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WHO IS…FRANK BOWLING?

Posted 9 December 2015 by Kat

What a mess! Or is it? Take a look at this busy painting by artist Frank Bowling. What do you see?

Frank Bowling, Spreadout Ron Kitaj, 1984–6, © Frank Bowling

Frank Bowling, Spreadout Ron Kitaj, 1984–6, © Frank Bowling

What if you knew this work of art wasn’t just made with paint, but with Christmas glitter, jewellery, foam, and oyster shells? And even toys! There’s even a drawing by the artist’s young son hidden underneath. Frank Bowling took all of these things, arranged them on a canvas, and then got to work smothering them in colourful paint, layer after layer.

It’s okay if you can’t see all of those things, because the artist wanted to hide them under all of that paint.

Frank Bowling did this because he was friends with the Abstract Expressionists, who thought that paint, colours, and patterns were just as important as people and other stuff we can recognise in paintings.

But he didn’t start that way. Bowling started painting in the 1960s in London, where he was friends with Pop artists like David Hockney.

Frank Bowling, Mirror, 1966, © Frank Bowling

Frank Bowling, Mirror, 1966, © Frank Bowling

Can you find the chair, the staircase, and the bright yellow tap? What about people – how many do you see? This painting was made when Bowling still thought people (or figures) were an important part of his paintings.

He even painted himself in it! Once at the top and once at the bottom of the stairs. At the top he’s drawn himself with lines, and at the bottom he’s messy and smudged, almost like he’s turning into paint!

The more paintings Bowling made, the more they were about colours and smudges. After moving to New York City in 1966, he became more and more interested in splashing, dripping, and spilling paint on a canvas to create all kinds of effects.

Frank Bowling Who’s Afraid of Barney Newman 1968 © Frank Bowling

Frank Bowling
Who’s Afraid of Barney Newman,  1968 c. Frank Bowling

He also thought colours could tell stories on their own.

What do the green, yellow, and red in this painting make you feel? Do they mean anything to you?

These colours had special meaning to Bowling, because they make up the flag of Guyana. That’s the country in South America where he was born.

But what are those fuzzy outlines in the middle of the painting? If you know your geography, you might be able to recognise them as maps! The one in the middle is of South America, and the one at the top is Guyana.

Why do you think the artist included these maps in his painting? Maps aren’t just lines we put on the globe. They can be symbols of who we are, and where we come from.

So when Frank Bowling made this painting, he wanted us to think about the power of colours. But he also wanted to share his identity with us, through symbols in a painting. “This is who I am!” it says.

What do you think of Bowling’s artwork? What does it say to you? Let us know in the comments below.

You could even have a go at making your own Abstract Expressionist artworks in one of the Tate Kids games!

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Calder Christmas Competition!

Posted 2 December 2015 by Kat

Ho ho ho!

Christmas is less than a month away and Tate Kids is running a very special Christmas competition this year! Be a detective and win a mega Alexander Calder themed Christmas hamper!

This hamper includes an A5 sketchbook, colouring pencils, an acrylic paint set, a Calder Gold Fish Bowl tote bag, a Calder cushion cover, Meet the Circus book AND an Alexander Calder mug (to hold that all-important hot chocolate!)

Christmas at Tate Shop!

It’s Christmas at Tate Shop!

This competition comes to you in 2 parts.

Part 1 – Zoom!

Below is a zoomed in bit of artwork and you have to guess which painting, out of the 3 below, it comes from.

Hand drawn Christmas card by Phyllis Maureen Gotch 1882-1963

A.

Julian Trevelyan, Christmas Card 1935, © The estate of Julian Trevelyan

Julian Trevelyan, Christmas Card 1935, © The estate of Julian Trevelyan

B.

Handmade Christmas card from Kenneth Armitage to Joan Moore inscribed ‘HAPPY CHRISTMAS’ 22 December 1951. © The Kenneth Armitage Foundation

Handmade Christmas card from Kenneth Armitage to Joan Moore inscribed ‘HAPPY CHRISTMAS’ 22 December 1951. © The Kenneth Armitage Foundation

C.

