A Visit to the Tate Modern Art Gallery

What constitutes art for you?
Do you prefer the Old Masters or the New Pretenders?

A Visit to the Tate Modern Art Gallery - The Last Krystallos - What is Art to you...

Just last week we visited the Tate Modern Art Gallery in London. I’d very much have liked to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum too, but time was a factor, and when we found ourselves on the South Bank the Tate was right there. I thoroughly enjoyed the visit, though hubby didn’t make it past the first floor of exhibits. He disappeared outside to enjoy the sunshine and the Thames instead, leaving my daughters and me to peruse the gallery.

Magdalena Abakanowicz

Magdalena Abakanowicz. I loved the organic nature of this exhibit. Sacks and material sewn into pebbles. It took up a huge room and I wanted to walk in amid them, be part of them, like walking on a beach…

Now, art is subjective, that’s for sure. I lean toward the classics from Michelangelo and Da Vinci, to the Italian Renaissance and the Impressionists. I very much revel in Degas, Botticelli, Raphael, Rembrandt, Waterhouse (one of my most favourite artists, I adore Ophelia), Monet, Renoir, Turner, Van Gogh (I love his night sky!)and many more, but as we move to Picasso, and the modernists, though I loved his blue period and early work, his Cubism starts to lose me. Mondrian and similar artists don’t do much for me, but I do appreciate their value as art and to the eternally progressing world of art. On another note, though, Salvador Dali is a wonder, and his paintings are totally me!

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter. A group of paintings, each over six feet across. I loved the colours and ambience of water in my mind.

What do you call art?

A fascinating question. My art teacher at school was obsessed by Henry Moore’s sculptures and being a classicist myself I lost interest as she constantly bombarded us with Moore, as an adult I’ve grown into his work, but as a teen he didn’t interest me.

Al Weiei

Al Weiei. The first exhibit in the centre of the entrance level. A tree made up of many trees, bolted together. Organic yet industrial…

So, in London we wandered the Tate, and Caitlin and I shared much conversation. Cait’s about to start her art A-levels and the gallery offered a great look at what constituted modern art. 

Edward Ruscha - Music from the Balconies

Edward Ruscha – Music from the Balconies. Another inspiring piece in the Tate.

How is a huge, yellow, scalene triangle hung on the wall a piece of art? It doesn’t appear to take a lot of talent or even time to create a large piece in yellow. Vince and Cait asked how it was art. It wasn’t something that appealed to me, not my thing at all, but it is art. I didn’t take a picture of it and I can’t find a link, but you can imagine it. And, there it is – imagination – that’s the answer. Vince stared at it, and that was when he pretty much gave up and went outside to enjoy the sun instead, and I caught the irony. I said it was about imagination, about how the piece made you feel, and what you saw. There was no explanation for this piece. But to me it was sunshine, or lemons – I could taste lemons just looking at the colour, or happiness, or a sail of a yacht – or whatever you saw or felt. 

Behold - Sheela Gowda

Sheela Gowda – Behold. Weirdly fascinating and labout intensive.

There were pieces that didn’t get me, though I appreciated the work that went into them. One room was full of what looked like wool, set up across the ceiling and room like huge spider webs, but it was in actual fact, black human hair, donated by local Indian Temples, and woven together, and if you looked closely you could see the plaits and weaves that artist had spent hundreds of hours on, incredibly labour intensive. Sheela Gowda‘s piece showed vulnerability and control but it was weirdly wonderfully odd!

Some modern art, I’ll never understand. Some of it just exists to poke fun at or rebel against classical art, or against politics, or ethics etc, but some is really beautiful despite having a very different form to classical art. I like to analyse, and if the artist can show me what they were thinking when they made it, then I’ll welcome it as art. The exhibits that frustrated me most were those where the artists said there was no thought process, no meaning, then I struggle to see it as art. Art needs meaning to be art to me!

Another exhibit, I didn’t photograph was African and looked politically charged, but the artist had no explanation or reason behind it, and that’s when you lose me. I like things to have meaning.

David Alfaro Siquerios - Cosmos and Disaster

David Alfaro Siquerios – Cosmos and Disaster. I loved this piece and could have gazed at its despair and pain for a long time.

I totally loved David Alfaro Siquerios – Cosmos and Disaster. It was about the Spanish Civil War, but spoke about the sadness and futility of war, any war, to me. I loved the raw quality and the depiction of barbed wire across the paint. It spoke of desolation.

Hamed Abdalla - Defeat

Hamed Abdalla – Defeat. Fascinating in its mixed media and silver aluminium and burnt tar.

I also loved Hamed Abdalla – Defeat. The mixed media, and the subject pulled me in. silver leaf aluminium and burning with a blow torch, the photo doesn’t do it justice, but it truly made me feel defeat, loss and abandonment.

Matta - Black Virtue Triptych

Matta – Black Virtue Triptych. I only photographed the central canvas of the triptych as it was the one that spoke to me. Read what you want into that!

I tend to go for the dark side in art, and that also showed in the art that fascinated me, they were the pieces that made me stop and consider.

Tsuyashi Maekawa - Two Junctions

Tsuyashi Maekawa – Two Junctions. Another fascinating mixed media piece that kept my attention.

The Tate, however, offered some art that I did not understand, did not like, or just wasn’t my thing, but it also offered a lot of works that inspired me, thrilled me and fascinated me. Some I loved and some I slipped right into. I’ve peppered my favourites amongst this post.

Art is anything to me that is expression, emotion, surreal, classic, beautiful, strange – anything that is emotive or expressive…

What do you think? What constitutes art to you?

And which do you prefer, classic or modern,
or do you love to appreciate all art?

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6 thoughts on “A Visit to the Tate Modern Art Gallery

  1. Icy Sedgwick

    My degree was in History of Modern Art (1750 up until now) and I hated anything past Surrealism! (Except Pop art…) I’ll always favour the Pre-Raphaelites the most, though I am fond of Degas and Whistler too.

    The Tate Britain is my favourite 🙂

    Reply

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