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.


Katharine White

I visited with my husband and we both couldn't believe that a shoebox left on the floor was labelled art. When more effort appears to go into the explanation of a piece of art than was put into the art itself something is wrong. Art should speak on its own account not need someone to translate.

Janice Sands

There was a fire alarm and we had to leave the building. What little we saw looked very interesting, not sure about the shoe box though. Would love to go back again to see it properly.


We loved it! The fun, cheeky tone was refreshing - esp the citron. We loved that the artist drew the viewer round the space, by the layout and composition of the photographs, making us part of the movement. The whole thing felt interactive.

Sheila Cornelius

Orozco at the Tate Modern

I didn't know anything about this artist not even that he was Mexican by birth, although as a keen student of Hispanic culture that raised my expectations, once I'd read the introduction in the exhibition leaflet. In fact, I loved it. I thought Orozco is both gritty and witty - a worthy heir to Picasso without the great Spanish artist's macho posturing or obsession with sex. It was no surprise to discover that Orozco studied for a while in Madrid, although Orozco's Mexican background is clearly signally by the iconic memento mori skull that appears on the exhibition poster. The show was well-curated, starting off low-key and alternating the serious and the grim with some very clear explanations on the walls of each room. The 'playful' pieces like the tangled bicycles and the photos of the paired yellow scooters were delightful, the cut-in-half car and the lift were visually striking. I loved the chessboard and the obituaries, also the idea of the interaction with the billiard table. I sympathised with the supervisory staff, though, worried about visitors who might be endangered by a swinging red billiard ball. The photos and money bills overlaid with harlequin circles seemed to make eloquent but elusive commentaries, and the more abstract isolated strings of circles against different coloured background had a Paul-Klee like beauty. It was surprising because the structure appeared both rigorous and random at the same time. The hanging sheets of dryer-fluff I took at first glance to echo washing lines in a Naples back street but at closer range they were creepy, like dusty remnants of shroud. Walking beneath then was a sinister experience, as was the floor space filled with discarded shreds of t car-tyres. For me the exhibition's most striking feature is Orozco's celebration of the man-made in urban life. His 'interventions' emphasise the symbolic in the everyday and link him to a medieval sense of the world as a kind of book. Orozco's genius is a guide to its interpretation.


Very inspirational. Will be back.

Paul CHapman

Mmmm. Difficult to sum up my thoughts as they are varied; some parts were good, others exceptional, some utterly forgettable.

The Good: Re-modelled Citroen . . . clever and interesting. Photographs of the scooters . . . amusing concept and very engaging. The obituaries . . . thought provoking (it makes you wonder about your own mortality and how you would be summed up in so few words). The bicycle sculpture . . . echoes of Duchamp. Chess board with the knights . . . beautiful (I'm trying to convince my wife to let me buy a load of second hand sets and make a copy for myself).

The Bad: The shoe box . . . nah. The elevator . . . so? The roll of telephone numbers . . . where's the shredder?

The Ugly: Tumble drier detritus . . . possibly a health hazard. Fragments of tyres . . . how much did it cost to have this rubbish transported half way round the world? The skull . . . yawn.

Maybe it's not obvious from the above, but I really enjoyed the exhibition as a whole, I'm happy to physically and mentally not dwell on the bits that I don't like and concentrate on the bits that I do, and there were far more positives than negatives.

I left with a grin on my face and a better understanding of an artist who was new to me, what more could you ask for?

Regards . . . Paul.

PS: The audio-by-smart-phone idea is excellent, lots more of that please.

Elizabeth Horsley

Orozco was fun. That's allowed, isn't it? I am quite happy to sidestep the 'what makes great art' question and the 'whether the Tate should be showing it' question. I and the friend I went with both loved the showerhead. Having previously spent some time in the room containing Lintels (I take a poetry class at the Tate on Monday evenings) I had found that spending the time with it brought me to more complex considerations of its meaning for me. So it wasn't what he did - it was how it made me think and feel. Lizzie


we quite enjoyed the game of pool, it breaks the monotony when you can actually touch something :-) also some of the pieces on display seem quite simple to make (as if you could do it yourself), but it's the idea that matters - and some of them are pretty clever.

John C

I was unfamiliar with Orozco's work before the exhibition and went along out of curiosity. I have Tate membership, so no excuse not to take a look at something new.

It's a shame there was nothing new or challenging in the works presented and there were many things which didn't hold much interest to me. A shame because there was a sense of fun and play going on which showed great promise, if not always fully realised.

The gallery space and layout was an improvement over the recent Gauguin exhibition.