Hand drawn Christmas card date not known. © The estate of Phyllis Maureen Gotch

Hand drawn Christmas card, date not known. © The estate of Phyllis Maureen Gotch

Part 2 – Multiple choice!

Which one is the correct answer?

Alexander Calder was also known as what to his friends?

A. Pandy

B. Sandy

C. Santa

To get involved leave your 2 answers in the comments below with your first name, a contact email and home address.
We won’t publish anything but your first name and answers. We will use your email address to contact you on if you win and your address to send the prizes too.

Make sure you ask permission from your adults before entering. Please enter only once. The deadline is Sunday 13 December at 9pm. All the correct answers will be put into a random draw to pick a winner! All the other Terms and Conditions are here.

Good luck!

Don’t forget, you can visit the Alexander Calder exhibition over the holidays and, as always, its free for under 12s!

Happy Holidays!

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GIRL TALK: CORNELIA PARKER

Posted 25 November 2015 by Kat
Cornelia Parker, Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View 1991 © Cornelia Parker

Cornelia Parker, Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View 1991 © Cornelia Parker

Cornelia Parker, the artist, talks about her work:

“This piece came out of a series of works I was doing about cartoon deaths – things like, things falling off cliffs, things being run over by a steam roller, things being blown up, shot full of bullets, like Roadrunner or Tom and Jerry.”

Lisa LeFeuvre, writer and curator, interviewing Parker on her artistic style:

“There seems to be such an importance in your work…. not just on the experience of what we see, but also in terms of the ‘how’ of it…How did this piece of work get made?”

Anna, school girl aged 11 from London, reacts to Parker’s work:

“Wow! That’s crazy! There are so many bits! Where is the light coming from? I would love to be in it!”

There is loads more stuff to read and watch about Cornelia Parker’s work, so check that out! You can even find out how the exploded shed was made!

What do you think about Cornelia Parker’s work? Let us know in the comments below.

GIRL TALK looks at female artists through artworks and quotes from themselves, their friends, other people in the art world and kids just like you!

Quotes are from the  Audio transcript  of Cornelia Parker ‘Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View’ and Talking Art: Cornelia Parker, 2008 at Tate.

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Kids review: Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture

Posted 23 November 2015 by Kat

This review was written by Bella, age 11. Let’s see what she thought of the exhibition…

Alexander Calder was an amazing artist who produced pieces of art using wire and other materials. He was born on August 22nd 1898 and died on November 11th 1976. He was an amazing sculptor who made a lot of things, which you can now see in the Tate Modern, London.

It is cool because when you see his amazing work, you can make anything out of it from any angle you look at it from. So now I will share with you my experience at the gallery…

Me at the entrance to the exhibition with Alexander Calder!

Me at the entrance to the exhibition with Alexander Calder!

My heart was pounding, excitement pouring through me. Going to the Alexander Calder exhibition, of course I was feeling excited. As I walked in I wondered what delights were to treat me.

My amazing sister had got an audio guide and sometimes told me to listen.

Eve, 8, listening to the exhibition audio guide.

My sister, Eve, 8, listening to the exhibition audio guide.

First I saw Hercules and Lion

Alexander Calder (1898 - 1976), Hercules and Lion 1928, Calder Foundation, New York © 2015 Calder, Foundation, New York / DACS, London

Alexander Calder (1898 – 1976), Hercules and Lion, 1928, Calder Foundation, New York
© 2015 Calder, Foundation, New York / DACS, London

At first glance, it appeared to look like a man holding a lady. I moved, and discovered that when you moved to a different angle it looked different and so did its shadow. I found it captivating. That is why it is cool.

My anticipation mounted as I moved to the next piece, Medusa and her shadow hit my gaze, I saw her shadow and when I looked closely I saw snakes on her shadow. Amazing.

Alexander Calder (1898 - 1976), Medusa 1931, Wire 310 x 430 x 240 mm, Calder Foundation, New York © 2015 Calder Foundation, New York / DACS, London

Alexander Calder (1898 – 1976), Medusa 1931, Wire 310 x 430 x 240 mm, Calder Foundation, New York
© 2015 Calder Foundation, New York / DACS, London

Later I saw many pieces, which looked like our solar system. Then I started to think….

