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Posts Tagged ‘Tate Modern’

London walking Tour Harry Potter Walks

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

One of the great aspects of our Harry Potter London Tour and treasure hunt is that you get to do it at your own pace and on a day amd at a time that suits you. It’s the ultimate flexibility because you set your own agenda.

The Harry Potter London walk was written by Richard Jones to provide parents with a great day (or even few days) of exploring London in a way that was both fun and informative.

London is a great City for Walking in and with this free London tour you really do get to see some great parts of the City whilst visiting the various Harry Potter movie locations.

But you also get to see different neighbourhoods on your travels.  You get to walk through the lively and vibrant Covent Garden Market. You get to stand in Trafalgar Square and learn something of its history.

You make your way along Whitehall to see the site of the telephone box via which Harry and Mr Weasley descend into the Ministry of Magic.

You then get to travel over to Southwark to stroll onto the Millennium Bridge and see the soaring former Bankside Power Station, a real London landmark which is now Tate Modern.

To get your free copy of the Harry Potter London Walking Tour you simply have to send an email to harry-potter-pdf@discovery-walks.com and within moments to full 30 page pdf will appear magically in your in box.

You then just print it off and away you go.

Final Part of Pistoletto

Friday, October 16th, 2009

So our London walks around the south side of the River Thames and in to Tate Modern have brought us into the Energy and Process wing of the Museum.

We have been looking at a work entitled Venus of the Rags, which was created in 1967 and then recreated in 1974 by the Italian artist Michaelangelo Pistoletto.

Our previous London walks of art blog explained what it was made with and where the materials came from.

Today we look at what it means.

Ostensibly the work shows a figure of Venus, the Roman goddess of love, facing, confronting or even embracing a huge pile of rags.

It effectively brings together an icon of classical culture, Venus, and the detritus of contemporary culture, in this case the rags.

The solid and unchangeable brought together with the fleeting.

In this case Venus is solid, she has been around for a long time, she doesn’t and will not change.

Yes, she may be created and recreated out of different materials – and Pistoletto himself has created several different versions of the work in different materials, on one occassion even staging a live version of it – but her form, her memory, her iconic status does not change.

Clothes, which is what the rags are, do change. They can be discarded, torn up, shredded. They are indicitive, indeed symbolic of all things that pass, such as fads and fashions, both of which are driving forces of the modern age.

But there is also a certain irony about Venus of the Rags, in that you have a simple nude figure amidst a huge mountain of discarded and unwanted clothing.

Finally, there is perhaps a metaphor for our modern age in the work. For are we, like Venus here, not confronted  by a huge omnipresent mountain of waste and garbage that our modern throwaway age has created.

So there we have our look inside the Energy and Process wing of Tate Modern.

You can of course join us on the wide variety of London walks that we offer, where you can see so much more of the ciy that has spent 2,000 years preparing for your visit.

London walks – Arte Povero

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

So back to our London walks Art wander in the Energy and Process wing of Tate Modern.

Arte Povero literally translates as Poor Art.

This doesn’t relate in anyway to the quality of the art that these Italian artists created but rather echoes their core belief that any object or material, no matter how ordinary, how mundane, how everyday, how poor, could and should be used in the creation of an art work.

With Pistoletto’s Venus of the Rags we have a perfect example of this.

Ostensibly it shows a figure of Venus, the Roman goddess of love, facing a pile of rags.

It contrasts and combines classical sculpture, as represented by the white statue of Venus, with the modern consumer driven throwaway age.

Interestingly, the statue that Pistoletto used in the original work was very much an emblem of the modern age of mass production for he purchased her from the ornament department of a roadside garden centre!

The rags used in the original 1967 work actually came from Pistoletto’s own studio.

Michaelangelo Pistoletto was known for his Mirror Paintings which, as the name suggests, consisted of paintings painted onto the shiny surfaces of mirrors.

The rags that he used in the original Venus of the Rags were in fact left over rags that were lying around after he had used them to polish the surfaces of the mirrors before painting them.

So having established how the work came to be created and with what, let us now turn our attention to what exactly it is about, what does it mean?

