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.

Hit The Road “Giac”, Three Exhibitions In Half A Day, America After The Fall, Royal Academy, Giacometti and Wolfgang Tillmans, Tate Modern, 16 May 2017

Now that Daisy is a member of the Royal Academy and the Tate, it is even easier for us to take in a few exhibitions in one outing, even those in which we might only have a passing interest.

Giacometti most certainly does not fall into the “passing interest” category – he is one of my favourite sculptors – Daisy’s too (perhaps to a lesser extent). So we planned our trip around the members’ evening showing of the Giacometti exhibition.

Here is a link to the Tate’s on-line resource for the Giacometti.

I had fancied seeing the Wolfang Tillmans some weeks/months ago, but perhaps not to the extent of making a special trip for it. So I was really pleased when the Giacometti invite informed us that the Wolfgang Tillmans would also be showing on that members’ evening.

Here is a link to the Tate’s on-line resource for the Wolfgang Tillmans.

We had also both quite fancied America After The Fall at the Royal Academy, but again not to the extent that we’d arrange a special date for it.

Here is a link to the Royal Academy’s on-line resource for America After The Fall.

Thus our plan was hatched – take the afternoon off, have a bite of lunch together at the town residence, mosey along to the Royal Academy for America After The Fall, scoot down to the Tate Modern and take in the other two exhibitions, shoot back to the town residence to pick up Dumbo (my Suzuki Jimny), then escape London to the calm of the country residence (W3) with some shawarmas.

The plan worked perfectly.

I think we both enjoyed America After The Fall more than we expected to. I had forgotten how much I like Grant Wood’s work as well as Edward Hopper’s and there were several fine examples from each of them. Plenty of other interesting pieces too, along with some rather grim and ordinary work from that difficult 1930’s period.

With some time on our hands and the members’ bar and garden at our disposal, we took some juice in the garden of the bar. We were lucky to get a garden table and celebrated our good fortune with a double-selfie:

Daisy and Ged RA, RA, RA!

Then we braved the rush hour for three stops of the Jubilee to the Tate Modern, arriving pretty much spot on members’ opening time, 18:45. This precision of time keeping does not come naturally to Daisy and I must admit to a bit more luck than judgement on my part too – I don’t pay my time pieces much heed on an afternoon off.

Coincidentally, while waiting for Daisy at lunchtime, I was Ogblogging my old NewsRevue lyrics and came to one about the 1996 Cézanne exhibition at the Tate Modern, based around the Leonard Cohen tune Suzanne.

That got me thinking about a suitable song for Giacometti. Initially I decided that Cézanne was an easier name for parody, but then I had the thought:

Hit the road, Giac,

Ometti come back no more, no more, no more, no more,

Hit the road, Giac,

Ometti come back no more…

So that was it – I had Ray Charles stuck in my head for the rest of the day:

But I digress.

The Giacometti exhibition was everything we wanted it to be. Comprehensive, interesting information about Giacometti’s life and the diversity of his work, lots of our favourite pieces to see and some new favourites to squirrel away in our minds. We particularly enjoyed the documentary film. made late in his life, showing Giacometti paint the interviewer and then talk about the meticulous way he formed his sculpture’s eyes and faces.

The Wolfgang Tillmans was a delicious dessert after the Giacometti.  It is a very interesting exhibition. Mostly photographs of course, but some of the rooms were “littered” with articles and papers that interest him, many of them about the brain and how we form impressions from images and ideas. Some of his photographs are simply wonderful and awe-inspiring. He seems to be a very interesting man, too, although the scattering of papers and articles made me want to have a chat with him rather than simply look at his reading pile.

We quite liked the playback room for sound too, although Janie found it too loud (as did I to some extent) but it was interesting to hear recorded sound at studio quality. We’re used to decent quality at home these days, but often forget how much higher quality is possible in recording, which I imagine is the intention of that work.

I’m rambling again. Three exhibitions, all three well worth catching if you can, especially the Giacometti, which is really special. We had a great outing.

Robert Rauschenberg, plus Wilfredo Lam, Tate Modern, 6 December 2016

An appointment to view the Robert Rauschenberg arranged a long time ago, as Janie takes advantage of her Tate membership so we can see the exhibition on a members’ evening.

Janie came to the Z/Yen office to meet me. We then walked from Lothbury to the Tate Modern across Southwark Bridge – a pleasant 20 minutes or so walk when the weather is good, which it was.

We got to the Tate ahead of the special evening opening hours, so we went to the members’ bar and had a small “glass of” each to sustain ourselves for the exhibition.

When we staggered down the stairs to go to the Rauschenberg, we first encountered the entrance for the Wilfredo Lam, which the Tate had also opened up for the evening to enable members to see both exhibitions out of hours. “Why not?” we thought and gave the Wilfredo Lam a quick once-over. We’d seen a fair smattering of his works in Cuba and remembered that he wasn’t exactly our favourite. A bit austere. “Picasso-lite” I described it – probably not an entirely original comment.

