Sunday, 14 May 2017

Tate Britain

I had tried to see the two current exhibitions at the Tate (Hockney and Queer Art) before, but failed as the Hockney was so booked up. So I tried on a Monday morning and accepted a slot at 1pm, leaving plenty of time for the Queer Art exhibition and some extra time to kill as well.

The exhibition on homosexual art had the advantage that it was far from full. The problem with it was that it didn't really have a theme. You might say of course it did, but it wasn't really all art on a particular subject, or necessarily by homosexual artists. Nor did being a particularly good artist seem to matter. The large opening gallery with works by Simeon Solomon and a lot of Victorian nudes that seem pretty gay-themed was really very good. Rather went downhill from then on. The Oscar Wilde part wasn't really any art by him, but had things like his cell door - sort of relics relating to someone who was gay.

The Hockney exhibition in contrast was very full which did rather detract from it. Hockney is of course a famously gay artist, but this doesn't come out in all his art. My feeling about Hockney, which this exhibition only enhanced, is that he is far cleverer artist than he is a talented one. Fundamentally he is not a great draughtsman. His early graffiti type art is pretty hopeless in my view. His best work from the sixties feels to me to derive from a period when he tried to paint as well as he could, rather than mask that he wasn't that good by a purely ideas based art form. Therefore those flat, cool portraits, plus his swimming pool photos from California, are actually very appealing as images, even if not virtuoso examples of representation. There is nothing wrong with that. A bit like comparing say, the Beatles to Mozart. Simplicity works.

I think it is hard to like all of Hockney's work exactly because it is so varied. I like his photo montages too, sort of photographic cubism. And some of his colourful landscapes. But as I say, above all he seems to me an ideas man. Better in the design than in the execution.

My exorbitant double ticket (£29) included a complementary drink. But not really as the cafe was too crowded both before and after to make it a practical option to obtain. Bit of a cheat that.

No comments:

Post a Comment