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WHO IS…PAUL NASH?

Posted 5 January 2017 by Kat

Who is he?

Paul Nash is one of the most important British artists of the early twentieth century. Let’s meet him!

Black and white negative, Paul sketching [Whiteleaf?] date not known, Tate Archive, © reserved

Photographer unknown, Black and white negative, Paul sketching [Whiteleaf?] date not known, Tate Archive, © reserved,

What is he most famous for?

Born in London in 1889, he is most famous for his landscape paintings, which look mysterious and sometimes slightly spooky.

Paul Nash, Pillar and Moon 1932–42, c. Tate

Paul Nash, Pillar and Moon 1932–42, c. Tate

The features in his landscapes often seem to be more than just a tree or a hill. They have characteristics that make them look like animals, people, or other strange creatures. When he was young Paul Nash was fascinated by a group of tall elm trees that grew at the end of his garden. These trees were very old and he thought they looked as if they were ‘hurrying along stooping and undulating like a queue of urgent females with fantastic hats’.
Do you ever look at things in the landscape like gnarled tree trunks or clouds (like below) and think they look like animals, people or monsters?

Paul Nash, Flight of the Magnolia, 1944, c. Tate

Paul Nash, Flight of the Magnolia, 1944, c. Tate

Look at the picture below. It looks like a beach inhabited by a very weird bunch of sunbathers! How do you think he made it?

Paul Nash, Swanage c.1936, c. Tate

Paul Nash, Swanage, c.1936, c. Tate

That’s right – he used collage. He collaged photographs of sticks and other bits of nature. (You could have a go at making your own eerie Paul Nash inspired landscape by sticking photos of twigs, leaves and other natural objects with funny shapes to a drawing or photograph of a landscape).

Where did his ideas and style come from?

There were two big things that influenced Paul Nash: abstract art and surrealism.

Abstract art is art that doesn’t try to show accurately how something looks. Artists change how things look to create a particular feeling or emotion. Sometimes they do this by using unexpected colours, shapes or messy brush marks or by changing the perspective and adding objects that look odd.

Do you think this picture looks like a real scene? What words would you use to describe it? How has Paul Nash made the landscape look a bit strange?

Paul Nash, Landscape at Iden, 1929, c. Tate

Paul Nash, Landscape at Iden, 1929, c. Tate

The ideas of the surrealists also influenced Paul Nash’s style. The surrealists were a group of artists who, in the 1920s began to make art and creative writing inspired by thoughts that are hidden deep in our brains – that we might not even know we have!

They were interested in the ideas of a famous psychologist called Sigmund Freud. A psychologist is someone who investigates people’s minds and tries to understand how they think. Freud called these hidden thoughts ‘the subconscious’. Sometimes these hidden thoughts appear in our dreams.

Anything else we need to know?

During both the First and Second World Wars Paul Nash was an official war artist. A war artist is someone paid by the government to paint or draw events that were happening in the war.

Paul Nash’s paintings didn’t just document the war in a straightforward way. In this painting, the huge red watery sunset adds a powerful feeling of sadness to this scene of a crashed plane.

Paul Nash, Bomber in the Corn, 1940,.

Paul Nash, Bomber in the Corn, 1940, c. Tate

Would you like to see a pile of dead monsters?

Paul Nash, Totes Meer (Dead Sea), 1940–1 c. Tate

Paul Nash, Totes Meer (Dead Sea), 1940–1 c. Tate

This is one of the most famous paintings Paul Nash painted during the Second World War. It looks a bit like the sea with spiky silvery waves doesn’t it? He called the painting Totes Meer (which is German for Dead Sea). Can you work out what is piled up in this graveyard?

Paul Nash called them ‘enchanting monsters’…

Look closely, can you see wings and wheels? The ‘waves’ are in fact lots of crashed and broken aeroplanes. Look even more closely and you might see a ghostly white bird flying in the sky…

So, Paul Nash liked dreams, landscapes, magic and the surreal! Let us know what you think about Nash in the comments. Make your own imaginary landscape using materials at home or on the My Imaginary City game.

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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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WHO IS…SALVADOR DALI?

Posted 6 May 2015 by Kat

Salvador Dalí made paintings, sculptures and films about the dreams he had. He painted melting clocks and floating eyes, clouds that looked like faces and rocks that looked like bodies. Sounds weird right? Think about what your paintings would look like if you painted your dreams? I bet they would be pretty weird too!

Dalí was involved with Surrealism, which is an art movement where painters made dream-like scenes and showed situations that would be bizarre or impossible in real life. Look at his painting below – don’t you think the lake is also the shape of a fish??

Salvador Dalí, Mountain Lake 1938, © Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2015

Salvador Dalí, Mountain Lake 1938, © Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2015

The Surrealist artists were influenced by a man called Sigmund Freud. He was a psychoanalyst, which is the name for a doctor who studies the human mind and tries to understand it. Freud believed our mind was divided into two parts: the conscious part and the unconscious part. The conscious mind is what we use to make decisions everyday, like whether we walk or ride a bike to school. The unconscious mind is where our memories are stored. Most of the time we are not aware of our unconscious mind, but sometimes the memories stored there get mixed up in our dreams and this is what Dalí tried to paint.

Dalí was born in 1904 in Figueres, Spain which is near the Pyrenees Mountains. Surrounded by this landscape as he was growing up, Dalí often included the scenery he saw as a boy in his paintings. Below is one of his paintings. Can you see the Spanish landscape in the background? The hand holding the egg mirrors the man sitting in the water. There are a lot of odd things going on in the background that don’t seem to be connected. What else can you see?

