☆☆☆Tate Modern

★Name of gallery: Tate Modern


Tate Modern is located in London, a national gallery of international modern art which opened in 2000. It is also part of the four Tate galleries which displays a selection of artwork, both contemporary and historical from the Tate collection. The Collection comprises the national collection of British art from the year 1500 to the present day, and of international modern art. The gallery is created from a disused power station and fast became one of the most celebrated London attractions with art enthusiastics. Major modern British artists can be found at both Tate Britain and Tate Modern.

Why is the museum so popular? There is no admission fee required, therefore making it one of the most popular attractions in London. Tate Modern is comprised of a wide range of wonderful artwork by many well known arists, definitely worth visiting and admiring for oneself.

‘The gallery’s main areas are the following: ‘Material Gestures’, devoted to abstract works of the 1940s and ‘50s; ‘Poetry and Dream’, a celebration of surrealistic works; ‘Scale’, which examines the practice of using scale to alter perception; ‘energy and Process’, which looks at artists’ fascination with transformation and natural forces, and focuses on 1960s sculptural pieces; and ‘States of Flux’, which is devoted to early 20th-century art movements.’  [1]



★Collection Display

The display consists of four wings, the four seminal periods are Surrealism, Minimalism, Post-war innovations in abstraction and figuration, and the three linked movements Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism.

Around these ‘hubs’ a diverse range of related displays present works which anticipated, challenged or responded to these four major movements.

Moving back and forwards in time, these displays reflect the ongoing dialogue between past and present and suggest contemporary perspectives for approaching and reassessing the past.


★Artwork inside gallery

  • Francis Picabia 1879-1953
  • Born France, worked France, USA
  • ‘Otaiti’ 1920
  • Oil and resin on canvas

With its warped scale and unexpected combinations of images, Otaiti has a dream-like quality, perhaps reflecting Surrealist preoccupations with the subconscious and the freeing of the imagination. The ethereal quality is further heightened by the thinly applied layers of paint and varnish, which produce a translucent effect. Otaiti is one of a group of paintings known as the Transparencies in which Picabia noted, ‘all my insticts may have free rein’. The central female figure with full red lips and curving body may relate to the images of the glamourous pin-ups which Picabia later used as the basis for a series of kitsch nudes.


  • Giorgio de Chirico 1888-1978
  • ‘The Painter’s Family’ 1926
  • La Famille du peintre
  • Oil on Canvas

In the mid-1920s de Chirico reworked many of the themes of his pre-war paintings in the light of his interest in the art of the old masters. In his work, the easel and painting stick may refer to his belief in the importance of old-fashioned technical skills, while the mannequins echo traditional scenes of the Holy Family. However, de Chirico’s attitude towards tradition and the past was always ambiguous and ironic. The building fragments that emerge from the mannequins’ stomachs, for example, seem vaguely classical but also suggest a child’s building blocks.


  • Cecil Collins 1908-1989
  • Born and worked Britain
  • ‘The Promise’ 1936
  • Oil on plywood

Collins often used light and darkness to symbolise the forces of good and evil. This picture depicts the world at night, and the ‘promise’ of the title refers to the coming dawn, heralding possibilities of birth and growth. It shows a section of seashore, cut open to reveal seeds, shells and chrysalises lying in the earth. Two charges of energy burst forth like radiant flowers from the earth’s surface, their rays energising the dormant forms below. Briefly linked with Surrealism, Collins showed a closely related work at the International Surrealist Exhibition in 1936.

This piece seems to convey a lonely and melancholic feeling, the colours are dim and there seems to be no life in the image. The fossils buried in the ground also emphasize this aspect as though unsure of the era we are in which I find rather mysterious and intriguing.


  • Yves Tanguy
  • The Invisibles 1951
  • Robert Irwin, Author of Exquisite Corpse, a novel about Surrealism

‘When I was a schoolboy I used to imagine myself walking into the paintings I looked at. It was a very primitive form of art appreciation. I walked into the paintings by Watteau, Constable, Klee and many others, but I liked best to enter Surrealist spaces with their flaming trombones, skeletal minotaurs and soft, decomposing watches.’


Tanguy’s The Invisibles suggests infinite possibilities and infinite distances to be travelled. The picture space in a Tanguy is always silent, the mood melancholy. These silvery grey things are quietly waiting for my intrusion. The sky is ominous. It is certain that somewhere among the millions of planets in the universe there is a scene exactly like the one we are looking at here. The question is how did it get to look like that?


  • Francis Picabia
  • ‘The Handsome Pork Butcher’ c1924-6, c1929-35
  • Eroc Bainbridge, Artist

This painting is very interesting, the way the artist has included 3D objects, in this case a few combs placed around the person’s face gives a quirky and amusing gesture. Certainly, it looks rather modern, the medium is oil. The colours black and orange, white all add emphasis on contrast. I assume that the humour of the image is that it depicts a mixture of emotions, fear, desire, death. Are those another pair of eyes near the cheeks? Or are they a pair of breasts? Either way it seems a little out of place but adds a more bizarre effect hence the name ‘Handsome Pork-Butcher’, though in my opinion he is not handsome at all… :3


  • Julian Trevelyan 1910-1988
  • Born Britain,worked Britain, France
  • Bomblet 1937
  •  Mixed media

 Trevelyan was living in Paris in the early 1930s when the Surrealists began to explore the idea of the Surrealist object, which appeared to embody hidden or repressed desires. Following the same tradition, Bomblet is at once disconcerting and vaguely comical. The tactile forms, suggesting organic or body parts, contrast with the elaborate framing. It was, apparently, the discovery of a baking tray that triggered the potential for the unsettling object.


  • Henri Matisse, The Snail,1953

The snail was put together the year before Matisse dies-large cut-out pieces of paper, painted in gouache in brught colouyrs which together amounted to a spiral within a square. Matisse said this process was the most direct way he could imagine expressing himself.



  • Barnett Newman 1905-1970
  • Born and worked USA
  • Eve 1950
  • Oil on canvas

 The vast expanse of unmodulated red paint, this work is both absorbing and disorienting. It is interrupted by a single, narrow band of purple running the length of the right-hand edge. This ‘zip’ generates a tension throughout the canvas between presence and blankness, solidity and fragility. Its verticality also echoes the position of the viewer, helping to fufil Newman’s concern that ‘the onlooker in front of my painting knows that he’s there.’


  • Artist: unknown
  • Pen and ink on paper

I took a picture of this image because although it is a relatively simple drawing, I felt sorry for the seal who is poking its head out of the sea, smiling innocently while the evil man aims his gun at the seal’s head. How dare he.


★Ratings & comments

There was a wide range of art in this gallery, featuring the work of many famous artists eg. Krasner, Matisse etc, which is a priviledge to be able to admire. I find myself lucky to be able to see all the famous works hand painted/made/drawn by these people and not have to travel over the other side of the world to see it in person. To be able to imagine what was going on in their minds while they did their creations and the reasons behind each finished piece.

I have enjoyed this visit to the Tate Modern, unsurprisingly, it is just as good as the Tate Britain but I like the other better.

How much I liked the gallery: 3.5/5

Range of artwork: 4.5/5

Interest: 4.5/5



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