Marlow Moss, ‘Balanced Forms in Gunmetal on Cornish Granite’ 1956–7
Marlow Moss, Balanced Forms in Gunmetal on Cornish Granite 1956–7 . Tate . © reserved

Room 2 in Modern Conversations

Modern Landscape: Marlow Moss

Propeller

György Kepes, Propeller  c.1939–40

This is one of a large group of photograms and studies in modernist photography in Tate’s collection by the Hungarian-born photographer, painter, designer, teacher and writer, Gyorgy Kepes (see Tate P80532–P80568, T13973–T13975). They date from 1938 to the early 1940s and were made in the United States, where Kepes had emigrated in 1937. Kepes made his earliest photograms in Budapest, taking nature as his starting point, directly recording the process without a camera onto photosensitized surfaces. In the late 1920s Kepes joined the Berlin studio of the Hungarian artist and modernist photographer László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946). Moholy-Nagy had been a teacher at the Bauhaus School in Germany and was one of the principals in promoting the values of the Bauhaus movement, as well as a pioneer who experimented with a multitude of materials and techniques. Kepes was introduced to the ‘new vision’ provided by the possibilities of modern art techniques while collaborating alongside Moholy-Nagy. He began to experiment with photograms himself – photographic prints made in the darkroom by placing objects directly onto light sensitive paper and exposing the paper to light. Later, he made prints he called ‘photo-drawings’, in which he applied paint to a glass plate that he then used as though it were a negative. Only a few of Kepes’s works from this earlier period survived the artist’s many moves in the 1930s and the Second World War.

© estate of György Kepes (Imre Kepes and Juliet Kepes Stone)

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Snow Falls on Exmoor

John A. Park, Snow Falls on Exmoor  1939

© Tate

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Horizontal Movement

Jesus Rafael Soto, Horizontal Movement  1963

As the spectator passes this work, an optical effect causes the background of black
and white lines to vibrate and flicker. Soto described Horizontal Movement as ‘one
of the first truly mobile works that I had made’, referring to the addition of an iron
rod that hangs in front of the lines. As in all his works the background lines are
drawn by hand.

Gallery label, September 2004

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2021

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Harry Callahan, Grasses, Wisconsin  1958, printed no later than 1968

This is one of eight black and white photographs in Tate’s collection, all of which were taken by the American photographer Harry Callahan, that depict grassy settings in American landscapes. Five of them were shot in the mountains in the American state of Georgia, while one was taken in Wisconsin and the other two show unidentified locations. In all of the pictures the camera is angled down towards the ground, and since they are very tightly cropped and show only grass, the scale of the depicted areas is unclear. Seven of the images have very dense compositions that feature many blades of grass that tend to point in varying directions, lending the scene a highly textured and chaotic effect. These also combine thick patches of grass with individual blades, which are often clearly distinguished through sharp focus and where they pick up the light, giving them a bright, silvery tone. There are also dark shadows lying around and between the clumps of grass. One of the eight photographs – Grasses, Wisconsin 1958 (Tate P80161) – is somewhat different from the rest: rather than showing dense masses of grass, it is highly abstracted, featuring numerous small blades that appear as curving white lines against a largely black background.

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Biville

Jane Wilson, Louise Wilson, Biville  2006

Urville 2006 is one of a group of three large-scale black and white photographs on aluminium of the abandoned and derelict Second World War bunkers that punctuate the Normandy coastline of northern France. The other two in the group are Azeville 2006 (Tate P80083) and Biville 2006 (Tate P80085). Each photograph is named after its location and records a single structure, the huge scale of the image reflecting the monumental impact of the architecture depicted. The forlorn state of the bunkers is apparent; long since used in the defence of territory, they are now besmirched with graffiti, litter and the detritus of illicit activities.

© Jane and Louise Wilson, courtesy 303 Gallery, New York

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Measuring Niagara with a Teaspoon

Cornelia Parker, Measuring Niagara with a Teaspoon  1997

Created by the British artist Cornelia Parker in 1997, Measuring Niagara with a Teaspoon is a coiled length of silver wire mounted on a square of dark grey card that is set inside a glazed, pale wooden frame. The silver that makes up the piece of wire previously took the form of a Georgian teaspoon which, as the artist explained in a 2003 interview, has been melted and ‘“drawn” to the height of Niagara Falls’ – a set of three waterfalls situated on the border between the United States and Canada (Parker in Lisa Tickner, ‘A Strange Alchemy: Cornelia Parker’, Art History, vol.26, no.3, June 2003, p.385). While the precise length of the piece of wire is unknown, in 2013 the artist stated that it measures ‘approximately 187 feet’ (Cornelia Parker, ‘Works’, in Blazwick 2013, p.123). It is coiled into a thick ring that occupies a small portion of the grey card near to the centre of the frame and has numerous strands curving outwards around its edges. The frame is made from untreated ash wood and has mitred corners, and its reverse side comprises a sheet of fibreboard secured with masking tape.

