Pointlessly Capturing the Moment

Some thoughts on art I’ve seen this week

Dr Victoria Powell

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Joan Semmel, Secret Spaces (1976)

This week I went to see an exhibition at Tate Modern called Capturing the Moment which pitched itself as exploring ‘the relationship between the brush and the lens, how artists have turned to painting and photography to capture moments in time.’ Sounded intriguing, especially as I’m very interested in thinking about the impact of photography on painting and vice versa. But man alive! what a pointless, drifting exhibition it was.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are some wonderful artworks in it. And if you’re after a concentrated hit of modern and contemporary art then the huge names in this show will do the trick. Artists like Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, David Hockney, Alice Neel, Pablo Picasso, Paula Rego, Cecily Brown, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, the list goes on and on. It’s a very impressive collection of artworks in one space. But as an exhibition curated around the theme of the dialogue between painting and photography, it’s just a rather confusing label and I didn’t learn anything, frankly. At £20 a pop for a ticket, it seems to me that it’s just a money spinner for the Tate.

Saying all that, it was worth the ticket price just to discover the American artist Joan Semmel, whose work I hadn’t come across before. This particular painting seems so abstract to me…

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Dr Victoria Powell

I write about art, history, politics & culture, without the confusing art speak. Crazy about dogs. Victorian historian. 19th-century gentleman in a former life.