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Carl Randall, "In the Footsteps of Hiroshige: Portraits of Modern Japan" @ National Portrait Gallery, London (until 15 Sep 2013)
Carl Randall won last year’s BP Portrait Travel Award with a really striking painting called “Mr Kitazawa’s Noodle Bar” => HERE. He was given £5,000 to go explore & paint Japan. Above are a few of the portraits that came out out that journey. 
Carl Randall:

The japanese woodblock-print artist Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) made prints depicting the places and people of his day. In 1832, he travelled along the Tokaido highway, a trading route from Tokyo to Kyoto, producing depictions of the people he met and the landscapes he experienced. Those prints now serve as a valuable document of life in japan at that time, forming an important part of the country’s cultural heritage. 
In june 2012, I travelled the same route to make modern portraits of people and their environments: a cross-section of old and mew japan, from salary men in office blocks to farmers in rice fields. The journey started in Tokyo where, drawn to its densely crowded streets, I painted hundreds of residents, directly from life. These depictions of strangers in crowded public spaces are related to my interest in urban alienation — people sharing physical space, but mentally existing in separate worlds. 
In cities such as Yokohama and nagoya, I painted other features of modern japan including sushi restaurants and department stores. As the highway moves out of cities and into rural areas, elderly rice farmers work their fields, their backs permanently bowed, skin leathery and wrinkled from a lifetime of farming. I also saw aspects of traditional japanese scenes: hot springs, fireflies and red autumn leaves. However, the modern and urban were ever present in the rural, with old and new often sitting side by side, such as bullet trains, motorways, telegraph poles and tower blocks. 
This unique and exciting opportunity allowed me to develop my interest in portraiture and japan, while following in the footstep of a great artist.

Sushi + Shibuya + Aka-fujii + The rice farmer’s daughters + Onsen + Rainy season + Kyoto + Sumo + Tetrapods + Zen garden, Kyoto Carl Randall, "In the Footsteps of Hiroshige: Portraits of Modern Japan" @ National Portrait Gallery, London (until 15 Sep 2013)
Carl Randall won last year’s BP Portrait Travel Award with a really striking painting called “Mr Kitazawa’s Noodle Bar” => HERE. He was given £5,000 to go explore & paint Japan. Above are a few of the portraits that came out out that journey. 
Carl Randall:

The japanese woodblock-print artist Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) made prints depicting the places and people of his day. In 1832, he travelled along the Tokaido highway, a trading route from Tokyo to Kyoto, producing depictions of the people he met and the landscapes he experienced. Those prints now serve as a valuable document of life in japan at that time, forming an important part of the country’s cultural heritage. 
In june 2012, I travelled the same route to make modern portraits of people and their environments: a cross-section of old and mew japan, from salary men in office blocks to farmers in rice fields. The journey started in Tokyo where, drawn to its densely crowded streets, I painted hundreds of residents, directly from life. These depictions of strangers in crowded public spaces are related to my interest in urban alienation — people sharing physical space, but mentally existing in separate worlds. 
In cities such as Yokohama and nagoya, I painted other features of modern japan including sushi restaurants and department stores. As the highway moves out of cities and into rural areas, elderly rice farmers work their fields, their backs permanently bowed, skin leathery and wrinkled from a lifetime of farming. I also saw aspects of traditional japanese scenes: hot springs, fireflies and red autumn leaves. However, the modern and urban were ever present in the rural, with old and new often sitting side by side, such as bullet trains, motorways, telegraph poles and tower blocks. 
This unique and exciting opportunity allowed me to develop my interest in portraiture and japan, while following in the footstep of a great artist.

Sushi + Shibuya + Aka-fujii + The rice farmer’s daughters + Onsen + Rainy season + Kyoto + Sumo + Tetrapods + Zen garden, Kyoto Carl Randall, "In the Footsteps of Hiroshige: Portraits of Modern Japan" @ National Portrait Gallery, London (until 15 Sep 2013)
Carl Randall won last year’s BP Portrait Travel Award with a really striking painting called “Mr Kitazawa’s Noodle Bar” => HERE. He was given £5,000 to go explore & paint Japan. Above are a few of the portraits that came out out that journey. 
Carl Randall:

The japanese woodblock-print artist Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) made prints depicting the places and people of his day. In 1832, he travelled along the Tokaido highway, a trading route from Tokyo to Kyoto, producing depictions of the people he met and the landscapes he experienced. Those prints now serve as a valuable document of life in japan at that time, forming an important part of the country’s cultural heritage. 
In june 2012, I travelled the same route to make modern portraits of people and their environments: a cross-section of old and mew japan, from salary men in office blocks to farmers in rice fields. The journey started in Tokyo where, drawn to its densely crowded streets, I painted hundreds of residents, directly from life. These depictions of strangers in crowded public spaces are related to my interest in urban alienation — people sharing physical space, but mentally existing in separate worlds. 
In cities such as Yokohama and nagoya, I painted other features of modern japan including sushi restaurants and department stores. As the highway moves out of cities and into rural areas, elderly rice farmers work their fields, their backs permanently bowed, skin leathery and wrinkled from a lifetime of farming. I also saw aspects of traditional japanese scenes: hot springs, fireflies and red autumn leaves. However, the modern and urban were ever present in the rural, with old and new often sitting side by side, such as bullet trains, motorways, telegraph poles and tower blocks. 
This unique and exciting opportunity allowed me to develop my interest in portraiture and japan, while following in the footstep of a great artist.

