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Posted 8 June 2016 by Kat

The new Tate Modern is opening next week. It’s your space to explore, play and see some great art.

What if the whole of Tate Modern was a playground?

Come and whiz through some of our playgrounds and re-think what a playground can be!

1. Fly away

Wolfgang Suschitzky, Hampstead Heath Fair 1949, later print, © Wolfgang Suschitzky

Wolfgang Suschitzky, Hampstead Heath Fair 1949, later print, © Wolfgang Suschitzky

We love this photograph of people having fun on a ride. It was taken by Wolfgang Suschitzky, who was born in Austria but moved to London in the 1930s. He took lots of photographs documenting the lives of ordinary people living in London. But although this photograph is of ordinary people, it’s an extraordinary picture. By carefully choosing where to stand to take the photograph he captures the dynamic flying-through-the-air movement of the ride and the exhilaration of the people enjoying it.

2. A DIY playground

But not all playgrounds have to be spectacular (or involve big scary rides). This painting is of a very different kind of playground…a DIY one.

William Roberts Playground (The Gutter) 1934-5, c. Tate

William Roberts, Playground (The Gutter) 1934-5, c. Tate

These children are using the street as their playground and seem to be having just as much fun. All sorts of activities are happening. Cricket, piggyback riding, music-making…and what seems to be a mass skipping game. Could you make a similar scene with your friends in the school playground?

3. Shake, rattle and roll

This playground is not where you might expect a playground to be…can you guess where it is? If I tell you it’s an artwork, this might give you a clue. Yes that’s right…it’s in an art gallery.

Installation view of the Robert Morris retrospective, Tate Gallery, 1971 Tate © Robert Morris

Installation view of the Robert Morris retrospective, Tate Gallery, 1971 Tate © Robert Morris

In 1971 artist Robert Morris was invited to create an artwork for Tate. The work he made, (and you may have to take a deep breath before reading the title!), was called Bodyspacemotionthings. It was the first work of art shown at Tate that you could play on. You’re usually not supposed to touch artworks in galleries (as they are too fragile) but people were encouraged to climb, balance, crawl and roll on the huge ramps, tunnels, platforms and beams made by the artist for the installation.

You missed Robert Morris’s original playground…but don’t worry, Tate recreated Bodyspacemotionthings at Tate Modern in 2009 and recorded the whole thing! Watch this video and discover just what a fantastic playground it was.

4. Art slides

Image of Carsten Höller’s Test Site, part of the Unilever Series at Tate Modern. Carsten Höller, Test Site, © Tate Photography.

Image of Carsten Höller’s Test Site, part of the Unilever Series at Tate Modern. Carsten Höller, Test Site, © Tate Photography.

Here’s another playground artwork. It was an installation by artist Carsten Holler at Tate Modern. Every year an artist is invited by Tate to make an installation for the huge Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. (The Turbine Hall is the massive room at the heart of the building where all the machinery was when the building was a power station – before it became Tate Modern!). Lots of artists make art for specific spaces (this is called site-specific art), but it’s quite tricky to think of an artwork that can fill such a huge space. What would you make?

Rather than seeing the space as a problem Carsten Holler used its massiveness, creating mega-slides that went between the different floors. People could go on the slides and whiz down right through the Turbine Hall.

5. What fun feels like

Our final playground isn’t exactly a picture OF a playground…instead it captures the fun and excitement of how whizzing down a slide and flying sky-high on a swing makes us feel.

Wassily Kandinsky Swinging 1925 c. Tate

Wassily Kandinsky, Swinging, 1925 c. Tate

The artist Wassily Kandinsky believed that colours, lines and shapes affect our feelings and emotions in the same way that music can. You know how a slow sad song makes you feel down and a pop song with a happy, fast beat makes you want to dance? Well Kandinsky believed that creating a painting is like composing music.

In 1911 he wrote: ‘colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand which plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul’.

What does playing in a playground make you feel like? Have a go at using bright colours, dynamic shapes and lines shooting into the air to express your whizzing, climbing, running, dizzying playground experiences!

We would love to see you perfect art playgrounds. Paint, draw and make it, then share on My Gallery.

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Kids to be first visitors in new Tate Modern

Posted 26 May 2016 by Kat
Residents Day, 2009, Photo Kevin Sends © Tate Photography

Residents Day, 2009, Photo Kevin Sends © Tate Photography

Tate Kids are super excited as in a few weeks’ time the new Tate Modern is opening!

