Saturday 18 May 2013

Sculpture: The Physical World - 2

Sculpture: The Physical World, at Tate Liverpool.

The yellow gallery. (Pink gallery is here )

On the Day, Alison Wilding, 1986

The scuttle-shaped central form of this sculpture has been linked to the idea of the female as generator or producer and as protector.

Viennoiserie, Franz West, 1998

'I came to art via places where artists meet, places where you would go and sit'. West's work is informed by his reading of the psychoanalysis of Lacan and the philosophy of Wittgenstein and investigates the relationship between what we see and how we encounter it physically.

West's mother was a dentist, and as a child in Vienna, he remembers sitting in her waiting room which had art reproductions on the walls and music playing in the background. Viennoiserie reproduces this environment for the viewer by offering a place for waiting, thinking and observing other individuals in the space. It comprises a couch for the viewer to sit on, flanked either side by white sculptures one of which is on a table. Behind the wall are displayed a range of two-dimensional works by artists he admires.

0 Through 9, Jasper Johns, 1961

In the 1950s Johns began using flags, targets and numbers as the basis of his paintings. This work is one of a series that he undertook in the summer of 1960, using the superimposed numbers 0 to 9. Johns let the process of painting the number sequence dictate the structure of the painting. This allowed him to concentrate on the qualities of the paint itself, exploring colour and thickness. The result is a highly abstract structure, but one rooted firmly in the real world.


And now the blue gallery

Head, Amedeo Modigliani, 1911-12

Modigliani was encouraged to sculpt by Brancusi. He made about thirty stone carvings borrowing from African masks, medieval carving and Khmer sculptures. These sources seem to have represented the spiritual expression that he sought to achieve. He would place candles on them, achieving the effect of 'a primitive temple'.

Michelangelo Pistoletto, Door, 1976, 1997

Andre Cadere, Bar of Wood

Cadere questioned the traditional boundaries between painting and sculpture by developing a series of wooden bars which can be positioned in varying relations to their surrounding. The striped pattern of each of Cadere's bars follows an idiosyncratic mathematical sequence. However, each one also contains a deliberate anomaly, which makes it harder to decipher the system's underlying rationale.

Piet Mondrian, ‘No. VI / Composition No.II’ 1920

VI, Composition no. II, Pier Mondrian, 1920

An early example of Mondrian's pure geometric abstration, this painting dates from his involvement with the De Stijl group. The strict use of horizontal and vertical lines and primary colours with black and grey is characteristic of De Stijl. Mondrian's aim to evoke a spiritual equilibrium was influenced by the mysticism of Theosophy which sought universal order.

Fernand Léger, ‘Two Women Holding Flowers’ 1954

Two Women Holding Flowers, Fernand Leger, 1954

Leger, like Picasso, often painted works showing two women together. This theme of a pair of figures had precedents in classical art, and allowed the artist to explore the rhyming shapes and patterns created by the symmetrical image. Here two women are seen with their limbs intertwined, in a state of  physical ease and relaxation. One holds a flower, a symbol of natural beauty and fertility. However, this is no rustic idyll. The figures are drawn as outlines upon seemingly casually arranged rectangles of bright colours which give the painting a typically modern sense of energy and dynamism.

Eduardo Paolozzi, Michelangelo's David? 1987

Paolozzi was walking past Harrods store one morning and saw a window dresser setting up a display which included a plaster cast of the head of Michelangelo's marble sculpture of David. He temporarily borrowed the cast and had another cast made from it at the Royal College of Art. Paolozzi sawed his cast in pieces and glued wooden blocks in the cuts. The attack upon the cast is partly a comment on the great plaster cast collection of antique sculptures that used to belong to the Munich Academy of Arts, and which was largely destroyed during student riots in 1972.

Victor Pasmore, ‘Abstract in White, Black, Indian and Lilac’ 1957

Abstract in White, Black, Indian and Lilac, Victor Pasmore, 1957

Pasmore believed that art derived from nature, and specifically from its underlying processes and structures rather than its surface appearance. In his reliefs Pasmore brought ideas of growth and abstract harmony into three dimensions. He rejected tilted elements because they were not organic developments of the rectangles in the way that horizontals and verticals are.

You See an Office Building, 4, Julian Opie, 1996

'I had been making boxes the shapes of objects and then painting the object on that box. Office buildings are box-shaped and can be quite narrow, almost like a painting canvas. They seemed close to an idea of object as image and image as object. I ended up putting all the painted objects onto flattish boxes, just thick enough so that they stand up ... I try to make objects that are both a drawing of some specific situation but also a symbol... If they became more symbolic there would be no reason for doing more than one, and they would perhaps lose a sense of relationships to the experienced world'.

Zeichensaal (Drafting Room), Thomas Demand, 1996

At first sight this photograph seems to depict a real office. On close inspection however, the artifice of the scene becomes apparent. The room is actually a life-size model of the studio of Richard Volholzer, the architect who directed much of West Germany's post-war rebuilding, which has been painstakingly recreated by the artist with cardboard and paper. The resulting image creates a tension between the real and the fabricated as photography, a medium associated with reporting the truth, is thus exposed as unreliable.

Finally, looking at the Mersey through the gallery window.

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