Tate curator Jessica Morgan and artist Gabriel Orozco at Tate Modern
Tate curator Jessica Morgan and artist Gabriel Orozco in the artist's exhibition at Tate Modern

No matter how long you work on an exhibition there is always an element of surprise. On this occasion I was not expecting to experience the co-existence of Orozco’s humour with a reflection on mortality.

Gabriel Orozco Lintels
Poignant remnants - from the washing machine. An installation view of Gabriel Orozco's Lintels.

Both aspects of his work have equal presence in the exhibition: a room with the billiard table and many of his photographs suggests a mood of frivolity and pleasure in the small moments of life, while the installation of Lintels, literally sheets of lint removed from clothes drying machines in New York and hung like washing along lines across the gallery, is a poignant and evocative reminder of the dust and detritus that is life.

Gabriel Orozco Black Kites
Looking death in the eye. Installation of Gabriel Orozco's skull Black Kites with Obituaries in the background.

The room containing Black Kites perhaps summarises this best: the skull on which Orozco laboriously worked in graphite (literally looking death in the eye) is paired with his recent series ‘Obituaries’ for which he gathered headlines from the New York Times obituaries. Taken out of context, the one-liners that summarise a person’s life often make for hilarious reading, such as: ‘Burlesque Star Famous for her Bubblebaths’ or ‘Philosopher, Author, Friend of Popes’, and ‘Sensational Human Cannonball’. Let me know what you think of the show.



Orozco was one of those artists that I was only dimly aware of, and as it turns out was only acquainted with some of his less interesting work.

Part of the charm of Orozco's work, when it works, is the very human and accessible scale, (Think of the lift cut down to his own height or a ball of plasticine rolled through the streets that weighs as much as the artist) and the simplicity of the gesture employed.

This show covers a range of emotive responses, from the preoccupation with destruction and decay to the joy of a game with no rules in Pendulum or the simple need for companionship evident in Until You Find Another Yellow Schwalbe.

David Steed

The Gabriel Orozco exhibition was well worth the visit.

I hadn't heard much about him before the exhibition, annoyingly, but after visiting the exhibition he will be one of my first points of call for research and inspiration for all of my projects in the future!

I absolutely loved the interactive sculpture piece, to see how that brought visitors together, laughing and playing the extraordinary twist on billiards was a very refreshing way to think about sculpture, and the role of an artist in general

Great Stuff!

Susan Ross

I too was deeply underwhelmed by this exhibition. Why choose Gabriel Orozco? What makes him stand out? You have fabulous rooms at Tate Modern and there are so many more deserving contemporary artists who deserve to be exhibited in them. I want to be challenged and inspired by what I see, particularly in this difficult economic climate - this certainly did not achieve that. It was just too ordinary for me.

Ollie Brown

What a wonderful day A shame it was a bit full but thankfully the membership allows me to come back and back and back again... The whole exhibition sparked numerous thoughts between my friend and myself One question i have though for someone to offer an answer to? In the magnificent series of photographs of his yellow motorcycle parked with others around the city.. Is there any significance as to why some of the photographs are printed back to front? was it a mistake? It has made me think whatever... Would love to know a real reason?

Thanks a lot TATE

Ollie x


I was deeply moved by the empty shoe box in the biggest room which was maybe unjustely forgotten

It was for me the pinnacle of the exhibition, fully embodying the value of this artist.

in other word a very very bad exhibition empty of any anything whatsoever and bringing the utterly boring question:

what is art? and to what extent can you shove down the throat of people rubbish empty shoe box as art?


Annette Fischer

My highlight was the 'meet the yellow Schwalbe' section. It made me think of connections through people's belongings and brought a big smile to my face.


I thought it was wonderful, full of surprises and beautiful ideas . Some was visually arresting also - the tyre piece for instance (reminded me of the sea an interesting juxtaposition), and the hanging "felts" . I was struck by the presence of human marks left on the materials throughout, and fascinated to think of the lives of those people, and their actions at the times the marks were made (whose hairs in the laundry felts?, the chalk markings on the lifts, etc.,as well of course as the plasticine ball). Huge shift into such restrained and precise works as the cut circles/sports reports/banknotes. Great variety, calling into question the notion of artistic identity, as did the idea of spontaneous works arising out of the local environment and materials for each exhibition (not in this case obviously). Liked it a lot.


I felt it was a very mixed exhibition. I very much liked the bicycle and Citroen exhibitions and some of the circle paintings. I found some of the others much less interesting. The lift seemed a bit gruesome to me. It was interesting to see but I would have preferred a slightly smaller exhibition.


