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In the Studio

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

© Lee Mawdsley

12 rooms in In the Studio

Addendum

Eva Hesse, Addendum  1967

The hemispheres along the bar of Eva Hesse’s Addendum are positioned at increasing intervals determined by a fixed mathematical series. Many artists used serial systems at this time because they provided a way of composing sculptures without recourse to personal expression. Hesse hung rope cords from each hemisphere which fall to the ground in unpredictable curls. The regulated structure of the bar contrasts with the disordered appearance of the cords. But Hesse recognised that such systems were hardly rational, commenting that ‘Serial art is another way of repeating absurdity’.

Gallery label, October 2016

© The estate of Eva Hesse, courtesy Hauser & Wirth, Zürich

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Seated Woman with Small Dog

Meraud Guevara, Seated Woman with Small Dog  c.1939

This is one of a number of precise and realistic paintings of women by Meraud Guevara that share a disquieting atmosphere. The sitter wholly dominates the steep angled space, which could not contain her if she stood. A sense of mystery is suggested by the imaginary view (placing the room high above the landscape), the open doorway behind, and the inexplicable, but deliberate, flash of orange beside the door.

Gallery label, October 2016

© Estate of Meraud Guevara

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Meditation (with open eyes)

Atul Dodiya, Meditation (with open eyes)  2011

Meditations (With Open Eyes) 2011 is an installation that comprises three wooden cabinets with glass fronts, with artworks and objects placed both inside and on top. In them the Indian artist Atul Dodiya has assembled an assortment of objects, much in the manner of traditional cabinets of curiosities found in historic collections and museums. The dense, slightly informal arrangement of the objects gives the work the appearance of a series of personal shrines, similar to the humble glass cabinets common in middle-class Indian homes which preserve souvenirs and items based on emotional rather than material value: photos, travel memorabilia, toys and gifts, religious icons and the like. The title of the work suggests conscious memory and the contemplation of objects that trigger recollections. The cabinets are arranged in a row, mounted on the wall, and the central one is slightly taller than the two flanking it on either side. Dodiya had previously worked with museological-style displays in works, referencing and paying tribute to the Indian nonviolent activist and nationalist icon Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi (1869–1948) and fellow artist Bhupen Khakhar (1934–2003). An early example was Broken Branches 2003, in which Dodiya was inspired by the dusty cases containing personal effects and memorabilia in the regional museum about Gandhi in the small town of Porbandar. The particular iteration of cabinets in Meditations (With Open Eyes) is more autobiographical and relates closely to Dodiya’s own art practice.

© Atul Dodiya

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Spiral Movement

Mary Martin, Spiral Movement  1951

‘Abstract painting gave me a desire to use three-dimensional materials and this first essay was based on the same concept I had used in painting’, Martin wrote. ‘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.’ The composition was determined by a complex layering of geometrical relationships, in this case based on the Golden Section.

Gallery label, October 2016

© 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 2020

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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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I Love the Whole World

Agnes Martin, I Love the Whole World  1999

I Love the Whole World is an abstract painting by the Canadian-American artist Agnes Martin. This five-foot square canvas is painted with horizontal peach stripes on a white background. The stripes are divided into two sets of eight with a white band running horizontally between them and directly through the centre of the canvas. Above and below the sets of peach stripes there are white channels the same width as the central band that extend to the edge, while on the left and right sides the stripes extend the length of the canvas. Graphite pencil lines demarcate the edges of each stripe, although they taper off toward the edges of the canvas. Horizontal brushstrokes are faintly visible within each stripe.

© estate of Agnes Martin

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Lobster Telephone

Salvador Dalí, Lobster Telephone  1936

In the early 1930s, Dalí promoted the idea of the Surrealist object, of which this is a classic example. The Surrealists valued the mysterious and provocative effect of such unexpected conjunctions. Dalí, in particular, believed that his objects could reveal the secret desires of the unconscious. Lobsters and telephones had strong sexual connotations for him, and he drew a close analogy between food and sex. He made Lobster Telephone for Edward James, the British collector who was the most active patron of Surrealist artists in the 1930s.

Gallery label, July 2008

© Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2020

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Perspex Group on Orange (B)

Mary Martin, Perspex Group on Orange (B)  1969

This is one of a series of five works that Martin entitled Perspex Group on Orange. For each one she arranged seven pieces of Perspex in a different configuration, assembling them against a large orange square of the same material. The sizes of the different pieces are based on the Fibonacci series – a mathematical sequence in which each successive number is generated by adding together the two previous numbers. ‘One commences with a single cell, or unit, a logical process of growth is applied and the whole, or the effect, is unforeseen until the work is complete’, Martin explained.

Gallery label, January 2019

© Estate of Mary Martin

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Water-Lilies

Claude Monet, Water-Lilies  after 1916

For Monet, his garden was an ‘outside studio’. At his home in Giverny, near Paris, he created a Japanese-style water garden. Water-lilies floating on this pond became the main subjects of his later paintings. Filling the canvas, the pond becomes a world in itself. Water-lilies gives us a sense of being immersed in nature. Monet was fascinated with light and its changing effects on the natural environment. Here his focus on the light hitting the water brings his painting closer to abstraction.

Gallery label, June 2020

Courtesy National Gallery, London 2003. Photo:Tate

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Ishi’s Light

Anish Kapoor, Ishi’s Light  2003

The distortions created by the reflective surfaces of this sculpture change our sense of space. Kapoor wanted to create the feeling of being immersed in an artwork. He named the work after his son Ishan. But he was also inspired by his experience of an abstract painting - Anna’s Light 1968 - by Barnett Newman. Kapoor wrote of it: ‘It completely surrounds and engulfs you. It astounded me that art could step out of narrative so completely; that art could seem to have nothing to say, and yet engage all the truly important things that there are to say. Of course, in talking about Newman I’m talking about myself.’

Gallery label, June 2020

© Anish Kapoor

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Red on Maroon

Mark Rothko, Red on Maroon  1959

This is one of a series of large paintings Rothko made for a fashionable New York restaurant. By layering the paint, he created subtle relationships between the muted colours. They are much darker in mood than his previous works. He was influenced by the atmosphere of a library designed by the Italian artist Michelangelo (1475–1564). Rothko recalled the feeling of being ‘trapped in a room where all the doors and windows are bricked up’. A restaurant, he decided, was the wrong setting for these paintings. Instead, he presented the series to Tate gallery.

Gallery label, June 2020

© Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko/DACS 2020

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Highlights

Addendum
Eva Hesse Addendum 1967
Seated Woman with Small Dog
Meraud Guevara Seated Woman with Small Dog c.1939
Meditation (with open eyes)
Atul Dodiya Meditation (with open eyes) 2011
Spiral Movement
Mary Martin Spiral Movement 1951

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