September 11th, 2010 · 1 Comment
Throughout our time here so far, I’ve been to museums that I’ve loved and loathed. Regardless of how I felt about the collections, each museum seemed to say something about England, as well as demonstrate amazing educational programs. (I’ve decided to tackle the issue of museums in two separate blogs. I’m not going to deal with repatriation and provenance, both issues have been on my mind a good deal at a couple of the museums, most noticeably the British Museum and the Sir John Soane museum, in a second blog. This one will be more general and focus a bit on educational programming within the galleries.)
Firstly, thinking back to over two weeks ago, the Greenwich Observatory was an interesting museum. It wasn’t one of my favourites, partly because of the collection, most of which I did not really care for. However, the excellent interactive bits throughout the exhibits were engaging. It did a good job explaining the importance of Greenwich time and it’s relationship to the development of shipping. (I probably know more about longitude now than I ever needed to know.) Unlike the other museums I’ve visited, the achievements it highlighted, were an integral part of the build-up to imperialism vs the spoils of imperialism.
The Tate Modern would be my next least favourite. I like some modern art, but it is not normally my first choice to spend an afternoon admiring. (Unless it is a Kandinsky show.) Throughout the Tate, I felt that some of the space had been wasted, especially on the floor where the membership room was located. The main galleries were nice, but offered very little in terms of supplemental didactic materials that could further engage the viewer- all of that was outside of the gallery. While the interactive bits were very interesting, they could easily distract from the art itself. (The seemingly endless reel of video shorts seemed to confirm this.) Yet, I admired the activities for the younger children which engaged them and put the art on their level. By separating the modern art from its other collections, the Tate seems to promote its standing: it is worth more than a gallery add-on in the main building.
The Tate Modern
The Guildhall Art Gallery, by comparison, offered very little interactive displays. By the time I had visited here, I was so use to in-depth descriptions, a wide audience, crowded galleries, and fun didactics, that the seemingly empty gallery caught me off guard. It was nice to see the Roman Amphitheater; the room’s set-up was incredible with recreations of the gladiators. However, the gallery’s art collection was lacking. It mostly seemed to be lesser works of second-tier artists or smaller copies of major artworks created later in an artist’s career. I believe that the gallery was trying to show the positives of British art in the last 200 years, but the gallery failed in this mission because it failed to hold one’s attention for long. Furthermore, the special exhibitions were too text panel heavy. (Balance seems to haunt this gallery.) The panels were informative, but when 3/4 of a panel is devoted to reproducing a picture which is hanging next to the panel, there is a problem. The viewer is drawn to the reproduction, not the actual artwork, defeating the point of the gallery.
The National Gallery is one of my favourites that I have visited, partly because of the Wilton Diptych and partly because there is one spot where my favourite Holbein and a Vermeer are both in one’s line of sight. The collection is outstanding and the works seem to represent the majority of art history. Well, my favourite bits at the very least. While there are not as many interactive activities, the didactics are engaging and there are educational options available. Instead of only seeming to be the spoils of imperialism, the collection has a truly British feel, partly because so many of the works are ones that directly relate to English history rather than the history of far off places. Furthermore, it’s easily accessible and not hidden like the NPG; it’s prominent position on Trafalgar Square also helps with accessibility.
The Wilton Diptych
(For more information: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/english-or-french-the-wilton-diptych)
The Victoria & Albert would be tied for my second favourite museum thus far with the National Gallery and the British Museum (which I’ll discuss in my other museum post). I spent almost 2.5 hours in the new Medieval and Renaissance Galleries, which were not only gorgeous, but held some incredible pieces. (Can I please just have one grotesque figure?! Just one…) Several people have noted that the sheer amount of stuff in the museum is overwhelming. Outside of the M&R Galleries, I would agree with this. Here, the museum seemed to be addressing this issue, trying to open up the galleries and spread out some of the pieces. Furthermore, the excellent listening stations found throughout the galleries were a perfect mix of in-depth and cursory information, allowing the viewer to pick and choose the information they heard based on their interests. (Highlight: listening to Gregorian chants while viewing the different altarpieces, all of which were stunning.) The V&A proudly displayed artworks which combined to tell the story of the world through art. Unlike the British Museum, it did not claim to be a solely British institution, which I think in some ways helped make the museum a more open place. Furthermore, because it is an artistic school as well, it’s collections are all educational, adding to a different responsibility for its didactics and what is should be collecting. It filled gaps through its amazing replicas gallery, which included some of the most famous works ever created.
