December 23, 2004

Visiting the Tate Modern

Finally I make it to the Tate Modern! I've only been meaning to visit pretty much ever since it opened. Wandering down from St. Paul's, across the no-longer-wobbly Millenium Footbridge is a lovely introduction to the building, although with the main entrance being at the end of the building to your right, it can take a little while to get your bearings and start to find your way around the exhibitions. Maybe the current renovations of the part you arrive at from the bridge contribute to the problem.

Bankside, to my mind, isn't the most stunning piece of architecture, but its clean, modernist lines are quite pleasing to the eye. The conversion from power station to art gallery has been very well done: the immense turbine hall almost gives the impression of an outdoor public square, with the galleries adjacent; in and around the galleries are many pockets of benches or welcoming leather sofas from which visitors may either observe the art and life in the turbine hall, or gaze out over the Thames; and even little touches like the recessed illumination of the hand-rails on the staircases.

Learning from my trip to the Biennial, this time I scribbled down a list of artists whose work I particularly liked, and thanks to the superb Tate website, I can point you to more information on each of them, and images of most of them.

Mark Rothko (bio on Wikipedia) was my big discovery of the trip. I'd seen some of his work on posters before but the texture, and in some cases sheer scale, of the pieces has given me a whole new appreciation of his art. I see from this list of all the works of his owned by the Tate that there's also one on display at the Tate Liverpool. I'll have to keep an eye out for it when I next visit.

Similarly, one of Andy Warhol's soup cans is at Tate Liverpool. There was a whole room of Warhols at Tate Modern, but no soup.

Michael Landy's Scrapheap Services takes up a whole room, and only a handful of people are allowed in at any one time to prevent further damage to those "on the scrapheap". Thought-provoking contrast between the jolly, bright and seemingly caring slogans of the fictional Scrapheap Services company and the detritus of the scrapped, made-from-litter people.

The photos from Thomas Demand and James Casebere look hyper-realistic; which is a little strange given that they're photos of models of places rather than of actual places.

Jean Pierre Yvaral's Relief cinétique - Accélération optique was the best of a collection of optical illusion works which appeared to animate as your viewpoint moved past them.

Britain Viewed From The North by Tony Cragg puts a different slant on our usual view of the country; and its composition from bits of litter and junk the artist found on the streets of northern cities serves as a social comment on life in the North in the early 80s.

Yves Klein's IKB 79 looks rather boring and trivial on the website, but that doesn't do the artwork justice. In the flesh, it has a vibrancy and power that obviously doesn't translate well. One of my favourites from the trip.

And finally, Robert Therrien. I almost didn't see No Title 1991 as it's installed in one of the hallways just outside the gallery rather than the gallery itself. It's a huge, enamel raincloud, peppered with taps - of the kitchen sink variety. Simple, effective, amusing.

Posted by Adrian at December 23, 2004 03:11 PM | TrackBack

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