Bruce McLean, ‘Pose Work for Plinths 3’ 1971
Bruce McLean, Pose Work for Plinths 3 1971 . Tate . © Bruce McLean

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NO (Black State)

Bruce Nauman, NO (Black State)  1981

Nauman''s work often antagonises or disorients. The ''No'' of this lithograph is in keeping with his refusal to offer solace or affirmation to the viewer. Its immediacy also demonstrate Nauman''s ongoing commitment to making what he describes as ''art that was just there all at once. Like getting hit in the face with a baseball bat. Or better, like getting hit in the back of the neck. You never see it coming; it just knocks you down''.

Gallery label, August 2004

© ARS, NY and DACS, London 2021

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The Great Bear

Simon Patterson, The Great Bear  1992

Adapting the official map of the London Underground, Patterson has replaced the names of stations with philosophers, actors, politicians and other celebrated figures. The title The Great Bear refers to the constellation Ursa Major, a punning reference to Patterson''s own arrangement of ''stars''. Patterson playfully subverts our belief that maps and diagrams provide a reliable source of information. ''I like disrupting something people take as read'', he comments.

Gallery label, May 2002

© Simon Patterson and Transport for London

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One Man Track Team

Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, One Man Track Team  1953

Paolozzi began collecting images from American popular magazines as a child and continued to do so as an adult. In Paris in the late 1940s he was given such material by American ex-servicemen studying in the city. These images presented a seductive world of glamour, wealth and consumption which contrasted with war-ravaged Europe. For Paolozzi, they also possessed artistic value as the iconography of a new world. In 1952 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, he projected a selection of this material onto a screen like an art-historical lecture. This event has come to be seen as a key moment in the development of Pop art.

Gallery label, April 2005

© The Eduardo Paolozzi Foundation

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Urban Alphabet A

Alfredo Camisa, Urban Alphabet A  1957, printed 2005

Urban Alphabet comprises sixteen black and white photographs that were taken by Italian photographer Alfredo Camisa between 1955 and 1961 (Tate P13644–P13659). Each one depicts a letter of the alphabet that Camisa found in signage in the urban or suburban landscape. Some are shot straight-on – with all extraneous details and clues to context removed – while in others Camisa allowed more information into the frame, such as propped-up bicycles, or stacks of building materials piled next to buildings. While people do appear in some of the images, their presence is secondary to the form of the letter. The clearest example of this can be seen in Urban Alphabet S 1959 (Tate P13657), in which a man has paused to look directly into the camera, confronting it head-on, but Camisa has shifted the camera’s focus away from him and onto the large letter S behind him. The high contrast and strong tones of the images in Urban Alphabet are typical of Camisa’s practice.

© Estate of Alfredo Camisa

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Questioning Children

Karel Appel, Questioning Children  1949

Appel prepared the surface of Questioning Children by nailing discarded pieces of wood to an old window shutter. The vibrant colours and roughly-painted figures recall the spontaneity of children’s art. CoBrA artists believed that such unconventional sources could re-invigorate post-war culture. In the same year Appel also used the title Questioning Children for a controversial mural at the Town Hall in Amsterdam, which was condemned as incomprehensible, and covered over with wallpaper. There is a note of tragedy in these works as the Dutch title also means 'begging children' and evokes scenes of poverty that Appel had witnessed in post-war Germany.

Gallery label, August 2004

© Karel Appel Foundation / DACS 2021

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Casserole and Closed Mussels

Marcel Broodthaers, Casserole and Closed Mussels  1964

Broodthaers made this work using an everyday casserole pot owned by his family, and mussel shells provided by a favourite restaurant. The mussel shells rise up in a column as if flowering out of the pot. Broodthaers explained: ’The bursting out of the mussels from the casserole does not follow the laws of boiling, it follows the laws of artifice and results in the construction
of an abstract form.’ Mussels are a popular dish in Belgium, and Broodthaers intended this work in part to satirise his homeland.

