Populist, accessible and mainly giftshop: a new gallery is just what London needs, says Chris Waywell.
Only a self-important arse would tell you about some art gallery in a foreign city that he likes, so here goes. I like the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne, because in its collection of works by world-famous artists, it has somehow managed to acquire the single worst example by each of them. It's got a laughable Rembrandt and a shit Van Gogh; a few years ago one of its Monets was discovered to be a fake, and you really hope its others are too. But you can do 500 years of art history in an hour there and then go out drinking. You don't feel much of a cultural burden visiting it, and sometimes that's a good thing.
London deserves a new art gallery like this, one that reflects the needs of 'hardworking people': ie you should be able to do the lot in one go. It shouldn't be too big: maybe on the scale of a generously sized Wetherspoon's, and have just one work each by everyone you've heard of. Really good artists only need to do one recognisable thing so you know who you're looking at. Bacon did popes; Dalí did melting; Whistler did his mum. Occasionally, an artist will do two memorable things: Michelangelo did that ceiling and the big nude lad, and Warhol did soup and Lou Reed. This is rare, though.
The new gallery will be in an area with no connection to the arts whatsoever: neither a West End tourist magnet, nor a light industrial unit in Bow invisible to Google Maps. It will have hundreds of loos, a vast café and a dangerously deep water feature for adults to play in. There will be liquids everywhere. Its gift shop will be slanted towards presents for children you don't know very well and will occupy most of the floor space. (The Royal Academy has really nailed this: its gift shop is enormous and whatever direction you leave it, you always end up back there, like you're in a work by popular Dutch artist MC Escher.)
Children themselves will be a requirement of admission to the new gallery. London, don't tut and scowl at kids running amok beneath the umbrageous drama of a Caravaggio, then spend two hours queueing to go down a big slide that some bald Belgian bloke you've never heard of has stuck up on the South Bank. Remember: we were all children once, even Gilbert & George (bet they looked sweet in their matching suits, playing with poo!).
Photography won't be banned: that's so National-Trust-y. It never occurred to anyone to take a photo in an art gallery before they were told not to. Selfie sticks will be provided by staff, who will be dressed as artists: Tracey Emin, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Jack Vettriano, with oversized paint-spattered foam shoes and giant, ever-frowning heads grazing the artworks.
After all, why shouldn't art have a theme park? TV has CBeebies Land; theatre has Shakespeare's Globe. There's even Charles Dickens World in Chatham. It suggests England's greatest novelist lived in a kind of Munchkin village, but hey: it's more fun than Frieze.
So behold the handsome new Greater London Academy of Dead Famous Art. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Bushey! Welcome to GLADFart!
Want more ranting and raving? Read Alexi Duggins' column on why riding a child-size scooter to work is London's worst form of douchebaggery.