Tate Etc. issue 14 cover

Editors’ note

These days you don’t often hear the word transcendental being used, particularly amid the language that accompanies the cacophonous mix of art styles and aesthetics, but it has never disappeared. To coincide with an exhibition of Rothko’s late works at Tate Modern Brice Marden pays homage to the master of the abstract sublime as well as exploring how Rothko’s taste for the transcendental has inspired his work.

The late critic and curator Robert Rosenblum famously explored how such sensibilities linked Caspar David Friedrich and Turner to the astraction of Mondrian and Rothko, and wrote how their work ‘places us on the threshold of those shapeless infinities’. As Beat Wyss writes in relation to Friedrich’s iconic Monk by the Sea c.1809, his legacy – what he calls ‘the Friedrich effect’ – saw ‘the Romantic confrontation of the ego and the cosmos transposed into the white cube of the gallery’.

When Rothko said he was attracted to ‘pictures of a single human figure – alone in a moment of utter immobility’, he could have been talking about Friedrich. But the sentiment of being transfixed by an artwork could also extend to Francis Bacon’s paintings (on view at his forthcoming retrospective at Tate Britain), or even to non-figurative works such as Lucio Fontana’s extraordinary Spatial Light – Structure in Neon for the 9th Milan Triennial 1951. Alternatively, we could become immersed and enveloped, perhaps even disorientated, in an installation by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster  – an experience that may not be so far removed from Marden’s road trip.

Bice Curiger and Simon Grant



Mark Rothko I
Carter Ratcliff

Rothko believed he was "producing an art that would last for 1,000 years". It was a sentiment that was in stark contrast to the new, brash, secularised art emerging in New York in the 1960s.

Mark Rothko II
Brice Marden

Simon Grant talks to Brice Marden about his enduring fascination with Rothko’s paintings.

Caspar David Friedrich
Beat Wyss

The image of a monk standing by an empty sea soon became an icon of German Romanticism. However, in the twentieth century the ‘Caspar David Friedrich effect’ underwent various interpretations, including absorption into Nazi art, and compared to the “abstract sublime” of American Colour Field painting.

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster
Penelope Curtis

Since the early 1990s Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster has created installations and interactive environments in which she evokes an atmospheric, yet often disorientating sense of place. As a visitor to the artist's recent exhibition in Spain recounts, her work seems to heighten our awareness of the world around us.

Lucio Fontana
Francesca Pasini

Fontana saw his work as a classic representation of what he called “a spatial environment” and described it as “a new element which has entered into the aesthetic of the man on the street.” As a recently renovated version of his 1951 neon goes on display in the same building in which it was first seen, Pasini explores its making, meaning and legacy.

Cildo Meireles II
Mark Godfrey

Mark Godfrey asks three artists to describe projects in which they have adopted the strategy of insertion, using Meireles's Insertions into Ideological Circuits as a starting point.

Leonora Carrington
Lucy Skaer

A visit to the Tate not only prompts a journey to track down the Surrealist painter Leonora Carringotn at her studio in Mexico, but also reveals links with a favourite seventeenth-century work and an iconic Holbein in Basel.

Behind the curtain
Tishani Doshi

Inspired by her mother’s love letters to her father, Tishani Doshi reads the moving correspondence in the Tate archive between Vanessa and Clive Bell prior to their marriage.

Heimo Zobernig, Tim Lee, David Shrigley and Kay Rosen
Peter Campus

Peter Campus talks to Tate Etc. about his recent work

Gustav Klimt and the 1908 Kunstschau
Simon Grant1

At the Belvedere, Vienna, until 18 January 2009


In conversation
Peter Campus, Douglas Gordon and David A. Ross

Peter Campus was one of the first artists to explore the formal possibilities of film and video technology. Douglas Gordon, who admires Campus’s work, is best known for his iconic video installation 24 Hour Psycho. The two artists talk to curator David A. Ross.

Cildo Meireles I
Cildo Meireles and Frederico Morais

The Brazilian artist is regarded as one of the leading figures in the development of conceptual art. In works that mix the sensorial with the cerebral and vary in scale from the miniscule to the vast, he explores, as he puts it, the ‘physical, geometric, psychological, topographical and anthropological’. To coincide with his first retrospective in the UK, he talks to the Brazilian writer and curator

Simon Grant1 and Robert Morris

Robert Morris (born 1931) has been variously involved in the development of Land art, performance, installation as well as being a prominent theorist on Minimalism. His classic grey modular plywood structures of the 1960s as well as the felt pieces have often been regarded as monuments of restraint, but as he discusses, there was a much more biographical element to these works, and others, than contemporary critics have suggested


Sophie Howarth

From the 1960s there has been a series of radical organisations aiming to revolutionise educational practice, including Joseph Beuys’s Free International University. But, as Howarth asks, what is the way to live today?