Misericord, Victoria & Albert
When taken together, the museums not only provide one of the most stellar examples of museum education in practice, but also serve to tell the triumphs of the British Empire and to highlight the triumphs of the larger artistic international tradition. If London is a city of the world, then its museums reflect this.
Tags: 2010 Stephenie · Museums
September 7th, 2010 · 1 Comment
As most of the group made their plans to attend Notting Hill Carnival, I was feeling a little tired of crowds. I like cities, but in moderation, and after about a week in London I did not feel up to spending an afternoon shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers. So I decided to go over to the Tate Modern, which I had been curious about since our arrival.
The Tate was a mixed experience. I enjoy certain modern art, but usually only when it portrays something relatively concrete, and when I can still see the artist’s method. I love looking at post-impressionist art from the beginning of the twentieth century, but I feel less inspired when it comes to newer “modern” art. So I had trouble connecting with the majority of what the Tate had on display, which fell into a more abstract category. Still, the museum managed to hold my attention throughout, partially, I think, because of the layout: I never knew what I would find in the next room.
When I was nearly ready to leave the museum, I walked out into the hallway between the exhibits, in which big glass windows overlook a central lobby area. Visitors were gathered around the windows, looking down at something. I found an opening between the masses of onlookers, and down through the window myself. I saw that the floor of an enormous space in the lobby that had been empty earlier in the afternoon was now covered in black and white shapes, arranged like an abstract painting.
I went downstairs and made my way through the crowd to get a better view. I discovered that the installation was actually an enormous stage for a modern dance performance, and I was lucky enough to find a seat near the perimeter. Upwards of fifty dancers moved across the stage dressed in black and white, to expertly blended electronic and rock music. I noticed however that while the dancers who were featured were clearly professionally trained, and mesmerizing to watch (one stood on her head with only one hand on a ballet barre for support while moving her feet through the air perfectly in time to the music), others who moved in large groups performed only simple dance steps.
I later looked up the performance on the Tate Modern’s website to learn more. I found out that Michael Clark, the choreographer included seventy-five non-dancers in the performance (while also including his dance company- responsible for the acrobatics). This explained the disparity in skill level within the performance, but I still marvel at how small an impression that disparity made on me at the time. The parts of the dance that included the non-dancers were beautiful because of the sheer number of individuals moving in unison, so I was able to gloss over (I guess as Clark intended) any roughness in the individual dancers’ movement.
I still question however, why Clark would make the effort to train non-dancers, when more dancers (who I assume he could find) could have performed the same piece with greater grace and fewer rehearsals. I guess the aims of modern art and explains how the dance performance fits with the Tate Modern’s collection. Modern art consistently challenges whatever conventions come before. When we look at works of art in the Tate Modern, we ask ourselves (among other questions like, what’s a black square on a canvas doing in a museum?) whether the ideas behind them are original. So following a long tradition of ‘challenging,’ Clark challenged the convention that only highly trained dancers should perform in a large scale, professional level performance. There’s nothing more modern than that.
Dance Performance (personal photo)
Tags: 2010 Emily · Uncategorized
September 6th, 2010 · 5 Comments
I visited the Tate Modern this week determined to disprove my growing suspicion that modern art is an Emperor’s New Clothes type hoax designed to make me look like an idiot. Unfortunately, the first time I visited I only had half an hour. So I rushed through a floor of splattered paint and a white room filled with off white canvases that, according to Agnes Martin, were supposed to represent “weightlessness and infinity” rather than the possibility that the museum staff had run out of white paint.
Then I came back a few days later when I had more time, and as luck would have it the first exhibit I came across was Art & Language by Michael Baldwin and Mel Ramsden with the promising description that “viewers are now confronted by themselves, thereby questioning a long-held notion of painting transcending reality.” I understand that some art is supposed to be philosophical, but it was a mirror on canvas, which makes it the exact equivalent of that scene in my favorite childhood movie, Neverending Story (costarring a delightful dragon puppet) in which the main character has to face himself in a metaphorical mirror to save the land of Fantasia. Obviously the best movie ever created, but not art. It made me angry.
