THE SUNDAY PICTURE

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The Independent Culture
It's 100 years since the sugar magnate Henry Tate made a gift to the nation of his collection of art. The Tate Gallery opened its doors on 21 July 1897, and has since become Britain's leading museum of modern art. To help celebrate the centenary, BBC2 has invited an eclectic bunch of celebrities to talk about a favourite Tate piece in 90 seconds. Talking Tates will pop up between programmes from 14 July; among those doing the talking are Jeanette Winterson, Willie Carson, Deborah Bull, Chris Smith MP - and Howard Hodgkin, whose vignette of art criticism we reproduce here.

"This picture is called The Bath and and was painted by the French painter Pierre Bonnard in 1925. His pictures are very severely designed, and as you can see this picture is almost like a geometric abstraction in the way the rectangles on the top, and the shape of the bath, and the fragment of carpet in the foreground divide the picture up as a kind of design. But of course it's a picture of a woman in a bath, and it's a picture of his wife who he adored. He didn't ever paint directly from her lying in the bath so she didn't go these extraordinary colours through getting chilled out in the water. It is not illusionistic colour. It's not actually, apart from the extraordinary white of the enamel bath tub, the colour of reality at all. It's colour from inside his head. I think it's a great masterpiece by an artist who is still remarkably unknown and also probably much misunderstood. He's often thought to be a sort of chocolate-box artist of the very grandest sort. He's actually quite the opposite." ("Henry Tate's Gift: A Centenary Celebration": Tate, SW1, 0171 887 8000; daily 10-5.50; free.)

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