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In the Studio

Investigate the processes artists use to make artworks, and how our responses are integral to the piece

Photo of people in a room in Tate Modern

© Lee Mawdsley

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Gothic Landscape

Lee Krasner, Gothic Landscape  1961

Although this is an abstract painting, the thick vertical lines that dominate its centre can be seen as trees, with thick knotted roots at their base. It was probably this that led Krasner to call the painting Gothic Landscape, several years after completing it. Krasner was married to the artist Jackson Pollock. Gothic Landscape was made in the years following his death from a car crash in 1956. It belongs to a series of large canvases whose violent and expressive gestural brushstrokes can be read as a reflection of her grief.

Gallery label, August 2019

© ARS, NY and DACS, London 2021

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The Bowl of Milk

Pierre Bonnard, The Bowl of Milk  c.1919

Bonnard painted this work in the south of France. He moved there during the First World War with his partner Marthe de Méligny, pictured here. This view is of the room they rented. Light reflected from the sea pours through the balcony window. The strong light leaves many details in shadow, including de Méligny’s face and the cat awaiting its milk. Preparatory drawings show Bonnard testing a variety of details and poses before he brought them together in the final painting.

Gallery label, February 2020

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

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Spiral Movement

Mary Martin, Spiral Movement  1951

Martin said that abstract painting had led to a desire to use three-dimensional materials. This work follows a strict mathematical rule, the Golden Section. It dictates the size of different elements, with the aim of creating the perfect composition. Writing about this work, Martin explained, 'I took a simple element (in this case a parallelepiped – a solid figure whose faces are six parallelograms) and subjected it to a system of changes, not knowing what would happen to it…. I think all my work has been based on this kind of curiosity.'

Gallery label, August 2020

© Estate of Mary Martin

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The Three Dancers

Pablo Picasso, The Three Dancers  1925

With its emphasis on violence and sex, The Three Dancers was greatly admired by the surrealists. It started off as a realistic representation of ballet dancers rehearsing. While Picasso was working on it his old friend Ramon Pichot died. Twenty years earlier, Pichot and another friend, Carlos Casagemas, fell in love with the same woman, Germaine Gargallo. Casagemas took his own life, having first shot at Gargallo. Recalling these events transformed Picasso’s approach. The distorted angular figures, harsh colours and thickly worked paint surfaces seem to express violent emotions.

Gallery label, April 2019

© Succession Picasso/DACS 2021

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Chessboard, Large Version (Original Painted Plaster)

Germaine Richier, Chessboard, Large Version (Original Painted Plaster)  1959

These five figures represent the core pieces in a game of chess: the King, Queen, Knight, Castle and Bishop. The game stages a war in which the aim is to attack and capture the opponent's pieces. Richier’s figures are unlike the elegant designs of traditional chessmen. Instead they are grotesque hybrid figures, part human, part animal. Richier used their distorted forms to reflect the anxieties and despair of Europe after the Second World War. ‘It seems to me that in violent works there is just as much sensibility as in poetic ones’, she said. ‘There can be just as much wisdom in violence as in gentleness’.

Gallery label, June 2020

© The estate of Germaine Richier

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Untitled (Bacchus)

Cy Twombly, Untitled (Bacchus)  2008

© Cy Twombly Foundation

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Highlights

Gothic Landscape
Lee Krasner Gothic Landscape 1961
The Bowl of Milk
Pierre Bonnard The Bowl of Milk c.1919
Spiral Movement
Mary Martin Spiral Movement 1951
The Three Dancers
Pablo Picasso The Three Dancers 1925

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