Boring and uninspiring.

Very few pieces were worth the visit.


Nicky Bowler

enjoyed the exhibition, as a novice to his work found it great, disappointed in the postcard choice would have liked more of his drawings and newspaper clips but that did not eclipse my enjoyment!

Spike Hill

I went not knowing much about Gabrriel Orozco and left wanting to know more... job done, great exhibition. Why does he flop his photographs of the mopeds?


My favourite pieces were the photos - a perspective that I've carried into my week and which helps me recognise the beauty in my own life; and the burst tyres - arranged like the findings from an archeological dig - saying so much about what we value, what we discard, what endures.

Susan Conley

On the surface not entirely grabbed by the and had to work at some pieces - the worn out tyres. The compacted Citroen was intriguing and clever and the old lift with the light on were curious (how did you managed to install it? I wonder). The discarded but carefully placed cardboard box was a real joker and some of the photos amusing. The skull didn't excite at first (seen too many Damiens or what) yet we are talking about a Mexican here and a return to some kind of irreverant and ancient tatoo doodling. The unknown obituaries were interesting in wiping out the ephemeral ego after death. Oveall curious but not totally WOW more like yes but and no but and so what!

Janet Berenson

I loved the Orozco exhibition. I hadn't heard of him prior to seeing it and was delighted to enjoy his originality and universal appeal. In fact several times I found myself laughing out loud and at other times, staring in fascination. Being American I had no hesitation in asking the guard if we were allowed to play on the billiards table, which I did. I could have spent much longer and will definitely go back to see it again and recommend it to all my arty friends. Thank you for putting on such a wonderful exhibition. It would have been perfect if we could have seen him riding the streets of Berlin on his Schwalbe!!


I agree. I was very disappointed with the exhibition. I think the Tate Modern is getting desperate. Gabriel Orozco is obviously very creative but not a great artist. this has all been said before..Marcel Duchamp with his urinal for instance. And the explanations are so banal. Take the Ventilator 1997 ...its not even worth talking about.. I am really fed up with the art establishment making such poor choices... This period should be known as Classical Modernism..so much for pushing the boundaries! On floor 3 in the Surealist Dream section you can enjoy looking at GREAT ART. However, there were a couple of things that I liked of Gabriel Orozco and that was a pencil drawing and paintings on newspaper. Oh yes, I thought the Obit Series 2008 (newspaper obituaries) was a good idea .... I think he would have had a very successful career in advertising.. But in all, I think its time to move on, away from just illustrating Ideas...its sooooooo boring.


But its been done before.


I really felt uplifted by this exhibition, especially the way the photographs reminded me of ideas about stopping to 'make' a photograph of something 'found'.Eg. The water filled rooftop was made by the ripples, which I like to think Orozco added by throwing a few stones. From the collective repetition of the yellow scooters, to the selectivity of the individual photos, I was delighted by his ability to make such potent and memorable images.


It was my first trip as a member. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The balance of work was good and I found it accessible, challenging and provoking in equal measure. In any art form I enjoy a reference point I can share with the artist(s) and having found a couple myself (Don Goodman!), I left feeling that most visitors would probably find one or two pieces that struck a chord, along with plenty to stimulate fresh thought. It was noticeable a lot of people smiled during the tour.

Thank you to everyone involved.

Stella Knight

I went into this show not knowing anything about this artist and was happily taken aback at the enthusiasm Gabriel was able to impart through his playful work. Unlike so many other contemporary shows, I did not need to read the blurb to fully understand his viewpoint. He imparts a joyful almost childlike curiosity about the world we inhabit. I came away energised.. loved the curation too as it gave space for our contemplation!

Eric Victor Needham

Loved the DS, the Carambole and the bicycles. "Art" can be fun. If we were encouraged to have a go with billiards, why couldn't we touch the car which is(perhaps?) an amazingly tactile piece of work? Much of rest left me underwhelmed - issue for me, I am sure.


A very good idea to have the artist talking in the documentary film -really set things in perspective and I know I got more out of the exhibition because of it. I could appreciate his sense of humour particularly. It was quite hands on - people trying out the billiards, walking through the hanging "felts" trying to get a feel of the frailty of life and the contrast in the obits quite a lot of which were amusing even if the strikingly graphite covered skull reminded us of their true purpose. I loved the Citroen - it looked like a truly glorious piece if engineering and obviously was the sports car of his dreams! I have to say I do find some installation modern art extremely difficult to classify as art, but I really found this exhibition worth a visit.


I liked the obituary clippings - quite profound - and the strips of tyres- not sure why.

And the chess board with all knights.

The rest didn't do much for me.

