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

Winifred Nicholson, Moonlight and Lamplight 1937 . Tate . © The Trustees of Winifred Nicholson

2 rooms in Start Display

Fahrelnissa Zeid, Untitled  c.1950s

Fahrelnissa Zeid used swirling, crossing lines to paint this abstract artwork. After drawing the lines in pencil, she filled in the shapes made between them with black, green, blue and pink. The result is a complex, kaleidoscopic effect. Zeid made the painting when she was living in London in the 1950s. In 1949 she had taken her first transatlantic flight and was captivated by the abstracted perspective of aerial views. She later translated their scale and feeling into the whirling shapes that appear in this painting. A divisionist effect is achieved, whereby individual patches of colour are built up to create an overall composition.

Gallery label, November 2021

highlights in Start Display

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

highlights in Start Display

Maria Lalic, History Painting 8 Egyptian. Orpiment  1995


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

highlights in Start Display

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

highlights in Start Display


T14415: Untitled
Fahrelnissa Zeid Untitled c.1950s
T01513: IKB 79
Yves Klein IKB 79 1959
T07288: History Painting 8 Egyptian. Orpiment
Maria Lalic History Painting 8 Egyptian. Orpiment 1995
T01996: Moonlight and Lamplight
Winifred Nicholson Moonlight and Lamplight 1937

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