Pierre Bonnard, 'Coffee' 1915

Pierre Bonnard
Coffee 1915
Oil on canvas
support: 730 x 1064 mm frame: 948 x 1282 x 95 mm
Presented by Sir Michael Sadler through the Art Fund 1941© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2002

Look, discuss and draw activity

Practical tips

Gallery: Tate Modern and your own centre
Materials: Please bring pencils and paper with you to the gallery
Preparation:  Please contact us to check if the artworks will be on display when you plan to visit. Email: visiting.modern@tate.org.uk 

Introduction to the activities

This activity focuses on various photographs and montages in the States of Flux display at Tate Modern which explore the way that a range of artists have represented the theme of everyday life.

These works on paper are replaced regularly because they are very vulnerable to light. If you find that the works below are not on display, Fernand Leger Still Life with a Beer Mug 1921–2 and Natalya Goncharova Linen 1913 can be used as alternatives.

The aim is to investigate how artists have used everyday objects, noticing the range of materials and ideas explored. 

Activities

  • Find the photograph Breakfast 1928 by Alexander Rodchenko and notice his use of the camera angle to photograph over the head of his subject
  • Make a note or sketch of how he has framed this
  • What can you photograph or draw at home/ work that can echo this framing?
  • Look at the two photographs Los Agachados 1932 by Manuel Alvarez-Bravo and San Francisco 1933 by Dorothea Lange. Notice how in each case the photographs have been composed, or cropped, to frame a particular scene and view of people. What interests you all about this type of framing?
  • Discuss as a group a modern equivalent for each photograph, perhaps a view of people sitting in a cafe or listening in a meeting

You might want to sketch a group of people you see in Tate Modern. Try the cafés or around the comfy sofas for possible subjects. Most visitors to Tate Modern enjoy the fact that so many people are visiting and studying art, so it can be easy to work on a five-minute sketch of a group in the gallery, or you could use your own group as subject matter. Think about the kind of composition you want, based on what you have seen in the photographs.

Finally, find Pierre Bonnard’s painting Coffee 1915. You may want to discuss what is different in mood, composition and the role played by colour in this painting of a very similar theme to Breakfast, the photograph you have studied.

Follow-up activity

Back at your centre, notice how groups sit when you are all relaxing over a break or at work in a group.

Try out a series of compositions, using photography, video or drawing that uses some of the methods you have noticed in gallery visit. See if you can display this artwork in a place where people regularly walk by or meet, perhaps in a foyer area or meeting space so you can get responses to your ideas.