It had some interesting moments and it was enjoyable seeing young visitors using the billiard table, but this would have been a disappointing exhibition if I had been a non-member.

Anthony G

I was very disappointed by this exhibition. Of course all art is personal when it comes to appreciation and frankly this just did not press any of my buttons. The tyre pieces on the floor summed it all up for me. Used, useless and just mundane. Yes, and the 'washing on the line' was even worse. These two pieces showed just what a waste of my time it was to wander through. Not a single exhibit there gave me any challenge, joy, laughter or indeed the WOW factor that I come to expect from such a major show at the Tate Modern. It all left me flat, bored, speechless and just stunned that this huge space could be given over to such stuff - yes, stuff. I am pleased I am a member and didn't have to fork over ££ to go in. I would have asked for my money back. Give us great art, art that says, LOOK AT ME and stand stunned and amazed and gobsmacked. These pieces left me thinking I could well have just gone to a local rubbsih dump and found it more enlightening and fun.

Ben Taylor

Loved this show! Well, most of it. The coloured circles didn't do anything for me, but everything else had its own beauty and calm, and nudged me into looking at the mundane from a different angle. My favourite piece of all? Has to be the citroen, which was beautiful to look at, made me smile and I also felt affectionate towards (?). I liked the fact there was a lot of variety. The only thing that left me cold was the shoebox, like, how is that art? I'm sure someone could tell me but, for me, if it needs explaining, and it doesn't move me, I'm gone!

Richard Poxton

It's a great advert for being a Tate Member - had I paid I might well have felt a little cheated. As it is I relaise looking back that I enjoyed the exhibits overall enough to take another a look. It's definitely a mix of interesting stuff and less interesting but isn't that art? As a season ticket holder I was pleased to see Wolverhampton Wanderers represented - unpredictable art and sport together!

Liz Graham

I liked the photographs more than the sculptures, although I loved 'Modified Citroen'. I think my favourite photograph is 'My Hands are my Heart'. Lovely exhibition though; I enjoyed it.


Is there any way for Tate members to visit exhibitions at Tate anonymously nowadays? Clocking up who goes to exhibitions now... is there a prize for the person who goes in most often? What else do they do with the info? Why is the curator of this exhibition thanking me for visiting it? Distinctly big brother approach to being a friend of Tate is almost making me question whether I want to continue - after 30 years or more.

Jennifer Jones

Having just visited the $1 000 000 Picasso and reflected on the commodification of art, I was prepared for exhibits like the shoe box and the Elevator, being displayed by an 'accepted' artist - but much of the rest of the exhibition genuinely fascinated me. The Samurai Tree paintings were simultaneously simple yet complex - I could have looked at them all day. The carambole was fun as was the LS DS. Overall, a worthwhile exhibition. I would recommend watching the video outside the exhibition first.

Tim Williams

Having arrived from Thailand with some A level Art students in the morning we were all feeling a bit tired. So we asked the ticket salesperson at the Tate Britain (our first stop of the day) if it were possible to change the day we visited the Orozco. We were told, in an extremely abrupt and rude manner that all tickets were non-exchangeable and non-refundable, so we didn't go. I can understand a policy like this applying to seats in a plane or theatre- but in an Art gallery? On a Wednesday afternoon? Poor show Tate and teach your staff some manners please!

marguerite christmas

Hi Jessica This is my first ever blog so thankyou for your email. I wasn't expecting to enjoy the exhibits as much as I did. They all offered opportunities for discussion and there was plenty of that with my accompanying visitor. The photos of Orozco's scooter made us look beyond the vehicles in great detail. We had a go on the games table. We tried to work out his symmetrical paintings, how he achieved the effect. Most of all we enjoyed the obituaries and I came home with some of the quotes to search for the owners. In all a most enjoyable and memorable visit. Thankyou. Marguerite

Paulo Portella Filho

hi jessica I did apreciate so much the way you invite us, as a curator, to know more abnout the artist and the exhibition. congratulations. paulo portella filho/coordinator of education at masp, sp, brazil


Lawrence, I was about to join in the discussion on this exhibition. Then I read your blog. Brilliant - no point adding my own comments (particularly about failing art A Level with a shoe box). Are you an art critic? If not, you should consider it. All the best, Anna

Ewan Buck

Good fun, made me laugh but was not particularly inspiring. Almost bordering on commercial art, lots of good ideas but not always executed well. QR codes on the smart-phone images would be easier to access the interesting videos.

Suzanna Raymond

The Gabriel Orozco show was interesting for me to visit as an art student looking at contemporary art.

It seems to me that there is a fine balance to be sought between the strength of a concept, its execution, its aesthetic qualities and the way it is displayed in a gallery.

