I sorted a timed entry ticket for the Matisse show at the Tate Modern for 10am and set out from my place in Clerkenwell to walk directly south where I would encounter the Thames and the Tate. After 45 minutes of walking I could see no sign of the Thames and consulted my map to try to understand why I was now on Oxford street and it became clear that I had somehow been walking directly west towards Soho. Not a bad place to end up – but not the Tate Modern. I discovered that timed entry is a rough guide and I was cheerfully admitted at 11.30.
Walking around the Matisse cutout exhibition I can marvel at the scale of his projects. For an old man with limited mobility and failing health to conceive of such ambitious projects displays a grand mind. He warns the viewer that the cut out medium will require a reassessment of our criteria of observation - and I try to do this. I realise that I have failed when I round the corner and see two large paintings and my heart skips. Such feeling! Such touch! Such colour! The colour is not any different in hue and saturation to the cut outs but it enters my eyes and my mind more directly. How can I explain this?
I was fortunate enough to see a Richard Hamilton exhibition here too – an English pop artist of whom I was unaware. It was a major retrospective and it seemed to me that his career took a similar trajectory to Brett Whitely (although Hamilton experimented more with assemblage and printmaking). His paintings, when he did do them – are beautiful and remind me a lot of some of Whitely’s figurative works. Hamilton’s lifestyle was equally interesting – hanging out with Mick Jagger and Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe and all the A-listers of his time.
Two other rooms dedicated to Cy Twombly and Rothko respectively made my day complete. I didn’t know that Twombly made sculptures. They are so static and quiet and placed in front of his dynamic large-scale drawings they seem to be the antithesis in mood.
I walked home across the Thames, north – and made it.