Inside the Tate Modern: 6 paintings on display right now

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Housed in the former Bankside Power Station, Tate Modern attracts millions of visitors every year presenting important artworks from the 20th and 21st centuries. The permanent exhibitions, as well as the temporary ones are well curated and feature incredible pieces.

If you expect to see works from world-famous artists such Andy Warhol, Henry Matisse and David Hockney, Tate Modern is about to satisfy your demands. Here are 6 artworks from the Tate Modern on display right now.

Tate Modern

1. The Snail, Henri Matisse (1953)

Henry Matisse produced this painting while being confined to bed. After 1948, the artist was prevented from painting due to his illness, but this didn’t stop him from producing several works known as gouaches découpées. They were made by cutting shapes from paper which had been painted with gouache. His assistants would place and paste down the shapes under Matisse’s instructions.

The Snail was completed in 1953, a year before the artist’s passing. It is considered as Matisse’s last major gouache découpée, and it’s huge in dimensions (three meters square). The artwork consists of coloured shapes pasted to a white background and arranged in a loose spiral, reminding the shell of a snail. The Snail may not be like other world-famous paintings of Matisse but it’s a nice reminder of persistence despite the circumstances. – On display at Tate Modern, part of Start Display

Tate Modern

2. The Three Dancers, Pablo Picasso (1925)

Pablo Picasso painted The Three Dancers, in 1925. The painting started as a realistic representation of ballet dancers rehearsing but it is believed that Three Dancers is Picasso’s depiction of a tense love triangle.

While Picasso was working on the painting, his friend Ramon Pichot died. Twenty years earlier, Pichot and another friend, Carlos Casagemas, fell in love with the same woman, Germaine Gargallo. Tragically, Gasagemas killed himself, having first shot at Gargallo. After Pichot’s death, Picasso recalled these events and turned into a homage to his friends.

The painting measures approximately 2,2 meters by 1,5 meters, and it marks Picasso’s entry into Surrealism and the disturbing depictions of the female form. Featuring distorted angular figures, harsh colours and even a skull (instead of a head), the painting seems to express violence. – On display at Tate Modern, part of In the Studio

Tate Modern

3. Gironde, Ellsworth Kelly (1951)

Ellsworth Kelly was a leading figure of the hard-edge painting – refers to geometric forms or shapes painted in full colours. The forms are precisely separated from each other with solid edges. – Having served in the second World War, the artist used his observations of nature and architectural forms to experiment on paintings and sculpture. This painting took its name from the Gironde estuary in South-West France where two rivers meet. – On display at Tate Modern, part of Artist and Society

Tate Modern

4. Whaam!, Roy Lichtenstein (1963)

Roy Lichtenstein’s comic-inspired canvas Whaam! is one of the best-known works of pop art, and among the artist’s most important artworks. The American pop artist reimagined a cartoon composition, from the DC Comics monthly All-American Men of War. Lichtenstein simplified the composition and used Ben-Day dots – a 19th-century printing process using coloured dots spaced to create optical effects.

The artwork was produced in 1963 and measures 1,7 by 4 meters. Considering that Lichtenstein had served in the US Army in 1943–6, Whaam! has been regarded as an anti-war statement. The choice of cartoon style to represent military deconstructs the idea of military heroism and comments on the necessity of the war. – On display at Tate Modern, part of Media Networks

Relevant article you may like: Inside the Bauhaus100 exhibition in Ludwig Museum

Tate Modern

5. Marilyn Diptych, Andy Warhol (1962)

Andy Warhol made this diptych four months after the actress died of a drug overdose. Instead of making his own drawing of Monroe, he appropriated a publicity photo for Monroe’s film Niagara (1953).

Each part of the diptych presents a five-by-five grid of faces, repeated across the surfaces. The scale of the artwork (2 by 1,5 meters) makes the subject even more important and demands our attention.

On the left there are dominant colours and bold details, while on the right one there are black and white tones and it seems like she is disappearing before our eyes. The use of two contrasting canvases illustrates the contrast between the public life of Marilyn Monroe, at that time one of the most famous women alive, and her private troubled life. Even though, the canvases were made separately, they ended up being presented together making the painting we know today. – On display at Tate Modern, part of Andy Warhol

Tate Modern

6. IKB 79, Yves Klein (1959)

During his short life, Yves Klein produced nearly two hundred blue monochrome paintings. IKB 59 is one of them, and the letters stand for International Klein Blue, a distinctive ultramarine which Klein registered as a trademark colour in 1957. The artist began making these monochromes ten years earlier and did not give them titles. Though, after his death in 1962, at the age of 34, his widow Rotraut Klein-Moquay numbered all the known blue monochromes IKB 1 to IKB 194, not reflecting their chronological order. – On display at Tate Modern, part of Start Display

Relevant article you may like: A visit to Tate Modern

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Goodbye until next time! – Angeliki