Salvador Dalí, Metamorphosis of Narcissus, 1937. © Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2015

Salvador Dalí, Metamorphosis of Narcissus, 1937. © Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2015

Salvador Dalí was a very eccentric man. Here is a picture of him…

Salvador Dalí on the set of the film Spellbound Source: BFI Image Rights of Salvador Dali reserved. Fundación Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, 2007

Salvador Dalí on the set of the film Spellbound
Source: BFI
Image Rights of Salvador Dali reserved. Fundación Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, 2007

You can always recognise him because he has a funny moustache. He liked to dress in flamboyant clothes and have long hair which people found very shocking at the time. Dalí was even expelled from art school just before his final exams because he said that none of the teachers were qualified to examine him. Cheeky!

After he left art school he went to Paris where he met the Surrealists. The Surrealists appealed to his wild sense of humour, they invented surrealist games and enjoyed putting different objects together to make something playful and disturbing at the same time. Here is Dalí’s version of a surrealist sculpture. It is called Lobster Telephone. You couldn’t call anything on that! What two objects could you put together which would be as surreal as this?

Salvador Dalí, Lobster Telephone 1936, © Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2015

Salvador Dalí, Lobster Telephone 1936, © Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2015

In 1936 the Spanish Civil War broke out and Dalí was greatly affected by it. Here is Dalí’s painting about the war.

Salvador Dalí, Autumnal Cannibalism 1936, © Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2015

Salvador Dalí, Autumnal Cannibalism 1936, © Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2015

The background is mainly brown, yellow and black, representing the Spanish landscape. The strange forms in the foreground represent a man and a woman. It’s pretty gross, but they are eating bits of each other’s flesh with a knife, a fork and a spoon. Dalí is actually saying something very simple with this painting; that by fighting, the Spanish people are destroying their country and each other.

When Dalí was in Paris he also made a film with the director Luis Buñuel called Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog). It was the first surrealist film and had no plot, just a series of scenes that only slightly link together. Later, Dalí went to Hollywood and worked on other films with famous directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Walt Disney.

Dalí liked to use lots of different materials to make art, including paint, sculpture and film. He even designed furniture, jewels and scenery for theatre production. He was a man of many talents and he is still seen as one of the great artists who influences many artists today!

What do you think of Dalí’s artwork? Is it funny, weird, scary? Let us know in the comments below!

Could you make a surreal drawing on one of the Tate Kids games? What would you draw?…

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WHAT IS…SURREALISM?

Posted 24 September 2014 by Kat

Why has an artist painted a massive sunflower at the top of some stairs? What has a lobster got in common with a telephone? Why paint a fish flying?

Dali (one of the most famous Surrealists) once wrote, ‘I do not understand why, when I ask for a grilled lobster in a restaurant, I am never served a cooked telephone’.

Salvador Dalí, Lobster Telephone 1936, © Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2014

Salvador Dalí Lobster Telephone 1936, © Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2014

A bit confused? Don’t worry, so are we.

Let’s start at the beginning. Surrealism began in the 1920s. It was all about experimenting with your imagination. Surrealists looked at Sigmund Freud for inspiration. He thought and wrote about the mind, memories and human instincts.

Surrealists liked to put objects together, that were not normally seen together! Like a starfish and a shoe in this painting below by Marcel Mariën. How about drawing a tree with a scarf on or a squirrel with a monocle?

Marcel Mariën, Star Dancer 1991 © DACS, 2014

Marcel Mariën, Star Dancer 1991 © DACS, 2014

There are mainly 2 types of Surrealist artworks. The first is about dreams. Here is Paul Nash’s Landscape from a Dream. What do you think about when you look at it? Does it look like your dreams?

Paul Nash, Landscape from a Dream 1936–8 © Tate

Paul Nash, Landscape from a Dream 1936–8 © Tate

If you were to draw your dream what would it look like? Maybe you could make the landscape of your dreams on My Imaginary City?

Dorothea Tanning, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik 1943 © DACS, 2014

Dorothea Tanning, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik 1943 © DACS, 2014

The painting above looks a bit like a nightmare! Surrealist artists liked looking at dark subjects and things that couldn’t be easily explained. That girl looks like she has had a bit of a shock! What do you think is happening in this painting? I wonder what that light is coming through the door?

The second type of Surrealist artwork is called ‘automatism’. This is about doing things automatically without thinking, like doodling on a page or word-association. For example, when I say ‘green’ what do you think about? Grass? Grapes?

Here’s Joan Miró’s The Great Carnivore. It’s like a big doodle which he then created a monster from! Have you ever drawn a scribble and then tried to find characters in it?

Joan Miró The Great Carnivore 1969 © Succession Miro/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2014

Joan Miró The Great Carnivore 1969 © Succession Miro/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2014

Quite a bit of Surrealist artwork uses collage, like this artwork by Sir Roland Penrose.

Sir Roland Penrose, Le Grand Jour 1938 © The estate of Sir Roland Penrose

Sir Roland Penrose, Le Grand Jour 1938 © The estate of Sir Roland Penrose

If you were to cut up a magazine and then place the different images together, what kind of story could you tell?

Do you like Surrealism? Which Surrealist artist is your favourite? Do you have any other questions about Surrealism? Let us know in the comments below.

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