Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932, Royal Academy, plus David Hockney, Tate Britain, 6 March 2017

We had booked the evening out for Hockney members’ evening ages ago; we decided to book out the whole day once our holiday plans had been fixed.

Thus the idea of going to see Revolution before the Hockney was hatched.

Still, events conspired against us earlier in the day and it ended up a bit of a rush to get in to see Revolution before closing time.

We got to the RA about 17:15. The young lady on the door warned us that they start closing about 17:55 (five minutes before actual closing time). I explained that the revolution wouldn’t take us all that long as we are seasoned revolutionaries. That seemed to convince her – at least she let us through without further ado.

Here is a link to the Royal Academy’s excellent resource on the Revolution exhibition.

In truth, we didn’t need all that long to see that exhibition. There were a few really good works of art, but the rest was interesting from an historical point of view rather than jaw-dropping art that you want to look at for ages.

I expected to like the Chagalls and the Kandinsky. More surprising was that I liked some of the Kazimir Malevich and the Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin (in the latter case, not the one depicted on the resource link above, but I did like several others).

I read The Noise Of Time by Julian Barnes on holiday, so the stuff about Stalin purging the arty folk was fresh in my mind.

Janie commented that, in many ways, reading the leaflet was more interesting than much of the art itself.

We then took a welcome break at the RA bar, where a Lenin-lookalike barman took an age to serve our wine as he was busy making up cocktails for a little group of barflies who were knocking them back.

Then on to Tate Britain for the Hockney. We had seen many of the works before, not least the more recent iPad work, the colourful East Riding of Yorkshire works and (some years ago) the sixties and seventies portrait stuff around pools in California and the like.

The art critics tend to favour the earlier stuff over the later stuff, whereas Janie and I are both fans of the later work. Seeing this retrospective on his whole oeuvre, our feelings were reconfirmed.

Here is a link to the Tate Britain resource on Hockney.

As it was a members evening, the exhibition was actually rather busy at the start. We chose to go round it backwards, starting with the later work and ending with the earlier. This seemed to work well enough for us, as we are familiar with much of his work. Perhaps not such a good idea for an artist with whom you are less familiar.

Then home (i.e. the flat) via the Ranoush shawarma bar in Kensington High Street.

What a pleasant late afternoon/evening.

2 thoughts on “Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932, Royal Academy, plus David Hockney, Tate Britain, 6 March 2017”

  1. Oh, so you went to see the Revolution too. Hockney not my cup of tea at any of his periods, and from such as I have seen of his East Riding work in reproduction I am baffled that anybody thinks that muted landscape and climate benefits from the Matisse colour-scheme.
    As to the Russians I was most affected by the black room of NKVD/OGPU mugshots – looking at one young woman’s face, for example, and thinking: My God, I’ve taught her.

    1. Yes, the mugshot room was especially harrowing, John. There is a similar mugshot room at the Tuol Sleng Holocaust Museum in Phnom Penh, which we were discussing when we met the other week. I have now written up that day on Ogblog:

      http://ianlouisharris.com/2001/02/08/from-siem-reap-to-phnom-penh-by-boat-on-the-tonle-sap-8-february-2001/

      …but I didn’t photograph or mention that harrowing mugshot gallery. The thing I especially remember at Tuol Sleng was how many of the people looked utterly terrified in the mugshots

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