Alice Robertson

I loved it - I felt it was very generous and got the viewers really involved in a fun way. also it had a tenderness. I also thought the Screen prints were ver beautiful.

David Baldock-Ling

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Orozco exhibition which was amusing, witty, & thought provoking. I did't have a particular favourite piece as I enjoyed them all on different levels. My one regret is that I came to it too late to visit again. I was amused when a toddler tried to walk off with the shoe-box. An afternoon well spent.

cass elbourne

Gabriel Orozco was fun playful and thought provoking. Loved everything but especially the series of scooter pairs, the tumbledryer washing lines, People playing with the round pool table and the iconic super aerodynamic citroen. Glad I caught it.


I really liked his Catfood and Melons for the colours and randomness. Also I loved the Schwalbe mopeds mainly because it was a nice idea and that the artist only had a certain level of control. At any time he could chance upon another moped and it had a kind of moped-style romance to it

Judith Adams

I didn't enjoy this exhibition .The playful humour was totally lost on me and I found it pretentious and unmoving. Usually images and thoughts spring into my mind after an exhibition but, I'm afraid, there have been no re-actions at all after this exhibition of works.


How much fun was this exhibition. I took my 2 kids and they really got it. We loved the lintels and the tyre tubes. But the empty shoe box inspired the most discussion. Was it art? Would it still be art if someone kicked it? Was there anything in it? Why was it white? What type of shoes does Orozco wear? We loved Orozco's quirky view of the world. Thank you for a fantastic day out.

Lala Thorpe

An inspirational show of the cleverness, simplicity, funny yet serious responses to world around, objects, people, games, environment, landscapes, cityscapes, all encompassed in so many materials.....always been a fan of Orozco since early 90's...great to see altogether..thanks!

David Aldworth

I was looking forward to seeing the LA DS 1993, which was far better than I expected. I wish it had been posisble to drive that car. I can imagine sitting in it and the vehicle being like a cocoon.


What an amazing exhibition! I loved the creativity and wit and warmth that suffused the work, and the way Orozco makes the viewer look at the world differently. What greater compliment to an artist? Excellent piece of curation too.

Gary Winship

Orozco's lift, billiard table and the car were inspiring. This is what I found interesting, a diverse pattern of things from the artist involving everyday objects. Well curated.


I'm a little surprised at earlier comments remarking that this exhibition was shallow and pretentious. I knewvery little about Ozorco prior to my visit, and I'm reallyglad I did visit. I was slightly put off in the first instance with the skull, I instantly thought of Damien Hirst.. though a slight note of mortality influencing the work I felt that some of the work was genuinely moving. The obituaries I personally felt was very thought provoking, how would you want to be know in summary, howcould you possibly sumarise someone you loved? The "humorous" pieces worked less to my mind. Glad the tate did this, would have gone a few more times to really think absorb if i'd got around to it earlier.

Doe Kan

First time I've seen Orozco's work and had heard the Late Review discussion about it, so I was intrigued to go. I enjoyed it, and thought his "I", 'eye" and perception of life, i.e. of the ordinary and not so, were both playful and clever. I loved how varied, tactile, interactive and 3 dimensional his work is and how his mind is caught by everyday things we might miss. I would definitely want to see his work again. Thankyou for the smiles I produced whilst seeing this Show.

Linda Chapman

This was a first for me. So I appreciate the opportunity to see Orozco's work. I agree with earlier replies that the show was well curated, about the right size and enabled a viewer to contemplate. I like the fact that so much of Orozco's material is the detritus of life, which is in fact us, like the lint from the washing machines. I think the room full of burst tyre fragments impressed me the most .... all that's remaining of so many stories. And I liked the collection of obituary headlines. The exhibition goes well with Susan Hiller and Francis Alys. A good experience.

George Taylor

Loved it:) A great follow on from Francis Alys. I came across his work during my sculpture degree in 1998 - It's refreshing and reminds me to look out, see / acknowledge art within the everyday, in a sense he just frames it. I think he's had quite an influence on many others - McQueen rolling an oil can around New York with 3 cameras in it must have been inspired by the plasticine - to see the actual lump was great!

George Taylor

My take is the absolute opposite - sure it is what it is, and I can certainly appreciate that to many hanging felt from a washing machine or photos of matching mopeds won't rock their boat, but it does mine making me think of all the people's skin and hair contained within each sheet and the poignancy of the desire to come together, be a pair or be amongst others of a shared ideal. I respect your upholding of Miro but I wandered vacantly through - there were a few I wouldn't mind seeing in hotel lobby but otherwise it all seemed pretty pointless to me, another 20th Century ego artist. His last splashing canvas was a saving grace:)

alex and susan ...