Gallery label, August 2004

© DACS, 2021

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Grain Weevil

Yinka Shonibare CBE, Grain Weevil  2000

Yinka Shonibare's arabesque lithograph, Grain Weevil, depicts a beetle that damages stored grain by boring into it in order to deposit its eggs. A glossy beetle is silhouetted against a matt orange background which is criss-crossed by curving black lines. The white spots that spread over the surface of the print are suggestive of both contamination and insect eggs. Shonibare's print is one of a portfolio of ten prints collectively entitled Bugs. The portfolio was published by the Byam Shaw School of Art in London. Produced as a fundraiser, the proceeds from the portfolio sales were dedicated to providing bursaries to support Byam Shaw students from overseas, particularly those from Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa and India. The works in the portfolio use various printmaking processes and share an insect theme which has been interpreted in diverse ways. The theme was set by the school principal, Alister Warman. Originally intended to refer specifically to insects found in London, it was conceived of as a sequel to another print portfolio published by the school in 1994, Nine London Birds. The decorative treatment deployed by a number of the artists involved contrasts with a subject matter commonly regarded as repugnant. Similarly, Mark Wallinger's King Edward and the Colorado Beetle refers to crop destruction. The Colorado beetle of the title is a small, yellow American beetle whose larva is exceedingly destructive to the potato. Wallinger's potato print uses as its medium the potential victim of the insect. The image of the beetle is repeated five times on the print, with the strongest print at the centre surrounded by increasingly weaker prints. The arrangement of the beetles suggests that these five represent only a tiny section of an endlessly repeating pattern, hinting at the overwhelmingly profuse aspect of the insect world. In Fiona Banner's etching, Swarm, an amorphous cloud of impenetrable blackness hovers against a white background. It is like a black hole teeming with insects. The print eloquently conveys the unquantifiable and unbounded nature of the insect realm. Anya Gallaccio's contribution, a silver gelatin print entitled Spider's Leg at 400x, invokes the spirit of scientific enquiry. Reminiscent of how often a child's first encounter with a microscope prompts a search for dead insects to magnify, Gallaccio's print presents an unsettlingly close-up view of a spider's leg. Small hairs metamorphose into an otherworldly, densely forested landscape. Other prints focus on the uneasy relationship between insects and humans. Peter Doig's etching, Kings Cross Mosquito, is an image of night-time menace. Under the cover of darkness, a mosquito perches on a hairy section of exposed skin. The mosquito's belly is a deep blood red, suggesting that it has already gorged on the available flesh. Kathy Prendergast's Mittens and Moth Eggs invokes the discreet, noiseless destruction of a bug infestation. A pair of knitted gloves has been eaten by moths and shows signs of disintegration. In Tacita Dean's Wasp, a reviled insect is granted a formal grace. It is photographed on a car windscreen among the raindrops which are beyond the reach of the wipers. The bright lights of the road are blurred by the droplets into brilliant pools of light. Amid this dazzling light, the wasp glows like a small piece of amber. In Cornelia Parker's The Spider that Died in the Tower of London, the creature is magnified to fill the frame of the print. Set against a pale blue background, we are confronted with the remains of a spider which, if attended to at all, would ordinarily be swept up and disposed of without ceremony. This is consistent with Parker's familiar strategy of evoking the hidden stories of overlooked objects, thus transforming their status. Brad Lochore's print, Night Moth, presents the orange glow of a household lamp giving way to darkness on all sides. The shapes conjured by the contrast of light and shadow suggest the outline of fluttering wings. Finally, Gavin Turk's lithograph, Metamorphosis, is accompanied by a short text: 'As he awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed into a gigantic insect.' Quoting Kafka, Turk presents a comically anthropomorphized insect, standing upright on two legs, with arms poised as if about to reach for a pair of pistols in a bizarre insectoid shoot-out. This boxed portfolio of prints exists in an edition of ninety, of which this is number twenty-one. It is presented in a portfolio box with title page and colophon. Further reading:
Yinka Shonibare
, exhibition catalogue, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham 1999. Helen Delaney
January 2002

© Yinka Shonibare, courtesy Stephen Friedman Gallery, London

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10. New Man

El Lissitzky, 10. New Man  1923

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

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Erik Ellington (fan)

