Tate Kids

TATE KIDS

 

Tate Kids Blog

Menu
 

WHO IS…MARTA MINUJÍN?

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?

Tags: , ,

No comments, Add your comment »

WHO IS…THEASTER GATES?

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.

Tags: ,

No comments, Add your comment »

TOP 5 MONSTERS

Posted 6 April 2016 by Kat

1. Monster mutt

William Blake, Cerberus 1824–7, c. Tate

William Blake, Cerberus 1824–7, c. Tate

You probably wouldn’t want to pat this dog on the head. For a start you’d need to decide which head to pat…Meet Cerberus the three headed dog that, in Greek mythology, guards the gates of the underworld. If you’re a fan of Harry Potter this monster mutt may seem familiar…the character (rather disconcertingly) known as Fluffy, the fierce three-headed dog that guards the magical philosopher’s stone, is based on Cerberus.

2. Gruesome ghouls

Francis Bacon, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion c.1944, c. Tate

Francis Bacon, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion c.1944, c. Tate

What are those things? When this painting was first shown, visitors at the exhibition who saw it were terrified, as the images were ‘so awful that the mind shut up with a snap at the sight of them’. Where on earth did Francis Bacon get his gruesome ideas? Apparently he was inspired by some strange sources, including photographs from a medical book about diseases of the mouth, and ectoplasm (which is a kind of horrible gunky liquid produced by ghosts!). Eughhhh!

As well as being very scary, the screaming heads look as if they are in agony. The picture was painted towards the end of the Second World War, so the monsters perhaps symbolise the suffering and horror of the war.

3. Humanimalirdies?

Karel Appel, Hip, Hip, Hoorah! 1949, © Karel Appel Foundation

Karel Appel, Hip, Hip, Hoorah! 1949, © Karel Appel Foundation

Phew what a relief…some jolly-looking monsters. These creature hybrids are a mix of humans, animals and birds. Can you work out which body bits belong to which species? Karel Appel belonged to CoBrA, a group of artists who were inspired by art made by children. The bright colours and playful style are typical of CoBrA artworks. Appel said that he called the work Hip Hip Hooray because he was so happy that he didn’t have to paint in a boring grown-up style.

Tate Kids has invented the name ‘humanimalirdies’ for these creatures (that’s a mix of ‘human’, ‘animal’ and ‘birdies’). Create your own monster mixes and invent names for them. Try out Tate Paint or Street Art. Look at drawings by artist Stephen Gilbert, who was also a CoBrA artist, for inspiration. He drew lots of monster-y looking mixed-up creatures in his sketchbooks. You can see them here.

4. Rock monsters

Eileen Agar, Photograph of ‘Le Lapin’ rock in Ploumanach July 1936 c. Tate

Eileen Agar, Photograph of ‘Le Lapin’ rock in Ploumanach July 1936 c. Tate

This photograph of a ‘monster’ was taken by artist Eileen Agar at the seaside in Cornwall. Yes, it is a rock – but can you see a monster rabbit lurking in its bumps and lumps? Agar saw strange faces and other bits of body in the shapes of these Cornish seaside rocks, and described them as ‘enormous prehistoric monsters sleeping on the turf above the sea’. She was inspired by the power of nature and loved the fact that these strange monster rocks had been created purely by the forces of water and wind. She also had silly names for them, that described their body-bit shapes…such as ’Rockface’ and ‘Bum and Thumb Rock’.

5. Be a young Frankenstein

Jake Chapman, Dinos Chapman, Exquisite Corpse 2000, © Jake and Dinos Chapman

Jake Chapman, Dinos Chapman, Exquisite Corpse 2000, © Jake and Dinos Chapman

Have you ever played that game where you draw a head, fold the paper over so your head drawing is hidden, and then pass the paper on to someone else who draws the body? Did you know that the surrealists invented it? They called the game Le Cadavre Exquis (which is French for The Exquisite Corpse).

The Chapman brothers made this artwork together. They drew onto etching plates instead of pieces of paper. They like to use particularly monster-like body parts, like skulls, eyeballs and animal heads. What else can you see in their artwork?

Have a go for yourself with your family and friends. Share it with us on My Gallery. We’d love to see the scary, funny and weird monsters you create.

 

 

Tags: , , , ,

No comments, Add your comment »

WHO IS…YAYOI KUSAMA?

Posted 30 March 2016 by Kat

Don’t adjust your screens or rub your eyes…the dots you are about to experience are art…welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Yayoi Kusama!

Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist who is sometimes called ‘the princess of polka dots’. Although she makes lots of different types of art – paintings, sculptures, performances and installations ­– they have one thing in common…dots!

© Yayoi Kusama/ Yayoi Kusama Studio, Inc, Courtesy Castellane Gallery, New York

© Yayoi Kusama/ Yayoi Kusama Studio, Inc, Courtesy Castellane Gallery, New York

So what it’s all about? Where do the dots come from and what do they mean?

Yayoi tells the story of how when she was a little girl she had a hallucination that freaked her out. She was in a field of flowers when they all started talking to her! The heads of flowers were like dots that went on as far as she could see, and she felt as if she was disappearing – or as she calls it ‘self-obliterating’ – into this field of endless dots. This weird experience influenced most of her later work.

By adding all-over marks and dots to her paintings, drawings, objects and clothes she feels as if she is making them (and herself) melt into, and become part of, the bigger universe. She said: ‘Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos. Polka dots are a way to infinity. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environment’.

Yayoi Kusama The Passing Winter 2005 Photo: © James Deavin Courtesy Victoria Miro Gallery, London © Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama, The Passing Winter 2005, Photo: © James Deavin, Courtesy Victoria Miro Gallery, London © Yayoi Kusama

She also creates environments of dots so that we can experience this feeling of self-obliteration too. She calls these rooms her Infinity Rooms, and creates them by installing hundreds of flashing coloured LED lights into mirrored rooms. The pinpricks of light in the dark room reflect endlessly in the mirrors, making you feel like you are in an apparently endless space. The dots surround and engulf you…it’s very hard to tell where you end and where the rest of the room begins!

Yayoi Kusama Studio Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life 2011 © Yayoi Kusama/Yayoi Kusama Studio, Inc

Yayoi Kusama Studio Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life 2011 © Yayoi Kusama/Yayoi Kusama Studio, Inc

Yayoi was born in Japan in 1939. She loved drawing and painting and although her parents didn’t want her to be an artist, she was determined. When her mum tore up her drawings, she made more. When she could not afford to buy art materials, she used mud and old sacks to make art. This is a drawing she made when she was 10 of her mum.

Yayoi Kusama Untitled 1939 Pencil on paper 25 × 22 cm

Yayoi Kusama, Untitled 1939, Pencil on paper, 25 × 22 cm

Eventually she persuaded her parents to let her go to art school and study painting.

In the late 1950s Yayoi moved to New York as lots of the most exciting art seemed to be happening there. It must have been a bit frightening arriving in such a big city with such a different culture from what she knew. But she was determined to conquer New York. She later wrote about her feisty attitude: ‘I would stand up to them all with a single polka dot’.

Yayoi Kusama lying on the base of My Flower Bed 1962 in New York, c.1965 © Yayoi Kusama / Studio Yayoi Kusama, Inc.

Yayoi Kusama lying on the base of My Flower Bed 1962 in New York, c.1965 © Yayoi Kusama / Studio Yayoi Kusama, Inc.

And she did! She had the first of many exhibitions there in 1959. She met and inspired important artists including Donald Judd, Andy Warhol and Joseph Cornell, and her art was a part of exciting art developments such as pop art and minimalism. She was also one of the first artists to experiment with performance and action art.

As well as being an art pioneer, Yayoi Kusama put her creativity into other things including music, design, writing and fashion.

© Yayoi Kusama/ Yayoi Kusama Studio, Inc

© Yayoi Kusama/ Yayoi Kusama Studio, Inc

After painting dots directly onto people in her performances in the late 1960s, she started to make clothes – setting up her own fashion label in 1969. Her clothes weren’t always practical though. One of her designs was a dress that lots of people could fit into at the same time! Let’s have a guess at what pattern featured most on her clothes…?!!

What do you think of Kusama’s art? What would you, your house or your dog look like covered in dots? Get drawing and painting and show us on My Gallery.

No comments, Add your comment »

WHAT IS…CONCEPTUAL ART?

Posted 1 March 2016 by Kat

Did you know that another word for ‘idea’ is ‘concept’?  With conceptual art the artist’s idea (or concept) is the most important thing about the artwork. What it looks like doesn’t matter as long as the idea comes across.

Conceptual artists don’t make traditional paintings and sculptures but use whatever techniques are best for putting across their idea – and because ideas can be expressed in lots of different ways, conceptual art can look like just about anything.

