The Tate’s collection is full of spectacular and impressive artworks, but what about the processes that went into creating them? Do these deserve as much appreciation as the finished article? This is one of the challenging questions that this exhibition leaves for the visitor to decide.
It opens with two well known works by Jackson Pollock and David Hockney. The creative processes behind the two of them are radically different. Pollock engaged in an energetic sprinkling of paint to create ‘Summertime‘ while the painting of Hockney’s ‘A Bigger Splash‘ was much more painstaking in its execution.
Visitors are then taken on a rollercoaster ride of the role of performance in creating art, from shooting at sacks of paint embedded in the canvas through to the use of the human body for applying paint. This brings up yet another interesting question of the role of showmanship in art. Yves Klein set up public events where naked models would smother themselves with paint and use their bodies as brushes to create paintings. Klein was extremely media savvy and knew the attention this would draw, but without the public interest it’s likely this work would never have been created — no performance, no artwork.
The exhibition then goes on to whole-room installations. Two of our favourites are the perception-altering mirrors by Edward Krasinski and the dream-like Swan Lake-inspired set by Karen Kilimnik.
This experimental exhibition is a departure from Tate Modern’s usual blockbuster format and has the feel of a show that would be more at home in the Hayward Gallery. We found it fascinating, yet it’s not for everyone and those who like to simply admire impressive artworks may find little to enjoy here. But for anyone who has questioned whether the creative process is part of the artwork, they’ll find plenty of works here to propagate this debate.
A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance is on at Tate Modern until 1 April. Tickets are £10, concessions available. Also on at the Tate Modern are the city photographs of Klein and Moriyama until 20 January.