Then the Rauschenberg, the real purpose of our visit. Both of us had seen some of his stuff before and liked it, but neither of us had seen much and we both knew little about him.

Janie latched on to his abstract expressionist roots and started sounding off about the absence of such artists as Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly in the exhibition of that name at the Royal Academy, which we visited to hat-losing effect a few weeks ago – click here. It was interesting to learn that Rauschenberg and Twombly had been romantically entangled when young.

We both like his use of colour and some of the earlier, experimental works are interesting. I didn’t much like the transfer drawings but clearly this technique was a step on the path towards his astonishing silkscreen work, which we both find very pleasing and interesting.

The later work is a bit hit and miss. Rauschenberg was bound to be fascinated by the use of digital imaging as part of his work in later years, yet somehow I think the cruder, analogue methods produce more interesting work in his genre.

Well worth seeing, the Rauschenberg exhibition.

 

 

The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography From The Sir Elton John Collection, Tate Modern, Then On To A Z/Yen Alumni Drinks Gathering At The Phoenix, 9 November 2016

Tate Modernist Selfie
Tate Modernist Selfie

As a Tate Modernista, Janie gets invited to previews and we are keen to take advantage of those when we are able. For that reason, we had booked out this particular afternoon, which also turned out to be the one date that worked for several Z/Yen alumni for a gathering.

It wasn’t complicated; we decided to combine both, making the timing of the Tate Modern visit fit nicely into that late afternoon slot.

So we worked in the morning and over lunchtime, then met up at the Tate Modern around 15:30 to see The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography From The Sir Elton John Collection – click here for details.

It is an eclectic but fine collection; I very much enjoyed seeing the many Man Ray and André Kertész examples (I’ve long been a fan of theirs), but was also especially taken by the Dorothea Lange portraits, which I thought were especially good and with which I was not so familiar.

Then on to The Phoenix on Throgmorton Street, via the office. When we arrived, Linda was worried that it might just be we three, but I think she was just fretting a little because one or two people had to drop out at the last minute. Steph, Mary, Richard, Elisabeth and Christiano all turned up, which made a good size of group.

Janie and I didn’t stay all that long; Janie had booked early work for the next morning and was starting to struggle a little with a niggling abscess. So I took her home, cooked some pasta with one of Alistair Little’s ragus and put the wee bairn to bed early.

 

A Visit To The Tate Modern, Primarily To See Georgia O’Keeffe, 8 July 2016

We booked the day off, primarily to see the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition at the Tate Modern.

I arranged to play real tennis in the morning and had also arranged to collect my new super-duper tennis racket when there, which Janie was very kindly buying for me as my birthday present. Janie and I ummed and ahhed about the logistics for the day, eventually landing on the idea that Janie would come to the flat and we’d go to Lord’s in Dumbo together. Janie quite enjoys sitting in the dedans gallery reading and/or watching the tennis. So that we did.

I had a hard game. We watched Chris playing with a very good player for a while after I showered and then went back to the flat for a quick bite of lunch before heading off by tube to the Tate Modern.

On arrival, we had a quick look at the Mona Hatoum exhibition before going to the O’Keeffe. As Janie is a member with a concession for a guest, we effectively have freedom of the place for all exhibitions.

Some of the Mona Hatoum pieces are very interesting, even stunning, but most of her work is quite stark. Janie described it as violent. Certainly dark.

The highlight of our visit was unquestionably the Georgia O’Keeffe. A rare chance to see her work and a huge one-off collection of it too. I particularly liked her more abstract pieces (both the early and late period abstracts). Janie liked the flower pictures as well as the abstracts – indeed Janie liked most of it. Incredible use of colour. The story of her development as an artist, under the wing of Alfred Stieglitz, is also interesting. Afterwards, I bought Janie a book oriented towards that aspect of O’Keeffe’s story.

Tired, we took some refreshment in the members’ cafe. Then, revived, decided we had time also to see the Bhupen Khakhar and one or two other things as long as we headed straight to the Wigmore Hall to see Christian McBride and Chick Corea after that.

I wasn’t much taken by the Bhupen Khakhar work. Some of the later works were quite interesting and I like the colours he used, but most of the work seemed very crude to me (artistically I mean, although also, as it happens, in terms of subject matter). Still, glad we took the time to see it.

Then we went to have a look at the Mark Rothko Seagram Murals, which we hadn’t seen before. Neither of us felt the contemplative spirituality promised. But again, glad I have seen them now.

Finally, we went across to the Switch House in search of the macaws (which we missed out on last time) only to be disappointed again. The owners have now withdrawn the macaws temporarily because they don’t seem happy being looked at by lots of people…probably not a great idea to exhibit them at the most visited modern art museum in the world, then.

 

Preview of Switch House, The New Tate Modern Building, 15 June 2016

View From The Top
View From The Top
Events At The Bottom
Events At The Bottom

After doing Shakespeare’s Globe, we thought that 15:00ish would be a good time to see the New Tate – after the lunchtime crowd and before the “knock off work a little early” crowd. We were right; a bit of a queue, but not too bad.