The works I enjoyed most included the room of obituaries displayed together with the decorated skull. I found I liked the dark humour of an artist woking on such subject matter after a stay in hospital. Also I found it interesting in the manner in which our life's efforts can be summarised into a couple of lines or the formal qualities of our skeletal remains.

In room 3, I was drawn to the photographs of scooters, in the playful way Orozco searched for and recorded the twin of is own scooter. I also enjoyed looking at La DS, with its Futuristic lines emphasising the beauty of the machine, whilst simultaneously removing its functionality in a way that would frustrate our abilty to use it. In a way I see this as the artist returning the manufactured car to the ideal of its concept drawing on the drawing board but with the added tactile beauty of the materials it was made with.

Room 6 had some lovely photographs which show that dimension to his work but I did feel the lack of a context to put them in. The Carambole display seemed incomplete without the other two balls and the cue, making me womder if that was the gallery being spoilsports. If i was the artist, i would have liked that exhibit to have remained more interactive.

The final room, with its lines of dryer lint, was quite intriguing to walk through. I'd thought the hanging lint would be quite disturbing with its associations of bodily residues but my experince was more about the fragility of the piece like the fragility of life, which seemed a good note to end my visit on.


There is a line of thought which says if something generates an emotion or response it should be considered art. I have disagree. An element of talent and technical skill really should be required and whilst I accept this is an argument many painters and artists have faced I feel that Orozco really is 'taking the biscuit'.

There were elements of his work which were interesting ... yes the chequered Skull (is it human or monkey, the iPhone commentary wasn't clear) but on the whole it was frustrating.

From seeing the clay heart, which appears to have been made without thought whilst Orozco was churning out more of Gormley's statues through to seeing toilet roll on a ceiling fan I questioned the real motives and talent which was on display.

The shoe box in the middle of the floor is nothing more than a joke. Orozco is laughing at us, this is the emperors new clothes and should be outed as such!!!!

Is the Tate right to show this work then ... in my view yes. The Tate should give the chance to recognise real talent and work but in order to do this we must be exposed to some of the truly awful 'art' which has become fashionable too, Orozco is very firmly in the latter.

I have said my piece. I will now get of my soap box (or is it a lump of plasticine I should be standing on?!!!).


Oh ... As an aside the opportunity to listen to a commentary via my iPhone was superb. MUCH MORE needs to be made of this across the whole of the Tate. Well done for that.

stav o'doherty

As a member of the Tate, I am always interested in any new exhibitions. I had popped in to have a look at the Picassos and at the same time spent half an hour visiting the Orozco exhibition. My overall impression of the Orozco exhibition was that it contained some interesting objects (such as the squashed Citroen, the oval pool table and large chess board with knights only) and also some really stupid stuff like the empty shoebox. For me art has to stir the emotions and make a connection and sadly the Orozco exhibition was largely unimpressive.

Paul Domenet

It made me smile. In every way.

kristina thiele

not too impressed about this exhibition. i was expecting a lot more. the skull, the obituaries and the citroën were great but that's about it. the photographs were disappointing i thought. maybe orozco is just not my kind of thing after all.


Just popped in for a coffee in the members room, and a quick look round the Oronczo show. The great thing about being a member is that you can drop in for a few minutes and come back again later. After Oronczo, I took a look at Wham, the Claes Oldenburgs and the Andy Warhols. Next week I will look at the vorticists in more detail, and then maybe Britain


I liked the exhibition a lot. I thought it was fun, interactive, it made me smile, think and ultimately I enjoyed it. If I was paying a tenner for it, I think I would feel a bit scammed, but that's the glory of a Tate pass.

Ta, Alex

giuseppe campi

Shoe box to me was the highlight of the show, I found it so hilarious and I must have been the only one who kicked it whilst I were there. I enjoyed the show, fun, fun, fun.

Tim Woolf

I agree almost completely with Julia Theobald - I found Orozco a very interesting character on the video - and that's what prompted me to see the exhibition, which I found extremely disappointing. God, I am so bored with "Silly Art". The rubber tyres was an interesting discovery, but could have been as equally expressed with a photograph - didn't need the whole room. The Tumble Dryer Lint again was a delightful concept, but a whole room? Surely a few strung up on a washing line would have sufficed. How many visitors actually bothered to stroll into the room and look more closely at the Lints at the back? And why? What's the point? The whole exhibition felt like 2 rooms of worthwhile stuff padded out into a whole gallery. I thought the Obituaries were funny, charming, but come on, ART? Reading through a newspaper, picking out the funny lines, copying them onto a large white sheet for us all to find funny. A comment on humanity? Perception? Mortality? Is that ALL that's needed to make it to the Tate? Sorry Orozco, you can take all the rest of your banal, immature, predictable, cliched, silly offerings, stuff them all into that bloody shoe box, and shove the lot up a suitable orifice, where you appear to be!