So I went through the next few rooms with the mirror as a yardstick for my expectations and found the following pieces:
- Giuseppe Penone’s Tree in 12 Metres (two trees in a museum)
- Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s Untitled (some guy’s messy garage in a museum)
- Keith Arnatt’s Self Burial (a bunch of pictures time elapsed pictures of a guy sinking in quick sand)
I list these pieces because they were really underwhelming until I looked at them a second time, and they turned into basically the coolest things ever. The Tree in 12 Metres was actually two perfect trees shapes carved out of a giant block of wood. Every messy garage item was a replica carved, textured and painted with polyurethane foam and acrylic paint (this includes an old rubber tire, an unvarnished wooden bench with knots, and a bunch of other distinctly textured items). The time elapsed photographs interrupted a TV program once a day in sequence showing for 5 seconds without any explanation.
I’ve been seeing this pattern everywhere, and I feel like the British must have a huge penchant for Easter eggs. The Bloomsbury walk was covered in historical landmarks that I always thought were a huge deal. In the United States, Virginia Woolf’s house would at least be a small museum as opposed to the small plaque next to an otherwise occupied building. The Victoria and Albert Museum was a whole other level of hidden amazing things. Along with a novelty bustle that plays God Save the Queen every time the wearer sits down (classy), one of DaVinci’s notebooks, marked in tiny writing, was sitting in a random corner (The other five of his notebooks that the museum has are just in storage right now. No big deal). Do they just have so much history here that they have to ignore some of it so as not to turn the country into a museum? Or does that obsession with understatement that Kate Fox talks about seep itself all the way in British history so that they hide their great achievements in a corner out of amusement and feigned modesty? It seems so contradictory to what I would expect from a former empire. I expect neon signs. Not that I’m complaining. I don’t think I would get this excited about a foam tire replica under any other circumstances.
Tree of 12 Metres
(Giuseppe Penonoe) from Tate.org
Tags: 2010 Jesse
September 15th, 2009 · No Comments
The Silver Exhibit in the V&A
Having a Good Time at the Fitzroy
Like many of my classmates I decided it would be worthwhile to summarize all of my discoveries this month in London. During this post I will focus on six main themes found within London: Parks, Churches, Pubs, Other Religious Institutions, Theatre and Museums.
Each park that I visited had its own distinct characteristics that separated it from any other. Green Park was the first I visited and after perusing a few others, I realized there was nothing that exciting about it. Located right across from Buckingham Palace, Green Park certainly provides a good place to go and take a break from the busy atmosphere of the area. Besides this however there is not much going on and I would recommend that potential park goers walk the extra distance over to St. James Park.
In addition to the large number of waterfowl heckling people for food which offers consistent entertainment St. James offers some picturesque flower beds throughout and various monuments along the way. It has the relaxing atmosphere of Green Park with a bit more excitement sprinkled in.
Regents Park offers a completely different feel from Green or St. James. Located in a separate area of London, Regents Park has a history of being used by a higher end crowd. I could tell this immediately from the feel of the park. The decorative shrubbery and elegant architecture throughout gave me a feeling that Regents is not as well used as other parks.
Since I was one of the members of the Parks group that gave a walking tour of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens I could go into a lot more detail about these two green spaces but I will choose not to in an effort to be concise. In summary Hyde Park is the largest green space in London and is often used for larger events such as concerts, festivals etc. It also contains a large number of monuments throughout including the 7/7 memorial and the Diana Memorial Fountain. Kensington Gardens is home to a variety of key monuments but is not as well trodden as Hyde. Overall it makes for a quieter atmosphere, more conducive fo reading or “snogging”.
Regents Park were my two favorite green spaces in London. Regents, is both beautiful, and extremely large and I continually felt the need to go back and explore. Kensington Gardens appealed to me in that it was quainter than Hyde Park but contained a like amount of history and monuments throughout. Although I would be content spending a length of time in any London green space Regents and Kensington would be my top choices.
Overall I enjoyed going to the theatre on so many occasions. What better place to do so than in London after all? Here I will discuss my favorite performances and theatre venues.
All in all I enjoyed all but two of the performances we saw. The two Shakespeare productions at The Globe Theatre were fantastic. Although I did not particularly enjoy reading Troilus and Cressida it made a huge difference to be there so close to the actors. The fantastic drum chorus at the end really sealed the deal. As You Like It was probably my favorite show I saw here in London. Although it is one of Shakespeare’s simpler plays the actors really made it jump off the page. Being down it the pit was fantastic because of all the ad-libbing and constant interaction with the crowd. I even felt traces of Touchstone’s saliva on my arm at one point.