Alexander Calder (1898 - 1976) , A Universe 1934  Museum of Modern Art, New York © 2015 Calder Foundation, New York / DACS, London

Alexander Calder (1898 – 1976) , A Universe 1934
Museum of Modern Art, New York
© 2015 Calder Foundation, New York / DACS, London

Being autistic, I find things different from other people. The art that is here is mainly things stuck together, so what if I stuck a ball on a stick? Would it become famous art? Does all art even have a purpose?

The art is beautiful but mysterious, wonderful but strange. Is this good? In my books, it is cool and unique, so yes!

I have described some of the many pieces of art that the new exhibition holds, so go along and check it out for yourself!”

—-

Great reviews! Thanks so much Bella!

Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture is on now and even free for Under 12s! Let us know what you think of Calder’s artwork below!

If you are inspired by Bella’s words and would like to review upcoming Tate exhibitions and events email us on kids@tate.org.uk or get a parent to tweet at us!

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INTERVIEW: CIRCUS STARR

Posted 19 November 2015 by Kat

Have you ever been to the circus? Have you seen the beautiful acrobats, funny clowns and the awesome ringmaster?

There is an exhibition at Tate Modern now packed full of artwork by the great Alexander Calder. He made lots of wire sculptures inspired by the circus and all the performers.

Tate Kids got the chance to interview a real life aerial performer from Circus Starr! Circus Starr is a circus which provides amazing shows for thousands of disadvantaged, disabled or vulnerable children. Let’s meet Romy Bauer and see what it’s really like to work in a circus!

Romy Bauer centre stage at  Circus Starr

Romy Bauer centre stage at Circus Starr c. Circus Starr

Hi Romy! What does a normal day look like?

A normal day on Circus Starr includes getting up very early to move to the next place and a lot of teamwork. It also includes practising (training) and getting ready for shows. Then of course there is show time which is the best part of the job!

We would love to know when was your first back flip?

I was trained in contortion (that means that Romy is really flexible) from a very young age, I don’t actually do backflips as that is more gymnastics than aerial contortion. I always wanted to be flexible so I trained in contortion when I was younger, it was a good base skill for my future.

Romy Bauer – the aerial performer at Circus Starr

Romy Bauer – the aerial performer at Circus Starr. c. Circus Starr

How did you end up working at Circus Starr?

I was born into the circus and as soon as I could perform, I did. I made my Big Top debut aged 3. I was part of my mother and fathers act, which also included my grandmother, cousin, aunt and uncle. My parents used to be managers and artists in Circus Starr in the 90’s so I was actually brought up here! It’s a company that is close to my heart and I’m very happy to be back here.

Do you see yourself as an artist?

Yes, as circus is performance art. I perform contortion inside a giant perspex ball suspended from the roof of the big top. It is such a wonderful feeling to perform for our audiences… I can’t describe it!

If you weren’t an acrobat, what would you be doing?

I’ve always loved make-up and fashion, so maybe something in that department!

Are there any other artists or dancers that inspire you?

Whenever I go to see another circus the other artists always inspire me!

What’s the best thing about your job?

I have always loved aerial; I love the beauty and danger of it! Seeing the children’s faces and excitement at show time makes all the hard work worth it.

Alexander Calder, Acrobats, c. 1927, Calder Foundation, New Yourk, Gift of Katherine Merle-Smith Thomas in memory of Van Santvoord Merle-Smith, Jr, 2010.

Alexander Calder, Acrobats, c. 1927, Calder Foundation, New York, Gift of Katherine Merle-Smith Thomas in memory of Van Santvoord Merle-Smith, Jr, 2010.

Have you ever seen Alexander Calder’s work (above is an example of his artwork called ‘Acrobats‘)?

This is the first time I have heard of Alexander Calder. I love the movement and playfulness in his work.

As a real-life acrobat, what do you think about it?

It’s very interesting to see circus from a different perspective. It has a very old-fashioned circus feel to it. It’s beautiful!

Massive thanks to Romy and Circus Starr for the interview! Be sure to check out Circus Starr and the Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture exhibition at Tate Modern soon. 😉

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