11.2.13 – Trip to Tate Britain

The first trip of 2013 to London for me was to Tate Britain, primarily to see the Kurt Schwitters exhibition. The main purpose of the trip was in order to gain inspiration for the Design Factory project, which talks about using materials and processes in different ways, which the quote from the Tate Britain website shows to be relevant for this project.

“Schwitters was a significant figure in European Dadaism who invented the concept of Merz – ‘the combination, for artistic purposes of all conceivable materials’. Whether those materials were string, cotton wool or a pram wheel, Schwitters considered them to be equal with paint. He is best known for his pioneering use of found objects and everyday materials in abstract collage, installation, poetry and performance.” (Tate Britain, 2013)

I could not take photos in the exhibition, but to enliven this blog post, I have placed some main pictures from the Tate Britain website here to enhance my thoughts. Click on the images to visit the webpage.

Kurt Schwitters - Merz Picture 46 A. The Skittle Picture 1921
Kurt Schwitters – Merz Picture 46 A. The Skittle Picture 1921
Kurt Schwitters - Anything with a Stone 1941/1944 Sprengel Museum Hannover
Kurt Schwitters – Anything with a Stone 1941/1944 Sprengel Museum Hannover
Kurt Schwitters C21 John Bull 1946 and 1947 Kurt und Ernst Schwitters Stiftung on loan to Sprengel Museum Hannover
Kurt Schwitters C21 John Bull 1946 and 1947 Kurt und Ernst Schwitters Stiftung on loan to Sprengel Museum Hannover
Kurt Schwitters (Relief in Relief) circa 1942-5 Oil on wood and plaster object: 495 x 413 x 102 mm Purchased 1970 DACS, 2002
Kurt Schwitters (Relief in Relief) circa 1942-5 Oil on wood and plaster object: 495 x 413 x 102 mm Purchased 1970 DACS, 2002
Kurt Schwitters - Untitled (This is to Certify that) 1942 Kunsthalle Mannheim
Kurt Schwitters – Untitled (This is to Certify that) 1942 Kunsthalle Mannheim

I can see why we were encouraged to see this exhibition, as Schwitters uses a wide variety of materials in different ways to create varieties in textures and finishes that when seen in person, have a more dynamic effect as moving from side to side around the artworks allows different shapes to appear and disappear.

The only observation that I would make, and was echoed by a couple of other people I saw the exhibition was that with many pieces being ‘Untitled’ and not having much prior knowledge of Schwitters, it was hard to see the reasoning as to why he did what he did.

Overall, I found it an interesting exhibition, that certainly opened my eyes to what could be achieved with experimentation, moving away from purely paint, print and photography, to using found elements in his environment. It is something that I will now need to assess how it can benefit the Design Factory brief.

While I was at Tate Britain, I also decided to see the Looking at the View exhibition, which I really enjoyed, especially as I have an interest in landscapes. Below I have selected a few of my favourite pieces from the Tate Britain website.

Patrick Caulfield After Lunch 1975 Acrylic on canvas support: 2489 x 2134 mm Purchased 1976 The estate of Patrick Caulfield
Patrick Caulfield After Lunch 1975 Acrylic on canvas support: 2489 x 2134 mm Purchased 1976 The estate of Patrick Caulfield

Patrick Caulfield’s ‘After Lunch’ landscape was the main inspiration for my Juxtapose design for the Unusual Words project, after one of my tutors showed it to me, and to see it properly in a gallery was really interesting, as I had only previously seen it on a computer screen. In real life it looked so vibrant, and the contrast between the different styles used became even more pronounced.

John Brett - The British Channel Seen from the Dorsetshire Cliffs 1871 Oil on canvas support: 1060 x 2127 mm frame: 1390 x 2458 x 121 mm Presented by Mrs Brett 1902
John Brett – The British Channel Seen from the Dorsetshire Cliffs 1871 Oil on canvas support: 1060 x 2127 mm frame: 1390 x 2458 x 121 mm Presented by Mrs Brett 1902

This painting by John Brett immediately attracted my attention within the exhibition, because of the size mainly, but then the shimmering colours in the sea and the sky made for what I felt is a truly fantastic

Julian Opie - There are hills in the distance (c) 1996 Wall painting Presented by the artist 1996 Julian Opie
Julian Opie – There are hills in the distance (c) 1996 Wall painting Presented by the artist 1996 Julian Opie

The simplicity of this wall-painting by Julian Opie, is a very simple, but in my opinion, stunning way of presenting a classic landscape. It also shows how strongly the landscape is formed in our minds that just a few simple shapes coloured can mean so much. Personally I am fan of this style of illustration, as I have created several vector illustrations with these thoughts in mind.

Tristram Hillier La Route des Alpes 1937 Tempera on canvas support: 597 x 806 mm Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1944© Tate
Tristram Hillier La Route des Alpes 1937 Tempera on canvas support: 597 x 806 mm Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1944© Tate

Moving on from the last image, this piece of art by Tristram Hillier is more obviously a painting, but is extremely crisp, with strong contrast in the colours seen throughout the image. Because of this crispness to the image, and brightness of the colours, I (rightly or wrongly) immediately associated it with being produced over the last couple of decades, and was quite surprised to see it was created in 1937.

While at Tate Britain, I also managed to see some of the Ian Hamilton-Finlay exhibition.

“Drawn wholly from work by Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006) that is held within Tate’s collection, the display juxtaposes neon, wood, stone and bronze sculptures with printed works on paper – prints, as well as books and cards.” (Tate Britain, 2012)

I got some photos in this gallery as it was a general display one, and I have placed below my favourites. I was impressed with the typographical work on display and can again see why the tutor was keen for us to see this while we were at Tate Britain. With the brief we have been set by college for the Design Factory to focus on typography, on top of the requirements in the main Design Factory brief, this was a helpful thing to see.

IMG_3259 IMG_3260 IMG_3261 IMG_3265 IMG_3266Also while I was walking around Tate Britain, a few things stood out to do with the actual building, which I managed to take some photos of. I was really impressed by this colourful, blocky artwork that wrapped around the stairs in Tate Britain, it also had a lot of texture to it as well, which saved it from looking flat and boring I felt.

IMG_3269

By the cloakroom was a sloping concrete corridor that was extremely cold and clinical. It was something that interested me, so I took a photograph. I’m also quite annoyed that I only thought after I left Tate Britain that I could have taken a photo in such a way that I could have used it as a background to mock-up my work when I display it.IMG_3271

While I was walking around the Ian Hamilton-Finlay exhibition, I was attracted to the architectural features of the area I was in. I was also surprised at the height of this area as either side were ‘normal’ gallery rooms. The person I have just managed to catch in my photography works well to give a sense of scale to the area.

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Overall, it was a useful day, that will certainly help me along with this project. To what extent I do not yet know, but I hope it will hold the key to a successful project.

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3 thoughts on “11.2.13 – Trip to Tate Britain

    1. Thank you for the link, I really appreciate it, I have certainly learnt a lot there. I shall also pass on the link to the friends I visited the exhibition with to share the knowledge with them!

  1. Glad you liked it. Did you notice that your end photo of the gallery looks like the moon is shining down the gallery? BTW Tate asked on FB what people thought of the Schwitters and I was aghast at the dreadful, moronic replies about is work not being “art” etc etc. I liked Ian Hamilton Finlay best.

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