The other Shakespeare performance I saw, All’s Well That Ends Well, was lackluster. Although the Olivier was my favorite performing venue (this is what an auditorium style theatre should be like…why can’t Dickinson have something like this?) the play itself was odd and ended on an abrupt and odd note.
The other play we saw at the National Theatre, The Pitmen Painters, was fantastic. Although I was dozing a bit because of the Benadryl I took right before the show, the actors kept my attention and I appreciated that the play was based off of a true story.
Easily the oddest play we saw was Arcadia. An extremely intelligent performance the play juxtaposed two different periods in time and created a singular storyline in which the plot was based. Overall it was an entertaining performance that made me think early and often.
Finally there was Blood Brothers. The lone musical I saw produced feelings of disbelief, anguish and held back laughter. The ridiculous 80’s sound track and creepy narrator just didn’t do it for me. I think it’s safe to say that I was not the only one from Humanities 309 who was a bit surprised to see just about everyone in the audience give it a standing ovation.
I had a very positive experience with the theatre here. I would go back to the globe again and again. I loved being that close to the action. I would also enjoy seeing another show in the Olivier. There really is so much to choose from here. It’s simply a matter of figuring out your tastes and saving your money so you can see a lot of performances.
From Westminster Abbey to St. Paul’s Cathedral we saw most of the major churches/cathedrals during our month in London. St. Paul’s was easily my favorite. From the fantastic crypt to the hundreds of stairs up to the tower it had so much to offer in the way of history and mystique. Westminster Abbey fascinated me primarily because of all the literary figures that had been buried inside as well as the room that was dedicated to “The Order of the Bath”. Other churches that I really enjoyed taking a look at were: “St. Martin in the Fields” which sits just outside Trafalgar Square and Nicholas Hawkesmoore’s “Christ’s Church” which is located in very close proximity to Brick Lane.
Other Religious Institutions
Overall the Sikh Gurdwara was my favorite place that we visited. I appreciated the simplicity of the religious doctrine as well as the conviction and honesty with which our tour guide, Mr. Singh spoke. The morning was capped off with a fantastic sit down meal together in which everyone was served the same food and drink.
I had different feelings about the Hindu Mandir. It was clear to me from the very beginning that the Hindu religion is not nearly as modest as Sikhism nor are they trying to be. From the extremely decorative prayer room, to the museum located right in the center of the Mandir I never felt particularly comfortable inside.
The only religious institution I wish we had gotten a chance to visit is a Mosque. I had been to one many years ago but I did not remember a whole lot from my experience. I wonder how much more lively the East End, and all parts of London would be if Ramadan were not taking place during our time here.
I could go on and on about museums so I will attempt to stay as concise as possible.
The British Museum was massive, convenient since it was so close to the Arran House but a little one dimensional at times. One of my favorite exhibits at the British Museum was a special exhibit on Living and Dying that drew information from all different time periods and cultures.
The National Gallery was fantastic. Although I have a hard time appreciating some visual art the gallery kept my attention for a number of hours. Seeing so many famous works of art was phenomenal.
The Tate Modern was my least favorite museum here. Although I am trying I have a hard time understanding modern art. After about 45 minutes in this museum it ended up being too much for me.
The Cabinet War Rooms/Churchill Museum were two of my favorites. The realization that I was standing in one of the most important places in World War II history was unbelievable. The War Rooms felt so authentic. I really felt as though I had been taken back in time to the 1940’s while inside.
The Victoria and Albert was easily my favorite museum in London. There was so much variety inside and so much to see. I could have easily spent a few days inside. Two of my favorite exhibits were the silver and jewelry exhibits. I’m not sure what this says about me as a person but I found it unbelievable that individuals could even own such treasures. I also enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of the V&A staff. At most of the other museums I visited I felt like I was doing them a disservice simply by being there. Although I understand that taking pictures of an object in a museum doesn’t do it justice I like to be able to have the option of doing so.
The Sir John Soane museum interested me but it wasn’t really my cup of tea in the end. It also had a stuffy atmosphere to it that I didn’t really appreciate.
One thing I can draw from my experience at museums here is that each and every one has something that distinguishes it. With so many museums I thought that it would be impossible to avoid some overlap but I never really felt that. Cheers to London and its museums.
