Another reason for being away recently was to visit the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition at Tate Modern in London.
My daughter, Rachael lives in Suffolk, but in recent years during my visits to see her, we've made a point of going into London to see a major exhibition. This year it was to see the Roy Lichtenstein retrospective at Tate Modern. And I truly enjoyed it.
There's no pretensions in his work. He discovered a technique quite late, in his forties and explored it for the rest of his life. You get the impression he enjoyed life. The canvases are big, bold and have a freshness about them. I loved his use of other artist's work in his paintings. I didn't get the impression of plagiarism, but just a gentle nod of admiration for Picasso, Matisse et al. His paintings are just enjoyable and nice to be around. Very American. Jeff Koons work has that same feel. Great fun, enjoyable, but underlying it, the knowledge that the works are produced by a very professional , serious artist.
I'm reading Picasso and American Art by Michael FitzGerald at the moment.Published by the Whitney Museum of American Art. It show's Picasso's influence on many American artists like Roy Lichtenstein. It's a great book to read for anyone who visited the Lichtenstein exhibition.
Last year Rachael and I went to see the Picasso and Modern British Art exhibition at Tate Britain. That exhibition showed the influence Picasso had on British artists. It sadly showed how poor most of them were compared to Picasso's genius.
Which comes to the other exhibitions we managed to see. The Damien Hirst one and the Yayoi Kusama exhibition at Tate Modern last year. The Damien Hirst exhibition was predictable and we both agreed had an unfinished quality about his works. The spot pictures especially ! As a product designer I think he's quite good. Love his deck chairs and tea cups ! As a serious artist, it just feels stuff and nonsense and irrelevant, and we both walked out unmoved. I don't feel Bacon or de Kooning need worry !
Yayoi Kusama, on the other hand is a serious artist. Her life's work, since the 1940's has been,to produce truly, deeply motivated and obsessional art. Her work encompasses painting drawing,sculpture,collage and large-scale installations.
It takes a lot to gobsmack me, but Kusama's installation Infinity Mirrored Room - Filled with the Brilliance of Life completely floored me. It was just utter brilliance. I took a picture of myself (see top of blog). It was impossible to capture on film. You felt you were in infinite space. The colours kept changing. It was beautiful. Truly inspirational.
I'm afraid the Y.B.A's , Hirst, Emin, Hume, Turk etc just don't compete with the likes of Kusama, Picasso, Bacon. Freud, Lichtenstein, Rothko etc.
The Tate's policy of putting people like Hirst alongside Kusama and currently Hume alongside Caulfield just shows the lack of depth, skill and imagination this current generation of artists has.
The Roy Lichtenstein exhibition though, was great !