Monday, May 20, 2013

The Tate, second time around

After our interesting morning at Cafe Oink it was time to catch the train and then a long underground ride to the Tate Modern. Luckily from my experience with the parents the first time, I knew that it was located right next to St. Paul's Cathedral and routed us very easily there.

In fact it was so easy getting there that we decided to take a few minutes and explore St. Paul's as well, which happened to be open (it was Saturday instead of Sunday this time around). We went into what we thought was the church entrance but what ended up being just the entrance to the cafe, gift shop, and other underparts of the church.

When we arrived at the entrance to the church from the basement, we realized it was 16pounds to enter the cathedral. Holy crap! Who pays that much to go into a church? We quickly scanned the postcard rack in the gift shop to see what we could potentially be paying so much to see and determined it wasn't worth the money we would be spending. The Tate Modern is free; we were already going to pay extra to see the Lichtenstein exhibit...this wasn't worth spending the same amount.

So we left.

And promptly spent our saved pounds on delicious icecream from a hilarious truck parked right before we reached the Millennium Bridge:


It was so adorable that I was immediately suckered into buying something, despite the fact that for years I've never had interest in sweet food. I don't know if it's been the crappy spring weather or the fact that my parents were with me too long and impressed upon me a love for desserts, but whatever it is I've still not lost my penchant for sugary things since I've moved here. It's a disturbing trend. One that I hope not to continue once I get back into the routine of things.

But apparently this was not going to be the day to stop that habit. One vanilla icecream cone, coming up.

I delightfully nommed on my cone as we slowly crossed the bridge to the hideous building that is the Tate Modern.

And successfully went inside. To get lost.

Once again I congratulate the person who designed the layout of the Tate Modern in making it as inefficient and confusing as possible. It was only after we'd gone down to go up and went two floors before we'd realized we'd missed the ticket office to buy the extra tickets to the Lichtenstein exhibit and so had to go all the way back in order to purchase our special tickets. Grumbles grumbles.

But once we were there and buying the tickets things were a little better. Apparently when you buy tickets you have the option of donating an extra pound fifty which allows the museum to claim back half the ticket price in taxes. By giving this donation you're basically saying that the Tate Modern is a charity and that they should get tax benefits on their proceeds. Pretty nice. As a resident I definitely did it and wished them all the best for continuing their good work (maybe if they get enough money from the tax breaks they can hire someone decent for their information layout!).

The special exhibits have timed openings - you buy tickets for a certain time and are only allowed to enter once your time has opened. You can queue to get in earlier, but why would you do that if you have the rest of the museum to look at?

Our opening was still two hours away so we decided to take a gander at the museum and take our time enjoying. Which we did.

Hong Kong P is actually a lover of the modern arts, but she, similar to me, likes to giggle at the many things there are to giggle at. Needless to say we had a grand time snickering at various works. And there were a few things that had changed since I'd last been there, which was nice.

Eventually several floors, a stop at the museum cafe, and two hours later, it was time for us to go to the Lichtenstein exhibit.

And what an exhibit it was.

Despite being known for his comic-style paintings, the man actually has quite a breadth of work. I would have never known, having not come to this exhibit, and for that, I am thankful for Hong Kong P dragging me to it.

As we were roaming from room to room with their descriptions of each phase of Lichtenstein's work, it reminded me a lot of the Munch museum we'd been to in Oslo. Minus the whole murder series and weird eye problems.

He did some pretty awesome stuff. Starting with the comics was a way of getting the technique down (which was actually a way of printing basically). He then moved to other things like brassworks (which they oddly didn't explain about...like did he already know metalworking before he did these or was he just a weird artistic genius?) and doing great parodies of great works with his own style (which were actually quite good). He also did a series of landscapes based on the comic style and a series of "artist studios" where he painted replicas of his own paintings in the background.

Not so surprisingly he eventually moved into doing comic nudes (so original comics and then imagining the women nude) and then in the last phase of his life - Asian scroll-style paintings but in his own style. Kind of hilarious, not gonna lie. Like he would do the landscapes in his own dot-style (as he's known for), but the little details, such as a miniature man in a canoe at the bottom, would be left as it would be in an original painting. The effect is quite humorous.

I will say, it was worth the money. Also, whoever curated this particular exhibit actually knows how to lay things out. There was never any confusion as to which information went with which work, the colors of the walls were painted to match the works within and the rooms had a good flow. It was clear which room you were in and how the works all came together to form one cohesive theme. This person should be promoted. And should work on the rest of the museum.

Bottomline: really good exhibit. Surprisingly good, especially considering I'd already seen Lichtenstein's work before and I had had no idea he did any of these other styles. Makes me curious to see what they'll exhibit next.

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