Alexandre da Cunha, Erik Ellington (fan)  2004

Erik Ellington (fan) 2004 is a floor-based sculpture by the British-Brazilian artist Alexandre da Cunha that comprises three skateboards with their wheels removed arranged in a three-armed configuration to resemble a domestic ceiling fan. At the centre of the work, eight lightweight metal objects – an ash tray, two cake moulds, the bottom of a cake tin, two round baking trays, a salad bowl and a circular lid – are threaded onto a plastic-covered metal broom handle using a series of wing nuts and bolts. The work is balanced on the floor, with two of the skateboards touching the ground and a third support provided by the lower end of the broom handle, onto which is attached a small metal sink drainer.

© Alexandre da Cunha. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery, London.

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Girl in a Chemise

Pablo Picasso, Girl in a Chemise  c.1905

This is one of the first paintings Picasso made after moving from Barcelona to Paris in 1904. The painting relates stylistically to works of his so-called ‘rose period’. Even though this painting is predominantly blue, the warm pinkish-brown undertones in the background represent a transition towards a more colourful palette and lighter subject matter. The young woman portrayed here is likely Madeleine, Picasso’s regular model at the time. Her depiction bears similarities to his paintings of harlequins and travelling entertainers which featured heavily in Picasso’s rose period.

Gallery label, November 2019

© Succession Picasso/DACS 2021

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Pose Work for Plinths 3

Bruce McLean, Pose Work for Plinths 3  1971

Originally conceived as a performance at the Situation Gallery in 1971, McLean's poses are an ironic and humorous commentary on what he considered to be the pompous monumentality of Henry Moore's large plinth-based sculptures. The artist later had himself photographed, repeating the poses, to create three permanent works, two of which are shown here.

Gallery label, August 2004

© Bruce McLean

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4. Anxious People

El Lissitzky, 4. Anxious People  1923

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

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Swimmer

Nicola Tyson, Swimmer  1995

Nicola Tyson describes her work as ‘psycho-figuration’. Her figures tend to be oddly misshapen with puzzling proportions, usually set against a flat painted background. She uses them to examine issues of identity, gender and sexuality.

The submerged body of the Swimmer is particularly distorted by the refraction of light through water. The lower body tapers to a point like a tadpole, while the monstrously bulbous head has a pink-coloured void where a face should be. The bright colours conflict with the anxiety provoked by the distortion of Tyson’s figures.

Gallery label, August 2004

© Nicola Tyson

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Table Piece XXVIII

Sir Anthony Caro, Table Piece XXVIII  1967

In 1966, after a rapid rise to prominence with large-scale, abstract works constructed from steel, Anthony Caro began making small sculptures which became a long-running discrete series, known as ‘table pieces’. Designed to sit on the edge of a horizontal surface at table height, they are neither maquettes nor models that can be scaled up and placed on the ground. Caro’s goal was to make small sculptures whose modest dimensions would be intrinsic to their final form. Often their component parts include handles, tools, objects or implements whose size is recognizably intended to fit into the human hand. However abstract Caro’s sculpture may appear to be, it is always related to the human body for, as he stated in a lecture on Degas, ‘all sculpture takes its bearings from the fact that we live inside our bodies and that our size and stretch and strength is what it is’ (quoted in Moorhouse, p.25).

Courtesy of Barford Sculptures Ltd

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The Screw

Saloua Raouda Choucair, The Screw  1975–7

The Screw consists of three carved wooden elements which fit together to make the piece. The elements are a semi-circular form, a head-like oval and a central screw shape that ‘fixes’ the three elements together. Each piece is carved in wood of a different colour. Unlike some earlier works where separate elements can be recombined, such as Poem 1963–5 (Tate T13278), The Screw can only be configured one way. With its singular form that is comprised of separate interlocking parts, the work can be read as a metaphor for human relationships and sexuality, as well as for the Sufist and Islamic notion of oneness. Like many of Choucair’s works, each separate part contributes to the whole while having its own unique identity. The artist has related this to Arabic poetry, where each stanza can stand alone while being part of a bigger whole.

