Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Picasso at the Tate Britain

What I love about living in London is the galleries and museums. There are so many different places of interest to visit that we are literally spoiled for choice. Less than 5 minutes walk from my flat is the V&A Museum of Childhood, while just up the road there is the Geffrye Museum. Brick Lane always has some artsy exhibitions going on and the Whitechapel Gallery is one of my favourite spaces (although I do get lost EVERY time I go in there!!) Over the past few months I seem to have been going to a lot of exhibitions at art galleries and museums. Some of them have been with work (Natural History Museum, Portrait Gallery) but more of them have been because I'm actually doing something with myself at the weekends as opposed to just sitting around doing not very much. 

It's probably about time I started sharing some of my thoughts and ideas about some of the exhibitions I've been to with you... So over the next few weeks, I think there'll be some posts about exhibitions that I've visited and what I've thought of them. I should warn you: I've recently joined the Tate - very overdue as it's always my first choice of gallery to show visitors, and in the past week I've seen three of their major exhibitions, so the first few posts will invariably be centred around the Tate Galleries...

Picasso and Modern British Art at the Tate Britain

The largest of the three exhibitions I have been to recently (we must have spent at least an hour and a half going around it before even thinking about the rest of the Tate), was the Picasso and Modern British Art exhibition at the Tate Britain. Spread over 12 large rooms this exhibition documents not only Picasso's work, showing how he was influenced by the world around him, how his work matured, changed, returned to the same themes... but also included rooms with artists influenced by Picasso. There was a room with paintings by Picasso alongside sculptures by Henry Moore, whose work has such a sensual and smooth finish, I would never have considered a connection. I was seriously amazed to see quite how clearly Moore was influenced by Picasso's work - some of his sculptures have almost identical lines to Picasso's 2D interpretations of his subjects. It was absolutely fascinating. I would never have realised Francis Bacon was so influenced by Picasso, but again, seeing them together it suddenly becomes so apparent, as well as works by David Hockney, Wyndham Lewis and Ben Nicholson. Actually Ben Nicholson came as no surprise; he's an artist who seems to have jumped on every art-movement bandwagon there was and, having seen the Mondrian-Nicholson exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery a few weeks ago, I'm beginning to wonder if he actually had his own personal style. I really loved seeing how Picasso's work changed over the decades, how he matured, changed and carved his own niche in art. I also learnt about a whole side of Picasso's art that I simply had never heard of before visiting the exhibition: in the early 20th Century (around 1917), he became very much involved with the Ballet Russes and Diaghilev (which I knew), and designed not just the scenery backdrops for the stage but also the costumes as well for some of the productions. There were some reproductions of the costumes on display (dating from the 1940s as the originals have been lost/destroyed) and sketches of the characters' costumes. I think that may have been the point where my estimation of Picasso just went through the roof - I've always loved all the cubism works and the portraits with the double profiles are so clever and interesting, but that he was so diverse in his work was something I hadn't really considered before. There were even some of his sculptures on display which you very rarely get a chance to see. I know everyone raves about Picasso (well, apart from the people who hate his work) but they really are worth listening to. This exhibition has definitely made me realise just how much he has influenced British Art over the past century and how he is continuing to do so. I thought it was fantastic, well put together and really really interesting. I love Picasso's style (especially the cubism work from the 1910s and 1920s) and have become far more aware of how important he has been for modern art. The exhibition is in it's final weeks so if you haven't seen it yet (and are in/around London) you really should go - it's definitely worth the entrance fee. 

Picasso and Modern British Art
Tate Modern
15th February - 15th July 2012
Tickets: £14 (or free if you are a member)

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