We started at the bottom and worked our way up slowly, having been warned that the lifts would be a long wait. At the very bottom, a few small exhibitions in The Tanks, such as a weird video room where you lie on cushions and look at videos of naked young women screaming and shouting. Another was supposed to react to the noises we made but seemed unresponsive to our noises. Also down there, a musical event (see picture above) of musical instruments powered by air tanks and other geeky-looking gadgetry.

Then we wended our way up, having a quick look at the new exhibits. We were a bit disappointed that we couldn’t see the macaws in the Brazilian exhibit for “animal welfare” reasons, which clearly don’t extend to keeping the birds cooped up regularly per se.

We were especially taken by one exhibit with “lie down in a cage” potential – in my case because I liked the idea of a lie down at that stage; in Janie’s case because she saw it as a big-time photo opportunity.

Well comfy
Not so easy to get in and out of though

Grrr

Grrr

Then we carried on to the top, taking a quick look at the restaurant (which looked a bit “uti” for its price) and then the stunning viewing gallery.

One view
One view
IMG_1999
Another view
View From The Top
View From The Top

After the Tate, we went on to one of Helen Baker’s Mousse wine tastings. This one was fairly impromptu and well-timed for us as her place is just around the corner from the Tate Modern.

It was mostly roses: Les Mille Vignes Rose 2014 and Domaine Malmont Rose 2015. But actually the highlight was a most unusual white: Les Mille Vignes Muscat Sec 2014 – the most interesting dry muscat I have ever tasted.

As usual some really nice interesting people there – mostly the firm of architects who work in the building. Naturally the conversation turned to the referendum at times. We were unquestionably in with an in crowd.

Alexander Calder at the Tate Modern, Followed by a Mousse Wine Tasting, 23 November 2015

This was one of those coincidental days that worked out ever so well. Janie and I had run out of steam on our previous visit to the Tate Modern (to see The World Goes Pop) but wanted to see the Alexander Calder exhibition properly. We had a booked a day off for 23 November, as we had arranged to spend the weekend in Bristol with Hil, Chris and the family, so that day seemed a suitable date for the Calder.

Meanwhile, Helen Baker at Mousse Wine invited us, at relatively short notice, to a wine tasting that very evening, just around the corner from the Tate Modern.

So, on the day, we enjoyed a decent game of tennis in the morning, a light lunch and then off to the Tate Modern.

We really enjoyed the Alexander Calder, finding his sculptures soothing as well as interesting and pleasing to the eye.  There’s a good Tate stub on this exhibition with all the details – click here.

The wine tasting focussed on Nebbiolo wines – mostly Barbaresco and Barolo – here is the list of wines we tried:

Nebbiolo tasting 23.11.15 invite list np

This was Janie’s first (and my second) Mousse tasting. Not only does Helen put on a very interesting tasting but the small group of people she attracts are a pleasant, interesting bunch too.

A most enjoyable way to end a day off.

 

The World Goes Pop, Tate Modern, 12 November 2015

By the time Janie had waded through the materials from Kim’s very generous membership birthday gifts, which included membership of the Tate, she realised that she/we had missed the previews of this exhibition but there was still one members evening left, so we arranged to meet at the tate Modern early evening.

I had a long-arranged/rearranged lunch with John Farthing at a wonderful new Japanese Restaurant, Kiru, with which John is involved and to which I went again with John White a couple of months later – click here.

Then to the office for a few hours to clear some stuff before wandering over the (formerly wobbly) bridge to the Tate. It all felt a bit different, doing the members evening thing. As it was relatively late in the exhibition, this members evening was not so crowded and really did feel like an opportunity to see a popular show in quieter circumstances.

The Tate does excellent on-line stubs for past shows, so there is no need for me to repeat facts about the World Goes Pop exhibition – click here.

It wasn’t quite as much fun as the stub makes out. Some elements were really good fun, but there was also a lot of agitprop art and swathes of grim as well as swathes of lighthearted, colourful stuff. As usual, we were quite selective, spending longer in rooms that interested us and skimming stuff that did less for us.

Still, it was quite a big exhibition, so although we also fancied seeing the Alexander Calder we soon realised that, in the evening after work, we couldn’t possibly do justice to the Calder as well, so resolved to return very soon, which indeed we did, less than a fortnight later.

Janie bought me a couple of really snazzy ties in the Tate Modern shop that evening; these weren’t directly connected with the show but did have a sort-of pop art look about them. I have had more positive comments about those ties than any others in my collection, but sadly the Tate modern subsequently seems to have fallen out of love with ties.

Sonia Delaunay, Tate Modern, 24 July 2015

What an amazing evening we lined up.

This exhibition early evening at the Tate Modern; grab some grub at the Tate-Mod, then on to the Wigmore Hall to see a couple of short gigs there – click here.

The Sonia Delaunay was really interesting; fascinating life and I like much of the work too.

Top stub from the Tate itself with links etc. explains it all, reviews, the lot – click here.

Great start to our evening.