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Modern Art and St Ives

Explore the history of modern art in St Ives

photo: © Rikard Österlund

8 rooms in Modern Art and St Ives

Poem

Saloua Raouda Choucair, Poem  1963–5

Poem comprises five carved wood blocks placed on top of one another to create a vertical sculpture. Its configuration relates to that of Infinite Structure of the same date (Tate T13262), but this piece is significantly smaller, as well as being carved in a different material. Rather than being strictly geometrical, as is the case with Infinite Structure, the wooden forms have softer, more organic lines and in places interlock instead of sitting squarely on top of each other. Each block is completely pierced by at least one or two large, carved holes in its sides and ends. This work is one of a number of small scale sculptural ‘poems’ made by the artist during this time. Each individual unit is able to function as a unique sculptural form and the individual units can be rearranged in different formations. This potential for interaction and movement within the work relates it to the sculpture of artists such as Lygia Clark (1920–1988), whose ‘Bichos’ were similarly kinetic, though Choucair’s work is less about an organic mutability than about the inherent structure among its parts, and its relationship to Islamic poetry. The softer lines and abstract shapes of Poem, and the visible grain of the wood, also call for a comparison with the work of British sculptor Barbara Hepworth (1903–1975), though once again the highly specific poetical reference in Choucair’s work sets it apart from this Western lineage.

© Saloua Raouda Choucair Foundation

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Three Forms

Dame Barbara Hepworth, Three Forms  1935

In 1934 Barbara Hepworth's abstraction
based on the human figure gave way to an art of pure form. With such works as Three Forms she reduced her sculpture
to the most simple shapes and eradicated almost all colour. She said later that she was 'absorbed in the relationships in space, in size and texture and weight,
as well as the tensions between forms'. While the three elements are slightly imperfect in shape, their sizes and the spaces between them are precisely proportional to each other. This reflects her concern with the craft of hand-carving and with harmonious arrangement
of form.

Gallery label, September 2004

© Bowness

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Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle

Pablo Picasso, Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle  1914

This table-top scene, with its fruit-bowl, violin, bottle and (painted) newspaper, is constructed from areas of colour that resemble cut-out pieces of paper. The background has been left white. Picasso and Braque had been making collages that experimented with representation and reality since 1912. They soon began to simulate the appearance of collage materials in their oil paintings, sometimes adding sand to the paint to give a heightened reality to the picture surface.

Gallery label, November 2012

© Succession Picasso/DACS 2020

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The Only Blonde in the World

Pauline Boty, The Only Blonde in the World  1963

Pop artists were fascinated by Marilyn Monroe as the most famous of movie stars and the epitome of a new sexuality. Most responses to her were made by men, however. Boty was one of the few women artists working in this vein and perhaps that gave her a different view on Marilyn.Is the figure isolated by being squeezed between fields of abstract forms? Is the title ironic? Boty’s work was sometimes concerned with gender and sexuality and so it is ironic, that she was herself frequently discussed in terms of her appearance.

Gallery label, May 2007

© The estate of Pauline Boty

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Highlights

Poem
Saloua Raouda Choucair Poem 1963–5
Three Forms
Dame Barbara Hepworth Three Forms 1935
Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle
Pablo Picasso Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle 1914
The Only Blonde in the World
Pauline Boty The Only Blonde in the World 1963

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