Art Personal

Day 2 – Part C – Tate Gallery in 20 Minutes

[June 17th]

We find the cycle racks, and lock our bikes, and sloach off dripping into the gallery, and stash our sopping bags and jackets in the lockers. And so begins possibly the quickest visit to a sizable gallery ever, twenty minutes tops.  I’ve got to be on the internet for a call to a client in less than an hour.


The first room is an wall installation of Sol Lewitt, a crazy snakey rainbow of thick swirly lines on the wall.

Upstairs, it was nice seeing some famous and familiar works without the usual stark white walls of the conventional gallery. Each room was a painted a different shade – red, yellow, blue, green – and work from the collection were set where they suited. I think it was curated by Michael Craig Martin.

The floor above was a surprise. Choose from two different channels of thumping disco tracks on a pair of radio headphones. Going through the black curtain flashbacked me to being underage at Cinderella Rockerfeller’s nightclub in Cambridge too early on a Friday night. Lots of space, and some very strange looking people. Mostly middle Eastern taxi drivers between shifts.

The sculptures stand around either awkward, self absorbed, or stare wolfishly at the others.

Degas’ Little Dancer stands on its own, priggishly positioning. Ron Mueck’s Ghost anxiously attempts to shrink her seven foot frame against the wall. Edmier’s Beverly Edmier checks her bulge, with her unborn child inside, considering if she should risk another vodka and orange or just get a taxi back home.

Butler’s Girl on a round base offers herself on a table, craving the attention, feeling everyone’s hungry gaze like fingers on her deliciously prickling skin. Foley’s Joshua Reynolds feels out of place and over-dressed and hot under his thick heavy robes. He’ll never score like that. Maillol’s Three Nymphs flirt and giggle with each other, sneaking glances around the room to see if any of the guys in the room are watching.

The dance floor stands empty, its not the time for dancing yet, too many inhibitions, not enough booze and pills. Only one sculpture is actually dancing, but off to the side, and she doesn’t seem overly concerned with where she is. One lady contorts herself into a chair, while Lucas’ Pauline Bunny seems to melt into one.

Anyway, I thought “awkward small town nightclub early on a Friday night” when I saw the exhibition. Most of the sculptures seemed to be about the frailty and imperfection of the body, the awkwardness of occupying space, next to examples of the longed-for perfection and the god-like ideal.

My brother’s friend Diana, who I met a few hours later, said that she had a completely different experience of the exhibition. She thought it was all marvelous and even had a dance when she went in.

I really enjoyed it, whatever the actual intention of the curation and disco accompanyment. It was interesting to see sculpture like this.