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Start Display

This display introduces you to some of the best-loved artworks in the Tate collection

Two visitors in the Start Display at Tate Modern looking at a large painting.

2 rooms in Start Display

Untitled

Fahrelnissa Zeid, Untitled  c.1950s

This large-scale painting on canvas dating from c.1950 was made by the Turkish artist Fahrelnissa Zeid while she was living in London. Zeid’s practice of the 1950s combines aspects of informal abstraction with influences drawn from mosaic and stained glass designs inspired by Islamic and Byzantine traditions. Characteristic of her style at this time, Untitled shows a web of colours in a system of kaleidoscopic patterns. The interweaving lines produce numerous shapes and forms on the picture plane, resulting in a variety of multi-coloured, interlocking rectangular and triangular shapes with curved sides. The overall effect of the painting is one of dense geometry in motion and a sense of order bordering on chaos. The colour palette of black, green, blue and pastel pinks creates a sense of calmness and harmony. The painting has no particular focal point, but rather presents many centres that emanate across the composition. The result is a distorted and complex perspectival arrangement characterised by visual event and repetition. The composition resembles an explosive world or landscape suggestive of fractal geometry.

© Raad Zeid Al-Hussein Collection

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IKB 79

Yves Klein, IKB 79  1959

In 1947, Klein began making monochrome paintings, which he associated with freedom from ideas of representation or personal expression. A decade later, he developed his trademark, patented colour, International Klein Blue (IKB). This colour, he believed, had a quality close to pure space, and he associated it with immaterial values beyond what can be seen or touched. He described it as ‘a Blue in itself, disengaged from all functional justification’. Klein made around 200 monochrome paintings using IKB. He did not give titles to these works but, after his death, his widow assigned a number to each one.

Gallery label, November 2005

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2021

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History Painting 8 Egyptian. Orpiment

Maria Lalic, History Painting 8 Egyptian. Orpiment  1995

CAN COLOUR RELATE TO A PARTICULAR PERIOD IN TIME?

Maria Lalic’s paintings explore the history of colour pigments that were used to make paint. Each painting is made from semi-transparent layers of pigment that were discovered in the in the time referred to in the painting’s title. The artist was inspired by an old colour chart from paint manufacturer
Winsor and Newton. It grouped pigments into six historical periods: Cave, Egyptian, Greek, Italian, 18th and 19th century, and 20th century. There is one painting for each period displayed here. Looking closely at the edges you can see the different paints she has layered to create the final colour of the painting.

‘I think I’m simply excited by recognising a time and place through colour.’

Start Gallery caption, 2016

Gallery label, July 2017

© Maria Lalic

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Moonlight and Lamplight

Winifred Nicholson, Moonlight and Lamplight  1937

Having embraced abstraction, Nicholson contended that ‘material resemblances were of no account - and that art could be valid without resemblances to physical objects’.

Writing the year Moonlight and Lamplight was painted, Nicholson stated that she was ‘using colour to express colour - the form could take whatever form the colour wanted’. She was ‘never interested in form, or shape or volume or mass to express colour,’ but ‘studied the way the rainbow prisms break up white light into colour and ... the balance and pose of the weight of one colour against another’.

Gallery label, April 2012

© The Trustees of Winifred Nicholson

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Highlights

Untitled
Fahrelnissa Zeid Untitled c.1950s
IKB 79
Yves Klein IKB 79 1959
History Painting 8 Egyptian. Orpiment
Maria Lalic History Painting 8 Egyptian. Orpiment 1995
Moonlight and Lamplight
Winifred Nicholson Moonlight and Lamplight 1937

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