Dianne Hofmeyr

The lint and the shredded tyres definitely needed the whole rooms. Photographs wouldn't have done these installations justice. The sensation of space was necessary to experience the immense fragility of humankind. The strewn tyres seemed representative of bodies and road kill... I had a sense of Cormac McCarthy's book 'The Road' and for me, by association, a sinister threat of 'necklacing'. There was even a smell of tyre. And again in the subdued colours and shades of grey in Lintels one had a sense of ghostly apparitions... spirits of people gone.

Enjoyed the photographs the most. Smiling green cats on watermelons... pure fun! And the reflection of water on the roof incredible. The copper showerhead too... looked like the world from outer space and the folded monochromes were very beautiful.


Overall I was very impressed by the exhibition.

Whilst only being a passive observer of modern art, I think there were some very interesting pieces, the obituary being one of the highlights (we spent a good few minutes trying to identify the deceased and a further few imagining the non obvious). The rhombic bike, the narrowed car and the shortened lift offered interesting visuals.

I wasn't really enamoured by either the washing lines lined with lint or the room full of shredded tyres (I could have either gone to my local laundrette or motorway to see or recreate either of these scenes). The yellow mopeds provided an interesting series of images (note to Tate you may want to put explanations in each corner of the room as we were mildly confused until we read the description halfway through the piece).

Ultimately I would recommend this exhibition.


I liked the exhibition! Beisdes the curation (which I found difficult to understand, and perceived as slightly random) I found it a very inspiring show! It's releiving to see that an artist can a have an enquiry and that this enquiry can result in many different outcomes. Seeing Orozcos works also gave me the impression that he works for the working process rather than for what might please gallerists/museums/etc, which was refreshing to see! Great exhibition, worth seeing!

V. Fakhro

Very inspiring and thought provoking, coupled with amazing craftsmanship and draftsmanship - pivotal in showing the true skills of an artist!

Mark B

If the purpose of Art is to create things that you don't need then I think Orozco has got it bang on. Having said that, I really would like a functioning version of his Citroen DS. It would certainly shake up the small Hampshire town where I live. Overall a good show, which made me think although I thought a bit too much about the Knights on the chess board and ended up analysing too much and as a consequence probably missed the point.

Maria P

I saw the Orozco exhibition mainly because I am a new Tate member and the Bicycle thing caught my attention - so I had no prior knowledge of him! Overal, I thought the exhibition was good; Not so sure about the scultures of plasticine and the shoe box...or the elevator and bits of tyres! I really liked the bicycles and how complex it looks depending on where you stand - but I most of all I enjoyed his photography and how he has captured beauty in quite ordinary places (the reflections on the roof and puddles) and his sense of humour with the cat food on watermelons! made me giggle! The scooter photos seemed odd but once I read the story on it the whole thing made sense - and that made me laugh again! Thats alot of yellow scooters! Think i will pop back for another stroll round!


As with any artist there are some works you are going to love and others you will care less for. With Orozco I found the exhibition to be good and thought provoking, but you had to read about things to get the full benefit. All the pictures of the scooters on first inspection were unremarkable, but when you knew the story they came to life. Same with the ball of plastercine. I was not such a fan of the tyres, Carom table or washing machine fluff though. I loved many of the photos - the tins of cat food on the watermelons, the water on the roof, the shower head and the fruit on all the old market tables. I liked the cut-and-shut Citroen but the Obituaries were my favourite, although I wanted a list of peoples names that I could try to match up with the descriptions... Overall another good show.

Anthony de Sigley

"What did you think of 'Gabriel Orozco'?" Underwhelmed.

Lesley Christian

The show was interesting. Lint from laundromats? Fascinating shapes and shadows; phone book numbers and 'graphs'? Why? Chicotes, energy and destruction; some of the photos were stunning: sand on a table, squashed football. Chopped up car, shoe box on floor, loo paper flying round on a fan, haven't we seen this all before more thought provokingly? Is this an artist and exhibition I will carry around with me? Too soon to tell but I don't think so.

Lesley Christian

Howard Davis

I find Gabriel Orozco's ability to come empty handed to a new exhibition and create something that relates to the environment he now finds himself in refreshing. I would like to suggest that those who offer commissions at the Tate give Gabriel the chance to make something amazing in the Turbine Hall - I'm sure it would be both fun and inspiring as well as being intrinsic to the Tate Modern.