Sushi + Shibuya + Aka-fujii + The rice farmer’s daughters + Onsen + Rainy season + Kyoto + Sumo + Tetrapods + Zen garden, Kyoto Carl Randall, "In the Footsteps of Hiroshige: Portraits of Modern Japan" @ National Portrait Gallery, London (until 15 Sep 2013)
Carl Randall won last year’s BP Portrait Travel Award with a really striking painting called “Mr Kitazawa’s Noodle Bar” => HERE. He was given £5,000 to go explore & paint Japan. Above are a few of the portraits that came out out that journey. 
Carl Randall:

The japanese woodblock-print artist Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) made prints depicting the places and people of his day. In 1832, he travelled along the Tokaido highway, a trading route from Tokyo to Kyoto, producing depictions of the people he met and the landscapes he experienced. Those prints now serve as a valuable document of life in japan at that time, forming an important part of the country’s cultural heritage. 
In june 2012, I travelled the same route to make modern portraits of people and their environments: a cross-section of old and mew japan, from salary men in office blocks to farmers in rice fields. The journey started in Tokyo where, drawn to its densely crowded streets, I painted hundreds of residents, directly from life. These depictions of strangers in crowded public spaces are related to my interest in urban alienation — people sharing physical space, but mentally existing in separate worlds. 
In cities such as Yokohama and nagoya, I painted other features of modern japan including sushi restaurants and department stores. As the highway moves out of cities and into rural areas, elderly rice farmers work their fields, their backs permanently bowed, skin leathery and wrinkled from a lifetime of farming. I also saw aspects of traditional japanese scenes: hot springs, fireflies and red autumn leaves. However, the modern and urban were ever present in the rural, with old and new often sitting side by side, such as bullet trains, motorways, telegraph poles and tower blocks. 
This unique and exciting opportunity allowed me to develop my interest in portraiture and japan, while following in the footstep of a great artist.

Sushi + Shibuya + Aka-fujii + The rice farmer’s daughters + Onsen + Rainy season + Kyoto + Sumo + Tetrapods + Zen garden, Kyoto Carl Randall, "In the Footsteps of Hiroshige: Portraits of Modern Japan" @ National Portrait Gallery, London (until 15 Sep 2013)
Carl Randall won last year’s BP Portrait Travel Award with a really striking painting called “Mr Kitazawa’s Noodle Bar” => HERE. He was given £5,000 to go explore & paint Japan. Above are a few of the portraits that came out out that journey. 
Carl Randall:

The japanese woodblock-print artist Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) made prints depicting the places and people of his day. In 1832, he travelled along the Tokaido highway, a trading route from Tokyo to Kyoto, producing depictions of the people he met and the landscapes he experienced. Those prints now serve as a valuable document of life in japan at that time, forming an important part of the country’s cultural heritage. 
In june 2012, I travelled the same route to make modern portraits of people and their environments: a cross-section of old and mew japan, from salary men in office blocks to farmers in rice fields. The journey started in Tokyo where, drawn to its densely crowded streets, I painted hundreds of residents, directly from life. These depictions of strangers in crowded public spaces are related to my interest in urban alienation — people sharing physical space, but mentally existing in separate worlds. 
In cities such as Yokohama and nagoya, I painted other features of modern japan including sushi restaurants and department stores. As the highway moves out of cities and into rural areas, elderly rice farmers work their fields, their backs permanently bowed, skin leathery and wrinkled from a lifetime of farming. I also saw aspects of traditional japanese scenes: hot springs, fireflies and red autumn leaves. However, the modern and urban were ever present in the rural, with old and new often sitting side by side, such as bullet trains, motorways, telegraph poles and tower blocks. 
This unique and exciting opportunity allowed me to develop my interest in portraiture and japan, while following in the footstep of a great artist.

Sushi + Shibuya + Aka-fujii + The rice farmer’s daughters + Onsen + Rainy season + Kyoto + Sumo + Tetrapods + Zen garden, Kyoto Carl Randall, "In the Footsteps of Hiroshige: Portraits of Modern Japan" @ National Portrait Gallery, London (until 15 Sep 2013)
Carl Randall won last year’s BP Portrait Travel Award with a really striking painting called “Mr Kitazawa’s Noodle Bar” => HERE. He was given £5,000 to go explore & paint Japan. Above are a few of the portraits that came out out that journey. 
Carl Randall:

