L.S. Lowry, ‘The Pond’ 1950
L.S. Lowry, The Pond 1950 . Tate . © The estate of L.S. Lowry/DACS 2020

Room 4 in Constellations

L.S. Lowry The Pond, 1950

Endless Rhythm

Robert Delaunay, Endless Rhythm  1934

The coloured discs strung out diagonally across the picture are so arranged that each one leads on to the next and the movement is directed back again into the picture at the two ends. Perhaps because of this infinitely looping effect, the artist’s wife Sonia considered Endless Rhythm to be the most appropriate title. The year after painting this, Delaunay was commissioned to paint murals for the Aeronautics pavilion at the 1937 Paris International Exhibition; the resulting compositions included discs, rings and colour rhythms on a huge scale.

Gallery label, February 2016

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Bottle and Fishes

Georges Braque, Bottle and Fishes  c.1910–12

Ordinary objects – a bottle and fishes on a plate, laid on a table with a drawer – have been dramatically fragmented to form a grid-like structure of interpenetrating planes. The traditional domestic subject matter and sober colours in this work can be seen as a reaction against the luminous hues and free expression of Braque’s earlier fauvist paintings.

Gallery label, May 2012

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2020

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The Pond

L.S. Lowry, The Pond  1950

This industrial landscape contains many features typical of Lowry’s work: smoking chimneys, terraced houses, the Stockport Viaduct, and figures swarming through the city’s streets and open spaces. Though seen as a realist, Lowry’s works were largely composed from a variety of repeated motifs, becoming increasingly nostalgic as time went on. The artist said, ‘I hadn’t the slightest idea of what
I was going to put in the canvas when I started the picture but it eventually came out as you see it. This is the way I like working best.’

Gallery label, September 2016

© The estate of L.S. Lowry/DACS 2020

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On the Balcony

Peter Blake, On the Balcony  1955–7

Blake is best known as one Britain’s first pop artists. His work combined images from high art and contemporary American and British popular culture. This picture includes 27 variations on the theme of ‘On the Balcony’, from a famous painting by Edouard Manet to a newspaper photograph of the royal family. He also includes a range of other references including fashionable American cigarettes, a photograph of his late tutor John Minton, and a painting by fellow-student Leon Kossoff.

Gallery label, September 2016

© Peter Blake 2020. All rights reserved, DACS

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Whose Utopia?

Cao Fei, Whose Utopia?  2006

Whose Utopia? is a colour video that is approximately twenty minutes long and is shown in a darkened room, projected onto a wall of two and a half square metres or larger. The film is set in a light bulb factory in China and consists of three parts. The first, titled ‘Imagination of Product’, begins with a series of close-ups showing light bulb components being produced and assembled by automated machines, followed by scenes of people working very quickly at workstations that are arranged into a grid formation. The second part, ‘Factory Fairytale’, shows individuals dancing and playing electric guitars inside the factory, often with staff working around them. Some of these performers wear labourers’ uniforms, but one is dressed in a ballerina’s outfit and another in a long white dress. This section of the film ends with footage of a woman going to bed, while the factory can be seen outside her window. The third part – ‘My Future is Not a Dream’ – shows individuals inside the factory, standing or sitting completely still and facing the camera, and in many of these scenes the operations of the factory continue around them. The film finishes with shots of people wearing white t-shirts bearing Cantonese characters that collectively spell out the phrase ‘My Future is Not a Dream’ (the English translation for which is provided using subtitles). The first two sections of the work are accompanied by ambient music including electronic sounds and bells, while the third part features a song that sounds like a kitsch version of American country music. This is performed in English by a man who sounds from his accent as if he is from China or elsewhere in the Far East.

© Cao Fei

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No. VI / Composition No.II

Piet Mondrian, No. VI / Composition No.II  1920

An early example of Mondrian's pure geometric abstraction, this painting dates from his involvement with the De Stijl group. The strict use of horizontal and vertical lines and primary colours with black and grey is characteristic of De Stijl. Mondrian's aim to evoke a spiritual equilibrium was influenced by the mysticism of Theosophy, which sought universal order. He had been working with chequerboard grids before he began this painting, which introduced greater variety. He told van Doesburg: 'now I do not always keep to the proportional division'.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Untitled (Study for Parallel of Life and Art)

Nigel Henderson, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, Untitled (Study for Parallel of Life and Art)  1952

Untitled (Study for Parallel of Life and Art) is a collaborative work conceived in connection with the exhibition Parallel of Life and Art at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1953, organised by Henderson and Paolozzi, the architects Alison and Peter Smithson (1928–93 and 1923–2003) and Ronald Jenkins, a civil engineer. The dialogue between life and art that the exhibition sought to stage is figured by Henderson and Paolozzi as a photocollage: an assemblage of black and white photographs, representative of the work of the two artists. These are fixed on a large rectangular panel along two parallel rows. Inscriptions on the far left of the panel, giving the last names of the artists, identify the upper row as the work of Henderson and the lower row as that of Paolozzi. The upper row represents ‘life’ and the lower row represents ‘art’.

