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WHAT IS…SOUND ART?

Posted 24 February 2016 by Kat

When you think about art, you usually think of something you look at. But did you know that you can also listen to art?

Jorge Macchi, Incidental Music 1997, © Jorge Macchi

Jorge Macchi, Incidental Music 1997, © Jorge Macchi

From ordinary everyday noises like humming traffic to sounds made by instruments or human voices (whispering, talking, singing or even just blowing raspberries and making other nonsense noises….spphhhhbbbblllzzzppphhh)…all sorts of different noises are used in sound art.

Rebecca Horn, Concert for Anarchy 1990, © DACS, 2016

Rebecca Horn, Concert for Anarchy, 1990, © DACS, 2016

Sound art is sometimes experienced live through a performance, or it can be listened to as a recording through speakers or headphones. And because sounds don’t need to have a special room to keep them safe in (like some other types of art), sound art can be put (and listened to) just about anywhere.

Imagine you are walking along by a river and you hear a voice singing from under the bridge.

The song sounds mysterious like something from a different time. Susan Philipsz recorded herself singing three versions of an old Scottish ballad and played the recordings underneath three bridges in Glasgow. The song is about a sailor who drowns and comes back to say goodbye to a loved one. You can listen to it here.

Susan Philipsz LOWLANDS 2008 / 2010 Clyde Walkway, Glasgow © The artist, courtesy Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art Photo: Eoghan McTigue

Susan Philipsz, LOWLANDS 2008 / 2010, Clyde Walkway, Glasgow, © The artist, courtesy Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art, Photo: Eoghan McTigue

This is what Susan Philipsz says about sound: ‘Sound is invisible but very…emotive. It can define a space at the same time as it triggers a memory’.

She usually uses recordings of her own singing voice to make her art, but for her piece War Damaged Instruments she used sounds made by instruments that have been damaged in wars.  Although the instruments play a tune, some of them are so badly damaged no real notes come out – just noises. The sad broken sounds echo the sadness caused by war.

Bild 5 Klappenhorn (ruin) Salvaged from the Alte Münz bunker, Berlin, 1945 Collection Musikinstrumenten-Museum Berlin. From Susan Philipsz: War Damaged Musical Instruments

Bild 5, Klappenhorn (ruin), Salvaged from the Alte Münz bunker, Berlin, 1945, Collection Musikinstrumenten-Museum Berlin. From Susan Philipsz: War Damaged Musical Instruments

When did sound art begin?

The first sound artist was called Luigi Russolo. He was a futurist artist. Futurists were making art at the beginning of the twentieth century and loved fast and noisy new technology such as cars and machinery! Between 1913 and 1930, Russolo built noise machines inspired by the clatter of factory machinery and also the boom of guns from the First World War.

Dada artists also made sound art in the early twentieth century. But rather than celebrating the sounds of modern society and the First World War… their art was against it. They hated the horrors of the war so made up nonsense poems and music consisting of just sounds and noises expressing how they felt.

Fig 3. Hugo Ball reciting Karawane in a cubist costume at the Cabaret Voltaire, Zürich 1916 Gelatin silver on paper Courtesy Fondation Arp

Fig 3. Hugo Ball reciting Karawane in a cubist costume at the Cabaret Voltaire, Zürich 1916
Gelatin silver on paper
Courtesy Fondation Arp

Musician John Cage was inspired by these early sound artists. He composed a famous piece of music in 1952 called 4’33’…which is four minutes and thirty-three seconds of…COMPLETE silence! He was friendly with artists in the Fluxus group, who also experimented with music and sound as art.

Joseph Beuys working title: BEUYS (FLUXUS) & CHRISTIANSEN (FLUXUS) 1969 Poster on paper © DACS, 2009

Joseph Beuys, working title: BEUYS (FLUXUS) & CHRISTIANSEN (FLUXUS) 1969, Poster on paper
© DACS, 2009

Words and language have always fascinated artist Bruce Naumann. In 2004 he made a sound artwork called Raw Materials for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. He layered recordings of voices, making a collage of sound that played from speakers dotted throughout the space. Nauman was interested in seeing how listening to the speakers would affect how people moved through the space. Here’s a sketch he drew to plan the artwork.

Bruce Nauman Layout for Raw Materials 7 July 2004 2004 © Bruce Nauman/ARS, NY and DACS, London 2016

Bruce Nauman
Layout for Raw Materials 7 July 2004 2004 © Bruce Nauman/ARS, NY and DACS, London 2016

Sound art can also be made by machines. Some artists make sculpture or objects that move, (this is called kinetic art), and the sound these sculptures make is part of experiencing the work. What sort of sound do you think this sculpture makes? (CLICK, BANG, WHIZZ, GRRR…MIAOW)

Jean Tinguely Débricollage 1970 © The estate of Jean Tinguely

Jean Tinguely, Débricollage, 1970 © The estate of Jean Tinguely

Since the introduction of digital technology sound art has changed even more! Artists can now create visual images in response to sounds, and make sound art that the audience controls through pressure pads, sensors and voice activation.

