Sweet treats at the Tate
I always love a good visual jolt. Art–in any form–that takes me by surprise—always takes home the blue ribbon. I only had a few hours to view work at the Tate Modern, but every floor showcased little treasures I hadn’t seen before and some quirky pieces I’d only read about.
This piece (Pics #1 and #2) titled, “Venus of the Rags,” cracked me up. It was assembled in 1967 by Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto (b. 1933). There’s so much going on in this installation, that even way across the museum floor it amuses passersby.
As the Tate describes, “Venus of the Rags” juxtaposes “an iconic figure of classical culture with the detritus of contemporary society”—as the Roman love goddess leans against a chaotic pile of gaudily colored worn-out clothes (actually used by the artist to clean his previous paintings). The truth is, the figure is based on a kitsch statue found in a garden center. And she reminds me just how much I hate doing laundry.
This bizarre mix of classical art and second-hand junk is a highlight of The Tate collection. It’s representative of the 60s movement founded in Italy known as “Arte Povera”–artistic statements created from everyday life, often using “poor” materials.
It’s the French word for “gift” and appears to be the perfect present for someone who needs to iron his mesh shirts.
Art historians tell us–by adding a row of nails–artist Man Ray transforms a household flat-iron into a new and potentially threatening object (right). “The nails and burning metal suggest a violent eroticism at odds with the work’s title.” Gee, ya think?
Often described as a modernist, Man Ray was a significant contributor to both the Dada and Surrealist movements along with conceptual genius Marcel Duchamp.
Duchamp was so iconic, award-winning Hollywood writer Aaron Sorkin worked him into trademark dialogue from NBC’s “The West Wing:”
C.J: “….an almost mind-blowing vortex of art and material that dares the viewers to recall Marcel DuChamp. Duchamp is the father of Dadaism.”
TOBY: “I know.”
C.J: “The Dada of Dada.”
TOBY: “It’s like there’s nothing you can do about that joke. It’s coming and you have to stand there.”
“The Snail” by Henri Matisse
I happen to love an art lesson in one mindblowing moment. For me, this one is about breaking down an object into its basic parts. Here, at 84, in the last year of his life, Henri Matisse cuts blocks of painted paper to create the centered spiral.
The minimalist “essence” of snail-–is clear—unless you’re my husband, who just walked in and looked at this and said, “How the hell to you see a snail in that thing?”
“Carli” the fairy fashionista:
Sometimes, the “art” we see on the walls serves only as backdrop for the art we see everywhere else. Take “Carli” (Pic #5) –a creatively-dressed woman I encountered on the 3rd floor of the Tate. It made sense that she seemed to have stepped right out of her own fantasy world when I discovered she sells “fairly-traded faery wear” for children and adults. Her UK business card reads: “Clothes for all faeries, elves, pixies, nymphs, and gnomes.“