© Cornelia Parker

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Lines in Space No. 3

Paule Vézelay, Lines in Space No. 3  1936

In 1936 Paule Vézelay embarked on a radical series of reliefs, of which this is one, whose only material would be cotton thread stretched taut to create simple works that investigate space by embodying it rather than purely representing it in an illusionistic way. These works were first exhibited in Paris in 1937 under the label of ‘Investigation into Three Dimensions: Pictures of stretched threads and strings’.

This work’s simplicity and purity of conception and construction can be identified with a spiritual vision of reality. For Vézelay such an art was a preparation for a new society and consciousness.

Gallery label, February 2010

© The estate of Paule Vézelay

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The Nile near Kom Ombo

Karl Weschke, The Nile near Kom Ombo  1994

Weschke went to Egypt, on an organised tour, in 1990 and again in 1992. His work already showed his fascination with the notion of immensity, and the powerful effect on him of the ancient sites was inevitable. He travelled south from Cairo to Aswan, by way of Giza and the Valley of Kings at Luxor. Kom Ombo is on the eastern bank of the Nile north of Aswan. While awed by the antiquity of such things as the unfinished obelisk near Aswan, the artist was also powerfully affected by the landscape. Here, the spare painting style emphasises the vastness of the desert that towers over the figures and camels on the riverbank.

Gallery label, August 2004

© The Estate of Karl Weschke

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Untitled (White, Black, Blue and Yellow)

Marlow Moss, Untitled (White, Black, Blue and Yellow)  c.1954

© reserved

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David Nash, Enfolded Egg  1993

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Sun Setting

Dame Barbara Hepworth, Sun Setting  1971

© Bowness

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Bahrain I

Andreas Gursky, Bahrain I  2005

Bahrain I 2005 is a very large portrait format colour photograph by the German artist Andreas Gursky of the Bahrain International Circuit, a motorsport race track completed in 2004 that hosts the country’s annual Formula One Grand Prix. Taken from a helicopter and subsequently manipulated using digital software, the photograph shows the track curving in a snake-like fashion through the desert landscape, the black asphalt forming a strong contrast with the beige sand surrounding it. No cars or people are visible in the image, although a long horizontal grandstand with a white roof can be seen just above the centre of the composition. A cluster of distant buildings are also perceptible near the horizon underneath a hazy grey-blue sky. Tate’s copy is number one in an edition of six (plus an artist’s proof).

© Courtesy Monika Sprueth Galerie, Koeln / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and DACS, London 2021

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White, Black and Yellow (Composition February)

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, White, Black and Yellow (Composition February)  1957

© Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust

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Balanced Forms in Gunmetal on Cornish Granite

Marlow Moss, Balanced Forms in Gunmetal on Cornish Granite  1956–7

Marlow Moss, born Marjorie Moss, studied briefly at the Slade School and then at Penzance Art School in Cornwall. In 1927 after a short but crucial visit to Paris, in which she was overwhelmed by the work of the painter Piet Mondrian, she broke off connections with England and went to live and work in Paris. She made contact with Mondrian then and subsequently became a pupil of Léger and Ozenfant. With the advent of the Second World War Moss fled from France and returned to Cornwall. There she made abstract paintings in pure colours and some geometric sculptural compositions, of which this is a rare example.

Gallery label, September 2004

© reserved

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Winter 1956, Yorkshire

Sir Terry Frost, Winter 1956, Yorkshire  1956

Frost's move from St Ives to Leeds in Yorkshire introduced him to a new landscape. In the Yorkshire Dales he felt like a tiny presence in a huge expanse of space.

He related this unusually long, thin work to a particular experience: tobogganing with friends down a steep hill in Leeds, quite out of control. He said the black form at the top left derived from a Russian hat worn by his friend; the long sweep of the lines evokes his experience of careering down the hill.

Gallery label, September 2004

© The estate of Sir Terry Frost

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Riverbed

Bryan Wynter, Riverbed  1959

Wynter made his paintings with hundreds of brushmarks intersecting and laid over one another. This approach related him to the art informel movement or tachisme then prevalent in France. These laid emphasis on the matter of paint itself and the gestural marks made in response to one another.
Wynter, who lived isolated on the moors of Cornwall, was fascinated by nature. His painting technique deliberately echoed natural processes of flow and erosion. Here the lighter brushstrokes seem to flow around larger areas like water around rocks – hence the work’s title.

Gallery label, November 2016

© The estate of Bryan Wynter

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Dame Barbara Hepworth, Oval Sculpture (No.2)  1943, cast 1958

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Stella Benjamin, Untitled rug (White)  c2016

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Ripple on pond, Valpariso, Indiana

Vanessa Winship, Ripple on pond, Valpariso, Indiana  2011–12

This black and white photograph is one of several works in Tate’s collection by the British photographer Vanessa Winship. It comes from a series entitled she dances on Jackson 2011–12 (Tate P82445–P82458). The series exists in an edition of twelve Fine Art pigment prints and Tate’s prints are various numbers from the main edition. The photographs were taken in the United States after Winship had won the Prix Henri Cartier-Bresson in 2011; she spent over a year travelling across America, from California to Virginia, New Mexico to Montana. She went with the intention of exploring a country in the throes of economic decline and to assess the impact of that decline on the fabled American dream. The sudden death of Winship’s father immediately prior to the making of the work further inflected its changeable mood of sorrow and hope. She wrote in the book that accompanied her exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery, London in 2018, And Time Folds, that ‘Like the small, barely audible ripple on the pond, this work [she dances on Jackson] is my note of that time.’ (Winship 2018, p.69.)