Joseph Kosuth Clock (One and Five), English/Latin Version 1965, © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2016

Joseph Kosuth, Clock (One and Five), English/Latin Version 1965, © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2016

When did it start? 

Marcel Duchamp was an important influence on conceptual art. In 1917, he turned a toilet upside-down and put it in an exhibition with the title of Fountain.

Marcel Duchamp Fountain 1917, replica 1964, © Succession Marcel Duchamp/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016

Marcel Duchamp, Fountain 1917, replica 1964, © Succession Marcel Duchamp/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016

Conceptual art started in the mid-1960s and was a big thing until the mid-1970s Lots of artists around the world made conceptual art. Some of the most important of these were: Joseph Beuys, Jenny Holzer and Sol le Witt.

So what were they thinking?

  • They didn’t think that traditional painting and sculpture could put across their ideas very well
  • They didn’t like it that the art world had become so commercial. Like cars, shoes and hoovers, art had become just another product that could be bought and sold
  • They also thought that artists shouldn’t be seen as celebrities with special skills. They believed that everyone has ideas…so everyone can be an artist

By making the idea the important thing, conceptual artists felt they were liberating art. After all no one can own – or buy and sell – an idea. One conceptual artist called Lawrence Weiner said: ‘Once you know about a work of mine you own it. There’s no way I can climb inside somebody’s head and remove it.’

Keith Arnatt Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of his Former Self 1969–72 © Keith Arnatt Estate

Keith Arnatt, Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of his Former Self 1969–72 © Keith Arnatt Estate

Conceptual art influenced lots of art that came later, in fact many artists making art now – such as Martin Creed and Simon Starling – still make conceptual art. This is a work Martin Creed made in 2000. It’s called Work No. 227: The lights going on and off (and that is exactly what it is!).

Martin Creed The lights going on and off 2000 Photo: Tate Photography © Martin Creed

Martin Creed, The lights going on and off 2000, Photo: Tate Photography © Martin Creed

Instead of putting traditional objects in a gallery he fills it with light and darkness. This makes us think about the space we’re standing in, about what art is…and even about what we are doing there!

Conceptual artists don’t care about being able to draw or paint very well or about making an artwork that looks good – because to them the idea is the important thing.  But because this is the opposite of what people traditionally think art should be (a powerful painting or skilful sculpture), conceptual art is sometimes dismissed as not ‘real’ art. Do you agree?

Carl Plackman Backward Look at Landscape 1984, © The estate of Carl Plackman

Carl Plackman, Backward Look at Landscape 1984, © The estate of Carl Plackman

Here are some other ways conceptual artists make art…

Acting out or performing their idea

Bruce McLean Pose Work for Plinths 3 1971 © Bruce McLean

Bruce McLean, Pose Work for Plinths 3 1971 © Bruce McLean

Artist Bruce McClean wondered what the point of traditional sculpture was. So he acted out some funny poses using his own body draped over plinths. (Plinths are the boxes that traditional sculptures stand on in galleries).

Using existing (or found) objects

This artwork may look a bit boring, but Michael Craig-Martin said the reason he used four very ordinary boxes was to make the viewer focus on ‘the idea embodied in the piece’.

Michael Craig-Martin 4 Identical Boxes with Lids Reversed 1969, © Michael Craig-Martin

Michael Craig-Martin, 4 Identical Boxes with Lids Reversed 1969, © Michael Craig-Martin

His idea was to explore what happens when a mathematical sequence is applied to four identical structures. The box lids were made by cutting away the top surface of the boxes in a sequence of 6, 12, 18 and 24 inch intervals. (An inch is around 2.5 cm).

Creating ‘interventions’ in landscapes

An intervention is like an interruption: they dig a hole, make a temporary sculpture out of rocks or stones…or, they just go for a walk! Artist Richard Long walked forwards and backwards across a field until his footsteps made a line of flattened grass.

Richard Long, A Line Made by Walking 1967, © Richard Long

Richard Long, A Line Made by Walking 1967, © Richard Long

What do you think? Do you think art has to be skilfully made? Or do you think that if art makes you think, that’s enough? Let us know in the comments.

Liking the sound of conceptual art? Check out Conceptual Art in Britain: 1964–1979 at Tate Britain, 12 April 29 August 2016. Under 12s go free. 

Tags: , , , , , ,

No comments, Add your comment »

 

Subscribe to Tate Kids Blog