BP British Art Displays: Looking At The View, Tate Britain, London
Zoe Pilger is an art critic for The Independent and winner of the 2011 Frieze International Writers Prize. Her first novel, Eat My Heart Out, will be published by Serpent's Tail in February 2014. She is also researching a PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London, on the subject of romantic love and sadomasochism in the work of contemporary female artists. She has appeared on BBC's The Review Show and Sky News
Monday 11 February 2013
To walk through this display of mostly British landscape artists from the Tate collection is akin to walking through the British countryside itself: bracing, meditative, green, and, at times, dull. However, many exceptional works are included.
From the muted blues and muddy browns of J.M.W Turner’s Hill Town On The Edge of Campagna (1828) to Patrick Caulfield’s technicolour Château de Chillon, part of the iconic After Lunch (1975), there is much scenery to enjoy.
The display spans 300 years of art history, and, at first glance, seems to lack structure. But these photographs, paintings, and films are paired according to a logic that illuminates each in a new way.
Sarah Lucas’ Self-Portrait with Knickers (1994), pictured, shows the artist in a typically confrontational pose surrounded by woodland, or possibly a particularly bushy area of a park in London. Her hands are on her hips. A line of white knickers is strung up behind her.
Lucas’ play on symbols of feminine purity and hygiene hangs next to an oil painting by Edward Atkinson Hornel, one of the Glasgow Boys.
Autumn (1904) shows two young girls wallowing in fallen leaves. Their white smocks are matched by the swans that sail in the pond behind them, and, indeed, by Lucas’ knickers to the left. The painting is an angelic counterpoint.
Landscape was considered to be one of the lower genres of painting until the 18th century when Edmund Burke’s idea of the sublime proposed that to contemplate nature was to be struck by awe and terror.
The grandiosity of the Romantic imagination is demonstrated by the pairing of Joseph Wright’s Sir Brooke Boothby (1781) with Tracey Emin’s Monument Valley (Grand Scale) (1995-7).
The former shows the amateur poet and publisher of Rousseau’s first Dialogues reclining in a forest, holding the book itself. He looks smug. The setting was intended to illustrate Rousseau’s conviction that man must live in harmony with nature.
The Emin portrait is notorious: she is seated in her grandmother’s appliqued chair in the middle of the Arizona desert, reading her own book, Exploration of The Soul.
The curators are making a wry comment on literary self-regard and how depictions of the act of reading haven’t evolved too much over the centuries.
Pains have been taken to balance tradition with Julian Opie, Tacita Dean, and Gilbert & George. This exhibition is perhaps the next best thing to a day in the country.
Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
- 4 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
- 5 British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Mr Selfridge series 3: Actress Kara Tointon says 'we're starting to see his demise'
Ed Sheeran texts Noel Gallagher to offer him tickets after Wembley Stadium rant
Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Taylor Swift banned from Triple J Hottest 100: Fans react to epic #Tay4Hottest100 defeat
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally