Friday, November 03, 2006

So, when you go to exhibitions do you read the descriptions first, or do you look at the art? There are definitely two categories of visitors - well, actually there's a third - the ones who are glued into the earphones and have that superior look that tells you how you should have got the 'tour' too because they're finding out so much more than you, and because they have to press certain buttons at certain points they have to stand in front of certain pieces so you can't see them. Truth is, I'm a 'nervous' art appreciator, although I'm learning to just relax and enjoy.

Anyway, the David Smith exhibition at the Tate Modern has definitely been one of my highlights of the year, because I forgot to bother about what I 'should' be thinking and just started feeling. And, yes, I also read the descriptions and was pleased I had with certain pieces such as the Home of the Welder.
Home of the Welder was made shortly after the Second World War, and reflects Smith's personal circumstances. He had just been released from his wartime job as a welder, which he believed had restricted his creative work. Like a coded autobiography, various elements in this sculpture relate to his dreams and frustrations at the time. The millstone, for example, was identified by Smith as representing his job, while images of women and children may reflect tensions in his childless first marriage.
But most of all I loved the energy of it all. It was interesting watching people came out - we bounced, although those of us who were particularly skittish slid out thanks to Karsten Höller...
This is what David Smith said about his work:
I like outdoor sculpture, and the most practical thing for outdoor sculpture is stainless steel, and I make them and I polish them in such a way that on a dull day, they take on the dull blue, or the color of the sky in the late afternoon sun, the glow, golden like the rays, the colors of nature... They are colored by the sky and the surroundings.

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