Finally we have pubs. What would London be without it’s public houses? In some cases pubs are the true museums of London, designating what an area was like in the past and what type of clientele it attracted. During my month here I had a chance to visit a few pubs and get a general sense of what some possible differences could be. It is clear to me that each pub brings something different and unique to the table. The Marlborough Arms was convenient being so close to the Arran House and was a great place to enjoy a pint over a meal with friends. The Court was conducive to socializing in a different way. The music was louder, the people louder and the drinks cheaper. Other places I visited offered other things that made them stand out as well. One thing that i’ve learned about pubs is that it’s hard for one to please everyone. Since everyone has different tastes and desires when it comes to pubs you are better off going to one with a small cohesive group.
To conclude this novel I would just like to say that I think we saw a lot of different faces of London this month. I realize there is much more to see here but between walking tours throughout the city, trips to major monuments and museums and individual exploration I have learned a ton about London, it’s history and where it is going. I look forward to more London explorations in the future but for now, ON TO NORWICH!
Tags: Churches and Cathedrals · Henry · Pubs · Theatre
September 14th, 2009 · No Comments
I know that the Tate Modern was not a required blog post, however I had to write about it simply because it was one of the craziest museums I have ever been to. I am still debating as to how I feel about the overall experience…I mean, I really can’t decide whether I loved it or hated it.
It was somewhat shocking at times and other times somewhat bland and even meaningless. But I briefly wanted to reflect upon the evolution of modern art and how it marks a change in culture and politics. I know very little about the modernist artists themselves, but this particular museum inspired me to do a little more research on the background of these artists so that I may be able to understand the meaning of their art a bit better.
What I discovered through some online sources about their biographies, is that many of them were creating their works based on their childhood experiences or the social and political reformation that took place in their native countries. They discussed the meaning of life, of art itself, of emotional and physical struggle. And all of these things were created and presented in a way that was completely unique to each artist’s style.
Not one art exhibit resembled the next (though I think I could recognize “movements” in the content of the pieces so to speak). Yet some were just disturbing and I think we can all agree on which one I’m talking about– so I’m really not going to go into another further detail to describe it. Mostly I had to ask myself while walking through the museum: Is this art? It’s a really difficult question to ask oneself because “art” is subjective. What may be the most beautiful work to me, maybe another person’s idea of complete crap. But as I wandered through the Tate, I began to think that maybe modern art is simply taking what is abstract and turning it into the concrete, allowing the artists a kind of therapy in their process of creation. I read somewhere that the closest a man can ever get to childbirth is to create a work of art and I can see the truth in this statement, especially because some of my favorite works were done by male artists. I can see the sweat, tears, blood, and time that went into the evolution of the art and I can see that there is an effort to make other people understand, to feel more than what a pretty picture on a wall may stimulate in the observer. Modern art to me, felt like a battle- a struggle for connection, a raw and untamed effort to make others understand something greater.
I guess overall, now that I have talked my way through the Tate, I have found that it has inspired more thought and reflection than any other museum. And for that, I think I may like modern art more than I first realized.
Tags: Maddie · Museums
September 14th, 2009 · No Comments
And now, the thrilling conclusion to the epic saga that is Andrew’s London museum experience!
The British Museum
Because the British Museum is so darned enormous, I decided to stay within the comforting walls of the ancient Greece and Egypt exhibitions. Greece was fascination. As one of the few students in my major who actually enjoyed ancient philosophy, it was oh so cool to see the world in which some of the most important thinkers in history lived within. Part of the Parthenon was on display. The Parthenon! This building is the most significant symbol of democracy in existence. Throughout time, different civilizations used the structure for their own purposes. In the 6th Century, it was a church. During the Ottoman occupation, it was a mosque. It was unearthed by Lord Elgin in the early 1800s, and now resides, in part, in the British museum.
There is a major debate going on now about whether the Parthenon remains should remain in the UK or be transported back to Greece, its original location, where another segment of the structure is preserved and on display. I believe that it belongs back in Athens. After all, a puzzle missing half the pieces is much less decipherable than one only a quarter. The closer archeologists and historians can come to complete recreation of the Parthenon, the better. So get it out of London and back to Greece!
Egypt was as expected. Some statues. Some mosaic. Some mummies. I saw Cleopatra, which was cool. I’ve seen Egyptology exhibits in the Smithsonian and Egyptian art in the Met in New York. The British Museum didn’t offer me anything new and exciting, so I don’t have much else to say on the topic.