I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition, it was thought-provoking, endearing and original. I especially liked the stories behind the scooter photographs, the elevator, and the lint, and was captivated by the two pictures 'Extension of Reflection' and 'Breath on Piano'.


Orozco's work didn't blow me away. But I found the playfulness and fun of much of it a welcome relief from the oppressive gloom or remote abstractness of some of the Tate Modern's other pieces.

I think that the striking skull and the obituaries played off each other really well. I imagined that any or all of the obituaries could describe the skull in life. For me, it was a "wide angle" memento mori.

The photos were intriguing and I liked the billiard table. We were amused at the crowd of onlookers that gathered to watch the hanging ball make ever smaller concentric circles around the white ball. They almost sighed with relief when the two connected. It's great when art brings people together.

I miss this "tactile element" of art in some of the Tate's grander exhibitions e.g. Ai WeiWei's sunflower seeds.

Went late on a Friday, enough people to be fun, not enough to be crowded.

Brian Cooper

An eye for beauty and humour in re-presenting what surrounds us. La DS and the obits - both simple concepts and so striking - brought a huge smile to my face.

Philip Howard

I enjoyed the abstract work although, like most of his other styles, it wasn't terribly different from (nor better than) what other artists have done. What was really missing was any illumination of why he works in such a genre-hopping manner. This was also a significant failing of the Tate's Fischli & Weiss exhibition, although their work was consistently involving enough to transcend such concerns. Part of the problem may be that you make overblown claims which don't stand up (e.g., about Orozco's supposed originality in engaging with everyday materials). Have you missed something important, some unifying theory or intention, or is there just nothing to say beyond him being a well-read copycat with a short attention span?

Jonathan Cahill

l didn't like the show much. When one thinks of all the infinitely more talented and important Latin American artists, such as Jesus Soto, l fail to see why we have this. It only left me feeling empty and frustrated. Fiddling around with skulls l find rather macabre - who's is it? The only item which did produce a spark was the carambola table.

juliet goodden

I really liked the folded paper paintings - rich colour and compositions. The billiards is fun, the phone book silly. If an artist had to do this themselves, they wouldn't bother - I think it is the product of someone who can afford to pay assistants to do the making - and it is boring - both in visual and conceptual respects.


I like this artist. I went in not knowing much about him and not really knowing what to expect. I think he works with grace, wit and has integrity. He does what a lot of artists are doing but he does it well. The abject tumble dryer hangings were poetic, the car funny and whimsical, the long books of lines and numbers crazy, obsessive and beautiful. I loved the obituary one liners. Really funny, poetic and able to operate on many levels. I think what is important in this work is that it's not full of ego. It is a response to the world and its inhabitants.

David H

This was a mix of some really good pieces and some (literally) forgettable fluff: Loved the intricate bank notes with the inscribed geometric patterns and the bigger molecular/geometric pieces (in red, gold and blue). Some of his photos in the room with the billiard table were beautiful. Other pieces were just frankly derivative and dull (the plasticine ball, the hanging fragments of tumble dryer/belly button fluff, the rubber tyre bits and worst of all the endless photos of those 2 scooters - please!). Overall: 5/10


There's a bit of everything, from performance to innovative sculpture and a great sense of humour. I particularly enjoyed people's reactions: a couple in a hug looking up at the fan with the toilet rolls, people recognizing who does the abituaries refer to, children laughing at the cat tins on top of watermelons... As a member of the Tate I never miss a new exhibition and I have really enjoyed the many achievments I could find in this one!

mary galvin

I traveled from Ireland especially to see the Orozco show. I am currently engaged in my M.F.A by Research, and Orozco is one of the three artists my paper is based on. I found the exhibition very enjoyable and it was great to see the work first hand. Among the pieces that I loved were the empty Shoe Box, My Breath on a piano, the scroll of phone numbers and the absolutely beautiful drawings with the ruler. What I love about Orozco, as an artist, is his way of looking at things. His work is really about the poetics of the everyday and what it means to be human. He is, for me, a fascinating artist, but like the rest of us, not everything he does is going to be 100% successful. I thought the lint piece was beautiful, tender and poignant. Pity the deflated footballs were left out, I love the humour and pathos in that work. Well worth the visit.

Max Kay

From my perspective Orozco exhibits alarming talent for turning the everyday into the mundane. Which I presume he then turns into money. But he rather gives the game away with his toilet roll electric fan. Featuring this in the promotional materials would have given gallery goers a clue about what they were letting themselves in for.