I have been to the Tate Modern gallery in London several times. It’s situated on the south bank of the river Thames, and it used to be the Bankside Power station until it was transformed into a huge gallery space, which opened in 2000.
There are some classic pieces of modern art that I really like, which are presently displayed in the Tate Modern. When I was 17 I studied Art at college and was influenced by a lot of the USA pop art movement. These pieces are probably not all that modern now, as some date back to the 1960s, like the Andy Warhol silkscreen paintings of Marilyn Monroe produced in 1963, and the Roy Lichtenstein comic book paintings, such as “Whaam!” also from 1963.
There are some pieces of modern art which I just about understand, and lots which I don’t. why do you have to understand it, I hear you ask…. One which caught my attention was called Babel (2001) and consists of a vast tower of radios, each tuned to a different channel and adjusted to the minimum volume at which it is audible, which elates to the biblical story of the Tower of Babel.
Displayed in a darkened room, the only light comes from the radios themselves. The bottom rows are very old Bakelite radios from the 1920s, with the top most stacks made up of small, modern, digital radios and speakers. I could sort of understand where the artist was coming from, and what it means, when they designed this.
However, other exhibits left me confused, and almost cheated. Cheated, because to my mind, the artist was trying to be clever, but the very minimalist way they did this made me think they were fooling us in some way, hoping we would think their work was, brilliant, fantastic, and thought provoking. But I think some of it is dreadful. I just don’t get it……
Look at this! A piece of canvas, and three sticks! How is this art! I just laughed when I saw this. Perhaps that’s what the artist wanted? To me, this isn’t art….
And what about this one below? A piece of painted canvas, hung on the wall. The description next to the painting explained that each time it was hung in a different gallery, it would look slightly different……. Really? Why is that artistic? Aaaarrrgghh!
Same with this one, consisting of a roll of painted paper….. Each time it’s displayed, it can look different. Really? So? And the point is? Sorry, I don’t get it……
Here’s an exhibit which consists of lookalike rocks, made of sacking, rope and canvas. I have no idea what the artist was trying to show. Are we supposed to guess? Maybe we are supposed to understand that if displayed again, they would look different. SO WHAT!!! Why is that art? Why is this important? Please tell me!
Is the idea just to shock the viewer? To make us gasp at the incredibility of the art? To make us think of something, anything about the piece? It’s a bit like people who are exhibitionists, who dress bizarrely, have multi-coloured hair, or tattoos all over their face – I think they do it just to get a reaction. It’s maybe the same with modern art. Robots made of radios? A stylised house, tilted on its side? A pile of bloodied boxes, each one meant to represent a year of discarded and badly treated humans?
My brain was getting totally confused after being bombarded with all this art, so we left the gallery and had a lovely walk in the sunshine along the south bank of the Thames. There was lots to see, including those weird living statues, which these days seem to make you look twice as they appear not to be resting on anything.
There was also a clever bubble act, and some young men doing skateboarding in an underground cavernous hole covered in graffiti. Now that is a form of art I do admire – it’s had some thought put into it, its well designed, and colourful.
I guess all of these things are art, in its own way……