The National Gallery
As The Pitmen Painters made clear, art is in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes the beholder’s eye just isn’t sharp or refined enough. When I look at the countless portraits, landscapes, and still lifes I don’t have the same emotional response connoisseurs of the arts seem to undergo. I cannot seem to get past the raw aesthetics of most paintings and appreciate their apparent value.
Take Van Gogh’s seminal Sunflowers, for instance. This work is so loved, so well known, and so damned valuable and I just don’t understand why. In fact, Van Gogh once said that this particular painting is his crowning achievement. To me, the barbarian, “Sunflowers” is a beautiful rendering of a vase full of sunflowers against a black background. Why on Earth a Japanese man paid almost $40,000,000 for a version of the painting is beyond me. Maybe one day I will have a Pitmen Painters-esque revelation and understand, but until that day I remain in the dark.
That isn’t to say there aren’t any paintings that did stir me. Cézanne’s An Old Woman With a Rosary is a portrait of just that, an elderly woman clutching what seems to be a broken rosary. To me, the work encapsulates all the bleakness and sorrow of the world within her dead, black eyes. It seems transport you into the mind of the woman and forces the viewer to feel her pain. She knows that her life is almost at an end, so she desperately hangs on to her religion for salvation. Perhaps she has lived a life of sin and is afraid of what awaits her beyond the grave. Maybe she is trying to force herself to accept Jesus and repent for her sins in order to avoid damnation. Cézanne’s rendering of the woman’s eyes affected me most – a sea of darkness in which no one can escape. There is no light or color, only horror, pain, and sadness.
Ok, so maybe I can appreciate painting. Thanks, Mr. Cézanne.
Whew. Just when I was starting to think, hey, maybe I can appreciate and understand the visual arts on a deeper level, modern art punched me in the gut. I’ve never taken an art history or appreciation class and simply don’t know what to look for. When I see something by an artist by, say, Cy Twombly, all I see is colors and shapes on a background. Considering my laudable capacity for music appreciation, struggling so much in an art gallery is remarkably frustrating. Paul McCarthy’s sexually explicit video art strikes me as a petty cry for attention through shock value.
That said, I have always had an affinity for the surreal and absurd in literature, film, and especially philosophy. The Tate Modern has an excellent surrealism section showcasing artists like Salvador Dalí and Marcel Duchamp. I found myself losing myself in the strange worlds of the artists’ creation. Dalí’s Metamorphosis of Narcissus pervaded my mind with a breed of thought only accessible through a surrealist lens. And then you have something like the Lobster Telephone that you can’t help but laugh at.
While the National Gallery was too concrete, much of the Tate Modern was just too abstract. Surrealism and Cézanne aside, my current capability to appreciate the visual arts is lacking. Art history majors, help me!
To conclude, I leave you with a photograph of a Paul McCarthy work that actually is safe for work, barely. I present to you Santa Clause with a Buttplug.
Tags: Andrew B
So this is an overdue post comparing our experiences at the National Gallery and the Tate Modern.
When we were climbing the steps of the National Gallery we were anticipating the beautiful pieces that would be displayed by world renowned artists. We were excited to see the works of Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Van Dyck as well as artists who are unfamiliar to us. While standing in front of Da Vinci’s Madonna and Child, observing his rather passionate and intricate work we felt a disconnect between our previous assumptions of how the work was suppose to affect us versus our actual interpretations. Based on our shared knowledge of these artistic “masterpieces” we hoped to feel the sense of awe. Although we were privileged to be viewing these works, we left feeling rather “eghhh” (for lack of a better term).
Our experience at the Tate Modern JUXTAPOSED our feelings of incomplete satisfaction at the National Gallery. We were immediately intrigued by the modern and uncommon artistic works. These revolutionized pieces made us question the true meaning of art. IN our interpretation of the works found at Tate, modern art in Britain completely attempts to move away from traditional, classical art found at the National Gallery. Although we do appreciate classical art, modern art speaks to us in a different form, and it relates to the ways in which we seek to see the rest of our society— in distinctive ways. The Tate Modern seems to be “pushing the envelope” when it comes to artistic expressions and we enjoy that sort of rebellious attitude.
Overall, art is an interpretation of the individual and it can exist in various forms. It is always inspired and interpreted.
Tags: Anthony · Flow · Jeyla
As I continue to explore London more and more I realize just how vast and widespread this place is. Before our class took a walk through Southwark on Friday morning I realized I had not even been close to where we were that day. There is so much to do here and it would take years and years to truly get a sense of what all London has to offer. Over the past few days i’ve been trying to conquer as much as London as possible. During Friday and Saturday I spent most of my time conquering museums and theaters.
