Tate Modern

Studio Practice

Natalie Bell Building Level 2 East
Gwen John, ‘Chloë Boughton-Leigh’ 1904–8
Gwen John, Chloë Boughton-Leigh 1904–8. Tate

Discover how art can reflect the circumstances and spaces in which it is made

For many artists, the studio is a place where they can shut out any distractions, allowing an intense focus of attention. Some choose their own studio as a subject or depict fellow-artists at work, bringing the private experience of art-making into the public space of the gallery.

The works here include subjects that have been explored by western artists in their studios for hundreds of years: objects arranged for a still life, portraits and nudes. Often these subjects are submitted to a process of painstaking observation, but invention and imagination also play a crucial role. In the work of Georges Braque and the other artists associated with cubism, the close scrutiny of familiar items prompted an analysis of the whole act of looking, taking visual impressions apart and re-ordering them on the canvas. A generation later, Anthony Caro also approached still life in a fresh and experimental way in his sculpture.

Some artists keep their works around them and return to them again and again. Henri Matisse worked through four versions of his Back sculpture over twenty years, keeping the final version in his studio until his death. Such works become a diary of changing approaches and practices.

Curated by Matthew Gale.

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