Fifth of Britons have never visited an art gallery

Monet's 'Waterlilies'. Many people admit they find art world intimidating. Picture: AFP/Getty
Monet's 'Waterlilies'. Many people admit they find art world intimidating. Picture: AFP/Getty
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MORE than one in five Britons has never set foot inside an art gallery, according to a new survey.

Many people cannot tell a Renoir from Rembrandt, with young adults being the most ignorant of iconic paintings by the likes of Monet and Van Gogh.

The poll of more than 1,000 people, by the Affordable Art Fair, revealed 23 per cent had never visited an art gallery.

And almost two thirds (61 per cent) describe themselves as not knowing anything about art, while nearly half (47 per cent) admit they find the art world intimidating.

More than a fifth (22 per cent) were unable to recognise the Mona Lisa, it is claimed, while more than half (55 per cent) could not identify The Scream by Munch. A third (32 per cent) were unaware of who painted the Mona Lisa (see quiz, left), while 30 per cent suggested the wrong artist painted the Sistine Chapel.

The research also revealed that 16 to 34-year-olds are most oblivious of masterpieces and artists, with 15 per cent in the age group identifying one old master as a famous footballer.

Despite a patchy knowledge of the topic, 71 per cent of Britons who studied art at school enjoyed it and two-thirds said they wished they knew more about art, but 47 per cent are unwilling to ask questions in galleries for fear of appearing ignorant.

In response to the research, and to celebrate its 15th anniversary, the Affordable Art Fair has worked with the Reduced Shakespeare Company to condense the history of art into a ten minute performance, The Complete History of Art (Abridged).

Reduced Shakespeare Company authors Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, renowned for their ability to reduce Shakespeare plays into fun, fast-paced comedies, turned their hand to the art world for the first time with the challenge to reduce the history of art into just ten minutes – making it fast, fun and accessible.

Affordable Art Fair founder Will Ramsay said: “When we opened the fair 15 years ago, it was with the vision of bringing art to everyone. It’s a shame that so many people still feel intimidated by the art world – we want everyone to be able to access and feel inspired by art.

“The aim of the show is to make people smile and celebrate all that art has given us, and if people can also pick up a bit of knowledge along the way, that will be a bonus.”

Reduced Shakespeare Company author Reed Martin said: “It’s amazing how much you can learn from studying art – it’s had a huge impact in shaping and reflecting history and culture.”

The Complete History of Art (Abridged) will be performed throughout the Affordable Art Fair Battersea, from Thursday.