The journey into London was effortless on a Sunday afternoon .
Tate Britain had some new shows to enjoy and Mrs Monk insisted that we start with the Romantics.
This show occupies the Clore Galleries which were purpose-built to show Turner’s Life Work. In order to show Turner in context with his contemporary Romantics and other less than contemporary landscapes, many Turners have actually been removed to achieve this. Not at all sure if Turner would have approved but this show did get the Monks back into the Clore Gallery to actually check out the Turners that remained, and to compare and contrast with the likes of William Blake, and Constable and the wonderful Samuel Palmer, and the haunted Richard Dadd, who murdered his father and was committed to Bedlam.
But it was Muybridge from Kingston Upon Thames that I was drawn to. Muybridge made his name in America by photographing Californian Landscapes, and by conducting anthropological photographic experiments designed to examine the movement of horses galloping, and of man running and throwing, and of woman doing likewise. For scientific understanding all were required to be naked, and in due course questions were asked about the naked grappling wrestlers and the undressed women poring water over other naked women. And yes Muybridge had another dark side, because he murdered his wife's lover and then got off because it was his wife's infidelity that drove him to it and therefore justified the homicide. This was the 19th century, and at the time of the American Civil War.
We then moved on the third show at Tate Britain, which was in fact our third preference of the day. Rachel Whitread won our favour with her inverted sculptural casts of the voids in everyday objects and spaces. She did this with bath tubs and mattresses, and then with the room which she called, “ghost” in 1990, she won justifiable acclaim. And then the Turner prise for “House” in 1993 which was tragically vandalised by Tower Hamlets Council.
Rachel Whiteread’s nadir was her attempt fill the Tate Modern Turbine Hall in 2006, with white plastic boxes. This may be her first sculpture that did not relate to an actual object, or an actual space, and it simply failed to ignite the imagination, and seemed woefully inadequate given the scale of the place it occupied.
However, in this show she offers a beautiful selection of drawings which respond to her portfolio of ideas, and expands upon them. She confronts her problem of scale by dealing with small everyday objects, that conveniently resonate with her ideas. Keyholes, literally provide negative spaces and she has also punctured postcards to this end, on a keyhole surgery scale. To rein gage with real objects she has provided a a long glass cabinets of found objects that resonate with her.
There is a small model of Whiteread’s Austrian commission in 2000 “Nameless Library.” This would seem to be the first “object” to be cast by Whiteread that has meaning beyond the physicality of subject. It is therefore disconcerting to consider mass murder, by Nazis with one thought and then to move on to her everyday found objects. But I am a fan of being disconcerted. Recommended.
Note. I Have used the word “literally” to annoy Mrs Monk.