Modigliani Plus Three, Tate Modern, Tate Britain & Royal Academy, 22 & 24 November 2017

The big idea was for me and Janie to take Wednesday 22 November off work to enjoy a members’ preview of the Modigliani exhibition at the Tate Modern.

But the idea grew like Topsy. We both quite fancied seeing Impressionists in London at Tate Britain and also liked the look of a couple of Royal Academy exhibitions showing at the moment: Jasper Johns “Something Resembling Truth” and Dalí / Duchamp.

In the end, it occurred to both of us that four exhibitions in one day is overdoing it at our age…actually WAS overdoing it even when we were younger and less discerning.

So, we resolved to visit the Tate galleries on our Wednesday off (I was so tempted to use the headline “Tate-à-Tate”), then to take in the two smaller exhibitions at the Royal Academy a couple of days later, by taking advantage of late Friday opening.

We enjoyed all four exhibitions, but the highlight for us was undoubtedly the first one we saw; Modigliani.

Following my Evening Of Economics With Eno Comics earlier in the week – click here – I was clear in my mind that the exhibition featured the work of Amadeo Modigliani, the painter & sculptor, not, as I might otherwise have assumed, Merton Miller’s co-author, Franco Modigliani, the Nobel-winning corporate finance economist.

Just in case any Ogblog readers remain confused, I have embedded the trailer for the wonderful Modigliani exhibition below:

We both really loved this exhibition. Not only does it show a superb selection of Modigliani’s work, but you get some real insight into his working world, from his early days in Paris to the end of Modigliani’s relatively short and tragic life.

A tip for anyone planning to go to this exhibition; do make sure you bagsy a (free) ticket for the Modigliani virtual reality studio: The Ochre Atelier. Both Janie and I thoroughly enjoyed that experience. You feel that you are sitting in Modigliani’s studio from three different angles. You can’t quite smell the smouldering Gitanes in the ashtray, but you do sense the breeze coming in through the window.

Impressionists In London – French Artists In Exile 1870 to 1904

We had the car with us, making it a surprisingly short hop from the Tate Modern to the Tate Britain, via Lambeth Bridge.

This exhibition has been somewhat maligned by the critics, but we enjoyed enough of it to justify the visit.

Many of my old school friends, for example, will appreciate the scenes from suburban London where the French artist refugees seemed to congregate for a while; doing some interesting impressions of 1870s Upper Norwood, Sydenham, Lordship Lane and the like – Sarf London Ooh La La?

Cricket loving friends, d’autre part, should love the impressions of 1870s cricket, from Tissot (surely not an Impressionist) hanging out with the I Zingari lot in St John’s Wood to Pisarro’s wonderfully impressionistic crickety park scenes.

In fact, there were quite a lot of Pisarro works on various subjects, probably worth the visit alone. Monet’s foggy London scenes are also well worth seeing if you have never seen them before – as it happens we had seen them before but were very happy to see them again.

Jasper Johns – “Something Resembling Truth”

This was a far more interesting exhibition than I expected. I had a few key images in my head for Johns (flags, numbers…) and didn’t realise the diversity of his work when you see a full tilt retrospective, which this undoubtedly is.

It’s patchy; Janie and I both enjoyed some but not all of the works, but there was plenty to enjoy and I (for one) was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the work and variety of styles. A lesser-known middle period in the 1980s, for example, yielded interesting work to my eyes.

Dalí / Duchamp

Janie and I both love Dalí’s better works and many of those were on show in this exhibition. Duchamp’s art, we felt, was less interesting. Marcel Duchamp was clearly a very interesting thinker, but perhaps not such an interesting artist.

Well worth a look at this exhibition, though, with a good selection of artefacts and photographs as well as art works.

Further, with the Jasper Johns and the Dalí / Duchamp exhibitions located next to each other, it really does make sense to see both in one go, unless you are very short of time and/or have an aversion to seeing two shows in one go.

We had a mixed juice (or non-alcy cocktail) in the RA members bar after the shows, served by a comedy combination of competent barman and clueless waiter.

Here are some link terms to reviews of the four exhibitions:

But don’t take the experts’ words for it – we’ve all had enough of experts after all. Janie and I thought all of the exhibitions were worth seeing, but if you can only see one of these exhibitions, for us it would have be the Modigliani.

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.

Frank Auerbach and Barbara Hepworth, Tate Britain, 12 October 2015

This was another evening opportunity to see a preview of a Tate exhibition – in this instance the new Frank Auerbach exhibition.

Janie and I were both working that day and arranged to meet at the Tate Britain itself – I got there well early and was glad of the good weather for hanging around early evening outdoors.

Although our main purpose was the Auerbach, we judged that those rooms would be quite busy at first, so went and looked at the Barbara Hepworth first, which we both enjoyed very much.

Indeed the early part of the Auerbach seemed very dark after the Hepworth, but Auerbach is one of those artists who (in my view) got more interesting as he matured, so the exhibition grew on me as we went through the rooms.

We enjoyed a drink and some nibbles in the members’ room after we’d had our fill of exhibits. Well worthwhile, both exhibitions.

A good, informative Tate stub on Barbara Hepworth – here…

…and similarly a good stub on the Auerbach – here.

An Utterly Arty Day Off, Several Exhibitions At Several Galleries, 14 April 2008

Janie and I only occasionally took days off to do arty things in those days. So when we did, we went a bit mad and did lots.

So this particular day, 14 April 2008, we went to see three exhibitions at three separate galleries (Ogblogged here) and then went on to the theatre (which I shall Ogblog separately).

First stop, the Royal Academy Of Arts to see From Russia: French and Russian Master Paintings 1870-1925 at the Royal Academy – click here for an excellent preview fro the Guardian.

This piece from the Telegraph – click here – describes the hoo-ha that nearly prevented the Russia exhibition from going ahead.

It was a fabulous exhibition.

Then we shuttled across to the Tate Britain to see the Peter Doig exhibition, which we also enjoyed very much. Click here for the Tate’s informative stub on this exhibition.

Then on to The Hayward to see the Alexander Rodchenko exhibition of photography. Click here for the Southbank Centre’s stub on this excellent exhibition.

All three had been justifiably very well received by the press and we enjoyed a super arty day seeing all three.