Happy 10th Birthday Tate Modern!

Tate Modern from the riverside

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.

Louise Bourgeois 'Maman'

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!

Marsyas by Anish Kapoor

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:)

flowing hair matisse and acrobat by picasso

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. 

Eva Hesse

 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.

marriage a la mode the marriage settlement

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.

Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X 1953 Bacon

 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,

  images from here here and here

Don’t forget my Blogspotlight interview here with artistatexit0


12 thoughts on “Happy 10th Birthday Tate Modern!

  1. What a wonderful (if vicarious) journey around the Tate Modern. I haven’t been to London in a long time (there was no Tate Modern, no giant ferris wheel) but I did spend a LONG time hanging out at with JMW Turner at the original Tate Gallery. You are luck to live in a country that values art so highly (as am I :))

  2. I love London – wish I lived there! There’s always something going on. When we went a few weeks ago we went to see Iggy Pop, saw a Billy Childish exhibition, went to the V and A, did some shopping, went to Deinis Severs House among other stuff and we were only away three days:) Yes, we ARE indeed lucky that our countries have an appreciation towards the Arts – long may it continue, life would be sad without it.

  3. I echo Kristy’s admiration for your country’s commitment to culture at large. The Tate Modern looks awesome! I remember seeing an Auerbach show and Jasper Johns’ Retrospective at the Hayward Gallery…does that gallery still exist or did it become part of the Tate Modern?

  4. Thanks Al! I beleive the Hayward Gallery is closed at the moment for maintainance. It’s not a gallery I’ve been to (yet). I’ve been to the Saachi, that’s most interesting and also all the Tates, including the St Ives one in Cornwall. The new one for us this year was the I.C.A. (Institute of Contemporary Arts) where we caught the last day of the Billy Childish exhibition. But I will check out the Hayward Gallery next time we’re there – if it’s open:)

  5. what is the deal with the tate modern?
    I’ve never been.
    But i have heard a lot of negative opinions about the art it promotes.
    Or indeed the lack of artistry assiciated with its famous turner prize.
    I haven’t really got my own opinion.
    But a room with a light that simply turns on and off doesn’t in my opinion deserve international acclaim or a twenty thousand pound prize.
    On saying that, the spider sculpture does look cool

  6. The Tate Modern deals with contemporary art. – which you either love or hate. The Turner Prize goes to a contemporary artist and sometimes a conceptual artist (where the idea is more important or as important than the art itself) you can see where Martin Creed comes in:)
    Winning the Turner Prize though is a double edged sword……
    There is some fantastic art in the Modern though – you have to go K!

  7. yes, i see that point.
    Personally i think artistic thinking just isn’t enough.
    If conceptual art is having an idea then i produce art every two minutes.
    But i don’t consider it to be an actual piece until its down in whatever media i choose to communicate it with.
    I see and enjoy contemporary art every day and i’m sure the tate modern has some fantastic examples
    but probably some really bad ones too.
    like creed’s example. lol.
    And definately tracey emin’s unmade bed.
    Sorry, had to throw that one in. lol

  8. You certainly do produce art every day K – as we witness on your very excellent blog! Conceptual art will always be argued about, not being ‘real’ art. But that brings us back to ‘what is art’ and everyone has their own definition.
    Of course you are right about conceptual art – there’s good and very very bad. Some of the ideas are very tenuous to say the least!
    Creed I didn’t ‘get’ at all. Emin’s bed I did like though. When asked WHY it was art she answered ‘Because I SAY so’ when told that ‘anyone could do that, she said ‘But they didn’t did they – I DID’. The conceptual artist has to be able to defend AND ‘sell’ their idea, which they do.
    I think an artist should always defend their work and what’s more they should be able to explain their work, that there should be an idea behind their work. A lot of artists ‘let the work speak for itself’. in Abstract art you see a lot of ‘untitled’ which isn’t for me. My work has a concept behind it, the pieces are named for a reason – not willy nilly.

    For example, my own work incorporates communication on different levels starting with the stain, the code and the narrative. It’s still in its narrative stage at the moment (this blog) but it shall move on.

    I’m looking forward to the Blog spotlight with you K very much:) did you get my email? let me know if I should add or leave something out or there’s anything you don’t like – I won’t be offended:)

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