I’ll start with museums. On Friday after our walk of Southwark I headed out to lunch with a fairly large group of people. After our lunch I had a hard time shaking off a bout of sudden tiredness. I figured a trip to the Tate Modern would remedy this. I’m not afraid to admit that I was wrong.
Modern art is an interesting beast. As much as I’ve tried still I have a hard time understanding it. Despite this statement in no way am I critical or judgemental of anyones work. As someone who has basically no experience/background with modern art I have no right to say anything negative about someone’s art, I simply just can’t grasp it. Walking around through the first few galleries of the Tate Modern I wandered, I sat, I stared, but still found nothing. I asked Brandon his opinion about some of the artwork and this helped. Talking to someone who has taken classes in the subject and is passionate about it was definitely a good choice and I learned a lot but after some more musings I still found nothing. Perhaps it was the drowsiness, perhaps it was the absurdly sexually explicit video I witnessed in one section of the museum but soon after entering I realized I had seen enough of the Tate Modern.
Since many other people in our class had seen the Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum earlier in the week I figured the afternoon would be a great time to see both of those. This time I was right. From the moment I entered the doors I had a feeling I would enjoy walking through this dungeon of secrets. Although I would never want to be stuck down there for long periods of time I was amazed at how well intact the war rooms were. As I walked through the narrow hallways I had an eerie feeling that I was sent back in time to the early 1940’s when Churchill used the space frequently during the Blitz to hold meetings and conduct secret business. My favorite part of the war rooms was the tiny room that Churchill put 11 secretaries in. According to the audio tour despite the close proximity to each other he expected immaculate work from every single one of these women and did not hesitate to fire them if they were not pulling their weight.
After the tour of the War Rooms I spent a bit of time in the Churchill museum before my fatigue caught back up to me. I decided it would behoove me to head back to my room and rest for a little bit before preparing for the performance of “Troilus and Cressida” that we would be attending that night at the Globe Theatre.
After getting off at the St. Paul’s tube stop and scurrying across the Millennium Bridge Brandon, Aidan and I made it to the performance about ten minutes early. Just enough time to catch our breath and prepare for the real ordeal: standing for three hours. Despite my concerns going into the performance in retrospect being a “groundling” was not that bad at all. My feet were certainly a little uncomfortable by the end of the night but being so close to the action on the stage certainly made up for that. I really enjoyed the performance overall. Matthew Kelly’s portrayal of Pandarus was phenomenal and Paul Hunter (Thersites) left me in stitches for most of the night. While reading the play beforehand I did not enjoy it all that much. It’s amazing how easily and completely transformed a play can become however once performed versus just read. My experience at the globe was great and I hope to go back and see another show before I leave London.
Walking back over the Millennium Bridge that night to the beautiful view of St. Paul’s across the Thames I concluded a few things. The first being that London is even more stunning at night than it is during the day. The second being that i’m not going to enjoy everything I see here in this city and I have to come to terms with that. I have been lucky so far on this trip that very few things have disappointed me. I realize I have to be ready to be surprised both negatively and positively with encounters I have, places I go and things I learn. Like everything else in life London is not perfect nor should it be.
Tags: Henry · Museums · Theatre
I heard only good opinions about the British Museum so I was excited when I finally got the chance to visit it. Of course, what I heard was true as the British Museum was incredible. The exhibits were numerous and very well done. I had the opportunity to visit sections on Egypt, India and Japan. The artifact which struck me the most was the Rosetta Stone. One of the greatest discoveries ever was right in front of my face. It was hard to believe that I was actually staring at it and not at a textbook picture which we are all familiar with.
The Indian and Japanese exhibits were also amazing. Each had new information which, as a History major, I find fascinating. I also think that the diversity of the British Museum speaks to the diversity of London. So much culture is packed into such a small place in both the museum and in London. It is that ability to have so much together and have it work which made the British Museum spectacular, as is the case with London.
The Tate Modern is another story. I am not a big art person so I really didn’t know what to expect. I heard about the explicit nature of some of the work, and naturally I had to see what all the fuss was about. Overall, modern art is interesting, but I am not sure if it is for me. I did like the piece which was just a huge table and four chairs. I thought the best was a piece in which the words “The End” were covered by long grass. Nonetheless, the vast majority of the artwork did not appeal to me. As for the explicit works, I didn’t see any artistic value in them. Granted, I don’t know much about art, but I still think I didn’t find much “art” in them.