We will begin our analysis of the work in our next blog. In the meantime you can see Tate Modern in all its soaring glory on several of our London walks that wend their way along the banks of the River Thames.

Venus and rags – Walks of London

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Our London walks of Art, or as we like to say London is a walk of art, are going great guns.

We have nearly completed are London Walking Tour around Tate Modern and today have decided to make a return visit to the Energy and Process wing of Tate Modern.

Having nimbly dodged Richard Serra’s massive work Trip Hammer, which consists of two pieces of steel balanced precariously one on top of the other.

Having ducked as you pass Nikki de Saint Phalle’s Shooting Paintings. Having averted your gaze as you pass through a room in which a film showing nudity is constantly playing, you arrive at a statue of Venus that confronts a huge mound of coloured, and colourful rags.

Now we cover a lot of statues on our various London walks, but this particular one is, to say the least, somewhat bizarre.

Venus of the Rags was created in 1967 and then recreated in 1974.

It is a work by the Italian Artist Michaelangelo Pistoletto, a central figure in the Arte Povero movement.

Arte Povero was an Italian art movement of the late 1960′s and early 1970′s.

This was a time of great social upheaval, not only in Italy but also across the reat of Europe and in North America.

This was the era of Vietnam, and age marked by mass protests, riots and strikes.

In Italy a group of artists began attacking the vlaues of the established institutions of government, industry and even of popular culture.

They wanted to create art that was free of the demands of the market place.

Thus the Arte Povera movement was born.

In our next blog we will look at the work of Pistoletto, who was a central figure in this movement.

For now why not take a look at the various and varied London walks we offer.? You can join to explore Shakespeare’s London, Dickens London, or even the London of Jack the Ripper.

It’s a Clarinet – Our Walks Go Musical in London!

Monday, October 12th, 2009

In our London walks of Art blog earlier we began looking at a painting inside the States of Flux wing at Tate Modern that was painted in 1911 by the French painter Georges Braque.

From what, at first, seemed to be a meaningless jumble of lines and distorted shapes we were able to pull forth the shape of the bottle and show how the mantra we use time and again on our London walks - LOOK  ALL AROUND – can be used to really look closely at the painting in question Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on a Mantlepiece.

Today we are going to ease the shape of the clarinet from the painting.

As we explained in the earlier blog, on the body of the bottle can be seen the letters RH and the start of the letter U. These are the first three letters of the French word for rum.

A little way beneath these letters to the right you can see three small round dots to the right of which is the clearly distinguishable mouth piece of a musical instrument, in this case the mouth piece of the clarinet.

This stretched under the bottle of rum on the other side of which are two circular shapes that form the trumpet of the clarinet.

The musical aspect of the painting is further emphasised by the black curls, which could be musical clefts or notes.

Also quite the leters VALSE can be seen on the painting, the French word for Waltz.

So the second object, the clarinet, has now been teased from the painting. We shall return to the painting one last time on the morning to seek the mantlepiece, the final part of the title.

Meanwhile, you could have a look at our Jack the Ripper Tour that takes place seven chilling nights a week and which explores the East End of London. Or you could simply return to our main London walks page.

George Braques Bottle of Brandy

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Returning now to our Walks of Art inside Tate Modern we take a wander into the States of Flux wing to have a look at a painting entitled Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on a Mantlepiece.

This was painted in 1911 by the painter Georges Braque, who together with his great friend and ally Pablo Picasso was a pioneer of the early 20th century art movement that became known as cubism.

At first glance Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on a Mantlepiece appears to be little more than a jumbled series of distorted shapes and lines. Indeed, at first glance your mind might struggle to make sense of what exactly it is that you are looking at.

Where is the clarinet?

Where is the bottle of rum?

Where is the mantlepiece.

Well the one thing we stress over and over again on our London walks is the need to really look at things. Look at as opposed to see things.

So let’s start by looking for the bottle of rum in the painting. If you look at the top centre of the painting you can make out two, black vertical lines across the top of which has been laid a horizontal black line. This is the neck of the bottle.

So straight away our London walks mantra of look at things starts to make a little more sense in Tate Modern.

In fact the bottle is made easy to discern by several visual clues.