© Vanessa Winship

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Harry Callahan, Weeds in Snow  1942

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Drought at Újfehértó

Judith Karasz, Drought at Újfehértó  1935

Karasz’s photographs explore the qualities and structures of everyday things. Whether parched soil or cotton wool, the physical nature of subject is the most important focus. Following the ideas of László Moholy-Nagy, she felt that photography could make visible aspects of its subject matter that could not be seen by the eye alone. In each case the resulting image is carefully constructed from a delicate balance of light and shadow across the surface of the material.

Gallery label, January 2016

© Estate of Judit Kárász

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Untitled I

Nalini Malani, Untitled I  1970/2017

Untitled I is one of three works in Tate’s collection from a series of black and white photograms by the Indian artist Nalini Malani (see also Untitled II [Tate P82089] and Untitled III [Tate P82090]). The three images all date from 1970 and are visually similar in nature: monochromatic geometric studies in light and form. Originally produced as photograms, exposing light-sensitive paper to light without the use of a camera, these works now exist as photographic prints in an edition of ten. Tate’s copies were printed in 2017 and are number four in the edition. The photograms were first exhibited at the Pundole Art Gallery, Bombay in 1970, printed to a similar scale as the later edition.

© Nalini Malani

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Janicon LXII

Paul Feiler, Janicon LXII  2002

Janicon LXII 2002 is a square abstract painting on canvas. This canvas has been stretched over a built-up stretcher that, with the addition of silver leaf around the edges of the canvas, provides an illusion of a separate frame for the painting. This is however not the case, and the silver leaf border sets up the sharply recessive space that is described by succeeding horizontal and vertical bands of pale blues, greys, greens and browns. The back board of this illusionistic space is a field of similarly coloured vertical bands, in the centre of which is an upright oblong, bounded off-centre in gold leaf. The title brings together references of the double Janus head that looks both back in time and towards the future, with the gold and silver leaf of Byzantine religious icons. Despite the use of geometry and pale colour, the paintings in Feiler’s extensive Janicon series, of which this is a part, are built up of many layers of colour over a long period of time.

© Paul Feiler. All Rights Reserved 2020 / Bridgeman Images

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Lovers

Rasheed Araeen, Lovers  1968

Araeen trained as a civil engineer, and his sculptures are constructed using geometric forms. Lovers combines two structures, each of which consists of a series of triangles that have been rotated and orientated in different ways. The work can be shown in two different configurations: either with the two parts next to each other, or on top of each other. This introduction of alternative possibilities challenges the idea of the artwork as a fixed object conceived by a single individual.

Gallery label, October 2016

© Rasheed Araeen

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Untitled

Marlow Moss, Untitled  c.1950

This is one of three sculptures by Marlow Moss in which sheets of metal have been folded to create a pattern based on the structure and planes of a tetrahedron. The location of the other two is not known, but one of them is identified in a black and white archival photograph held in Tate Archives, which has an inscription by Moss on the reverse giving the title as Construction Based on a Tetrahedron and the date 1950. This photograph shows a construction composed of the same pattern of repeated tetrahedron planes as seen in Untitled c.1950, but extended so that it is formed of approximately five times as many elements. Each of the sculptures is fixed to a narrow cuboid base.

© reserved

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Spiral Motif in Green, Violet, Blue and Gold: The Coast of the Inland Sea

Victor Pasmore, Spiral Motif in Green, Violet, Blue and Gold: The Coast of the Inland Sea  1950

© Tate

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The Tree A

Piet Mondrian, The Tree A  c.1913

Mondrian’s fascination with trees developed out of his earlier landscape painting. This is one of his last paintings of trees and is based on realistic sketches made in the Netherlands. After settling in Paris and absorbing the influence of Cubism, Mondrian reworked the image almost to abstraction. The trunk and branches are condensed to a network of verticals and horizontals. He acknowledged the inspiration of nature but added, ‘I want to come as close as possible to the truth, and abstract everything from that until I reach the foundation of things’.

Gallery label, April 2013

Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

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Donna Conlon, Coexistence  2003

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White and Yellow

Marlow Moss, White and Yellow  1935

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Art in this room

Propeller
György Kepes Propeller c.1939–40
Snow Falls on Exmoor
John A. Park Snow Falls on Exmoor 1939
Horizontal Movement
Jesus Rafael Soto Horizontal Movement 1963

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Harry Callahan Grasses, Wisconsin 1958, printed no later than 1968
Biville
Jane Wilson, Louise Wilson Biville 2006
Measuring Niagara with a Teaspoon
Cornelia Parker Measuring Niagara with a Teaspoon 1997

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