© The estate of Eduardo Paolozzi, 2020. All Rights Reserved DACS/The estate of Nigel Henderson

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Cooling Tower II

Prunella Clough, Cooling Tower II  1958

One of Britain's most respected post-war painters, Prunella Clough developed a highly personalised visual language that hovered between abstraction and figuration. She frequently depicted urban or industrial motifs derived from her London environment, and she would set these against a soft, indeterminate background. The imposing tower structure of 'Cooling Tower II' has been simplified to its most basic form. It dominates the sky and dwarfs the smaller crane feature sitting to its right. However, the emphatic horizon line, characteristic of CLough's work, checks the overwhelming presence of the tower and balances the painting.

Gallery label, September 2004

© The estate of Prunella Clough

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Zeichensaal (Drafting Room)

Thomas Demand, Zeichensaal (Drafting Room)  1996

Zeichensaal (Drafting Room) is a large colour photograph by the German photographer Thomas Demand. The image features a well-lit room containing three rows of desks seen from the front, behind which is a wall with large piece of paper attached to it and an alcove containing a chair. Files, paper, tape, rulers and T-squares are scattered on the desks and along the left side of the image are two windows that stand slightly open. Grey and white tones dominate the picture, interrupted only by the light blue of the sheet of paper at the back of the room and by the occasional patch of red or brown from the objects on the desks. The room appears very still and is devoid of people, although the arrangement of the tools and paper suggests that they have recently been used.

© Thomas Demand

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The Strikes of June 1936

Boris Taslitzky, The Strikes of June 1936  1936

The Strikes of June 1936 is a preparatory sketch for a larger painting. It takes as its subject the general strikes that helped the left-wing alliance, known as the Popular Front, to win the French elections in the summer of 1936. As a committed Communist, Taslitzky was supportive of the government, and the overall effect is festive, reflecting the success of proletarian power. The full-scale painting was destroyed when the Nazis ransacked Taslitzky's studio in occupied Paris.

Gallery label, August 2004

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2020

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The Pilots’ Jetty, Le Havre, Morning, Cloudy and Misty Weather

Camille Pissarro, The Pilots’ Jetty, Le Havre, Morning, Cloudy and Misty Weather  1903

Pissarro's last landscapes were of the harbour at Le Havre, where he stayed for three months in a first floor room of a hotel, painting from the balcony. The balcony commanded a fine view of the harbour in three main directions: towards the jetty, towards the pilot's jetty, and in the direction of the outer port. Thus he could work on three pictures, or three series of pictures, recording the changing aspects of these motifs at different times of day and in different weather. The title shows Pissarro's insistence on linking the 'truthfulness' of his scenes to the particular weather conditions of the time of painting.

Gallery label, September 2004

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The Beached Margin

Edward Wadsworth, The Beached Margin  1937

With its unexpected juxtapositions and shifts in scale, and its precise tempera technique,
The Beached Margin
is typical of Wadsworth’s still lifes. Although never a Surrealist, his paintings incorporated disconcerting imagery that related to the work of de Chirico. Widely travelled, Wadsworth was better informed than most British artists about developments in the Continental art world. In the early 1930s he joined Unit One, a group of artists and architects who were determined to bring Modernism into British culture.

Gallery label, April 2010

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Modulation of Space I

Eduardo Chillida, Modulation of Space I  1963

Chillida began to forge sculptures from solid iron in 1951. The darkness of iron, he suggested, was more suited to the sombre culture of his Basque homeland than more traditional sculptural materials such as plaster or marble. He believed that the final shape of the work could be determined only through the process of working directly with this resistant material. Discussing the group to which this work belongs, Chillida wrote that he ‘sought a more fluid and modulated dialogue between material and space than in other works of mine.’

Gallery label, February 2005

© DACS, 2020

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The Machine Minders

Ghisha Koenig, The Machine Minders  1956

Koenig's principal subjects were people at work. This sculpture represents two men minding vats at an ink factory in Kent, one of six factories which Koenig visited regularly between 1956-7. The figures are approximately half life-size. She developed the sculpture from drawings made from life, firstly by making a clay model in her studio. Her choice of working class subjects links Koenig with 'Kitchen Sink' painters such as Jack Smith, who depicted the harsh realities of life in post-war Britain. But Koenig also belonged to a community of artist émigrés, including Josef Herman, who drew on a tradition of European realism.

Gallery label, September 2004

© Estate of Ghisha Koenig

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Butlin’s Skegness, Heated Outdoor Pool

John Hinde, Edmond Nagele, Butlin’s Skegness, Heated Outdoor Pool  c.1970, printed 2002

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John Hinde, David Noble, Butlin’s Skegness, The Skating Rink and Monorail  c.1970, printed 2002

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John Hinde, Edmond Nagele, Butlin’s Barry Island, The Reception Hall  c.1970, printed 2002

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Elmar Ludwig, John Hinde, Butlin’s Ayr, Lounge Bar and Indoor Heated Pool  c.1970, printed 2002

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John Hinde, David Noble, Butlin’s Minehead, Self-Catering Flatlets  c.1970, printed 2002

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Elmar Ludwig, John Hinde, Butlin’s Ayr, Gardens and The Camp Signpost  c.1970, printed 2002

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Art in this room

Endless Rhythm
Robert Delaunay Endless Rhythm 1934
Bottle and Fishes
Georges Braque Bottle and Fishes c.1910–12
The Pond
L.S. Lowry The Pond 1950
On the Balcony
Peter Blake On the Balcony 1955–7
Whose Utopia?
Cao Fei Whose Utopia? 2006
No. VI / Composition No.II
Piet Mondrian No. VI / Composition No.II 1920

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