© Saloua Raouda Choucair Foundation

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16 Balls, 16 Cubes in 8 Rows

Pol Bury, 16 Balls, 16 Cubes in 8 Rows  1966

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2021

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Mountain Lake

Salvador Dalí, Mountain Lake  1938

Mountain Lake demonstrates Dalí’s use of the multiple image: the lake can simultaneously be seen as a fish. By such doubling he sought to challenge rationality. The painting combines personal and public references. His parents visited this lake after the death of their first child, also called Salvador. Dalí seems to have been haunted by the death of his namesake brother whom he never knew. The disconnected telephone brings the image into the present by alluding to negotiations between Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister, and Hitler over the German annexation of the Sudetenland in September 1938.

Gallery label, December 2005

© Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2021

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Jorge Macchi, Musical Box  2004

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Wings over Water

Frances Hodgkins, Wings over Water  1930

Frances Hodgkins was born in New Zealand and first came to Europe in 1901. She taught in Paris between 1910 and 1912 and settled in England in 1914. She was a close friend of Cedric Morris and Lett Haines, the former proposing her membership of the Seven and Five in 1929. 'Wings over Water' is typical of Seven and Five artists in its depiction of a table-top still life set before a window. It was painted in the artist's studio in Hampstead, an area of North London much favoured by avant-garde British artists at the time, and evokes memories of Cornwall where she had settled in 1914.

Gallery label, August 2004

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

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Exquisite Corpse

Jake Chapman, Dinos Chapman, Exquisite Corpse  2000

This series of prints is based on a game called Exquisite Corpse, a version of Consequences which was developed by the Surrealists. The players take turns to draw part of a body onto a piece of paper, which has been folded horizontally to hide what the other players have drawn. The result is a body of composite parts. These etchings feature comic-horror imagery typical of the Chapmans’ work: skulls, eyeballs on stalks, grotesque animal heads, liquids dripping and spurting from wounds, orifices, nipples and heads, writhing intestines, and claw-like hands and feet.

Gallery label, September 2004

© Jake and Dinos Chapman

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Urban Alphabet C

Alfredo Camisa, Urban Alphabet C  1961, printed 2005

Urban Alphabet comprises sixteen black and white photographs that were taken by Italian photographer Alfredo Camisa between 1955 and 1961 (Tate P13644–P13659). Each one depicts a letter of the alphabet that Camisa found in signage in the urban or suburban landscape. Some are shot straight-on – with all extraneous details and clues to context removed – while in others Camisa allowed more information into the frame, such as propped-up bicycles, or stacks of building materials piled next to buildings. While people do appear in some of the images, their presence is secondary to the form of the letter. The clearest example of this can be seen in Urban Alphabet S 1959 (Tate P13657), in which a man has paused to look directly into the camera, confronting it head-on, but Camisa has shifted the camera’s focus away from him and onto the large letter S behind him. The high contrast and strong tones of the images in Urban Alphabet are typical of Camisa’s practice.

© Estate of Alfredo Camisa

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The Last Resort 25

Martin Parr, The Last Resort 25  1983–6, printed 2018

The Last Resort is a series of forty photographs taken in New Brighton, a beach suburb of Liverpool. Shot with a medium format camera and daylight flash, the photographs are an early example of Parr’s characteristic saturated colour, influenced by the American colour photography of William Eggleston (born 1939) and Garry Winogrand (1928-84). Parr printed eleven images from The Last Resort in a large-format edition of five for his 2002 retrospective at the Barbican Art Gallery, London. New Brighton, Merseyside (25) is one of four works from this special edition owned by Tate.

© Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

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Wounded Sphinx

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Allegro Strepitoso

Carel Weight, Allegro Strepitoso  1932

During the 1930s Weight was interested in fairy stories and images which kindled the imagination. 'Allegro Strepitoso' was inspired by memories of childhood visits to London Zoo accompanied by his mother. A photograph of Weight's mother adopting a position of agitation provided the pose for the lady in red. Weight wanted to execute a comic painting and became fascinated with making the lion appear to spring out of the cage. The title of the painting was suggested by a musical friend of the artist after it had been completed. Allegro means 'merry' or 'lively', while strepitoso means 'noisily'. The theme of attack and escape is one that runs throughout Weight's work.