We really enjoyed the Orozco show. Quirky, playful, ingenious and diverse, it was a lot of fun.


I agree. It is a collection of the results of Mr Orozco playing with ideas. A bit of this, a bit of that. If you went to his house and these things were all in it, you'd think, what a fun-loving and quirky man. It could have stayed in his house just fine. The Tate Modern takes itself a bit seriously, if you ask me. 'On this occasion I was not expecting to experience the co-existence of Orozco's humour with a reflection on mortality.' Have you any idea how pompous and silly that sounds. Mixing humour and reflections on mortality is what people in every walk of life do all the time, in a thousand ways. Can we please stop having these cliches said about every single artist who appears on the horizon as though it's some astonishing observation, making them frightfully deep people. It's a joke.

Helen Gray

I enjoyed the exhibition very much plus the backup film in the foyer afterwards. Intersting concept - liked the bank notes!


Yawn ! another sculptor who does not sculpt, it is art but not sculpture. For the art of the truly three dimensional evades him and we are left with second rate installation art.

Caro said that 'anything can be sculpture, and he now regrets it. Well he might for painting a skull is art, but not sculpture. A pile of bricks, on the other hand can be a good really good sculpture, in my view, for it is three dimensional and does not, like painting, trick the eye, but is an honest and poetic construction or arrangement of form.

The Citroen and the rubber tyres were sculptures, but not very exciting or original ones. They do not speak.

When will someone start to seek the answers to three dimensional art for the 121st Century.

There are highlights here, but it was not for me.

Eileen Woods

My question to you is about Until You Find Another Yellow Schwalbe 1995 why are the images printed in reverse?

I enjoyed the show, and the video interview was very revealing.


I found a couple of items amusing - the bicycles, the Citroen. Some of the paintings were aesthetically pleasing, even witty.

But for the most part Orozco's works on display here were not to my taste, did not inspire or provoke me. Far be it from me to pass judgement, I can only speak for the effect they had on me.

I came home wondering why, as a complete amateur in my understanding of such work, I was left so unimpressed by this exhibition, yet loved those of Donald Judd and Cildo Mireiles.

Is it just a matter of taste, or is there some absolute that defines art?


I visited yesterday & found it worthwhile. I walked around happily absorbed, encountering one interesting piece after another. The first room introduced what was to come: those well framed 'rorschach test' pieces — elegant simple chance, & the grave red clay coloured heart in hands work — close to you.

Yeah, he could fill a large room with an idea, or make it in a shoebox, without there being much difference in impact. I liked the way his art inhabited all those different scaled media. Interesting to come away & have a real sense of the physical size of the artist! (The Lift).

There's nothing wrong with a South American decorating a skull, and he made the strongest impression, on me & my friend, with his brilliant photos.

shay habel

Frankly I thought it was vacuous and tedious.Much like alot of the stuff Tate Modern so pompously curates.

Mika Takiguchi

My first impression was that it was distasteful to paint a skull with a chess board pattern. It looked even ominous. However, being in front of the object, I was, all of a sudden, struck by the idea as to what sort of life he might have lived. This pattern might suggest that the life of this person consisted of continuous fights that are some how comparable to playing chess with your opponent. Then, who won at the end? Who said 'checkmate' at the end of his life? And with whom was he fighting? It was perhaps he himself. He continued fighting with the other self that existed within himself. Even if he was defeated at the end, having no pieces left, the life was yet worth living. That was what the skull talked to me. He was brave, and so will I be, I hope.

Mariell Juhlin

Great exhibition which caught the imagination of the entire family! My 5 year old was mesmerized by the Carambola table and got stuck in. Thought overall that the exhibition was very clever, it flowed well and was not pretentious. Want to see more of Orozco going forward.

maggie Hill

I loved the exhibition. Did not really know much about Orozco beforehand, but was very pleasantly surprised. It also provided much discussion with my friens over lunch. Especially liked the Black Kites and the installation especilly created for the Tate. It all flowed really well and complemented the Thames just outside.

Stuart Mealing

My first introduction to Orozco. I enjoyed some of the imagery, especially the 'cut' car and lift, but found the work didn't stand comparison with that of Susan Hiller from whose exhibition I'd just come.

Sarah Rolls

I visited with my teenage son who totally 'gets' this artist. He loves the fact that most of the artwork is reclaimed from unexpected sources. Orozco has been an inspiration to him and we now have an army of 'dung beatles' invading our garden made from classroom chairs rescued from the college skip. Much to the annoyance of of neighbours!