And get this – It’s also now possible to make a sound that goes on for pretty much ever!!  On 1 January 2000 Longplayer a sound composition by Jem Finer started to play…it will continue to play for 1000 years.

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WHO IS…DAMIEN HIRST?

Posted 13 January 2016 by Kat

Damien Hirst has said ‘art’s about life, and it can’t really be anything else’. What do you think? Do you agree? Let’s have a look into the world of Damien Hirst….

Have you seen this sculpture before? It is by Damien Hirst and it is called Mother and Child (Divided) and was first made in 1993.

Damien Hirst, Mother and Child (Divided) exhibition copy 2007 (original 1993) © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd.

Damien Hirst, Mother and Child (Divided) exhibition copy 2007 (original 1993) © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd.

For this artwork Damien Hirst cut dead cows in half and preserved them in the blue liquid, formaldehyde. Visitors to the gallery can walk round the animals and see something quite familiar in a new way. It’s kind of disgusting but very curious!

Damien says that he see beauty in science and likes it when things are repulsive and attractive at the same time. What can you think of that is both those things? Maybe think about your body and what’s inside it. It’s both beautiful and unique and weird all at the same time!

Hirst was part of a group of artists known as the YBAs (Young British Artists). Most of the YBAs had studied together at Goldsmiths College of art in London. In 1988 they put on a show called Freeze and invited lots of people to come and see it.

Damien likes putting animals in tanks. He even put this sheep in a tank.

Damien Hirst, Away from the Flock 1994, © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2016. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

Damien Hirst, Away from the Flock, 1994, © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2016. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

Hirst thinks a lot about death, and a lot of his work is about death. He wonders what it would be like to be dead, and he wonders if there is a God and if there is, what kind of God it is.

He also thinks about all the things that keep us alive. Like medicine that stops us dying from terrible diseases. He wonders if maybe people believe in science and medicine more than they believe in art. ‘Pharmacy’, 1992 is an installation of lots and lots of medicines on shelves.

Damien Hirst, Pharmacy 1992, © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd.

Damien Hirst, Pharmacy 1992, © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd.

It looks a bit like a laboratory, or perhaps a hospital. It is very clean and white. He has arranged the medicines in the order of where they help the body. On the top shelf are drugs for the head, then in the middle are drugs for the stomach and the ones at the bottom are for the feet.

On the counter are four glass bottles filled with coloured liquids. They represent the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. In ancient times, people would use these elements to heal the sick. Hirst is reminding us how people used to treat the body before modern medicine.

Damien Hirst, Liberty 2002, © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd.

Damien Hirst, Liberty, 2002, © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd.

Damien Hirst also makes Spin paintings. To make them he stands on a ladder and pours paint onto large circular canvases as they are rotated at high speed by a spin machine in his studio. The circles spin around a central point, like a disc on a record player. Each work is kind of like an optical illusion experiment. Fancy having a go at making your own Spin painting? Check out our Spin game and let us know what you think of Damien’s work in the comments.

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TOP 5 BACK TO SCHOOL BLUES

Posted 9 September 2015 by Kat

Yes, it’s September and it’s very easy to feel a bit blue waking up early, putting your school uniform back on and getting back to the classroom.
However we are hoping to brighten up your first few days at school by giving you some blue inspiration! It might even help start those creative juices flowing in your new art classes! 😉

1. BLUE ACROBATS

Marc Chagall, The Blue Circus, 1950 © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2015 c. Tate

Marc Chagall, The Blue Circus, 1950 © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2015 c. Tate

The colour blue can be playful and magical! Marc Chagall loved the circus, especially the acrobats.
This artwork is chaotic and colourful. There are lots of costumes and make up on the characters in this painting! Have a think about what outfits make you feel magical and powerful!

2. BLUE TREES

Helmut Federle, Angkor, Cambodia, 1994 1999–2000 © Helmut Federle c. Tate

Helmut Federle,
Angkor, Cambodia, 1994 1999–2000 © Helmut Federle c. Tate

Angkor Wat in Cambodia is an amazing place! It looks like nature has taken over that temple! Helmut Federle travelled to lots of places to take pictures of trees. Is it weird to see a blue tree? Do you think it is day time or night time in this image? It’s funny how changing the colour of an artwork really changes it! You can even have a go at turning your photos blue with our Digital to Chemical activity.

3. BLUE CHAIRS

Prunella Clough, Colour photograph of blue and pink plastic chairs stacked up outside a shop [1990s] © The estate of Prunella Clough. Tate Archive.

Prunella Clough, Colour photograph of blue and pink plastic chairs stacked up outside a shop [1990s] © The estate of Prunella Clough. Tate Archive.

We really like these blue and pink chairs! Have you ever looked at the chairs in your classroom and thought about making an artwork out of them? You can make art out of lots of different everyday objects, like spoons or plant pots….
Prunella Clough was an English artist who liked looking and making abstract forms and shapes. What objects can you see around you that are just made up of simple shapes? Like triangles or circles?

