= The Crawford Arts Review: A walk through Tate Modern on a weekday afternoon

Monday, 11 March 2019

A walk through Tate Modern on a weekday afternoon

Arts reviewing can be a bit of a rush. In, out with the pen, and into print. But I like the stuff enough to spend lots of downtime in art galleries too. I've recently been to Tate Modern.

Let me begin with gallery membership. Individual annual membership, which gives unlimited access to all the Tate galleries, is currently £76 if you pay by direct debit. Membership includes discount in the gallery shops and visits to the Members' room and Members' café bar with their inspiring views across the river.

Now let's see how much I would have spent had I bought my tickets at the ticket desk.

Free  the permanent collection
I started here, unconsciously perhaps reminding myself as I looked at the Picassos, Modiglianis, Mondrians and Matisses of how much we owe to European art  and the tax payers and benefactors who buy it for us.

£18   Pierre Bonnard  ends Monday 06 May
In the Bathroom 1907
This so quintessentially evokes 'Frenchness' and  French countryside living, that it becomes a kind of travel of the mind. Married to Marthe de Méligny, who was advised to take home hydrotherapy for her health, Pierre Bonnard's oeuvre is domestic but never dull. The exhibition covers 40 years of his quiet industry. The photographs of his studio are also telling. In one, he scoops his brush into a small pot of yellow pigment, inhaling it almost as if it were caviar or foie gras.

£13   Dorothea Tanning  ends Sunday 09 June
Installation shot of Pincushion
to Serve as Fetish 1979
Born in Illinois, Tanning europeanised herself with trips to Paris, in-depth study of the surrealists, and marriage to Max Ernst. The exhibition covers 70 years of her work. I saw some of her giant flowerhead paintings in London last year and loved them. There is much to admire here. The image shows one of her soft sculptures, 'Pincushion'. I like to think of it as a whale-like sea beast who swallows metal, including the eponymous pins  just look at that copper tongue licking the black velvet lips. Many of the assemblages of fabric shapes, stuffed and sewn together into sculptures, are, however, in my opinion, rather less convincing.

Free   The buildings, interiors and exhibition spaces 
For me, the built environment of Tate Modern captures my attention almost as much as the art. Shown below is part of the staircase of the Blavatsky Building, Herzog & de Meuron's consummate extension.

Since I was heading towards my final exhibition of the day, already having visited two large ones, I really appreciated how the architects have designed in benches, seating platforms, sitting areas tucked in by the stairs. Here were places to relax and contemplate what one had seen as well as adjust the vision for what was to come.

£13   Franz West  ends Sunday 02 June
Installation view of Trunkenes
, 1988 (corrected
from previous)

I so loved this work by Franz West, an Austrian artist born in Vienna in 1947. West worked with whatever material was at hand: wood, paint, acrylic, cardboard, aluminium foil, iron, steel, extruded polystyrene, foam, plaster and his own empties (see image left and the image that follows that tells the story of how an empty drinks bottle became incorporated in his art).  

Franz West died in 2012. He often collaborated with other artists, including Britain's own Sarah Lucas. It is Lucas who has designed the plinths, interior walls and backdrops for this exhibition, all of which beautifully stage the work. 

So, 'L'addition' . . . without counting visits to the shop(s), coffee and cake, mine would have come to £44. However, I shall be returning to all of them: Bonnard and Tanning because they are so large and West because his work is so fascinating. Then there's Van Gogh at Tate Britain to come.


International modern and contemporary art
Bankside, London SE1 


Sunday to Thursday 10.00–18.00

Friday to Saturday 10.00–22.00

Information 09.00–18.00, daily; 
Membership and ticketing services 09.45–18.00, daily

No comments:

Post a comment