A Little Chat from the Masters at the Tate Modern

Yesterday, Ray and I spent the afternoon at The Tate Modern Art Museum.  We both have been there before, but somehow it felt new and different this time round. (Maybe I was less tired and harried.)  The building itself is beautiful with exposed support beams, lots of concrete and glass, and a view of London from the tenth-floor terrace that is jaw-dropping.  It could be argued the building alone is worth the visit, at least from my point-of-view. But the art, wow, now that is something else.

I go into an art museum with an inquiring mind.  I am there to experience the art, but also to learn what I can read about the artist and his/her techniques, point-of-view, historical perspective, etc. Some museums are better at providing this information than others; the Tate Modern is in the category of excellent regarding this educational aspect.  For example, yesterday, I wandered into a room where the focus was on the studio of the artist and here are a few examples of what I saw and learned:

Why is this important, you may ask?  Because not only do I see an everyday scene from 1915, but I also learn that Bonnard valued painting intimate parts of his life.  As a writer, this helps me to see the benefit in writing about the little things in my life, which reflect what is important to me.

Here is another:

Here is Picasso’s studio in 1955.  Why is this interesting to me?  Because I learn that Picasso created twelve different paintings of this studio over the time he lived there, helping me to see that you can use the same subject matter over and over and view it each time from a different perspective. As a writer, it’s easy to dismiss the idea of repeating a story or a memory because you’ve “already told that one.” Picasso’s repetition of the same material helps me to see that I can learn from looking at a story or memoir piece from different angles to expose other layers of truth.

Here’s one more:

Matisse did this same bronze of the back of a woman four times over his lifetime, reflecting his different perspective as he aged. The last piece remained in his studio until he died.  This helps me to understand that exploring different parts of my life at different times in my life will provide new perspectives on those events. What I created at twenty may look very different than what I may create in my sixties. No better, no worse. Simply a different perspective based on time and experience. There is freedom in that realization for me. Sometimes I think, “There’s no reason to rehash that. I’ve done that already.” Which may be true in some cases.  The subject may feel resolved and consequently closed. However, there are other topics that may have been explored, but still feel unresolved. Venturing back down that path may indeed bring fruitful results since time and experience may offer an awareness I previously could not have attained.

So, these art museum forays are for me a way to commune not just with the art, but also with the artists. To learn from his/her process and to open my heart and mind to guidance that comes from their wisdom. I left the Tate Modern yesterday feeling more heartened about my writing than I have felt in a long time.  As if I had been sat down and given a pep talk by the likes of Bonnard, Picasso and Matisse, only to mention a few.

Today we will return to explore the International Surrealist rooms, which are many.  I am excited.

I will check back in tomorrow and let you know how it went.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. lindawis says:

    Thanks for this take on how art can change up your writing. I love the Tate Modern, only been there once, but this piece somehow reminded me of the French students and their teacher we met on the street who were also trying to find it. Resulted in a nice conversation as we walked along, ala Anthony Bourdain. 😉

    1. Happy to bring back a pleasant memory for you, Linda! Glad we share a love for the Tate Modern.

  2. Jeanne Guy says:

    Wonderful, Len! It’s amazing the wisdom around us when we take time to see it. Thanks for this post.

    1. So true, Jeanne! Thanks for taking the time to respond!

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