Tate Modern

Painting and Mass Media

Boiler House Level 4 East
Wilhelm Sasnal, ‘Gaddafi 3’ 2011
Wilhelm Sasnal, Gaddafi 3 2011. Tate. © Wilhelm Sasnal, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ

Witness contemporary painters who use images from the mass media as a source of inspiration

The invention of photography prompted speculation about the future of painting and whether this ancient medium remained relevant. But nearly two hundred years later artists continue to explore the possibilities of making images with paint. For many the flood of images from film, television, newspapers, social media and the internet has proved rich material for exploring the nature of representation. 

In transforming mass-media images artists may use the physical qualities of paint to affect our response. Many have also been influenced by techniques from film and photography, zooming in or cropping to edit out unwanted information and bring new meaning to their subject. Rendering similar subjects in contrasting ways, with different scales, techniques and compositions draws our attention to the process of painting and the impact of the choices that an artist makes. At the same time, these works might also prompt us to reflect on our ordinary habits of looking at everyday photographic images, and at the world.

Curated by Helen Sainsbury.

Marlene Dumas has been influenced by techniques from film and photography, zooming in or cropping to get rid of unwanted information and bring new meaning to her subject. Wilhelm Sasnal works in a comparable way with his digital sources. By depicting similar subjects in contrasting ways, with different scales, techniques and compositions he draws our attention to the process of painting and the impact of the choices that an artist makes. As well as inviting us to enjoy the marks, techniques and processes of painting, these works also prompt us to reflect on how we look at everyday photographic images.

Curated by Helen Sainsbury.


Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG
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