Sunday, 30 November 2008


I went out with my husband yesterday. Like proper people, we went up to London, had lunch out, visited Tate Modern and the current Rothko exhibition and stopped in Starbucks for chocolate cake and Chai Latte. I can't remember the last time I had a date with my husband and it is a rare treat for us to have a conversation which is not interuppted. Big thanks are due to the lovely Kate for occupying and entertaining the children all day.

I have always liked Rothko's work, although I discovered yesterday it is only realy a small part of his work I like: the big, red and marroon stuff. There were some half-black, half-white ones that did nothing for me but the huge floating frames react with my brain and produce a wonderful sense of space and peace. I can vividly remember seeing them 'live' for the first time when I was in my teens, having only seen postcards or posters before, and feeling quite spaced out by their size and floating presence.
It was timed entry and we awere a little early to we took afew minutes to wander round the surrealist gallery first. I don't get it, and I hate to say that because it sounds so ignorant and philistine; but I cannot understand how the process works. I cannot imagine how an artist conceives such an idea in their head and then reproduces it on a canvas. As I look at some of these pictures I find myself wondering what it's about, what it's for and what it's trying to say. Very few move me in any way and many of those that touch me I find quite repellent. And yet when I overheard two women admiring a portrait, commenting how much better it was than the "rubbish" in the other gallery, I didn't agree at all. In not understanding, I feel that the lack is mine and that there is more here to appreciate, to grasp and to wrestle with. While modern art itself is not all that important, this has caused me to reflect on how easy it is to disregard that which I do not understand, or does not appeal to me, whether political, religious, personal or artistic.


Anonymous said...

Interesting contrast in the reactions to modern art. I think that the point of surrealism (which I only understand a tiny bit) is precisely to make you think about the taken for granted and look more closely. I like Magritte for this in particular. He has an uncanny knack of constructing some of his paintings in such a way that you almost thing it is a realist representation until you look more closely.

Or he is deliberately playing with common metaphors, as I think he is doing with the picture of the train coming out of the fireplace under the clock. (Which is in the Art Institute of Chicago, but is well known enough, I think.)

I'm only beginning to enjoy art, though Tigger's interest, and like you I am finding that not liking something is an invitation to learn more.

Gaynor said...

This isn't a picture I know, but I do like it:
This is just the sort of surrealism I enjoy, but don't necessarily "get". The children enjoy these kind of pictures too.