Georgia O’Keeffe (2016)

O'Keeffe: Oriental Poppies

(Tate Modern, until 30 October 2016)

I had great intentions to see masses of exhibitions during my summer break, but didn’t make it to quite as many as planned. I did, however, head over to Tate Modern (not a place I go often enough), where I explored their new wing, admired the panorama of London from its viewing deck and, most importantly, visited their current exhibition on Georgia O’Keeffe. As I’ve said before, my knowledge of modern artists is sketchy to say the least – I generally deal with artists who’ve been dead for at least a hundred years – and I knew very little about O’Keeffe, but the exhibition did a great job of introducing me to her innovative, colourful and elegant paintings.

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Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde

Burne-Jones: The Rock of Doom

(Tate Britain, London, until 13 January 2013)

The Pre-Raphaelites were responsible for getting me into art history in the first place. As a teenager I fell in love with their dreamy evocations of Shakespearean and historical subjects, captivated first by the stories rather than the pictures themselves. Although I know many of their paintings extremely well, I haven’t really thought about them in context before and so this highly-acclaimed exhibition offered a chance to look more closely at the principles, motives and aims of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. It’s a tough job: many of these images are so famous, so seared onto our national consciousness, that it’s virtually impossible to judge them from the necessary distance.

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Another London

Davidson: Girl with Kitten

International Photographers Capture City Life 1930-1980

(Tate Britain, until 16 September 2012)

The haunting image stares out from posters all over London at the moment. Even though she isn’t looking at the camera, but somewhere off over the viewer’s right shoulder, there’s something captivating about her eyes. Large, wary and so, so vulnerable. Standing alone by the side of a road, with a rolled sleeping bag on her shoulder, she cradles a tiny kitten in skinny hands. It has a collar made from a rough piece of twine. Two strays, you might say, bound together by a little piece of string.

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Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape

Miró: Femmes encerclées

(Tate Modern, 14 April – 11 September 2011)

I left it late to come to this exhibition, the first major retrospective of Miró’s work in the UK for 50 years, but I’m glad I caught it.  I don’t often venture to Tate Modern, but this is an unconscious prejudice that I’ll have to change in the future.  What struck me most about the exhibition was how completely ill-equipped I was to understand what Miró was trying to achieve in his work.

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