Today was another museum trip with a friend (this is becoming a habit) to see the Alberto Giacometti and Wolfgang Tillmans exhibitions. The Tate was doing combined tickets so I thought why not – being exposed to two very artists and their mediums.
Giacometti was born in Switzerland in 1901 and his father was a post-impressionist painter so he was exposed to art from an early age. He moved to Paris in 1922 and was influenced by cubism and surrealism – he met with André Breton from the surrealist movement. When war broke out he returned to Switzerland and had to stay there until the end of the war and then moved back to Paris. This was the period when he developed the style of sculpture and painting that he is most famous for.
In short, I loved Giacometti. I am a bigger fan of sculpture over painting so this would be my kind of exhibition. His sculpture and paintings were magnificent. I had done some research on him last year as part of the Dreams/Reality project so was looking forward to this retrospective of his work. The first room you enter shows just a series of heads that he had sculpted over his working life in a variety of materials. I thought this was a powerful way to open the exhibition. You potentially saw the development of where he started and where he was heading to. The next room was more sculpture work presented on a large shelf and some in glass cases. Some of it I could relate to and some just went over my head, but I liked it nonetheless. More rooms of sculpture, in his recognisable thin style and then some of his portraiture. There was a video installation showing Giacometti painting a portrait. Like with the Hockey exhibition working on the iPad, this was a great way of seeing how he worked and how simple he made it all look. And reference was made to his collaborations with Eli Lotar and other artists of his time.
© Giacometti Estate
His later portrait work shown above I find quite interesting. It has very strong lines and even where there is colour, it is still quite monochrome. “When you look at the human face, you always look at the eyes. An eye has something special about it, it’s made of different matter than the rest of the face”. When you look at his sculpture or his paintings it is all about the eyes… (where he has drawn or sculpted them). This is an exhibition that I would go and see again.
Now for something contemporary. The Wolfgang Tillmans exhibition has been described as not being a retrospective “but specially configured by Tillmans as a personal response to the present moment…” The thing that stood out for me were prints that were framed, clipped and sellotaped to the exhibition wall. It had a very deconstructed feel to it. In terms of work, there was so much there – we had a sound installation, large prints, small prints, texts and installations, LP/CD covers, magazine covers, political statements.
In terms of styles of work, we had abstract, portrait, social/political commentary, landscape. At times it was a little overwhelming, but this might be because I had just seen the Giacometti. However, what I took away from this exhibition was that you do not have to pin yourself down to one style to be successful! There’s hope for us all yet.
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