In the last couple of months, I have been to see a total of 5 exhibitions at the London Tate galleries (two at Modern and three at Britain), and I just wanted to give a brief summary of them.
The first of these exhibitions I went to was Performing for the Camera at Tate Modern. It explored how the camera has been instrumental in contemporary art, not only as useful tool for documenting performance art and daily life, but also as an art form in it’s own right, focusing on the interaction between camera and human subject. As someone who works a lot with photography, I found this exhibition incredibly useful in informing my own creative practice, and it has given me lots of ideas for projects I could do in the future.
Seeing the kinetic sculptures in the Alexander Calder exhibition at Tate Modern has been useful for my research, particularly one which was designed in collaboration with American composer Earle Brown, to be used as a musical instrument. A video about the resulting piece of music from the collaboration can be watched online here: youtube.com/watch?v=mUOkDROw_uM
I found Tate Britain’s Artist and Empire exhibition fascinating, as I hadn’t realised how much art had been created in response to the British Empire, not only by British artists, but also by indigenous artists of the countries we colonised. It also highlighted to me that it is important that as a society we preserve these records of our past which are not necessarily positive, as it can allow us to learn from the mistakes of the past.
I had read a little about Frank Auerbach’s painting before going to his retrospective at Tate Britain. Before I went I had read that he often used paint incredibly thickly, but it wasn’t until I was standing in front of them that I realised how thickly the paint had been applied. Several of the paintings felt almost sculptural, almost as if you could climb inside them. I was also surprised to learn, on entering the exhibition, that Auerbach had actually curated the first six rooms himself, with only the seventh being curated by someone else.
The final exhibition I have been to recently was Conceptual Art in Britain 1964-1979 at Tate Britain. This was probably my favourite of these exhibitions (with Performing for the Camera coming a close second) as it has further broadened my idea of what art (and, by either a logical or illogical extension, other art forms) can be – something I regret not learning earlier as I have not been to art school (maybe one day I will).
I guess at this point you’re wondering what the picture of the orange is in aid of. Well, one of the works in the exhibition is Roelof Louw’s Soul City (Pyramid of Oranges), which is, as the title suggests, a pyramid of oranges. The work is not just the physical construction of the oranges, but also the impermanence of such a sculpture as viewers are encouraged to each take an orange, thus constantly changing the work until it no longer exists. You may also have noticed that a slice has been taken out of my orange, but only because I required one for a delicious cup of Lady Grey tea!
Performing for the Camera runs until 12th June at Tate Modern, and Conceptual Art in Britain 1964-1979 runs until 29th August at Tate Britain, and both exhibitions are well worth visiting.