Tate Britain: Schwitters in Britain.
Whoever said “it’s all the same thing” at the Tate Britain’s Schwitters in Britain exhibition clearly wasn’t looking hard enough. Curated intelligently and with a sensitivity to the work evident in the choice of framing and positioning, the exhibition presents a range of pieces and styles from one of the major artists of European Modernism. With in-depth information displayed in traditional Tate-style on the wall of each room, accompanied by artifacts from the working life of the artist, we are made aware of the cultural and historical influences on Schwitters’ work. This focuses on his time spent travelling to and living in Britain and encourages us to look harder and deeper.
Not content to simply display the collages for which Schwitters is most famous for, the Tate has also made efforts to introduce us to his many other techniques and ways of working. These include abstract paintings, 3-D assemblages, ceramics and even his abstract (and at times nonsensical) poetry, all of which make for a varied and intriguing experience. Visitors who prefer more figurative modes of painting, are not wholly forgotten when introduced to a range of Shwitters’ more representational portraits and landscapes, although these do not stand up as the strongest component in the show.
Perhaps the most surprising element of the exhibition comes in the form of the commissions from Laure Prouvost and Adam Chodzko who respond to the life and work of Schwitters. Whilst some of the audience may feel confused at the presence of these pieces after having paid to see Schwitters’ own work, in actual fact they provide thought-provoking comments on the importance of contextualization which the true art-lover will adore.
In short, the Tate’s curators have provided us with an exhibition, which if graced with enough time and an open mind from its visitors will repay with a clever, witty and enriching experience.
Tate Britain, until 12 May 2013.