TATE Modern, London
Today new post from London. I take you with me to the TATE Modern, the museum of contemporary art and the 21st century.
I came today because the exhibition dedicated to Olafur Eliasson has just opened and I was dying to visit it. But in general the TATE is one of those places in the city where I come back often because there is always something new to see.
Watch the video on Youtube
Reaching the Tate from anywhere in London is not difficult. It is located in the Bankside area on the banks of the Thames and if you want to take a walk you can easily get there from the London Eye or London Bridge. And above all, as soon as you arrive, you immediately recognize it.
The architecture resembles a typical English industrial building. In fact it was a power plant that was renovated to be used as a gallery. This allowed to exhibit large-scale works and in particular to create well-lit rooms while maintaining an industrial style.
Admission is free and my advice is to always enter not from the main entrance on the river bank but from the side ramp because it allows you to be immediately in the Turbine Hall. Here there are often installations that invite the visitor to participate. And some works of the most interesting artists have been here like Ai Weiwei’s Sunflowers Seeds in 2010 and Eliasson in 2003 with The Weather Project.
The spaces are huge and to avoid missing anything or feeling lost I suggest you to visit it floor by floor. In fact, the Tate is divided into two parts, but since the buildings are connected together in this way it is much easier.
The layout of the permanent collection is changed every 6 months or so, and it was not designed chronologically but by topic. The positive side is that when you come back several times you will always find different masterpieces by Picasso, Dalì, Mondrian or Warhol.
One of the things that I like most before starting the journey is that there are indications on how to approach some works of contemporary art, given the fact that it is not always easy. For example, trying to reflect on the theme, on the materials or on the personal history of the artist, as well as on the “beautiful – ugly” aesthetic judgment.
Taking in account that this is one of the largest art collections in the world I suggest you go around the halls, but also to choose from two/three works not to be missed. There are also entire rooms dedicated to a single artist like the one on Joseph Beyus with works in wood, bronze and stone on the theme of the end and rebirth through nature. Or the one with the immense works of Rothko that were created for a restaurant in New York.
I know that being able to visit the entire collection a few times is tiring so I decided to show you my five favorite works that I think should not be missed.
5 artworks not to be missed
Claude Monet, Nymphéas, 1874
The first is Monet’s Nymphéas which are displayed together with Rothko’s works to emphasize how Monet, in his immersion in nature and in the obsessive search for light in his Giverny garden, has almost reached the abstraction of nature. Creating this series of masterpieces.
Claude Monet, Nymphéas, 1874, Courtesy National Gallery, London 2003. Photo ©Tate
Pablo Picasso, Bust of a Woman, 1909
The second one is Picasso’s Bust of a Woman from 1909. It is not known who the woman is or whether the work was painted while Picasso was in France or Spain. But it is one of the first Cubist works, with a strong influence of African sculpture. The woman is turned to the left and our attention also follows her gaze. I think that the colors of this work are wonderful, from blue to gray to brown.
Pablo Picasso, Bust of a Woman, 1909, © Succession Picasso/DACS 2019
Salvador Dalí, Lobster Telephone, 1936
The next artwork I chose is Dalì’s Lobster Telephone, a masterpiece of the history of surrealism. Based on the principle that every object has a hidden meaning in our unconscious, Dalì has created this phone whose handset is a lobster. The reference is to sexual desire. The lobster is famous for being one of the most aphrodisiac foods in the world and if the handset / lobster could be brought closer to the ear then the mouth would also be close to its tail, which uses to reproduce. But the funniest thing about Dalì’s surrealist works is often the original title which in this case was the “Aphrodisiac Telephone”.
Salvador Dalí, Lobster Telephone, 1936, ©Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS
Henri Matisse, The Snail, 1953
The fourth work is The snail by Henri Matisse, created when the artist was ill and had been told to stop working. It is a giant work of almost 3 meters. The theme of snails in those years is widespread in some works of Matisse that tells of spending time observing the nature. But what makes the work so incredible are the colors and materials. It was created by composing scraps of worked paper and contrasting some of the primary and secondary colors. For example, blue is close to orange, red to green and yellow to purple, based on the natural complementarity of colors.
Henri Matisse, The Snail, 1953, © Succession Henri Matisse/DACS 2019
Cildo Meireles, Babel, 2001
The last work is one of my favorite works of art history. For this reason, perhaps I left it at the end. This is Babel by Cildo Meireles.
The first time I saw it I was still living in Milan in 2014 for an exhibition at the Hangar Bicocca. The sculpture-installation is a circular tower composed radios. All the radios are on and set to very low volume on different stations. For this reason, you are immersed in an environment where no information transmitted can be identified among music, sounds and voices.
The reference is to the Tower of Babel in the Bible which was considered a sin of presumption by men towards God, who had punished them by making them speak several languages and forcing them not to understand each other. I have always wanted to see a positive message in the work of accepting the diversity of each of us as we are as unique as the radios that make up the Tower.
Cildo Meireles, Babel, 2001, © Cildo Meireles
To end the tour at the Tate I suggest you to go to the 7th floor where there is a cafe and a riverside terrace with a panoramic view of St. Paul’s Church and the Thames.
And if you are looking for other museums and art galleries to visit during your trip to London for a weekend or a few more days, don’t forget to check out the other posts and videos on the blog and on Art&theCities on Youtube.
Sunday to Thursday 10.00–18.00
Friday to Saturday 10.00–22.00
Ticket price: Admission free
Some temporary exhibitions are subject to charges
Address: Bankside, London SE1 9TG