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In the Studio

Investigate the processes artists use to make artworks, and how our responses are integral to the piece

Two visitors in the In the Studio display at Tate Modern looking at a large painting.

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Lee Krasner, Gothic Landscape  1961

Although this is an abstract painting, the thick vertical lines that dominate its centre can be seen as trees, with thick knotted roots at their base. It was probably this that led Krasner to call the painting Gothic Landscape, several years after completing it. Krasner was married to the artist Jackson Pollock. Gothic Landscape was made in the years following his death from a car crash in 1956. It belongs to a series of large canvases whose violent and expressive gestural brushstrokes can be read as a reflection of her grief.

Gallery label, August 2019

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Pierre Bonnard, The Bowl of Milk  c.1919

Bonnard painted this work in the south of France. He moved there during the First World War with his partner Marthe de Méligny, pictured here. This view is of the room they rented. Light reflected from the sea pours through the balcony window. The strong light leaves many details in shadow, including de Méligny’s face and the cat awaiting its milk. Preparatory drawings show Bonnard testing a variety of details and poses before he brought them together in the final painting.

Gallery label, February 2020

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Mary Martin, Spiral Movement  1951

Martin said that abstract painting had led to a desire to use three-dimensional materials. This work follows a strict mathematical rule, the Golden Section. It dictates the size of different elements, with the aim of creating the perfect composition. Writing about this work, Martin explained, 'I took a simple element (in this case a parallelepiped – a solid figure whose faces are six parallelograms) and subjected it to a system of changes, not knowing what would happen to it…. I think all my work has been based on this kind of curiosity.'

Gallery label, August 2020

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René Magritte, Man with a Newspaper  1928

Magritte’s deadpan style is seen clearly in these four simply painted scenes. Each section seems to be exactly the same, apart from the disappearance of the man reading the newspaper. There are slight changes of perspective between the four panels. This can be seen by focusing on the view out of the windows. This shift adds to the slightly unsettling effect in the painting. It may relate to the displacement of images in early 3D viewing devices. This subtle undermining of the everyday was typical of Magritte and his Belgian surrealist colleagues. They preferred quiet subversion to obvious public action.

Gallery label, August 2020

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Germaine Richier, Chessboard, Large Version (Original Painted Plaster)  1959

These five figures represent the core pieces in a game of chess: the King, Queen, Knight, Castle and Bishop. The game stages a war in which the aim is to attack and capture the opponent's pieces. Richier’s figures are unlike the elegant designs of traditional chessmen. Instead they are grotesque hybrid figures, part human, part animal. Richier used their distorted forms to reflect the anxieties and despair of Europe after the Second World War. ‘It seems to me that in violent works there is just as much sensibility as in poetic ones’, she said. ‘There can be just as much wisdom in violence as in gentleness’.

Gallery label, June 2020

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Cy Twombly, Untitled (Bacchus)  2008

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T03291: Gothic Landscape
Lee Krasner Gothic Landscape 1961
T00936: The Bowl of Milk
Pierre Bonnard The Bowl of Milk c.1919
T00586: Spiral Movement
Mary Martin Spiral Movement 1951
T00680: Man with a Newspaper
René Magritte Man with a Newspaper 1928

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