Friday, June 09, 2006

On Art Matters

Since I was last in London in 1999, the Tate Modern, a gallery of international modern and contemporary art, has opened. And so on Monday morning, my sister, David and I decided to go and take a look. Unfortunately, we were too early for the Kadinsky exhibition which opens on 22 June but:
" Tate Modern's first rehang in 5 years is now open. A range of displays present dialogues between artists past and present, exploring how major movements relate to earlier artistic practice, and how later artists have responded to the great innovations of twentieth-century art."
We accompanied a guide for a 45 minute tour of the States of Flux "hub" with a particular focus on the early twentieth-century movements Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism. The guide was very interesting and definitely helped to make some of the more abstract works (such as The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors) more accessible but nothing particularly engaged my attention (not even this variation of one of my favourite quilting blocks - the pinwheel).

The feeling of dissatisfaction continued as we wandered around the Material Gestures wing which, amongst other works, features the brooding canvasses of the Seagram Murals by Mark Rothko. Afterwards, I tried to pinpoint the source of my disappointment. All that I can come up with is that so many of the featured works were very stark. After all the wonderful colours of the wildflowers in France and the countryside in England, the absence of saturated colour left me cold.

We then considered going to the Tate Britain where a collection "six footer" Constable landscapes is currently on exhibition. But I was feeling kind of grumpy after the morning's activities and baulked at the 10 pound (A$25+) entry fee. Instead David returned to the Natural History Museum (where we had visited the day before) and Amy and I crossed the road to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Knowing that our attention spans were somewhat diminished and that we had a limited amount of time, Amy and I decided to focus on the textile wing of the V & A. En route, we passed through a display of "pop art" which was infinitely more interesting than the pop art we saw at the Tate Modern and included a piece by Bridget Riley. If you are not familiar with Bridget Riley, then do take a look at some of these images
. She does amazing things with lines, shape, colour and proportion. Some of the black and white stuff is a little headache inducing but the precision of her work is awesome.

The textile displays were also suitably restorative - a rich treasure trove of silks, lace, and tapestries. I particularly enjoyed the gallery of a dozen or so 20th/21st century woven wall hangings. The closest that I got to seeing quilts was this book in the gallery shop:

But the Sydney Quilt Show is coming up this week so I will soon be getting my quilt fix! In the meantime, there are a few Exhibition Secretary tasks to attend to...


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