I’m part of the Interpretation team in Tate’s Learning department. We work closely with exhibition curators to offer resources that will – we hope – enhance your experience in the gallery. For the Lichtenstein exhibition, we’ve released a multimedia guide to the exhibition as an app for iPhone and Android devices.
We’ve made exhibition guide apps before, but this is the first time we’ve released one for Android. This was in response to feedback from Android users (of which I am one!) and we’re looking forward to seeing how it goes.
Pocket digital guides have more ‘space’ than our exhibition leaflets, so we can show more in the way of source images and preparatory sketches that you can refer to while you’re in front of an artwork. This is especially illuminating for an artist like Roy Lichtenstein who had such an interesting relationship with the materials that inspired him. We’ve been able to reproduce one of Lichtenstein’s scrap books in the app – one where he’s gathered together clippings of black and white illustrations from newspaper ads: pages full of office chairs, pot plants, hi-ball glasses, envelopes. It’s fascinating to flick through and see how Lichtenstein gathered and classified these images and what this tells us about how he worked.
The digital guide is also a way to include different voices and opinions in the exhibition. His widow, Dorothy Lichtenstein, gives glimpses into her late husband’s working habits and ideas. There’s a tribute to the artist from one of his old friends, the writer Frederic Tuten. Interviews with the exhibition curators, Iria Candela and Sheena Wagstaff, are included on the guide too. Their commentary on specific works brings to light art historical connections that aren’t necessarily self-evident when looking at Lichtenstein’s paintings for the first time.
The details of how Lichtenstein drew from and altered images from Picasso’s work, as described by Sheena, gives a great sense of how his relationship with art history swung between homage and ironic mimicry. Iria’s discussion of Lichtenstein’s allusions to the act of painting, even in what we think of as quintessentially ‘pop’ canvases, makes you look afresh at some of his most iconic works. You don’t even need a smartphone to access the guide – you can also hire multimedia guides with the same content from the exhibition entrance.
If you are downloading the app, we recommend you do it from home before visiting. If you’ve used the app already, I’d love to hear what you thought and how, where and when you used it – before you visited, at Tate Modern or later on to reflect on what you saw or as a souvenir. Your feedback and ideas will really help us plan what to create for future exhibitions.