Dear Henry Tate,
We know that you will immediately recognise the place, even if this photograph – which was taken during the Second World War – is trying to camouflage it. The picture shows a gardener tending a vegetable patch situated to the left of the current Millbank entrance to Tate Britain. At that time, every scrap of land was put to use as part of the war effort – and, as we can see, looked after with love and attention.
To coincide with A Picture of Britain at Tate Britain, we have asked a selection of people, including a wartime land girl, to talk about a favourite landscape image. A sense of place has often been an important conduit for an artist – the sea inspired Norman Wilkinson to create the ‘dazzle’ camouflage patterns which were then painted on ships to protect them from U-boats during both world wars , while the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake, Utah, was chosen by Robert Smithson for his earthwork Spiral Jetty, which has since become an iconic piece of twentieth-century art. The work is well known in art literature from various aerial pictures, but in Kenneth Baker’s article we get a fresh sense of it in the context of its current surroundings.
As we have shown in all our issues in the past year, the content of Tate Etc. continues to extend beyond the four Tates, as well as blending the historic, modern and contemporary. As John Ruskin believed, it is the inter-connectedness of art and society that matters – and we wish to reflect that within these and future pages. So for the occasion of our first anniversary, we are going to leave the home garden of the editorial office to have a presence at the 51st Venice Biennale in June. We hope it is the first of many excursions beyond the site of your original endeavours.
Bice Curiger and Simon Grant
In this issue
The late 1960s saw a radical rethinking of the art object, with the emphasis shifting away from the static artwork to one that engaged more directly with the viewer, which led to an explosion of artistic methods that was to include film, video, documentation, performance and dance. Christy Lange explores aspects of this period.
The late 1960s saw a radical rethinking of the art object through ‘Open Systems.’ Anna Dezeuze explores aspects of this period.
Sheena Wagstaff travels to downtown Vancouver and discovers how the urban environment has found its way into the work of the acclaimed Canadian artist Jeff Wall
Forget today’s celebrity icons. Paula Byrne looks at the first ever media frenzy for young actress and lover of the Prince of Wales, Mary Robinson, painted by Joshua Reynolds. To Coleridge she was ‘a woman of undoubted genius’, and she became the most famous woman in Britain. Her story, along with that of a few of her contemporaries, finds parallels with our own age.
In 1896 the American artist Abbott H. Thayer published an article on how animals protected themselves with the use of graduated colours. However, he also believed nature was acting as artist. Roy Behrens charts the cultural history of camouflage and its impact on fashion, graphic design and art
Frida Kahlo and her husband both referred to her as ‘the great hider-away’, as if she were a mystery-maker. Fifty years after her death she is idolised for having revealed essential truths about all kinds of female experience, yet partly mythologising her life. Germaine Greer explores the life of the Patron saint of lipstick and lavender feminism
During the 1960s, the light show became an important part of both the club and rock concert experience – no decent band could be without one. Glenn O’Brien introduces a cross-section of reminiscences from light-show technicians, performers, musicians, photographers, filmmakers and artists who were all there and feature in ‘Summer of Love’ at Tate Liverpool.
Christopher Turner explores how the study of colour by artists, writers and scientists has influenced our sense of the world.
Robert Smithson’s vast earthwork Spiral Jetty 1970 became an instant icon of land art, partly thanks to iconic photography by Gianfranco Gorgoni, and recently resurfaced after being submerged under the Great Salt Lake. Smithson’s visual inspiration for this project was typically diverse – ranging from the molecular structure of salt to Constantin Brancusi’s abstract portrait of James Joyce, and a ‘Spiral Jetty Weekend’ invite allows Kenneth Baker to make a visit.
Tate Etc. introduces eleven personal responses to artworks that reflect the changing face of a nation.
Martin Herbert looks at the use of English landscape, from J B Priestley to Andrew Cross’s film series An English Journey
Sculpture was historically the domain of the artist-worker, armed with hammer and chisel. Now the artist may use any material and any approach. Tony Cragg reflects on the changing role of the sculptor through the work of Richard Deacon.
Richard Holloway, Edward Allington, David Austen and Ben Faccini reflect on a work in the Tate collection
Artist and filmmaker Mike Figgis finds that a visit to Tate Britain is ‘like walking through a collective unconscious that gives a sense of intimacy’, and discovers ‘incredible beauty’ in the work of Francis Bacon and sketches by Mark Boyle
In his fourth visit to the Tate archive, Paul Farley finds some resonant human remains
Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era at Tate Liverpool explores the psychedelic in the 1960s. Neil Mullholland explores the visual history of illusionism and psychedelia.