Henri Matisse, The Snail 1953 . Tate . © Succession Henri Matisse/DACS 2022

Room 2 in Start Display

Room two Start Display

2 rooms 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

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artworks in Room two

Henri Matisse, The Snail  1953

WHAT EFFECTS ARE CREATED BY PLACING DIFFERENT COLOURS NEXT TO EACH OTHER? Henri Matisse loved making art. But when he was in his 60s ill health made it difficult for him to paint. Instead he started ‘painting with scissors’, cutting painted paper into shapes. He had assistants to help him in the studio. They moved the paper pieces following Matisse’s directions, pinning them to the walls of his studio. If you look closely at The Snail you can see small pin holes. Matisse has arranged the paper in the spiral shape of a snail’s shell, placing colours next to each other to create a vibrant effect: green and red, orange and blue, pink and yellow.‘It is not enough to place colours, however beautiful, one beside the other; colours must also react on one another.’

Gallery label, July 2020

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artworks in Room two

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

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artworks in Room two

Fiona Rae, Untitled (grey and brown)  1991

In the early 1990s Fiona Rae started painting big, busy paintings which feature a wide range of colours. Does this picture seem chaotic or messy at first glance? In fact, every element has been carefully considered by the artist. Look closer at the different kinds of marks that Rae has made with the paint. You’ll be able to spot thick brush strokes, dribbled liquid paint, and even patches smeared with a fingertip. You might also see recognisable shapes or images. Rae borrows the techniques and ideas of other artists and combines them with pictures and styles taken from popular culture. For the artist, ‘any one kind of painting language is ... as interesting as another’.

Gallery label, November 2021

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artworks in Room two

Marta Minujín, Mattress  1962

What does colour add to an everyday object?

The first was a mattress from my bedroom. Once the colours arrived, it was a full explosion of colour. The metaphor is simple: Why not take the language of art to a place where we spend half of our life? Marta Minujín

Mattress is a handmade futon stitched by Marta Minujín and painted in bright neon colours. As a familiar object, you can look at the material and imagine how it feels to touch. It’s part of a series of works that the artist started making in 1961, when she lived in Paris. Minujín would take old mattresses from local hospitals or dumps and transform them into colourful artworks. For Minujín, mattresses represent human life and experience, because we spend so much time using them. Can you think of any other everyday objects that should be turned into works of art?

Gallery label, January 2022

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artworks in Room two

Maria Lalic, History Painting 2 Cave. Yellow Earth  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 manufacturerWinsor 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

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artworks in Room two

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 manufacturerWinsor 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

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artworks in Room two

Maria Lalic, History Painting 14 Greek. Massicot  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 manufacturerWinsor 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

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artworks in Room two

Maria Lalic, History Painting 17 Italian. Naples Yellow  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 manufacturerWinsor 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

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artworks in Room two

Maria Lalic, History Painting 35 C18/19th. Cadmium Yellow  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 manufacturerWinsor 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, August 2017

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artworks in Room two

Maria Lalic, History Painting 42 C20th. Winsor Yellow  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 manufacturerWinsor 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

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artworks in Room two

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Byron Kim, Synecdoche  1991–2018

Byron Kim’s skin tone paintings are portraits of different people. Sitters include friends, family, fellow artists and even strangers. Their names are listed in the works title. The paintings in front of you are part of an ongoing series of around 500 portraits. Kim attempts to represent an individual through a single colour. The absurdity of this gesture is where the humour of the work can be found. The name of the series is Synecdoche. This means when a part of something stands in for the whole. Kim hints towards the importance of the individual in conveying the complexity of society.

Gallery label, November 2021

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artworks in Room two

Virginia Chihota, Fighting One’s Self  2016

This is one of two screenprints in Tate’s collection by Virginia Chihota that share the same title and date; where this one is portrait format, the other (Tate T14806) is landscape format. Both prints are unique and therefore not editioned, and form part of an ongoing series of monoprints – five at the time of writing – with the collective title Fighting One’s Self (‘Kuzvirwisa’ in the artist’s native Shona language). The title and images communicate varying aesthetic approaches to the theme of mental and physical isolation. Though created in series, the works are considered individual and can be displayed as such. This particular print is notable for the aqueous application of typically viscous screenprinter’s ink, producing a watercolour-like effect. The cool palette is predominantly blue and purple, overlaid by thin washes of red. Only toward the left-hand margin can one discern filaments of the boldest red hue for which Chihota’s earlier works are known. Large concentric ovals of blue, purple and pale red form egg-like layers, within which a figure shields its face from view. The landscape-format work is dominated by luminous gold ink, suspended in the centre of which is a large sac-like form positioned along its horizontal axis. The ovoid shape contains a human figure whose small black face and torso recede in relation to the flexed arm and disproportionately elongated leg, both articulated in taupe. The warm pink tones surrounding the figure are accented by two small striated Y-shapes rendered in blood red, evoking a uterine environment. The composition of both prints bears strong allusions to fertility, the placement of the human figure within such a sac being intentionally womb-like.

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artworks in Room two

Ellsworth Kelly, Purple Red Gray Orange (Violet Rouge Gris Orange)  1987

This large-scale lithograph depicts a row of four geometric forms in different colours set against a white ground. They are, from left to right, a purple irregular diamond or offset square, a red distorted triangle, a dark grey segment of a circle and an orange segment of a circle. At almost six metres in length, Purple Red Gray Orange is considered to be the largest single-sheet lithograph ever made. Its large scale gives it the presence and impact of Kelly’s paintings, underlining the significance of printmaking in his work as a whole. Another large-scale print from 2001, Blue Black Red Green (Tate L04119), shows Kelly’s return to a similar linear arrangement of four loosely geometric forms many years later, demonstrating his ongoing interest in such themes throughout his career.

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artworks in Room two

Ceal Floyer, Monochrome Till Receipt (White)  1999

CAN COLOUR BE AN IDEA?A shopping receipt may seem like a strange thing to put on an art gallery wall. How can this be art? Rather than making a painting or sculpture, there are many artists (like Ceal Floyer here) who create art from everyday things. She would like you to think about the idea behind the art, rather than what it looks like. Take a closer look at the receipt. You will see that it is a list of objects bought from the supermarket that are all white. Imagine the objects and their whiteness and think about why this might be in a display about colour. Is white a colour? It’s actually a funny process… How many packets I’ve opened to check [the contents are white] and then not bought. But basically it should equal or come close to a picture of white.

Start Gallery caption, 2016

Gallery label, July 2017

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artworks in Room two

Art in this room

T01513: IKB 79
Yves Klein IKB 79 1959
T00540: The Snail
Henri Matisse The Snail 1953
T01996: Moonlight and Lamplight
Winifred Nicholson Moonlight and Lamplight 1937
T06481: Untitled (grey and brown)
Fiona Rae Untitled (grey and brown) 1991
T15604: Mattress
Marta Minujín Mattress 1962
T07287: History Painting 2 Cave. Yellow Earth
Maria Lalic History Painting 2 Cave. Yellow Earth 1995

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