The best museum I’ve been to this year so far is London’s Tate Modern. This was Ruth and my 1st time there, so we focused on what we could see for free and found a lot. I judged it cavernous, crammed with people, and a bit exhausting.
Sunday through Thursday, Tate Modern is opened from 10 am to 6 pm, and it stays opened until 10 pm on Friday and Saturday. The ”modern” in its name is a bit misleading. I was expecting to see mostly recent works that are hard to understand and appreciate, but that was not the case. The Tate’s collection is so vast that we found plenty of 20th century art by familiar names–Magritte, Picasso–and stuff by artists we did not know, like Andre Fourgeron, that was both representational and easy to understand with only a little work.
Best of all was the Tate’s view of London from the 10th floor of the Blavatnik Building. Tate Modern is so well-located between the Blackfriars and Southwark bridges that many London landmarks–San Paul’s Cathedral, the Shard–can easily be seen from this high and impressive perch. I have been to the top of many buildings all over the world and didn’t linger, but the view from atop the Tate is one of the best and I hated to leave. And it’s free! Try your best to avoid looking into the windows of several nearby and well-decorated condos and apartments.
The Tate Modern used to be the Bankside Power Station, and evidence of that function can be seen if you look for it. This excellent museum has been added to since opening and is now in 2 buildings connected by 2 bridges. The other building is named for Natalie Bell. Most of the free and permanent stuff is located on the 2nd and 4th floors. The rest of the display space is temporary exhibits that cost something. Tickets can be bought in Turbine Hall under the bottom bridge. Wear comfortable walking shoes and put your watch in a pocket.
Andre Fourgeron did the painting just above in 1953. An artist associated with the French Communist Party, he called it “Atlantic Civilisation”. In it, he attempted to criticize American domination while noting French involvement in colonial wars. Below is Picasso’s “L’Atelier” or “The Studio 1955”. Both made me stop, view, and appreciate. So did “Babel 2001”, a tower of radios all playing at once to simulate the info overload we are all experiencing in the 21st century. Enough. Go and find your own favorites. As the £1 and useful Family Map observed, “….you don’t have to see everything in one day”.