4. BLUE BUILDING

Graham Sutherland OM, San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice viewed through the arches of the Doge’s Palace,  [c.1961–2] © The estate of Graham Sutherland. Tate Archive

Graham Sutherland OM, San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice viewed through the arches of the Doge’s Palace, [c.1961–2] © The estate of Graham Sutherland. Tate Archive

We love blue biros. I bet you have one in your pencil case. Have you ever sketched with one?
Graham Sutherland went to Venice to draw this! He drew it really fast! What could you draw in 10 minutes? 5 minutes? 1 minute?
Sutherland is mainly known for his surreal artworks. How would you change this sketch into a surreal drawing?

5. BLUE CRYSTALS

Roger Hiorns, Untitled 2006,  © Roger Hiorns, c Tate

Roger Hiorns, Untitled, 2006, © Roger Hiorns, c Tate

Roger Hiorns covers rooms and objects with copper sulphate solution and when they liquid evaporates you get these amazing blue crystals! Wow!

What do you think the surface feels like? I wonder if you looked at this really closely what it would look like? Do you think its blue underneath? What ordinary object could you make sparkle and glow like this artwork?

Let us know your thoughts below! What artwork makes you feel less blue? Check out the Tate Kids collection and let us know!

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WHO IS…HENRI MATISSE?

Posted 29 April 2014 by Becs

Henri Matisse is a French artist known for making colourful works of art. He used a variety of materials in his work, including oil paint, bronze and he would also make drawings using charcoal. As Matisse became older, he began to work with brightly coloured paper and used scissors to cut out shapes, animals, leaves, dancers and flowers and then arrange them.

This piece shows the different ways Matisse would cut out paper, from larger shapes like the purple horse, to more careful and detailed cutting involved in the yellow, white and black shapes:

Henri Matisse The Horse, the Rider and the Clown 1943–4 © Succession H. Matisse / DACS 2014 Photo: Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Jean-Claude Planchet

Henri Matisse The Horse, the Rider and the Clown 1943–4 © Succession H. Matisse / DACS 2014 Photo: Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Jean-Claude Planchet

Here, Matisse has created many shapes that look similar to each other, but each one is a unique leaf. You can see how the artist has repeated these similar shapes, almost filling the entire piece with leaves:

Henri Matisse The Sheaf 1953 Collection University of California, Los Angeles. Hammer Museum © Succession Henri Matisse / DACS 2013

Henri Matisse The Sheaf 1953 Collection University of California, Los Angeles. Hammer Museum
© Succession Henri Matisse / DACS 2013

This piece shows Matisse’s interest in bright colour. Here he has arranged complimentary colours alongside each other to create a vibrant effect, for example you’ll see that the green touching the red, and the blue next to the orange really attract your eye’s attention!

Henri Matisse The Snail 1953 © Succession H. Matisse / DACS 2014

Henri Matisse The Snail 1953 © Succession H. Matisse / DACS 2014

Plus! We’ve just been emailed a photo of two visitors to the Matisse exhibition, Charlie and Finn, who have created some cut-outs of their own after they were inspired by what they saw at the Tate Modern show. We hope you feel inspired to get cutting and making too!

Charlie and Finn with their Matisse-inspired creations

Charlie and Finn with their Matisse-inspired creations

 

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TOP 5 EGGS

Posted 15 April 2014 by Becs

It’s the time of year when eggs, especially the chocolate variety, might be on your mind. But how have eggs been represented through art?

Primroses and Bird's Nest null by William Henry Hunt 1790-1864

Primroses and Bird’s Nest by William Henry Hunt 1790-1864

Some artists show eggs in their natural environment, for example you’ll see eggs in the delicate mossy nest in William Henry Hunt’s painting above. But look at the string of colourful eggs in Pierre Roy’s painting below, and we see eggs away from their home in nature, instead used as a wall hanging in a mysterious room of objects.

A Naturalist's Study 1928 by Pierre Roy 1880-1950  © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2002

A Naturalist’s Study 1928 by Pierre Roy 1880-1950
© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2002

Barbara Hepworth made the oval-shaped sculpture below using plaster and it feels like it would be smooth but heavy.

Oval Sculpture (No. 2) 1943, cast 1958 by Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975 © Bowness, Hepworth Estate

Oval Sculpture (No. 2) 1943, cast 1958 by Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975 © Bowness, Hepworth Estate

In this painting the artist has chosen to create a room that is simple and plain, allowing the different coloured eggs and their patterned dish to be the main focus.

The Eggs 1944 Sir Cedric Morris

The Eggs 1944 Sir Cedric Morris, Bt 1889-1982 Presented by Elizabeth David CBE 1992 © The estate of Sir Cedric Morris

This poster below of the truck carrying an egg was made for an exhibition in 1997. The theme of the exhibition was eggs.

The Eggman and his Outriggers 1997 Martin Kippenberger 1953-1997

The Eggman and his Outriggers 1997 Martin Kippenberger 1953-1997 Purchased 2005 © Estate Martin Kippenberger/Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne

Are you making any egg-inspired art or other Easter creations this week? If so, we’d love to see them on My Gallery.

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