Editor's Note

Cover of Tate Etc. issue 41: Autumn 2017

‘When I travel through my room, I rarely follow a straight line: I go from my table towards a picture hanging in a corner; from there I set out obliquely towards the door; but ... if I happen to meet my armchair en route, I don't think twice about it, and settle down in it without further ado.’ So wrote Xavier de Maistre in his novel Voyage Around My Room, published in 1794. The book takes the reader on a lucid, humorous and sometimes dreamlike tour of the ordinary things in his bedroom. An aristocratic soldier from Savoy, de Maistre wrote Voyage Around My Room as a parody of the grand travel narrative and thought little of it himself, yet its celebration of the powers of imagination influenced generations of writers, from DH Lawrence to Jorge Luis Borges.

We don't necessarily need ot travel far to think big. Leonardo da Vinci advised aspiring artists to look at a dirty wall or 'streaked stones' in order to assist with their invention: ‘Out of this confused mass of objects, the mind will be furnished with an abundance of designs and subjects perfectly new.’

Modigliani found that Paris offered much that he needed. Here, along with his painting, he would embark on countless passionate affairs, including a relationship with English poet Beatrice Hastings, as Chloe Aridjis explores. Rebecca Warren talks about how multifarious influences – from Robert Crumb cartoons to disco music – find their way into her studio, a place that she describes as a 'crazy shrine' where everything 'coagulates into certain kinds of realities’.

In the case of the Egyptian artist Inji Efflatoun, she reacted to her immediate surroundings to escape what she called her 'semi-feudal and bourgeois' upbringing in 1930s Cairo to become a feminist, activist and member of the Egyptian surrealist group Art and Liberty. Her inspiration? The daily struggle of the Egyptian working class that she witnessed on her doorstep.

For some artists, the impetus can be simply what they feel themselves to be. Such was the case was Khadija Saye, the promising young artist who died in the Grenfell Tower fire in west London. Saye described her photographic self-portrait series Dwelling: In This Space We Breathe, partly inspired by traditional Gambian spiritual practices, as focusing on ‘spirituality that transcends specific religions’. Hers was a universal message borne out of personal experience – and this universality gleaned from things close to us is a sentiment that would have undoubtedly motivated de Maistre too.


Interview: Rebecca Warren – 'From the mess of experience'

Rebecca Warren and Laura Smith

In the run-up to Rebecca Warren's All That Heaven Allows, the inaugural exhibition for Tate St Ives' new gallery, Tate ...

Modigliani and 'La Poétesse Anglaise'

Chloe Aridjis

‘When I know your soul I will paint your eyes.’ Amedeo Modigliani, whose work is the subject of a ...

Our Collective History: Legacies of Soviet visual culture

Natalia Sidlina , Juliet Bingham , Emilia Kabakov , Andrei Monastyrski , Irina Nakhova and Arseny Zhilyaev

A Turning Leaf

Alexandra Harris

From laden apple trees to yellowing leaves, autumn – ‘the painter's season’ – has inspired generations of aritsts and writers

'I find London lovelier to paint each day': Claude Monet in London

While Monet worked on multiple oil sketches of the Houses of Parliament from a covered terrace at St Thomas's Hospital ...

Claude Monet and Wu Bin

Hao Liang

Artist Hao Liang responds to Monet's letters to his wife Alice, seeing in them a link to a much longer ...

Rachel Whiteread: The Gran Boathouse

Lars Hvinden

To coincide with her exhibition at Tate Britain, Tate Etc. visited one of Rachel Whiteread's lesser known public sculptures in ...

Surrealism in Egypt: ‘Long Live Degenerate Art’

Clare Davies

The Art and Liberty group was active in Cairo from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s, a time of political ...

John Piper: Cut-and-Paste Landscapes

Luke Piper

John Piper (1903–1922) worked across a diverse range of media and, as his grandson Luke recalls, he made collages inspired ...

Portfolio: I See Our True Colours

Chris Steele-Perkins

The photographer looks back at his book The Pleasure Principle, which captured the kaleidoscopic hedonism of 1980s England

The Ghost

Susan Owens

Spirits, phantoms and apparitions have had an enduring presence in art and literature, but how has their appearance and behaviour ...

New Voices: Speaking in Half-Whispers

Emily LaBarge

Getting under the skin of Dorothea Tanning's enigmatic painting, A Mi-Voix 1958

Private View: Stay as you are, Mrs Blake

Tim Winton

William Blake's simple pencil drawing of his (long-suffering) wife Catherine reveals the tenderness in their relationship

Lives of the Artists: Mrinalini Mukherjee

Rosalyn D’Mello

Her beautifully crafted fibre scuptures evoked 'wizened spiritual beings,' as one writer remembers

Unsung Heroes: Alberto Greco

Marta Minujín

One artist remembers their friend, the founder of Vivo-Dito art

Clore Commission: Martin Boyce

Martin Boyce

The artist tells of the enduring influence on his work of Jan and Joël Martel's cubist sculptures

Details, Details: Henry Moore's The Pantaloon 1982

Robert McCrum

The potential richness at the end of life

Details, Details: Henry Fuseli's Titania and Bottom c.1790

Lynne Vallone

A diminutive figure at the heart of Fuseli's painting sparks a wealth of associations