There will be a massive new building which will hold loads more art, exhibitions and events for you to come and experience.

What’s even better is that the first visitors into the new gallery will be kids!

The day is called A.S.S.E.M.B.L.Y. and is the special opening of the new Tate Modern for schools. There will be 3000 primary and secondary school children in the gallery and it’s set to be a really exciting and special day.

Students on an Artist-in-Residence Workshop, 2015 © Adam James

Students on an Artist-in-Residence Workshop, 2015 © Adam James

Tate Kids got the chance to interview a class that are attending the day – year 5 and 6 pupils from Ysgol Tudno in Llandudno, Wales, to get their thoughts on art, the new Tate Modern and the opening day.

Tate Kids: What do you expect to find at Tate Modern?

Mark: Splat paintings, a graffiti-ed wall and pieces of rubbish turned into something brilliant and creative and beautiful.

Dominik: I expect lots of unusual objects hung from the ceiling.

What’s the best bit about art at school?

Aurelia: The best bit about art in school is that that you can be free and be creative and do art in any style you want.

Lucia: We get to go to the art gallery, be creative and let our mind go wild.

Do you think art is important?

Libby: I think art is important because there are some things that you can’t put into words.

Demi-Lee: Art can change the world, art sends us on an adventure.

Maddison: It can represent people, lives and nature. It makes people let their emotions out.

If you imagined a gallery in the future, what do you think it would look like?

Celia: It would have holographic art and art that children have made.

Maddison: Lots of technology, maybe animals and people as art.

Describe what art means to you in 3 words:

Kacie: Creative, imaginative, inspiring.

Josh: Expression, exciting, confident.

Thanks guys! Year 5 and 6 pupils from Ysgol Tudno in Llandudno, Wales c. Tate

Thanks guys! Year 5 and 6 pupils from Ysgol Tudno in Llandudno, Wales c. Tate

Ysgol Tudno was nominated to attend A.S.S.E.M.B.L.Y. by MOSTYN, a Plus Tate partner.

A.S.S.E.M.B.L.Y. takes place on Thursday 16th June at Tate Modern. From Friday 17th June, the new gallery is open to everyone – so make sure you come along and join in the celebrations!

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Posted 25 May 2016 by Kat

What do you think this is a painting of?

Georgia O’Keeffe Abstraction White Rose 1927 Oil on canvas 36 x 30 (91.4 x 76.2) Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. Gift of The Burnett Foundation and Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation © Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Georgia O’Keeffe, Abstraction White Rose, 1927, Oil on canvas, 36 x 30 (91.4 x 76.2) Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Gift of The Burnett Foundation and Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Yes – It’s a flower, but it doesn’t look little and fragile as we usually expect flowers to look.

Why did Georgia O’Keeffe decide to paint it like this? This is what she said:

‘Nobody really sees a flower really – it is so small we haven’t time – and to see takes time… So I said to myself “I’ll paint what I see – what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it”’.

Who is she and what is she famous for?

Born in 1887, Georgia O’Keeffe was an American artist known for her emotional responses to nature. She is most known for her paintings of flowers and desert landscapes. She played an important part in the development of modern art in America, becoming the first female painter to gain respect in New York’s art world in the 1920s. Her unique and new way of painting nature, simplifying its shapes and forms meant that she was called a pioneer. The artwork below is a landscape. Do you see how she has simplified the clouds, sun and mountains?

Georgia O'Keeffe, Red and Orange Streak, 1919, Bequest of Georgia O'Keeffe for the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1987

Georgia O’Keeffe, Red and Orange Streak, 1919, Bequest of Georgia O’Keeffe for the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1987

Interestingly, O’Keeffe was fascinated by the bones and skulls she found in the landscape. She said, “To me they are as beautiful as anything I know…The bones seem to cut sharply to the center of something that is keenly alive on the desert even tho’ it is vast and empty and untouchable.” Do you agree? Why do you think she painted them so large in front of the landscape?

Georgia O'Keeffe From the Faraway, Nearby 1937 Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA) © TBC on receipt of permission

Georgia O’Keeffe From the Faraway, Nearby 1937 Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA) © Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1959

How did she develop her style?

