Tate Etc. issue 23 magazine cover

Editors’ note

This autumn Tate St Ives stages a group exhibition called The Indiscipline of Painting: International abstraction from the 1960s to now. It includes work by Mary Heilmann, who calls it a ‘huge conversation’ with some of her favourite artists. ‘This is the way I love to engage with art,’ she says. Such conversations are at the heart of Tate Etc., and often these start with the Tate collection. For his show at Nottingham Contemporary, the artist Klaus Weber has chosen an eclectic and rarely seen selection of Tate works, including pieces by Paul Neagu, George Fullard and Enrico Baj’s Fire! Fire! . Weber made his choice after many hours on Tate’s website – a process that he described as a ‘fantastic voyage’.

It is always fascinating to know how and why one artist is inspired by another. Here, Thomas Schütte recounts how his former teacher Gerhard Richter has been the ‘main influence’ on his methodology, and how he learned from him that ‘even with a limited field you can create a rich story with one’s work’.

Of course, such inspirations often reach across the centuries. Many artists and filmmakers have borrowed from the apocalyptic visions of the nineteenth-century painter John Martin, and, as Jonathan Griffin argues, Martin’s art could be seen as the source of the ‘dystopic vastness’ in the work of Edward Burtynsky, Florian Maier-Aichen and others, as well as a forerunner of the penchant for the post-apocalyptic undertones in the ‘total installation’ environments of Christoph Büchel and Gregor Schneider.

Writers have also provided rich material for artists to work from. As Tate Liverpool’s Alice in Wonderland  exhibition will show, Lewis Carroll’s works have had an enormous impact on artists from the 1960s onwards, such as Mel Bochner and Bruce Nauman, who, as Sam Thorne writes, have been ‘captivated by both the material potential of text and its endless ambiguities’.

Bice Curiger and Simon Grant

Alice with the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon
Alice with the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon



John Martin I
Jonathan Griffin

John Martin is best known for his dramatic scenes of apocalyptic destruction and biblical catastrophe. During his life his work was shown across the world, but critical opinion remained divided. The writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton thought he was “the greatest, most lofty, the most permanent, the most original genius of the age”, while John Constable described him as “a painter of pantomimes”. On the eve of Martin’s exhibition at Tate Britain – the largest display of his works since 1822 – Tate Etc. explores his enduring influence on artists and filmmakers

John Martin II
Ian Christie

In the early nineteenth century a fashion for enormous paintings flourished, and artists including Martin, Benjamin Haydon and Francis Danby showed their huge pictures to an adoring public. These painters lived in a newly competitive age of showmanship and spectacle, typified by the panorama and diorama that flourished in the late Georgian and Regency period

Barry Flanagan I
John James

He may be best known for his bronze hare sculptures, but Flanagan’s early work using a variety of media such as cloth, felt, clay, stone, plaster and rope, soon to be on display at Tate Britain, challenged more traditional notions of sculpture. It was as much inspired by art as his own experiences of odd jobs – from bakeries to building sites – and, as his friend recalls here, he combined his innate curiosity with people and his love of life into his art

Barry Flanagan II
Flan Flanagan

The daughter and assistant of the artist (from 1987 to 1998) remembers working with her father

Barry Flanagan III
Paul Levy, Andrew Dipper, Braco Dimitrijevic and Andy Holden

Appreications from friends, fellow artists and a former pupil

Gerhard Richter I
John-Paul Stonard

Tate Modern’s  exhibition explores the work produced over almost five decades by one of today’s most highly regarded artists. Richter (b.1932) has made art based on his experiences of growing up during the Third Reich, his years as a student in communist Dresden and his defection to the West in the early 1960s. Later, it has encompassed elements of his private life – marriage, divorce, fatherhood – alongside reflections on the ongoing traumas of national history, from German political violence in the 1970s to international terrorism in the twenty-first century

Gerhard Richter II
Thomas Schütte

A former student remembers his ‘friendly, but merciless’ teacher

The Unilever Series: Tacita Dean
Philip Tinari

Over the years Dean’s poetic, meditative 16 mm films have ranged from portrait studies of Merce Cunningham and Mario Merz to explorations of historically loaded architectural spaces and the nature of film-making itself. On the eve of the opening of her installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, Tate Etc. examines her enduring exploration of time

Alice in Wonderland I
Marina Warner

When Charles Dodgson – more widely known as Lewis Carroll – made drawings in the early 1960s for his book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, he was disappointed with the results. He employed cartoonist John Tenniel to create the now-famous illustrations, while his original ideas were consigned to the archive of Christ Church College, Oxford, where he worked as a lecturer in mathematics until his death in 1898. TATE ETC. sent a cultural historian to view Dodgson’s rarely seen drawings which feature in Tate Liverpool’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ exhibition

Alice in Wonderland II
Sam Thorne

Lewis Carroll demonstrated how inventive one could be with words and their meanings. Since the 1960s artists such as Mel Bochner, Bruce Nauman and later Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster have continued to explore the open-ended ambiguities of text

The Indiscipline of Painting
Mary Heilmann

This autumn Tate St Ives stages a wide-ranging exhibition focusing on post-war abstract painting by artists from across the world. One of its American participants pays homage to her favourite fellow exhibitors

Document: Robert Rauschenberg's photograms
Nicholas Cullinan

Before he became famous for his protean work, Robert Rauschenberg was making little-known but beautiful cameraless photograms with his then wife Susan Weil

Richard Dadd
Nicholas Tromans

The Victorian artist is best known for two things: murdering his father, and painting The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke while incarcerated in Bethlem Hospital. However, less is known about his later years spent in Broadmoor, where he continued to paint extraordinary, imaginative pictures, as the author of a new book on Dadd reveals

Behind the curtain
Austin Collings

On his first visit to the Tate archive, Austin Collings unearths a newspaper cutting on Ian Breakwell’s evocative photographic diary of an anonymous London figure

Klaus Weber, Ian Collins, Clare Woods and Josephine Meckseper

Reflections on a work in the Tate collection

Rubens and Britain
Lucy Worsley

In 2008 Tate Members helped to buy Peter Paul Rubens’s important oil sketch created for the Banqueting House in Whitehall, The Apotheosis of James I 1628–30. Even though small in size, it tells a big story about power and art of the period, and forms the focus of a display about the artist and his time in London, not just as a painter, but also as an ambitious political figure

Private view

Private View
Phyllida Barlow

‘I cannot work it out. I cannot resolve it. It is always different.’ An abstract sculpture of interlocking forged iron bars by Eduardo Chillida captivates one artist on a recent visit to Tate Modern


Etc. Essay: Inspired by Ernst
Vincent Katz

In 1933 the pioneering Surrealist Max Ernst created an extraordinary publication called Une semaine de bonté. Arguably the first graphic novel, it consisted of 184 collages, the images gleaned from Victorian encyclopedias and novels. The original collages have only recently resurfaced, and provide a fascinating link to the many artists working in a similar vein today

Etc. Essay: Chicano art
Chon A. Noriega

This autumn more than 60 cultural institutions throughout southern California will come together to tell the story of the Los Angeles post-war art scene. Among the exhibitions in Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945–1980 will be the first in-depth exploration of Chicano art by Mexican Americans. The leading art historian of this period tells the story of how the movement became an important part of the cultural landscape


Norham Castle, Sunrise
Laura Scott

Every month, Tate Etc. publishes new poetry inspired by a work in the Tate. This June, Laura Scott was inspired by J.M.W. Turner’s Norham Castle, Sunrise, which you can see on display at Tate Britain.