Chosen By The Curator: Darren Pih’s Favourite Constellations

(detail) Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, 1924-2005 Sack-o-sauce 1948 Printed papers on card 356 x 264 mm © The estate of Eduardo Paolozzi. Image courtesy Tate.

From surreal masquerade to a Jackson Pollock parody, Exhibitions and Displays Curator Darren Pih talks us through his favourite works in Tate Liverpool’s brand new (and free) national collection show

Promising more than 150 iconic artworks from the 20th and 21st century — including pieces by Sir Peter Blake, Louise Bourgeois, Marcel Duchamp, Nam June Paik, Eduardo Paolozzi and Grayson Perry – Tate Liverpool’s brand new iteration of its popular DLA Piper Series: Constellations certainly doesn’t disappoint. Visit the gallery’s second floor now, and you will find Richard Hamilton, Louise Bourgeois, Joseph Beuys and Cindy Sherman acting as four ‘trigger’ artists, or starting points, for the visitor to discuss ideas and movements associated with their work.

All the surrounding artists — a huge variety of practitioners arranged like stars around the constellation’s trigger star — have been carefully chosen by the in-house curators from Tate’s national collection to examine shared affinities or concerns, encouraging us to forge our own links between the works.

“We see her as an animal-human hybrid, her face part-masked by fox fur”

One of the wonderful things about Constellations is that there are works on display that have never been seen at any Tate site before. New acquisitions, bought by Tate and shown here for the first time, include a surreal Birgit Jürgenssen photograph: one of Exhibitions and Displays Curator Darren Pih’s favourite works in the show. Here, Pih, talks us through four featured artworks — from Jürgenssen to Paul McCarthy’s parody of Jackson Pollock – and his interpretations.

Birgit Jürgenssen: Ohne Titel (Selbst mit Fellchen) 1974, printed 2011 (Cindy Sherman Constellation)

“Jürgenssen was an Austrian feminist artist who emerged during the 1970s. It was a time when many artists used their own bodies as the basis for their work. Using self-staged performance, Jürgenssen investigated the power relations that inform identity representations. Here we see her as an animal-human hybrid, her face part-masked by fox fur, conflating surrealist themes and masquerade with a sinister edge.”

Enrico David: Untitled 2002 (Cindy Sherman Constellation)

Paul McCarthy: Painter 1995 (Cindy Sherman Constellation)

“McCarthy is infamous for his perverse video works in which he performs exaggerated personas to undermine supposed figures of authority. Here, McCarthy performs an abject parody of the ‘heroic’ abstract expressionist painter using giant brushes to smear paint, mayonnaise and ketchup onto canvases and throughout his studio. It’s satirises art world pretentions and hierarchies, suggesting that artistic expression is rooted in primal bodily impulse. I love that we’re screening this as a fillip to the Jackson Pollock exhibition on the top floor.”

“They show his fascination with popular mass culture, sex symbols and technology”

Enrico David: Untitled 2002 (Cindy Sherman Constellation)

“Here Enrico David stages four identically profiled wooden figures with variances in colour and patterning on each surface. These profiles are animated on a revolving turntable, creating play of surfaces. The sculpture alludes to the visual dynamism of Bauhaus theatre and figures such as Xanti Schawinsky and Oskar Schlemmer. It also suggests the elusive and cyclical nature of fashion design and the potential metamorphosis of the body and identity.”

Eduardo Paolozzi, ‘BUNK’ Portfolio (Richard Hamilton Constellation)

“Paolozzi’s series of forty-five ‘Bunk’ collages were created between 1947 and 1952 and are regarded as prototypical works of Pop Art. They were made from magazines given to the artist by American ex-servicemen. They show his fascination with popular mass culture, sex symbols and technology, as well as with the glamour of American consumerism. Like many artists of the period, Paolozzi responded to the advent of a new accelerated consumer society. The title of the series refers to Henry Ford’s famous statement that ‘History is more or less bunk… We want to live in the present’.”

Laura Robertson (Editor) with thanks to Darren Pih 

See the new DLA Piper Series: Constellations at Tate Liverpool (second floor, ongoing) now — free entry. Open daily 10am-5.50pm

Images: top: Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, 1924-2005, Sack-o-sauce (1948, detail). Printed papers on card, 356 x 264 mm © The estate of Eduardo Paolozzi. Image courtesy Tate. Centre: Enrico David, born 1966, Untitled (2002). Mahogany, plywood, graphite, wood varnish, paint, plastic and metal on motorised base, 2410 x 900 x 900 mm © Tate. Presented by Charles Asprey 2009
Posted on 11/08/2015 by thedoublenegative