Monday, 24 March 2014

Klee,hamilton,The Vikings, Picasso. Baselitz and co.

Klee, Hamilton, The Vikings, Baselitz & Co. and Picasso
Up to London, by car and train, Russian, Italian, Hubble bubbles on Edgware Rd., crowds, lights, veiled women and rickshaws. My Echo shoe soles disintegrate, Pedyr's spectacles have to be mended with Sellotape, my coat belt buckle gets stuck down by the front seat upstairs on the no 7 bus just when it's time to get off so I am trapped, a lovely Greek meal at Kolossi in Paddington, sunshine and laid back Caribbean buskers by Tate Modern and the lift still isn't repaired , will it ever be? in the Royal Norfolk Hotel.
At Tate Modern the Paul Klee, on it's next to last day is very crowded and must have 300 small pictures to view, in 17 rooms. I am a bit disappointed although there are a lot of works I like, very subtle when I examine them, very finely drawn and beautiful colour combinations. I could have preferred it edited down to a more manageable number, with a few contextual photos of how two world wars were happening in his lifetime, some information about abstraction developing in other countries, about the Bauhaus, music contemporary to Klee etc.

Hamilton, feels easier to process as I remember a lot of the events, but the works that aren't the famous pop collage and the photo of Jagger in handcuffs seem so preoccupied with being stylish. I love the roto reliefs and I enjoy the portrait of Tony Blair as a cowboy with guns, although I think it was more of a saviour complex coupled with being taken over by Bush VIP glamour that led him into Iraq.
A new day dawns and we're off to the British Museum, where enthusiastic officials corall us, detain us and eventually tick off our names as if they used to work for DHSS, before searching our bags but failing to mention that photos are not allowed. There are a lot of very small pieces of jewelry and other small objects, in semi darkness and a slow moving queue to see them, held up by those with audio guides. There are interesting quotes up high in big writing and lovely voices speaking presumably Norse and related languages.
Very little about women until the bits near the end about Odin's wife Sif having her hair cut off by a joking Loki and restored in gold by helpful dwarves, and the lovely white queens with their worried looks from the Lewis chess set, and I realise thence to Lewis Carol.

It's mostly gold ornaments for men of remarkably lovely detail, swords, warships and helmets. Women's jewelry seems to be random stringing of a variety of beads, and their marks of importance are the housekeeping keys.Words we retain from Viking times include 'egg' and 'sister'. One and a half hours later we stumble out into the gift shop, better informed, blinking in the light, wanting to buy something and eat a large lunch upstairs, where I realise I am looking at all the glasses, the decor, the coffee cups as if stuck in a perpetual museum of objects.
I would have liked more and larger video projections of the modern authentic remake of a Viking boat at sea, maybe clips from our previous notions of the Vikings, from Noggin the Nog to wilder adventures, more poetry including sagas in translation.
After eating we went to see the German Baselitz and Co, passing so many other wonderful exhibits we could have enjoyed for free, and delayed to enjoy two recently acquired lino cuts by Picasso, shown in various states as he progressed to the end result, so lively and rhythmic, colourful and dynamic.
The German artists from West and East we viewed from the unfortunate position of visual and mental and physical exhaustion, despite the delicious treat of an expensive lunch and a long sit down. However, even if I had been feeling sprightly I don't think this collection of messily drawn vague stuff could have ever competed with the rest of the museum. These were not the best work by Penck, Richter, Blinky Paloma etc. surely, just an assortment, set against a museum full of marvellous things.

Back to Paddington, guarded by alarmingly armed policemen, with it's ever passing crowds, balm for a flaneur with her sketchbook, with the incomprehensible announcements, the temptations of cheap jewelry, magazines and even sandwiches without horrid mayonnaise, and we'll be back in Cornwall feeling as if these two days have been a week of looking.


  1. I know Hamilton needs a capital H, cannot alter it now.

  2. and the horse is from a Viking weather vane.

  3. first drawing is from a Paul Klee, last from Paddington Station.

  4. Sounds like a great trip, Mary ... and I love your sketches! Helen