Dear Henry Tate,
Do artists have ‘stages’ in the way that they used to? Philip Guston famously ditched abstraction for cartoon-inspired figuration, much to the bemusement of critics. Jackson Pollock got famous for work he made over a five-year period. Some stages are short-lived. As Bernard Marcadé writes, Magritte’s underrated ‘vache’ period – which was a clear break from his traditional Surrealism – lasted only a couple of years. J.E. Millais (at Tate Britain) has many stages in his long career. Best known for his Pre-Raphaelite picture Ophelia, in later life he painted emotive, empty landscapes. They reflected a poetic sincerity that avoided the mawkish sentimentalism of the High Victorian era.
Some artists, however, remain confidently consistent throughout. One such is Louise Bourgeois. As her retrospective exhibition at Tate Modern will show, her drawings and sculptures reflect the strength of vision of her personal universe that has been there from the beginning
Retrospectives in themselves are selective, and, due to the naturally patchy nature of any museum’s collection, we are more likely to see a piece in isolation - or in the context of other works. Where and how these are displayed together shapes the way we think about them, a theme explored in Jonathan Harris’s piece on Tate Liverpool’s rehang. The critic Ralph Rugoff once commented that if you took Damien Hirst’s shark to Sea World, it would be just a dead fish. Something to bear in mind when visiting the Turner Prize retrospective at Tate Britain. Martin Herbert describes the prize as ‘a bellweather of contemporary British art practice’, but how will these works – seen together for the first time – look today?
Bice Curiger and Simon Grant.
In this issue
When Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping was forced to expel the beasties that inhabited his Theater of the World he complained that ‘animal rights were violently interfering with the rights of an artwork to be freely exhibited’. Why are so many contemporary artists using live animals in their work? Massimiliano Gioni investigates.
The older man in the photograph was Barnett Newman, unexpectedly being kissed by the youngster Michael Auder. Carter Ratcliff looks at how two generations are brought together in this remarkable image.
There are many portraits of Elizabeth I, but few reflect her image as steely icon as perfectly as the one attributed to Nicholas Hilliard. Antonia Fraser looks at the history behind the face, from her status as queen in 1575 to the ingredients for the cosmetics that gave her that ‘translucent glow’.
The social, historical and political landscape of Colombia and beyond has deeply informed the work of the artist who is creating the next Unilever Series commission for the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
Two artists who know Louise Bourgeois talk about how she has played a part in their lives.
Tate Modern presents the first major survey of the work of Louise Bourgeois since 1995. Elaine Showalter explores her life and work from early childhood.
For many years Louise Bourgeois conducted a monthly salon from her house in New York. It was a chance to meet the distinguished artist, but you never knew what was going to happen, as one visitor remembers
Norma Jeane is the alias of an artist who never appears in public and has no studio, using Marilyn Monroe’s real names for an identity. From cheesemakers to dancers and economics professors, Alessandra Galasso finds that the art is as enigmatic as its creator.
To coincide with the forthcoming The World as a Stage exhibition at Tate Modern, Marie de Brugerolle explores how contemporary notions of the theatre are being explored by artists. The co-curators ask some of the participants what the idea of theatre means to them.
William Blake famously declared: “I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s.” His visionary work is being explored in a display at Tate Britain to celebrate the 250th anniversary of his birth. Five contemporary artists page homage to the eighteenth-century master. By Katharine Stout.
On a yearly basis it provokes passionate debate on the state of contemporary British art, and it has inspired other institutions abroad to follow its exhibition model. The Turner Prize, as Martin Herbert observes, is ‘a perpetual work in progress, twitchily tracking both an evolving culture and itself’
In 1947 Magritte gave up what he called his ‘tactile conformism’ partly to distance himself from the rigours of Parisian surrealism. He painted a series of hilarious pictures that trumped his colleagues - until his wife Georgette complained. Bernard Marcadé looks at René Magritte’s Période Vache.
Millais’s early career was closely linked to his friendship with the Lemprière family. The teenage artist’s desire for one of the daughters encouraged him to write a series of illustrated letters, pages of which are shown here for the first time.
Many of Millais’s late landscapes in Scotland were painted en plein air and given titles inspired by his favourite poems. Variously described as melancholic, elegiac or celebratory, they have been an overlooked part of the artist’s output – until now. Tate Etc. invited a contemporary poet to visit the spot where he created Chill October.
Jonathan Harris interprets Tate Liverpool’s comprehensive rehang, and how it shows many of the works in the collection in a new context. Much of the art is figurative, but how do such displays affect our perception of the works?
‘Since visual art practice has so decisively repudiated, problematised, complicated the whole business of pretending’, says Nicholas Ridout, ‘it's hardly surprising that the theatre should be given a wide berth.’ But what, if any, are the crossover potentials between art and theatre?
George Shaw sketched his father for several decades, until his death last year. Prompted by a visit to the Tate stores to view Henry Lamb’s painting Death of a Peasant, he reflects on family, memory and loss.
Iain Sinclair visits the Tate archive and unearths the images of a photographer ‘trembling on the brink of life and death’