Long read: “Tate Modern, take one, was the ordinary made extraordinary… A few years on, the strangeness was cranked up a notch with the arrival of one of the most enigmatic buildings London has ever seen.”
As for the art… it’s about modern art and contemporary art with masterpieces from around the world.
Surreal, kinetic sculptures. A year collapsed into a document of only six minutes and four seconds. Behold 2009 (steel car bumpers and 4,000 metres of human hair). Bodily deformations to express heightened emotions (Picasso). An archive of misunderstandings, crises and ambivalences. Hommage à Chrysler Corp. 1957.
Blue Badge Guide and Secretary of the Critics Circle, Rick Jones knows the art, knows his way round the “enigmatic building” it’s folded into.
Translation read: 1) best possible introduction to a landmark building and art that is a series of flashpoints across the last century; 2) crash course in modern art (know your Dali from the Dali Llama).
The Tate Modern Walking Tour – The Practicals
The Tate Modern Highlights Tour is led by arts journalist Rick Jones, Secretary of the Critics Circle everyWednesday at 2.30pm.
Meeting point: The guided tour begins just inside the Entrance to Turbine Hall at the western end of the building. The Turbine Hall – as entrances go, it’s surely the most spectacular one in London (if not the United Kingdom).
Tate Modern is by the banks of the River Thames on Bankside, London SE1 9TG. It comprises the Blavatnik Building (Sumner Street), Turbine Hall and the Natalie Bell Building (Holland Street). It has St Paul’s cathedral opposite it on the other side of the Thames, and historic Southwark to its south. It has great accessibility via public transportation with London Bridge, Southwark, Blackfriars, Cannon Street and St Paul’s stations within walking distance.
Formerly the Bankside Power Station, it was selected as a new Tate gallery site in 1994 and opened in 2000. The power plant building was stripped back to its original steel and brick structure. The boiler house became the Tate collection galleries whilst the turbine hall was cast as a dramatic entrance and display area.
Bring an open mind.
Rick visits the big names in the gallery like Henri Matisse who created, on a vast scale, L’Escargot (the snail, above) in 1953 when he was too old to wield a paintbrush. It recalls the violent clashing colours of his ‘wild animal’ youth.
To the Dutch, there was first Rembrandt, second Van Gogh and third Piet Mondrian whose Composition C (above) painted in 1935, is the ultimate in abstract purity and is seen today on handbags and fabrics all over the world.
Jackson Pollock was a drug addict and an alcoholic who in 1941 expressed his wild inner turmoil in Birth (above). Critics described his talent as ‘volcanic…unpredictable….raw…undisciplined’ and put him on the cover of Time magazine.
Then came Pop Art in the 1950s inspired by advertising, comic books and strip cartoons. The massive dimensions of Roy Lichtenstein’s Whaam (above) make it an ironic statement on the bald excitement of war.
To some, the entire art movement of the twentieth century might as well be thrown down the toilet – which makes Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (above) of 1917 strangely prophetic.
All of these works and more you can see on Rick’s Tate Modern ToureveryWednesday at 2.30 pm.
Tate galleries now comprise Tate Britain (Millbank, London), Tate Liverpool (Royal Albert Dock), Tate St Ives (Cornwall) and Tate Modern (Bankside, London).
If you can’t make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, The Tate Modern Highlights Tour it can always be booked as a private tour. If you go private you can have the The Tate Modern Highlights Tour walk – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We’ll tailor it to your requirements. Ring Fiona or Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at [email protected] and we’ll set it up and make it happen for you. A private London Walk – they’re good value for an individual or couple and sensational value for a group – makes an ideal group or educational or birthday party or office (team-building) or club outing.
GIVE THE GIFT OF LONDON WALKS
A private London Walk makes a fab gift – be it a birthday or anniversary or Christmas present or whatever. Merchandise schmerchandise (gift wrapped or not) – but giving someone an experience, now that’s special. Memories make us rich.