The view across the river, towards St Paul’s from a balcony at Tate Modern.
The ‘Matisse cut-outs’ was the exhibition of the day and plenty of people were queuing their way into the display rooms. The booklet received on entry was an ideal brief introduction. As you would expect it was repeated on panels around the rooms but the booklet was much easier to read as you entered each section. The rooms were arranged historically so you could see the developments of Matisse’ ideas and technique.
The first entrance was nearly blocked by a group of a dozen smallish children kneeling on the floor eagerly copying the first few ‘pictures’. I hope they had enough paper to carry them through all the images they found further on, much better ones too. I tried writing a whistle-stop tour for this page of what was there but fell too far below a satisfactory description and have to recommend you buy the book on the exhibition.
As we went round I was struck by the volume entitled ‘Apollinaire’ with cover and prints inside by Matisse. Apollinaire was an artist who was producing typography as an illustrative art form and envisaged books of this and other new styles appearing, making quality printed art-books available for subscribers interested in the modern art styles then breaking out. It seems Matisse was disappointed with the results for his part of the contents as the actuality of the printed finish was that the 3D effect of his originals was lost. For him the layering of his brightly coloured gouached papers was an important effect. Several films helped by showing his technique He was enthusiastically creative despite his age and need for assistants.
Walking round brought a few other names to mind: an early sort-of Rothko, a similarity but Rothko is an artist I am also quite fond of. This raised the memory that I like Mondrian’s work and of pointillism, too but I could not recall the name of the artist that developed it. Not sure why they cropped up except that seeing Matisse’ works in the flesh, as it were, stoked up my own enthusiasms for various other artists and styles. Those visits will have to be another day.
From a Tate restaurant balcony I took the photo of the new extension being built. Quite a nice balance to the solid design of Tate Modern and much needed for the seemingly ever enlarging artists’ concepts. Not forgetting the growing army of artists whose time for immortality may have arrived. Time will have to judge the survival rate.
Across the river and into the streets. Over the no-longer swaying Millenium Bridge (shame really as the effect was a little like walking a long gang-plank onto a barge but it was closed for strengthening to stop the movement. Many thousands must have crossed that moving bridge but a small number compared to those that have used it since) and home via the Underground.
A few weeks later I was visiting a local primary school and looking at the children’s art and written work on the classroom walls. Always instructive and fun. There, in one of the square cloakroom areas, above the hooks with their personalised name tags, was a poster on each of the three walls. One for Matisse, one for Mondrian and one for Seurat. Surrounding each poster was a fantastic selection of children’s work in the style of each artist. I was pleased to see that I had eventually guessed correctly at the artist for pointillism, but highly impressed that this work was the result of children that had visited the Matisse exhibition. Not so much the quality of the work, I know how good eight and nine year-olds can be, but the fact that the school was able to arrange such a long-distance trip to the Tate Modern, not such an easy journey from this small town. I expressed my surprise but was told that they regularly took groups of children to galleries National and Portrait plus assorted others as well as museums. Also, it was actually quite easy and the children had a great time and the benefits from the trips lasted some time through their work back in school. Just like it is a normal part of a school day……
Wow, I remember doing cutting and collage in my Infant classes but we never got the chance to see real art, as it were. But then, when I was in primary education the Tate Modern was still a working power-station!