The month of May is nearly over and I cannot let it pass without wishing Tate Modern a Happy 10th Birthday. I have been to the Tate Modern many times and seen quite a few exhibitions. The Tate Modern galleries are built in the space of Bankside Power station which closed in 1981 and the building was converted by Herzog and de Meuron: the contractors were Carillion. It is a National Museum of International art.
In 2001 I remember seeing Maman the gigantic spider of then 89-year-old French-born sculptress Louise Bourgeois. The turbine hall is a colossal space (five storeys tall with 3,400 square metres of floorspace). the spider 30 ft high and made of blackened stainless steel carried 26 white marble eggs underneath her belly. She towered over people who gazed up in awe. Another exhibition I saw at the Tate was Katherina Fritsch (b. 1956 Germany) whose sculptures reflect fairytales and myths. I wrote a post about this exhibition here. 2001 was the year I saw the Turner Prize at Tate Britain – won by Martin Creed with his famous light which turned on and off……
In 2002 Anish Kapoor’s (b. India 1954) Marsyas was the star of the Turbine Hall. 150 meters long and 10 storeys high, this sculptural form was inspired by Titian’s 1576 painting ‘The Flaying of Marsyas’. The Greek myth tells the tale of Marsyas, a satyr who was flayed alive by the God Apollo because he played the flute better than the God. This sculpture ran round the Turbine Hall.
I wondered what would happen if someone blew through this gigantic trumpet!
I was also fortunate to see the Matisse Picasso exhibition that year which I greatly enjoyed. The way the work was juxtaposed showed the playful rivalry between the pair, each one spurred on by the other to come up with new work, new visions. I believe Picasso needed this and at the time Matisse was the one who could give him a run for his money. I still have a souvenir cup of that exhibition and woe betide anyone who breaks it:)
In 2003 I saw an exhibition by sculptor Eva Hesse (b 1936 – 1970 Germany) exhibition at the Tate Modern. This artist worked with string, resin and latex in her sculptures.
I later incorporated into my paintings. Apart from this fact and the feeling that the work looked stranded in its environment, I can’t remember too much about it.
Among other exhibitions the Hogarth (2007) one really stands out. I really like Paula Rego’s transcription of Hogarth’s Marriage a la Mode where the artist carries on the story of the ill-fated marriage in contemporary times. I also chose Rego’s Snow White and her Stepmother to transcribe (see Transcription in my categories). William Hogarth’s narrative painting fascinates me and I was very well versed in the story of the series Marriage a la Mode. but I was amazed at just how small these paintings actually are! The details are quite astounding considering the scale of these paintings.
Francis Bacon 2008 was an exhibition very much looked forward to by me. He is a favorite artist of mine. We saw work there we had never seen before: works from private collections leased especially for the retrospective. As usual the raw power of the paint rippled through the room giving the paintings a brooding presence.
Abstract Expressionist Mark Rothko had an exhibition in 2009. We didn’t go. A lot of people really vibrate to Rothko, but I find him very heavy and depressing. I would have liked to have gone to Chris Offili’s exhibition this year, but we just didn’t have time. In between Tate modern there are always other exhibitions on at Tate Britain, The Royal Academy, The National Gallery and the Barbican.
Other important exhibitions I have been to in London include:-
Encounters 2000 National Gallery,
Frank Auerbach retrospective, The Royal Academy 2001,
Lucien Freud retrospective,Tate Britain 2002,
Desire unbound surrealism, Tate Modern 2002,
Andy Warhol retrospective, Tate Modern 2002,
Transition, 2002 Barbican Gallery,