With the launch of Tate Modern‘s new ten-storey building, I thought it’d be a good time to go and see Georgia O’Keeffe’s latest exhibition and check out the views from Level 10.
Georgia O’Keeffe at Tate Modern marks a century of the artist’s work and takes a look at her most productive years from the 1910s to 1960s. Deciding to become an artist at the age of twelve, O’Keeffe became a foundational figure in the history of modernism, especially in the States.
Though she’s known for her vivd and colourful art, her earliest work consists of colourless abstractions in charcoal.
I began with charcoal and paper and decided not to use any other colour until it was impossible to do what I wanted to do in black and white.
After moving into coloured oil painting, her abstract work took on another level with a synaesthetic element, turning sounds into shapes and colour. She also drew inspiration from her move from rural Texas to New York City at this time.
These landscape paintings may have a literal subject but you can still see the influence of her abstract work within them: soft lines and shapes with washes of colour. Not quite flat but not quite three-dimensional, creating a surreal image.
Despite her new urban surroundings, O’Keeffe still managed to find more tranquil settings in upstate New York at her summer home in Lake George.
Here I feel smothered with green.
The nature around her sees her work go back to softer colours that made up her earlier abstractions, and away from the deep and dark tones of her cityscapes. In spring, we see pastel blue, pink and green. In autumn, it turns to warm red and gold.
O’Keeffe’s fascination with flowers can really be seen around this time. The canvas is greatly enlarged, making the viewer notice details they don’t fully appreciate in real life and focusing in on the layering of the petals. Little snapshots of beauty found within nature.
Nobody sees a flower really, it is so small, we haven’t the time. I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.
From 1929 we see the introduction of paintings inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe’s visits to New Mexico. She made repeated visits over the next few years to finish off and continue her work. Colours are earthier and more vivid but the forms remain soft with a hint of abstraction.
O’Keeffe was surprised to find few flowers in New Mexico but luckily something else caught her eye – animal bones. She believed that they did not represent death but were merely lively shapes that she enjoyed.
When I found the beautiful white bones on the desert I picked them up and took them home.
Her last few paintings went back to simplicity using scenes she saw out of aeroplane windows.
The sky below was a most beautiful solid white. It looked so secure that I thought I could walk right out on it.
It is breathtaking as one rises up over the world one has been living in.
Tate Modern: Viewing Level
After Georgia O’Keeffe, I was excited to go to Level 10 to see London’s city skyline. There was just one problem. The lifts.
The Tate’s new building lifts are divided into two sections: one side goes up to Level 4 and the other goes all the way to Level 10. We waited around 15 minutes for the lifts that go all the way up before exasperatedly giving up. They were taking absolutely ages to turn up and whenever they did, the tiny tiny lift was packed full.
So, we took a lift to Level 4, hoping to catch one to 10 from there. No such luck. We encountered the same problem but maybe a little worse as many of the lifts completely bypassed Level 4 altogether. A few minutes later we found ourselves having to walk the entire flight of stairs all the way up to the top!
I’m hoping I’m wrong, but I didn’t see any signs for an escalator either… so just be prepared to either wait an age for a lift or do some serious exercise!
Ignoring this slight delay to our plans, the viewing level was lovely. You can walk all the way around the balcony for a 360 view of the surrounding city. I do recommend that you go and check it out.
Tate Modern: Bar Terrace
During our visit, we also tried the food at Bar Terrace on Level 1. We were amazed at the fast service and quality of the food.
The portion sizes are really good and we managed to share a main and two sides between three of us. We had the Yorkshire Free-Range Chicken from the rotisserie with Onion & Garlic Roast Potatoes and the Beetroot & Goat’s Cheese Salad.
The potatoes in particular were incredibly tasty and went well with our chicken, creating a traditional British meal. The beetroot salad was surprisingly good considering the low number of ingredients that go into it.
Our main came with a side of coleslaw made from celeriac, fennel, crème fraîche, green curry paste and lemon juice – seriously, try this for yourself, it’s amazing.
Shoutout to our waitress, Marzena who was incredibly accommodating!
If you liked this post, check out: Fashion Salutes Art Exhibition
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