Friday, 21 May 2004

Brancusi at the Tate Modern

Room 2. A room full of heads. Beautiful, subtle, tactile sculptures. Some more reaslitic than others with indication of hair, ears, eyes and nose, gradually they became more stylized and paired down until they were egg-like with groves and planes where features would be.

Choice of materials was integral to the work. White stone often, ideas worked out in plaster. Stones like marble, smoothed to the point of lustre perfection. You can feel the cold exuding off them. Limestone, texture with sparkle inside, like frost on cold day.

Sort of crushingly beautiful in their elegance and yet deeply touching. Made me feed sorrow at being so far away from my sister and niece.

Room 3. In the beginning of the world was an egg. Potent imagery of creation, birth, nurture.

Further Rooms. The plinths were often sculptural themselves, top heavy, roughly hewn in wood. Squared off blocks supporting sculptures of beautiful stones, delicately carved (how can you possibly delicately carve a hard stone - the end result belies the process of its making). Some of the wooden works had integrated plinths - all carved from one piece of wood. Other works had plinths of several pieces with the curved stone sculpture balanced on them.

The work reminded me of one of my favourite contemporary artists, Alison Wilding, who once wrote in her book that her work was about the relationships of objects to each other - on-top-ness, standing-up-ness, besideness, next-to-ness etc. This is exactly what this work felt like (seems to me he must have been a large influence on her). How does one piece sit on this small stone plinth that is resting on this larger wooden plinth? Wood supports stone. Weight of the stone bares down on the wood making it stable. Contrast of materials - texture, temperature, colour.

Finally bird in space. Aerodynamic, more like a movement than a representation, shiny brass tall thin curve, a sharp edge occurs at a change in plane. Beautiful.

And outside on the balcony in the fading sun a girl in a black leather skirt, velveteen top with the hood up and red stilettos is snogging her boyfriend as he leans against the wall.

And across the millennium Bridge St Pauls stands out magnificently on the horizon. Its ancient dirt accentuating its architectural features and statues.

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