Georgia knew from the age of 12 that she wanted to be an artist. She went to art school but what she was taught there didn’t seem relevant to the way she wanted to paint. Then in 1912 she discovered the revolutionary ideas of an artist and designer called Arthur Wesley Dow. He emphasised the importance of composition – which means how you arrange shapes and colours. As O’Keeffe explained: ‘His idea was, to put it simply, fill a space in a beautiful way’. This was a light-bulb moment for her and from then on she began to experiment with shapes, colours and marks.

Georgia met other artists who, like her, were experimenting with abstract art. Art in the 1920s was exciting. Artists didn’t just want to show how something looked but were using colours, shapes and brush-marks in unexpected ways to express meanings, ideas and feelings. This encouraged Georgia to develop her own unique style – a combination of abstract and realistic.

What inspired her?


Georgia O’Keeffe, Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico / Out Back of Marie’s II 1930, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (Santa Fe, USA). Gift of The Burnett Foundation
© Georgia O’Keeffe Museum/DACS, London

Look at this painting of hills. Although you can recognise what it is, it also has a strange and powerful atmosphere that a photograph of the landscape, or a more traditional, straightforward realistic painting, wouldn’t have.  What words would you use to describe this landscape?

It was painted in New Mexico, USA. Georgia first visited New Mexico in 1916 and fell in love with the dramatic desert landscape with its rugged mountains. This is what she said about the landscape:

‘As soon as I saw it, that was my country. I’d never seen anything like it before but it fitted to me exactly. There’s something that’s in the air, its just different. The sky is different the stars are different, the wind is different’.

On the Road

Georgia wanted to stay as close as possible to the remote landscape places she loved, she travelled around the desert drawing and painting. She battled the heat and heavy wind and camped out under the stars. Luckily she had favourite mobile studio with her – her car – which she’d specially adapted as a place to work.

Have you ever visited a landscape that has taken your breath away? Next time try putting those feelings across using shapes and colours and try, (as Georgia says) to ‘fill the space in a beautiful way’.

You can see some of O’Keeffe’s beautiful artwork for yourself at an upcoming exhibition at Tate Modern. Remember you go free – as its free to go to all Tate exhibitions if you are Under 12. :)

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Posted 20 April 2016 by Kat

Marta Minujín started off as a painter, but from the early 1960s she began to use materials that weren’t really thought of as ‘proper’ art materials, like mattresses and cardboard boxes.

Marta Minujín in Paris with her work Mattress before destruction Courtesy the artist

Marta Minujín in Paris with her work Mattress before destruction.  Courtesy the artist

She was a pop artist and like other pop artists was inspired by popular and commercial culture such as advertising, Hollywood movies and pop music. She liked the printed surfaces of the boxes she used with their logos, adverts and texts and these surfaces became part of her art.

But it wasn’t just the surfaces of the boxes that she liked. Inspired by the ideas of an artist friend called Alberto Greco, she began to manipulate the boxes, and other found objects, into shapes and structures so that they became something people could interact with. She made assemblages (like 3D collages) and environments that could be crawled into, or rolled on top of or laid upon.

And that was where the artwork, Mayhem started. Mayhem (which is La Menesunda in Spanish) gives us some clues about the work and also about what the artist is like – playful, fun and not always doing things she should…

Marta Minujín, LA MENESUNDA (1965) c. Marta Minujin

Marta Minujín, LA MENESUNDA (1965) c. Marta Minujin

Minujín was invited to make a work in 1965 for the Torcuato Di Tella Institute (an art museum) in Buenos Aires. But rather than making something to be shown in the space which visitors could look AT from a polite distance, she made the space INTO an artwork that people had to go into in order to experience it.

La Menesunda was a labyrinth of 16 environments, (an environment is an artwork that people can go into). Each one provided a completely different experience for the visitors, so they weren’t quite sure what they were going to get next. And if you think visiting the dentist in an art gallery isn’t confusing enough, she also created a walk-in freezer complete with hanging meat (made from cloth, luckily); and a mirrored room with black lights, falling confetti and the smell of frying food.

It is also important to her that her art is for everybody (not just for people who like art). Do you think you would enjoy visiting Mayhem? Lots of people did. Although the Torcuato Di Tella Institute was a serious art museum, lots of people came to see Mayhem who had never set foot inside a gallery before. In fact there were queues right down the street to get in and 30,000 people visited the exhibition.