Tags: Andrew F
In the past three days I have visited 3 museums, the Globe, and a carnival so needless to say I have a lot to blog about.
On Friday 28 Aug. I went to the Tate modern. Before arriving I was very excited to start through the modern art gallery, however it drastically started to go down hill from there. In the first few rooms I was happy to see works by Miro, Matisse, and Picasso. As the rooms went on the artists became more obscure and the works became more and more disturbing. If any of you out there are considering taking your young children to the Tate Modern, think again unless you want them to have nightmares for weeks afterward. The unsettling works began with photographs of men with bandaged bleeding genitals and escalated to projected images I would prefer not to describe in this blog post. Needless to say I did not make it through the entire museum before I had had enough. I do not like nor do I respect shock art of this style. I feel that it is pointless and is only shock for shock’s sake; it does not hold a message nor purpose. I think that shock art is produced by otherwise obscure artists as a method of getting attention, publicity, and money. For this reason, I decided not to support such art and artists and I left the Tate Modern
After witnessing the projected images I went to the Cabinet War Rooms.The Cabinet War Rooms were a much better experience than at the Tate Modern. With my student ID I was able to get a ticket for 10.40, which included the entrance fee into both the Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum and awarded us the opportunity to us a hand held audio listening device. At the Cabinet War Rooms Museum we were able to walk through the cabinet war rooms and see them through Plexiglas as they were during World War II while listening to historical commentary through our hand held audio devices. Walking under slabs of concrete through very small corridors and rooms really helped me imagine how it would have been like for Churchill and the others to live during the air raids. I personally cannot fathom having to stay underground for months at a time without being to leave such a small dwelling and get outside. However, the museum gave me a taste of what it would have been like.
Yesterday, 29 Aug. I went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Everyone else wanted to go to the British Museum around the corner, but I wanted to go to a required museum that was further away while I still had time. So as everyone else headed to the British Museum I went to the Victoria and Albert by myself. At first I was a little nervous about heading out in the city on my own but as soon as I made it to the museum I immediately began to see the benefits of going by myself. I could walk at my own speed and visit all the exhibits I wanted to see. So, I decided to purposefully get lost in the museum (which was easy to do considering the museums vastness). I wandered from the sculpture room through a room filled with Islamic art, to a the Japanese exhibit, a fashion exhibit, a Raphael exhibit, a British exhibit, a iron wok and wares exhibit, and a jewelry exhibit before getting to tired to continue any further. Of all the things I have done in London so far going to the Victoria and Albert museum has been the most enjoyable experience so far. I loved the LARGE variety of exhibits the museum had and would greatly like to return. The museum has something for everyone and is a a must see stop for any trip to London; I am glad Prof. Qualls required us to go!!
Though I liked the Victoria and Albert Museum I found it rather confusing. It did not seem to have any distinct layout or purpose; it was simply a bunch of different things shoved together into one overarching museum. Most other museums I have been to have a distinct type of art and artifacts on display. The Docklands Museum was all about the history of the London docks, the National Gallery consisted of only classical art, and the Tate Modern stuck to only modern art. However, the V&A did not just have art nor did it just have artifacts and it did not stick to a particular time period or place. The museum’s art and artifacts were all over the place only separated by rooms, almost as though each room was its own distinct museum. In search for the museum’s overall goal I looked at the website and found that their mission statement was:
“The purpose of the Victoria and Albert Museum is to enable everyone to enjoy its collections and explore the cultures that created them; and to inspire those who shape contemporary design.
All our efforts are focused upon a central purpose – the increased use of our displays, collections and expertise as resources for learning, creativity and enjoyment by audiences within and beyond the United Kingdom.”- http://www.vam.ac.uk/about_va/
To me this goal, like the museum’s collection, seems a little too broad for a single museum. Most of the exhibits are organized by the objects they contain rather than the cultures they represent, and therefore the museum’s goal cannot simply be for the visitors to learn about the art of various cultures. It also cannot only be for the enjoyment of those who visit the museum. I can understand the museum’s goal to use the collections for educating the public, but still the question arises: “what are they teaching and why are they teaching it?”
The Victoria and Albert
Princess Diana's Dress at the Victoria and Albert