Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tate Modern and Tate Britain, London


Well, interestingly, I'd expected Tate Modern to be the highlight of my informal, individual, and completely subjective London museum tour...instead, it turned out to be Tate Britain.

Yesterday I went to Tate Modern for a couple of hours. The single Rothko they have, a primarily green-gold color, looked so lonely all by itself on a huuuuge wall. Not the greatest presentation for it, as Rothkos (at least for me) seem to have an amazing expansiveness, and this setting dwarfed it and thereby diminished it.

I recently discovered Nicolas de Stael's work and love it, so was thrilled to be able to see the only de Stael on display anywhere, as far as I know. I had been really curious to see just how thick and textured the paint was. It was even way more than I'd expected. It was like mortar troweled on! Here's an illegal photo closeup (we honestly didn't know we weren't supposed to take photos...until the angry uniformed lady came bustling over).


Another very fun thing at the Tate Modern was a room filled with an enormous table and four chairs. Sorry, I don't remember the artist. They looked like regular wooden dining room furniture, except that the size of them was such that a person became Lilliputian next to them. It was cool to find out what it feels like to be a cat wondering what might be up on top of that table...

Today I went to the Tate Britain. One whole subway line was shut down for repairs, so I did insane amounts of walking again...gonna have to put my feet up again (see photo on previous post). First gem was Sargent's Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose. Beautiful, of course. There's a quite hard dark (painted) line along the top of the center girl's head--perhaps to help separate her from the background? It seemed kind of awkward, though. Anyone know anything about that?

There was a medium-sized acrylic monochrome Rothko on paper, and a gorgeous red-and-black large Rothko (oil). And I was in heaven when I discovered that the Seagram Murals were there! I'd thought they were gone, because The Husband had actually seen them months ago and told me they wouldn't be around any more when I came to London. (The Husband is doing an executive MBA wherein he's traveling monthly to either New York or London.) So to just stumble across them was so cool. I think the artwork that you don't know is there, and which suprises the hell out of you when you see it, is a lot more fun than what you know is there and you're specifically going to see. It wasn't very crowded today at the Tate Britain, so I sat down in the Rothko Seagram Murals room and waited a while...until finally I had a minute or so completely alone with the murals. Well, just me and the security cameras. Aaaah...it was really lovely. It felt like some kind of cathedral. Yes, I do worship Rothko. Something about the expansiveness of Rothkos, especially those, since they're so huge...I feel as if they breathe, somehow. (I haven't yet been to the actual Rothko Cathedral in Houston, but I'd love to see it one day...even though it means I'd have to actually go to Houston...ugh.) P.S. What do they use to hang something that size on a wall?!

I think I could happily live with some Rothkos on my walls at home. Anyone who wants to get me some for my birthday in April, well, I'd write you a very nice thank-you note.

And, wow!! the Turners. Apparently there are some 300 Turners at Tate Britain, part of a special bequest. Some of them are wonderfully simple, small watercolors or pencil + gouache, that look purely abstract. Of all the Turner oils, it's the totally abstract sea ones that just kill me. No boats, or barely a hint, no people--just ocean and those amaaaazing skies.

I didn't get to the whole museum today. Going back tomorrow.

To keep you entertained in the meantime, here is a little video of Lynx wrestling with Miss Lemon:

video


More art on my website: jalapfaff.com

10 comments:

Gesa said...

Hey... and congrats to the appropriated close-up. well done :)
I hope to be in London in autumn and this is firmly on my list.
The Rothko at Tate Modern - I'm very fond of it, possibly because of its lightness and the juxtaposition to Monet and Pollock. Never thought of it as lonely but airy. When I first saw the Murals, they were in the Tate Modern, and then again in the large exhibition there last year on the late series by him.
But as you, I love stumbling across stuff I don't expect to be there, Feininger Bird Cloud in Harvard was my moment of delight... Enjoy your trip!

Janelle Goodwin said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences to these amazing art museums with us. Of course, I wish I were there with you to see for myself, even if I got blisters on my feet from all the walking.

Darling video of Lynx and Miss Lemon. But I have to say on your previous post, the picture of Lynx with his feet up took the prize!

L.Holm said...

Sounds like a great trip, Jala. Rothkos hit me the same way, and I agree with you about the late, more abstract Turners--phenom.

Kitties!! I can hear them purring and play growling now....

Karen said...

I love the illegal photo! SO cool that you're visiting these places, and thank you for taking the time to write about it, it's wonderful to read. Enjoy you trip!!

http://www.onpainting.wordpress.com said...

Sounds like a lot of fun, wish I was there.

chrisbellinger said...

I was amazed that in new York people were taking photos though Moma did not like flash!
Tate Britain is perhaps my favorite and Turner my favorite artist
London is very tiring and I always come away feeling knackerd!!!!
as for transport sunday is always a pain with engineering work on railways

Call me aRt. said...

You do a good gallery tour commentary, Jala. I agree with you on those Turners; saw a show in Venice a few years back and at first glance, almost thought the canvases were blank, they were SOOO subtle.

Jala Pfaff said...

Janelle - It would've been fun to get those blisters w/you. Your fave Lynx photo thus far, eh? Wonder if we'll ever top it...

Karen - Very glad to hear you're enjoying reading about it!

Lisa/Bill - You really need to let me know which one of you is leaving the comments, so I know how sarcastic (Bill) I need to be in my responses.

Chris - Thanks for your comment. Agreed!

R - The subtlety KILLS me!!! (in a good way)

Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

mmmm.... loved your art/museum story, BUT I really, really, really loved your kitties wrestling! If I had seen this I may have gotten another cat rather than a puppy (kidding... kind of) because we were all so traumatized when we got our 2nd cat - it was 8 months of hell - our 1st cat Isabelle wanted NOTHING to do with the baby - in fact she SCREAMED and attacked him (for real) for 8 whole months. Nothing like the sweet wrestling you had here....

Jala Pfaff said...

Hi Kelley! If it makes you feel any better, one of our cats, Cleo, is absolutely furious if the kitten comes within 5 feet of her. :) The other 4 adult cats are fine w/him.