Marta Minujín La destrucción (The Destruction) 1963 Courtesy of the artist and Henrique Faria Fine Art New York

Marta Minujín, La destrucción (The Destruction), 1963
Courtesy of the artist and Henrique Faria Fine Art New York


So what’s it all about?

Minujín’s work is all about participation – or joining in. She makes art that people don’t just look at – but actively encounter. She wants people to be surprised and shocked, to feel uncomfortable and embarrassed, and to become curious. She sees her role as intensifying people’s lives by getting them to experience things and feelings they normally wouldn’t.

Do you like the idea of art that you can interact with – or play in or on? Have you ever visited a museum or gallery and explored interactive art? Do you think it changes how you think about art?

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Posted 13 April 2016 by Kat

What are the basics?

Theaster Gates was born in 1973 in Chicago, USA where he lives and works.

The things he creates may stretch the idea of what we think of as art. As well as sculpture, installation and performance…he performs makeovers on old buildings.

Theaster Gates, Building, 2012, Photo: Tanja Jürgensen

Theaster Gates, Building, 2012, Photo: Tanja Jürgensen

What’s it all about?

All of Theaster Gates’s art is about one thing – making people’s lives better.

He studied urban planning at college – which is the planning of buildings, road systems and neighbourhoods – and uses what he learnt from this to improve and revitalise poor areas of cities. He does this in lots of ways: from doing up old empty buildings so that they become something useful, to organising conferences and other events where people can meet to discuss ways of making society better.

Theaster Gates, Otis in the garden, 2012, Photo: Ellinor Lager

Theaster Gates, Otis in the garden, 2012, Photo: Ellinor Lager

This type of art is called socially engaged practice. Socially engaged artists collaborate with other people or communities to try and fix problems and improve people’s lives.

What is he most famous for?

Theaster Gates, Archive House Past (2009) and Present (2013) photos: Sara Pooley 2013

Theaster Gates, Archive House Past (2009) and Present (2013) photos: Sara Pooley 2013

Theaster Gates is most famous for his ambitious architectural projects. One of the biggest of these is The Dorchester Project. This is still happening, but began in 2006 when he bought an abandoned building in Chicago. He collaborated with a team of architects and designers to do the building up. This old empty useless building, (and others which he has worked on since then), has been transformed into an amazing, buzzing and very useful place where local people can do all sorts of fun and interesting things.

Theaster Gates, Visitors on swinging bench, 2012 Photo: Katherine Finerty

Theaster Gates, Visitors on swinging bench, 2012 Photo: Katherine Finerty

They can borrow books and music from a library, go to concerts and performances, meet others and share ideas and go on swings. Theaster Gates calls his architectural projects ‘real-estate art’.

What else do we need to know about his art?

Recycling is important to Theaster Gates. He describes his building projects as part of a ‘circular ecological system’. As well as recycling found materials for the renovation of his buildings; the building work itself is paid for entirely by selling sculptures and artworks he makes from old bits and pieces he finds inside the buildings.

His sculptures and installations, (as well as performance pieces) explore the history and culture of black people in America.

Let’s look closer…

This artwork by Theaster Gates looks a bit like an abstract painting doesn’t it? But it isn’t what it seems! Look closely; can you see what it’s made from?

Theaster Gates, Civil Tapestry 4, 2011, © Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates, Civil Tapestry 4, 2011, © Theaster Gates

As well as recycling, the work has another important message. Theaster Gates made the work about a shocking event that took place in Alabama in 1963. Young black school children were marching peacefully to demonstrate for equal rights, when fire hoses were turned on them. The powerful jets of water injured lots of the children. Theaster Gates uses the fire hoses to symbolise the horror of this awful event.

By using events from black history as subjects for his art, he wants to make sure people know about them so they don’t let them happen again.

Hungry for more?

You may not think of food as art…but in Theaster Gates’s hands it is. He, along with foodie collaborators, often cooks Sunday soul-food dinners for lots of different people.

Theaster Gates, Youth Dinner, 2012, Photo: Malin Bernalt

Theaster Gates, Youth Dinner, 2012, Photo: Malin Bernalt

Soul food originated in the Southern States of America in black communities, and as well as enjoying its delicious flavours, people discuss, question and celebrate the histories of the people associated with it. So it’s food for thought, as well as for the tummy.

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