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WHO IS…GEORGIA O’KEEFFE?

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?

http://kids1.tate.org.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/blackmesalandscape.jpg

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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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?

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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.

 

 

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TOP 5 PANCAKES

Posted 9 February 2016 by Kat

It’s Shrove Tuesday also known as Pancake Day! One of the yummiest days of the year! Here are our top 5 Pancake Day related artworks in the Tate collection. Tuck in!

1. Frying pan

To make the perfect pancake you need to start with good equipment. Grab your frying pan and let’s get cracking! This painting looks a bit fragile with everything supporting each other! Looks like it might fall at any moment! Watch out! What objects could you place around you that would almost look like it was falling over?

Louisa Matthiasdottir, Still Life with Frying Pan and Red Cabbage, 1979. © The estate of Louisa Matthiasdottir

Louisa Matthiasdottir, Still Life with Frying Pan and Red Cabbage, 1979. © The estate of Louisa Matthiasdottir

2. Grab your ingredients!

Milk makes your pancakes nice and fluffy! This photograph was made by Nigel Henderson. Could you take a picture of all your ingredients in an interesting or weird way? Why not share it on Tate Kids My Gallery? You could also have a go at your own old-school photography in the Veggie Photo Tate Create!

Nigel Henderson, 1949–51, Photograph of a photogram of a milk bottle 1949–51 © Nigel Henderson Estate

Nigel Henderson, 1949–51, Photograph of a photogram of a milk bottle 1949–51 © Nigel Henderson Estate

3. Flat as a pancake

Have you heard of the phrase ‘as flat as pancake’? The artist Cornelia Parker took this quite literally with her artwork and ran over lots of silver objects with a bulldozer! You can find out more information about Parkers work in Art Sparks film. What would happen if you squashed everything in your room?

Cornelia Parker, Thirty Pieces of Silver 1988–9, © Cornelia Parker

Cornelia Parker, Thirty Pieces of Silver 1988–9, © Cornelia Parker

4. Hungry yet?

Yes! We are starving! This abstract painting by Julian Trevelyan shows some very hungry people! Can you make them out? Maybe try to draw your family looking really hungry on Street Art?

Julian Trevelyan Hungry People 1936–72, © The estate of Julian Trevelyan

Julian Trevelyan Hungry People 1936–72, © The estate of Julian Trevelyan

5. Flip it!

Just before you put all your lovely extra ingredients on the pancake (we’d go for blueberries and honey!) make sure you flip it for luck! 1, 2, 3…!

Remember to share your pancake photos on My Gallery!

Jack Bush, White Flip 1974 © DACS 2016

Jack Bush, White Flip 1974 © DACS 2016

 

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WHO IS….ALEXANDER CALDER?

Posted 11 November 2015 by Kat

Meet Alexander Calder. The man that made modern art move! Here he is in his studio, surrounded by his artwork.

Alexander Calder in his Roxbury studio, 1941 Photo credit: Calder Foundation, New York / Art Resource, NY © 2015 Calder Foundation, New York / DACS, London

Alexander Calder in his Roxbury studio, 1941
Photo credit: Calder Foundation, New York / Art Resource, NY
© 2015 Calder Foundation, New York / DACS, London

Calder, known to his friends as ‘Sandy’, invented the mobile in 1931 when he decided to create a drawing in the air!

The artist Marcel Duchamp called Calder’s sculptures’ ‘mobiles’ because they moved when the wind blew. Here is one of his mobiles made in 1953. How do you think it moves?

Alexander Calder, Antennae with Red and Blue Dots, c1953 Aluminium and steel wire © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2002

Alexander Calder,
Antennae with Red and Blue Dots, c1953
Aluminium and steel wire © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2002

Calder’s mobiles were also inspired by nature, such as Snow Flurry I. Do you feel caught in a blustery snowstorm?

Alexander Calder, Snow Flurry, I 1948, © 2015 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Alexander Calder, Snow Flurry, I 1948, © 2015 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Calder was born in Pennsylvania, USA in 1898 into an artistic family, his grandfather, his father and his mother were all artists. However, as a kid he was great at Maths, so he decided to study engineering at university. This turned out to be very useful later on when he was inventing his kinetic sculptures. Kinetic is used to describe a type of art that moves, either by air or the use of a motor.

In 1926 Calder made a miniature circus out of wire and bits of cork and fabric. He called it the Cirque Calder, and artists like Pablo Picasso were invited to come and watch performances. As a kid, Calder loved the circus, especially the acrobats. He was impressed by their ability to balance on thin wires high up in the air. Have you been to the circus? Do you think Calder captures the magic of a circus performance?

Alexander Calder, Circus Scene, 1929 © Calder Foundation, New York

Alexander Calder, Circus Scene, 1929 © Calder Foundation, New York

In 1930 Calder visited the artist Piet Mondrian in his studio in Paris where he saw his simple paintings of rectangles and stripes in red, yellow and black.

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red, 1937–42, c. Tate

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red, 1937–42, c. Tate

He thought it would be good if the shapes in Mondrian’s paintings moved, so he went back to his studio and began to work on a series of sculptures that would do this.

Calder also loved involving sound in his artwork. In Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere two balls hit bottles, a box, a can & gong. How do you think it sounds?

Alexander Calder, Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere, 1932-1933, Fer, bois, cordes, tiges et objets divers, H. 317,5 cm (dimensions variables) New York, Calder Foundation.

Alexander Calder, Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere, 1932-1933, Fer, bois, cordes, tiges et objets divers, H. 317,5 cm (dimensions variables) New York, Calder Foundation.

Calder made new ways of looking at and creating art. What do you think about his work? Does it remind you of anything you have seen before? Have you ever tried to make a mobile?

You can have a go at make your own Calder circus in this Tate Create. You can also write stories about his acrobats and even see the work for yourself at Tate Modern soon!

Pssss kids even go free! How great this that?! See you there! 😉

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