Tate (way tooo) Modern

Ok, so I decided to follow suit and visit Tate. As it turned out, only to reaffirm that I don’t understand The Modern Art.

With all those “Please do not touch the works of art” signs all over, it felt like I was colourblind, as I looked at the same things, but couldn’t see what other people did (or pretended they did). I stopped near a couple of pictures and installations and whatever-the-authors-call-them, trying to receive the artists’ messages, but failed. I saw just the physical objects, not the works of art.

This one, for example. “Untitled” by Jannis Kounellis, 1968 (click on the image to see it in a bigger size). The description has some clever words in it, like “Arte Povera’s exploration of basic media” and “”Kounellis’s attraction to earlier civilisatons”. Looks like wooden support and fluffy woolen hanks of different shades of blue to me.

Or this one. Same title, same author, 11 years later. I thought at last I managed to guess the author’s idea: there is a factory and two birds, which were obviously killed by pollution. The artist tried to intensify the impression by contrast, putting together very simple, almost schematic image of the factory and real arrows and stuffed birds. The message is clear, I thought: people, stop it, you are killing the environment. But how wrong and naïve I was… According to the description, the two birds “have been seen as symbolising the death throes of imaginative freedom”. Oh well…

To be frank, I have to admit that I was glad I didn’t have to pay for entry.

After half an hour of trying to make sense of what I saw, I felt sick. Literally.

But then, luckily, I got into the “Red Star Over Russia” exposition. They have a whole room of USSR street posters, and they meant something to me…

I laughed at those which showed the difference between the capitalism world (where everything was going wrong) and the socialism world (where everything was perfect, of course). It’s hard to imagine that people actually believed in that, but some of them really did.

I was startled by the scale of propaganda in USSR, which the posters conveyed. They had posters in several languages, but all in the same recognisable red-and-rough style, to distribute them in parts of USSR where Russian was not the language of majority. Very thoughtful… and scary.

And then I almost went sentimental when I saw the World War II posters – yes, they might seem rather artificial and pompous, but hey, they helped us to defeat fascism!..

Here are some of the posters, for those of my Russian friends who might accidentally read this :)

On my way back I stumbled upon Rodin’s “The Kiss”, and couldn’t get my eyes off it for a moment. A breath of fresh air, that’s what it was! It looked completely out of place among those obscure (to me) pieces of art…

I’m not trying to stop anyone from going to Tate Modern. It is undoubtedly worth visiting, at least to realise how much you love simple and old-fashioned art of the past.

Besides, Tate is very visitor-friendly, it’s active and interactive, and I liked the idea of getting everyone involved into the process of art creating and evaluating. It’s packed with up-to-date technologies, e.g. they let you record a video message, saying “Heyyyy!!! I’m in Tate Modern right now, how cool is that?”, and instantly e-mail it to your friends. And they have fancy benches there.

So give it a go and don’t forget to share your impressions afterwards! =)

Related links:

Tate Modern


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Печенька on November 3, 2010 at 07:12

    I apologize ahead for my english) It is bad enough even to write a comment. But the story about the paintings of the USSR really impressed me. As we say in Russia, “Prikolno” =)


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