The other day, I took some time out from my research at the British Library and went down to the Tate Modern. I'd never been, but had been goaded by Jeanette Winterson's nonfiction to go check it out, although to my chagrin, I didn't take the time to really sit with any one work. The museum was surprisingly crowded for a Tuesday afternoon, and I knew I needed to get back up to the BL in time to put in a few hours there before getting the train back to Cambridge.
But even though I didn't hang out long, it was a great visit. I saw all kinds of stuff: a few paintings that made me extremely uncomfortable, but in a productive way (works by African painters--I can't remember their names, alas, which is uncomfortable in an unproductive way!); a set that made me laugh wryly (Ellen Gallagher's DeLuxe); some by-now strangely comforting works (Giacometti); one little painting that I found extraordinarily mysterious and quietly provoking (Vanessa Bell's abstract); and some stuff I just loved. Gerhard Richter fits into that final category.
(from the Tate Modern's website)
I had been very bummed out by the building, though: it seemed like a warehouse, artificial from top to bottom, and sort of dingy, though to be sure, it was a sort of dingy day outside as well. I was surprised, because although I do love various forms of old architecture, I also love more modern buildings. But just now, I read the blurb about the building, and although I still thought the interior space could have been better arranged to discourage 'seeing the art at a trot' (to paraphrase Winterson), I'm impressed that the museum building was once a power station. That they used an existing building makes up for a lot, even though at first visit I wasn't so impressed with how the redesign was done. Maybe future visits will change my mind--and at any rate, my lasting impression was the art, not its container.