A week or so ago, I visited the Tate Modern gallery in London. There was no real purpose for my visit, I am merely an art lover and wanted to feel that silence and stillness that only comes from an art gallery. I call myself an ignorant art lover. I love art, but know very little about it. I don’t tend to read criticism, I merely like to look at the paintings and analyse them based purely on what emotions they bring forth from me. However, as well as this has served me over my twenty two years, I have recently desired to know more about the historical context of the art I am viewing, the author’s intention and that well worn question about modern art: “Is that really art?”
I was pleasantly surprised then, during my trip to the Tate Modern when I came across an exhibition that seemed to break down modern art for an ignorant viewer (I include myself in this label.) It would show a picture, describe what the artist wanted to achieve and what effect many people have said it created. The information detailed on the small white plaque gave more information than the usual when it was created and with what materials, but explained to the viewer the answer to that well worn question. It explained exactly why it was art.
The exhibition was also brilliantly organised and laid out. The creations started from simple wall paintings, sectioned into colour and style and then finally built up into installations. It felt as if the Tate was guiding you through modern art, a ‘Modern Art 101’ whistle stop tour. I loved that exhibition and felt that I gained not just an understanding of the pieces displayed in that collection, but also the importance and appreciation of modern art as a whole. Whereas my love for art was mainly placed in the classics before, preferring oil paintings found in the National Portrait Gallery, I now found a place in my heart for a true appreciation of modern art.
Excited, I rushed home and onto the Tate Modern website, looking for the name of this collection I had somehow missed. I couldn’t find a trace of it on the website and even a google search revealed nothing. This brilliant introduction to Modern Art seemed to not be publicised on the website at all. With a vein of art that is so often belittled and ridiculed, hence the title of the bestselling book ‘Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That: Modern Art Explained’, it seemed such a shame that a collection that could have dispelled some of those myths and preconceptions has been hidden from public view.
In a culture where the arts is often over looked and fighting for funding, it seems to me strange that an opportunity to spread the accessibility of modern art is being wasted. How many more people, people who scoff over a knife slice in a canvas or an installation of a used bed, would have their minds opened to what Modern Art could do, given the chance and publicization of this collection. In a society where the younger generation is turning away from art, it seems a shame to add another well-kept secret to London’s list.