Thursday, 27 June 2013
a visit to the sugar factory's legacy
I was in Tate Britain during the week, as a break from my office-based side project.
The recently completed massive re-hang of works has cubed them into a sweet chronological order. Yes, Tate was founded by the importer who created those little sugar cubes.
The Tate Modern (the other London Tate) has more variability, contrasting pieces from different eras, but here in Tate Britain it is genuinely helpful to be able to select a period from 1540 up to modern day, step into a relevant room and to see how art work has developed.
It's also created a surprisingly good mix of 'Greatest Hits' type works interspersed with (to me) lesser known pieces. It's totally impossible to take it all in one go, and much better to spend time in a few areas and maybe contrast the styles and developments.
There's early portraits, then development of surrounding scenes, landscapes, social commentary, abstraction, the conventions of the painters, both formal and sometimes humorous. It's easier in the new format to see it unfold through the different rooms. There's some - like the huge picture of the Lady of Shallot after the mirror shatters and she makes her cursed way downstream to never reach Camelot. Just one picture can take an age to absorb.
To the side of the huge galleries are smaller side exhibits which can be rotated with individual spotlight shows. I visited a couple related to the main show and a couple of very specific additional gallery collections.
I've dotted a few pictures through this blog entry. That top installation is from Damien Hirst. I think I saw it first in the old Saatchi gallery, which used to be on the South Bank. The Acquired Inability Escape. A curiously familiar scene? It's odd how some of these pieces seem to travel around London, probably at dead of night.
The middle picture is the Cook maid, by Sir Nathaniel Bacon, from around 1620 and the final one is the Lady of Shalott, 1888, by John William Waterhouse. Tate have also put around 500 of the works online into a useful gallery, which is here. Dive in for a Bigger Splash.