A visit to the Tate Modern museum was just that – a modern experience. The minute we walked into the museum the ground floor was a wide-open space when normally you would expect to be surrounded by pieces of artwork and panels directing you toward different exhibits. That is the first thing that intrigued me about this visit. I did not feel immediately overwhelmed when I walked in because it was an open space suggesting that this museum offers modernity and openness for all kinds of people and their interpretations. Walking up the escalators to each floor each section of work was divided into rooms allowing the visitors to look at what they choose.
The pieces of art that caught my attention were the oil paintings on the 3rd level. The reason behind this being that when using oil paint the artist can develop their work gradually utilizing mistakes or changes as opposed to starting over. Sometimes, especially with art, a mistake can become a vital part of the creation that you never would have originally thought it needed. Oil paints also blend well in color variation creating a smooth transition from light to dark as well as details of light and shadow. The two paintings I chose display this quite thoroughly.
The very first art piece I captured a photo of is by Emil Nolde titled The Sea B. Nolde painted a series of seascapes labeled A-F while on an island in northern Germany. This version (B) of the sea expresses the disorder of the sea after a storm through the contrast in color. When painting a picture of the ocean you would assume to use the obvious blue and maybe even white to emphasize waves. Nolde does this but in an animated way using purple and yellow paint in the water. The way these colors are abstractly placed within the blue and white of the ocean made me wonder if it was an accident that the paint transferred from the brush when he was using those colors for the sky. Even so, he incorporated this disorder to highlight the wildness of the sea through the use of oil paint. I also presumed this painting of the sea was the result of a storm due to the juxtaposition of dark, shadowy clouds against the light yellow and orange sky implying the rising of the sun breaking up the storm. The mixture of dark hues in the cloud reveals that it was a terrible storm perhaps why he had painted a series of seascapes. The use of oil paint here is used expressively to portray the disarray of color variation and the sea.
The second work of art is another oil painting by Jean Dubuffet titled The Busy Life. Immediately, the structure of paint implies chaos. Again that is the beauty of oil paint, allowing for layers of paint to cover the canvas. From a distance the painting looks like smears or lines of paint across the canvas mirroring a drawing by a child. Upon closer examination, you start to make out faces and bodies and buildings in the background portraying city life. Interestingly, there are five bodies that are significantly larger and on top of the rest of the people. I took this as a symbol of living in the city you are so busy you become carless of your surroundings and trample over people to get to your destination. This is very apparent in the city I am from, Los Angeles; the traffic alone is almost frightening people are constantly in a rush. Ironically, the title The Busy Life, being an oil painting, contradicts the characteristic of oil paint being that it is slow drying causing a painting to make months to finish.
The word “modern” in Tate Modern is extremely welcoming – the building itself allows for all people to enter with its spacious ground floor and become flooded with wide interpretations.