Gallery label, September 2004

© The Estate of Carel Weight

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Hanser

Gillian Carnegie, Hanser  2010

© Gillian Carnegie

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Untitled

Roger Hiorns, Untitled  2006

Hiorns uses chemical or mineral processes to explore ideas of growth and change and the tensions between the industrial and the organic, the functional and the functionless. Untitled 2006 is one of his distinctive engine pieces. Standing on top of a steel structure, based on a chair designed by the sculptor Donald Judd, an engine is covered in blue crystals, which grew on the surface from copper sulphate powder. Hidden below the engine, and connected by a pipe, is a small model of a gothic cathedral, also coated with crystals.

Gallery label, July 2015

© Roger Hiorns

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Explosion

Roy Lichtenstein, Explosion  1965–6

Beginning in 1962 Lichtenstein borrowed images of explosions from popular war comics for use in his paintings. The subject embodies the revolutionary nature of Pop art and suggests the very real threat of annihilation by nuclear explosion that was prevalent at that time (the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred in 1962). But Lichtenstein was also interested in the way dynamic events like explosions were depicted in the stylised format of comic book illustration. This print incorporates many of the hallmarks of his early painting style: flat primary colours, Benday dots, outlines and schematic drawing.

Gallery label, September 2004

© Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

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Urban Alphabet B

Alfredo Camisa, Urban Alphabet B  1961, printed 2005

Urban Alphabet comprises sixteen black and white photographs that were taken by Italian photographer Alfredo Camisa between 1955 and 1961 (Tate P13644–P13659). Each one depicts a letter of the alphabet that Camisa found in signage in the urban or suburban landscape. Some are shot straight-on – with all extraneous details and clues to context removed – while in others Camisa allowed more information into the frame, such as propped-up bicycles, or stacks of building materials piled next to buildings. While people do appear in some of the images, their presence is secondary to the form of the letter. The clearest example of this can be seen in Urban Alphabet S 1959 (Tate P13657), in which a man has paused to look directly into the camera, confronting it head-on, but Camisa has shifted the camera’s focus away from him and onto the large letter S behind him. The high contrast and strong tones of the images in Urban Alphabet are typical of Camisa’s practice.

© Estate of Alfredo Camisa

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After Lunch

Patrick Caulfield, After Lunch  1975

Patrick Caulfield’s paintings explore alternative ways of picturing the world. After Lunch was one of his earliest works to combine different styles of representation. In this case, what appears to be a photomural of the Château de Chillon hanging in a restaurant is depicted with high-focus realism, contrasting with the cartoon-like black-outlined imagery and fields of saturated colour of its surroundings. Caulfield deliberately makes the relationship between these varying representational methods uneasy and ambiguous, so that the picture appears more real than the everyday world around it.

Gallery label, November 2016

© The estate of Patrick Caulfield

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Rebel

Georg Baselitz, Rebel  1965

In the mid-1960s, Baselitz embarked on a series of paintings depicting male figures that dominate the space of the picture. While they bear some relation to the heroic figures of Social Realist art, they were also portrayed as wounded or dishevelled. According to the artist, this figure holds the pole of a flag in one hand, while the other hand is bandaged. Details such as the burning house appear in other works in the series. 'I was concerned with a very direct, almost illustrative method of representation', Baselitz has said of this work.

Gallery label, July 2015

© Georg Baselitz

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Art in this room

NO (Black State)
Bruce Nauman NO (Black State) 1981
The Great Bear
Simon Patterson The Great Bear 1992
One Man Track Team
Sir Eduardo Paolozzi One Man Track Team 1953
Urban Alphabet A
Alfredo Camisa Urban Alphabet A 1957, printed 2005
Questioning Children
Karel Appel Questioning Children 1949
Casserole and Closed Mussels
Marcel Broodthaers Casserole and Closed Mussels 1964

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