Firstly, just beneath the neck of the bottle are the letters PARL, which could be a make or a brand of Rum.

Further down underneath that are the letters RH and the start of the letter U, the first three letters of the French word for rum.

So from the jumbled mass of shapes and lines we have managed to distinguish the shape of the bottle.

We’ll look for the clarinet in our next blog. In the meantime why not have a look at some of the Dickens Walks or Shakespeare London walks that take in the exciting and vibrant area where Tate Modern is located?

Incidentally, for copyright reasons we cannot reproduce the artworks on our London, Walk of Art blogs. But do a google image search for Tate Modern and you will be able to see these works.

Walks, London and the Mantlepiece.

Friday, October 9th, 2009

We’re really getting into our Walks of London Art blogs. Hopefully you are too and hopefully you are starting to see that our London walks mantra of  – LOOK EVERYWHERE – especially makes sense when you look at a work of modern art.

Today we’re still in the States of Flux wing at Tate Modern teasing little bits out of Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on a Mantlepiece, painted in 1911  by the pioneer of the cubist movement Georges Braque.

We were talking earlier about how our various London walks really do make people look at London. Not just see London, but really look at it. Let’s continue this theme with a final look at Braque’s 1911 painting.

So far we have teased out the form of the bottle of rum and the clarinet from the painting.

Today we are going to find the mantlepiece!

Looking to the bottom left corner of the painting you find the start of two thick black lines that run diagonally from left to right across the painting and end towards its top right corner.

These form the shape of the mantlepice.

Furthermore, towards the bottom light corner, there is a curved shape that could be a corbel or a mantlepiece support.

So by looking at these lines we can now see that a clarinet and a bottle of rum do, indeed, sit on a mantlepiece and thus have managed to locate the three objects for items mentioned in the title of the painting.

But why did Georges Braque choose to depict his subjects in such a distorted and disjointed fashion?

Why, if he wanted to paint a clarinet and a bottle of rum on a mantlepiece didn’t he simply do so as a still life and paint them full on?

The solution lies in the era when the painting was done. In the early years of the 20th century cameras were starting to be mass produced and photographs were beginning to replace paintings as a means of showing reality and every day life to people.

Painters felt themselves freed from the constraints of the past. No longer did they have to be restrained by the need to present depth, shade and colour. Instead they could aim at bringing a new perspective to painting and this was the style that Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso pioneered.

They would dissect their subjects, analyse them and then re-assemble them in an abstract form that presented the viewer with multiple perspectives and views of the same object or subject.

So, in the case of Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on a Mantlepiece we are seeing the three objects from multiple angles. We are looking down at the mantlepiece from above, looking at it sideways on, or even looking up at it from below. We are being given the opportunity to view the objects from multiple angles all at the same time.

This was the style that Picasso and Braque Pioneered.

In 1908 the French art critic Louis Vauxcelles described one of Georges Braque’s paintings as “full of little cubes.” The phrase caught on and the movement that Braque and Picasso has pioneered became universally known as Cubism.

So we end out look at the painting by George Braque in Tate Modern.

This weekend you can join Richard on one of his London Ghost Walks, or you can join one of our hugely popular Jack the Ripper Tours that explore the darker recesses of London’s East End.

London Walking – A Surreal Experience.

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

In our earlier post we took a look at a work in Tate Modern by the Surrealist painter Salvador Dali which is entitled Mountain Lake.

We explained how the painting emphasises an important point that we make time and again on our London walks, that you really have to look at things in London not just  see them.

So what is Mountain Lake about.

We ended our earlier post by explaining that the painting confronted some of Dali’s own deeply buried issues.

Before Dali was born his parents had had another son, who would have been his older brother, whose name was also Salvador. However, this son died before Dali was born and his grief stricken parents went to the Catalan region of Spain to recover from their loss.

It was a mountainous coastal region, and it is in fact the region that Dali Depicts in Mountain Lake.

Throughout his childhood Dali’s parents would take him on an annual pilgrimage to the region and his mother would often burst into tears when she beheld the beautiful landscape.

So Dali’s feelings about the landscape you can see in the picture were very mixed. he had happy memories of it but he also had some very sad memories, which could account for the dark and somber mood that seems to emanate from the work.

