giving his views at length in the paper last Friday under the headline ‘The fourth plinth: it was just Big Brother all over again’ which attracted almost 100 comments on the website. It’s fair to say that Jones didn’t like it, and other critics agree.
The public seem more optimistic, perhaps more open minded, with 7.3 million hits on the webstream and nearly 700,000 people logging on for an average of more than nine minutes.
There is quite a lot of criticism of Gormley. (Why are the people who post on these things so aggressive? Why can’t they express their counter-views with some decency?). Here is a small flavour of those views:
“It's time Gormley's luck ran out. The plinth was obvious. The Angel of the North is obvious. It just happens to be big and obvious”.
“What you appear to be saying, Mr. Jones, is that you don't get it, therefore it is not art”.
“After all, can anyone REALLY define once and for all what art is/is not/should be? It seems that if someone points to something and says: "that's art", then it IS art whether you like it or not.”
“Anthony Gormley's a fine artist and shouldn't waste his time on this kind of nonsense either”
“In my opinion, someone being manky and disgusting in their bed and then putting it in an art gallery is a complete waste of space, but Tracey Emin managed to get away with it, and get paid.”
“Antony Gormley has actually created an opportunity for individuals to create or be in their own piece of art. The fact that many wasted that opportunity and revealed themselves often to be quite artless is down to them not Gormley.”
“I thought it was a nice thing to do. The question about art is irrelevant.”
“Overall I'm glad I did it. It's an experience that only 2399 other people can say they've had and I can now (arrogantly of course) point to the plinth and say "I've been up there". But hey, what do I know, all I did was throw paper planes, tell bad jokes and phone my Grandad to tell him I love him.”
“Surely 'the plinth' would normally be called street theatre?”
I find myself in agreement with that: although of course street theatre is very much “art”
And finally: “Basically Everything is art. Or Nothing is. You decide!”