Wednesday, 7 March 2012


...and Modern British Art is Tate Britain's current blockbuster exhibition. This show examines both Pablo Picasso's visits to Britain and the work he created here, coupled with the influence that the modern master had on the art of some of the finest British artists of the Twentieth Century (including Wyndham Lewis, Henry Moore and Francis Bacon).

As the rooms in the show flip between his visits and his influence, I feel it would be too easy and obvious to state how much more accomplished an artist the Spaniard was in comparison to his British contemporaries. What I think is more interesting is to assess as to whether or not these Britons stood out from the shadow of Picasso's influence to then develop their own style, whether or not they became great artists themselves.

My highlights of this excellent exhibition include:

The Frugal Meal (1904 & 1913), Pablo Picasso


Girl in a Chemise (1905), Pablo Picasso

A Reading of Ovid (Tyros) (1920-21), Wyndham Lewis

I have always liked Wyndham Lewis' work. With its subject matter, sharp angular lines and browny hues, Smiling Woman Ascending a Staircase (below) initially reminded me of Nude Descending a Staircase, No.2 that Marcel Duchamp painted a year later.

Smiling Woman Ascending a Staircase (1911), Wyndham Lewis


The Theatre Manager (1909), Wyndham Lewis


Female Nude with Arms Raised (1907), Pablo Picasso

I always get the feeling that Picasso had fun with his sculptures, such as the witty and whimsical Tete de Toro (Bull's Head) (1943) made of just a bicycle handlebar and seat. Still Life (below) reminds me of this feeling.


Still Life (1914), Pablo Picasso

Nude Seated on a Rock (1921), Pablo Picasso

Despite being a big fan of Henry Moore's work, such as Reclining Figure (below), the exquisite little Picasso painting Nude Seated on a Rock (above) stood out for me the most in this room shared by both their artworks.

Reclining Figure (1931), Henry Moore


Before Picasso's The Three Dancers (1925) ends the exhibition, Tate explores some of David Hockney's work in the penultimate room, including his photomontage Paint Trolley, LA 1985 (below).

Paint Trolley, LA 1985 (1985), David Hockney

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