So when set against that background Mountain Lake  takes on a whole new meaning and you start to see something of the autobiographical aspect that Dali introduced into his painting.

But the painting’s sense of foreboding could also be taken to refer to a sense of unease and foreboding that was gripping Europe at the time that Dali painted it, for it was becoming more and more apparent that war was about to break out in Europe.

We will discuss this aspect of the picture  further in out next blog.

We have several tours that look at London in the Blitz and in addition our Shakespeare London walks cover the area where Tate Modern is located.

In addition you can join us on any one of our fascinating London walks that take you all over the historic streets of London.

Take A Walk With Dali in London.

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

There’s More To This Than Meets the Eye.

Picking up where we left off yesterday we will continue our London walk through the Poetry and Dream wing of Tate Modern.

On a wall, a little way from Rene Margritte’s Reckless Sleeper there are two paintings by the artist who, in many ways, was the very embodiment of Surrealist painting Salvador Dali.

One of them is entitled Mountain Lake and Dali Painted it in 1938. It is a perfect idea of the mantra we often trot out on our City of London walks that, to really appreciate something, you must really look at it, not just see it.

As the title suggests it is a landscape of mountains and a lake. But on closer inspection you suddenly become aware that things are not quite as they seem, for it is a very somber work over which their hangs a feeling of unease and foreboding.

Your eye cannot help but be drawn to a large telephone that dominates the foreground of the landscape and which, in its massiveness, is out of all proportion to the rest of the painting.

A snail is crawling up the crutch that supports it. Dali often used snails in his art to symbolise vulnerability in that beneath the hard exterior shell there is a very soft, easily squashed body.

Furthermore the telephone is supported by a crutch and its wire is draped over another crutch after which the wire has been cut.

Looking at the lake you realise that it could be a fish and to its left is another rock that could be the fish’s tail, whereas other rocks that can be seen on the surface of the lake could be its scales.

There are also possible sexual connotations to the painting in that the lake could be phallic and representative of male genitalia, whereas the rock behind and to the right of the lake could be symbolic of female genitalia.

In fact Dali is addressing his own deepest subconsious and insecurities in Mountain Lake and we will look closer at these later today.

It’s A Dream To Walk in London

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Hopefully you’re wide awake now and have been able to put thoughts of sleep far behind you. If that’s the case we’re going to bring those thoughts flooding back as we continue our look at Rene Margritte’s Reckles Sleeper, painted in 1928 and, as we pointed out in our earlier London walks art post greatly influenced by the works of Sigmund Freud.

Just to recap, the painting shows a figure in a box, over a grey area on which have been painted various symbols such as a candle and an apple, which, as we mentioned earlier, in Freudian dream symbolism could be a male phallic symbol (the candle) and a female symbol (the apple( representative of breasts.)

But it must be said that their is something slightly unnerving about Reckless Sleeper, something that seems to resonate with a feeling of dreadful unease. Because there is another possible interpretation to the painting.

The sleeping figure is in fact sleeping in a box which could, in fact, be a coffin, so the figure is not sleeping but is actually dead.

The grey area beneath could, therefore, be a tombstone and the items painted on to it be memories of the dead person’s living self, perhaps things he held dear to him in life.

Set against that context the dark background could be representative of the dark void of eternity, which could account for the feeling of unease that appears to emanate from the picture.

Set against that context there is a possibility that Reckless Sleeper is an autobiographical work in which Margritte is playing with reality and illusion whilst, at the same time exploring his own emotions and subconscious.

When he was thirteen his mother had committed suicide and so it has been suggested that Reckless Sleeper reflects the turmoil that he felt about this. It is the artist shifting back and forth between what he wishes – i.e his mother is alive – to what he knows to be the truth – i.e. his mother is dead. That might acount for the somewhat troubling and troubled aspect of the painting.

In our next post we’ll delve deeper into the Poetry and Dream wing at Tate Modern. So be sure to return later today to learn more on this wonderful Treasure of London.

Before you leave us, however, why not have a quick look at the other London walks we offer and see for yourself why our London is, as we like to say, a true Walk of Art.