Dear Henry Tate,
Welcome to our tenth issue, and thanks to all our new subscribers, from as far afield as the Shetland Islands and New Zealand, who have helped to increase our print run to 100,000 copies. We celebrate this by inviting The Wrong Gallery (Maurizio Cattelan, Ali Subotnick and Massimiliano Gioni), who like to call themselves ‘a parasite institution temporarily living inside Tate Modern’, to pay homage to some alternative images of Britishness in the Tate collection. Their project – Henry II – features some lesser-displayed works, such as Edward Burra’s Skeleton Party c.1952 and John Quinton Pringle’s The Window 1924. It also presents Franz West’s antidote to the theme – Greetings from Vienna.
In this issue, there are antidotes of another kind. Maya Deren was considered to be one of the first important American experimental filmmakers. Her iconic Meshes of the Afternoon in 1943 was a model for self-financed production, and a message to film companies that big didn’t necessarily mean better. As she put it: ‘I make my pictures for what Hollywood spends on lipstick.’ Deren’s interest in art, film and, most notably, anthropology brought her into contact with such people as Marcel Duchamp, Anaïs Nin and John Cage.
Early in the twentieth century, the artists of the avant-garde were similarly attracted to film, including Kandinsky, the Futurists and, for a moment, Picasso. However, few of these projects ever materialised. One exception, as Ian Christie writes, was Salvador Dalí, who found the medium an ideal aesthetic vehicle for Surrealism, and, in contrast to Deren, wilfully embraced Hollywood. As Tate Modern’s exhibition Dalí & Film will show, his film projects would mirror developments in the century’s art, from his early collaboration with Luis Buñuel in Un Chien Andalou (1929) to his later work with Disney (Destino, 1946/2003), and then in what could be regarded as the first artist’s video, the fabulously anarchic Chaos and Creation, made in 1960.
Bice Curiger and Simon Grant.
In this issue
‘I first set my eyes on it one Saturday morning in Rough Trade in late June 1979. The record had just come into the shop… I bought it immediately.’ Jon Wozencroft on Peter Saville’s work on Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album cover, as he developed from the ‘Use Hearing Protection’ posters of Factory Records into a graphic design icon.
‘Your work is shit’ – the Italian artist Piero Manzoni was allegedly told by his father. In response to this slur, he came up with the idea of canning his own excrement as a work of art. Merda d’artista 1961 was made into an edition of 90. A neat riposte considering his father owned a canning factory. John Miller on the excremental value in Piero Manzoni’s Merda d’artista – sold in cans by weight at gold’s daily market price (becoming literally worth its weight in gold).
Salvador Dalí as filmmaker? A strange idea to those who think he was little more than a one-time collaborator with Luis Buñuel and consultant to Hitchcock on Spellbound. However Dalí, connecting with the first wave of Modernists, had a lifelong obsession with film.
In 1976 Salvador Dalí made a film with José Montes Baquer called Impressions of Upper Mongolia, Hommage to Raymond Roussel, partly in response to a brief correspondence with the French author and forefather of the Surrealists. The origins of its making are as surreal as the film itself.
Salvador Dalí as filmmaker? Roy Disney on the artist’s collaboration with his Uncle Walt
To coincide with Tate Modern’s exhibition exploring his work as a film-maker, Jonas Mekas remembers the Dalí happenings.
Upon its prize-winning appearance at the 1961 John Moores’ Exhibition in Liverpool, Peter Blake’s Self-Portrait with Badges 1961 rapidly became an icon of British Pop Art. Now, decades later, the picture features in Blake’s retrospective exhibition at Tate Liverpool. Stephen Daniels on Blake and denim, inspired by Levi jeans and Elvis.
In the small town of Stykkishólmur, Iceland, Roni Horn has created a community centre that houses two installations, the second of which, Water, Selected, consists of an ‘archive’ of water from 24 glacial sources across the country. Based on a recent visit, via the Thames, to Tate Britain and Tate Modern, Horn ruminates on how water is central to her work.
Gilda Williams looks at the most influential person in Andy Warhol's life – his mother Julia Warhola.
Hélio Oiticica’s Brazilian arts flourished in the 1950s, originating with the Modernist movement of the 1920s, and Oiticica became a barrier-smasher in this period.
Hélio Oiticica’s The Body of Colour comes to Tate Modern in June. Brazilian arts flourished in the 1950s, originating with the Modernist movement of the 1920s, and Oiticica became a barrier-smasher in this period.
Artists and curators celebrate the influence of the Brazilian artist on their work
As a twelve-year-old in 1945, Oliver Sacks took a stereographic image of his London street from his bedroom window. Tate Etc. prints it for the first time as Sacks talks about his renewed interest in stereography, along with colour and motion – three things which were being explored in Victorian photography.
Maya Deren (1917–1961) is regarded as one of the first important American experimental filmmakers. To coincide with a series of film screenings at Tate Modern, Marina Warner explores her oeuvre, including her study of voodoo in Haiti, and examines how Deren managed ‘the profound affinity between the material properties of film and inner states of mind’.
To coincide with Tate Britain’s photographic survey of Britain’s social history, Tate Etc. asked a selection of writers, curators and photographers to reflect on some memorable images.
On a visit to the Tate archive, Paul Simmons discovers a book from 1928 that points the way for a current decorative revival.