The japanese woodblock-print artist Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) made prints depicting the places and people of his day. In 1832, he travelled along the Tokaido highway, a trading route from Tokyo to Kyoto, producing depictions of the people he met and the landscapes he experienced. Those prints now serve as a valuable document of life in japan at that time, forming an important part of the country’s cultural heritage. 
In june 2012, I travelled the same route to make modern portraits of people and their environments: a cross-section of old and mew japan, from salary men in office blocks to farmers in rice fields. The journey started in Tokyo where, drawn to its densely crowded streets, I painted hundreds of residents, directly from life. These depictions of strangers in crowded public spaces are related to my interest in urban alienation — people sharing physical space, but mentally existing in separate worlds. 
In cities such as Yokohama and nagoya, I painted other features of modern japan including sushi restaurants and department stores. As the highway moves out of cities and into rural areas, elderly rice farmers work their fields, their backs permanently bowed, skin leathery and wrinkled from a lifetime of farming. I also saw aspects of traditional japanese scenes: hot springs, fireflies and red autumn leaves. However, the modern and urban were ever present in the rural, with old and new often sitting side by side, such as bullet trains, motorways, telegraph poles and tower blocks. 
This unique and exciting opportunity allowed me to develop my interest in portraiture and japan, while following in the footstep of a great artist.

Sushi + Shibuya + Aka-fujii + The rice farmer’s daughters + Onsen + Rainy season + Kyoto + Sumo + Tetrapods + Zen garden, Kyoto Carl Randall, "In the Footsteps of Hiroshige: Portraits of Modern Japan" @ National Portrait Gallery, London (until 15 Sep 2013)
Carl Randall won last year’s BP Portrait Travel Award with a really striking painting called “Mr Kitazawa’s Noodle Bar” => HERE. He was given £5,000 to go explore & paint Japan. Above are a few of the portraits that came out out that journey. 
Carl Randall:

The japanese woodblock-print artist Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) made prints depicting the places and people of his day. In 1832, he travelled along the Tokaido highway, a trading route from Tokyo to Kyoto, producing depictions of the people he met and the landscapes he experienced. Those prints now serve as a valuable document of life in japan at that time, forming an important part of the country’s cultural heritage. 
In june 2012, I travelled the same route to make modern portraits of people and their environments: a cross-section of old and mew japan, from salary men in office blocks to farmers in rice fields. The journey started in Tokyo where, drawn to its densely crowded streets, I painted hundreds of residents, directly from life. These depictions of strangers in crowded public spaces are related to my interest in urban alienation — people sharing physical space, but mentally existing in separate worlds. 
In cities such as Yokohama and nagoya, I painted other features of modern japan including sushi restaurants and department stores. As the highway moves out of cities and into rural areas, elderly rice farmers work their fields, their backs permanently bowed, skin leathery and wrinkled from a lifetime of farming. I also saw aspects of traditional japanese scenes: hot springs, fireflies and red autumn leaves. However, the modern and urban were ever present in the rural, with old and new often sitting side by side, such as bullet trains, motorways, telegraph poles and tower blocks. 
This unique and exciting opportunity allowed me to develop my interest in portraiture and japan, while following in the footstep of a great artist.

Sushi + Shibuya + Aka-fujii + The rice farmer’s daughters + Onsen + Rainy season + Kyoto + Sumo + Tetrapods + Zen garden, Kyoto Carl Randall, "In the Footsteps of Hiroshige: Portraits of Modern Japan" @ National Portrait Gallery, London (until 15 Sep 2013)
Carl Randall won last year’s BP Portrait Travel Award with a really striking painting called “Mr Kitazawa’s Noodle Bar” => HERE. He was given £5,000 to go explore & paint Japan. Above are a few of the portraits that came out out that journey. 
Carl Randall:

The japanese woodblock-print artist Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) made prints depicting the places and people of his day. In 1832, he travelled along the Tokaido highway, a trading route from Tokyo to Kyoto, producing depictions of the people he met and the landscapes he experienced. Those prints now serve as a valuable document of life in japan at that time, forming an important part of the country’s cultural heritage. 
In june 2012, I travelled the same route to make modern portraits of people and their environments: a cross-section of old and mew japan, from salary men in office blocks to farmers in rice fields. The journey started in Tokyo where, drawn to its densely crowded streets, I painted hundreds of residents, directly from life. These depictions of strangers in crowded public spaces are related to my interest in urban alienation — people sharing physical space, but mentally existing in separate worlds. 
In cities such as Yokohama and nagoya, I painted other features of modern japan including sushi restaurants and department stores. As the highway moves out of cities and into rural areas, elderly rice farmers work their fields, their backs permanently bowed, skin leathery and wrinkled from a lifetime of farming. I also saw aspects of traditional japanese scenes: hot springs, fireflies and red autumn leaves. However, the modern and urban were ever present in the rural, with old and new often sitting side by side, such as bullet trains, motorways, telegraph poles and tower blocks. 
This unique and exciting opportunity allowed me to develop my interest in portraiture and japan, while following in the footstep of a great artist.

Sushi + Shibuya + Aka-fujii + The rice farmer’s daughters + Onsen + Rainy season + Kyoto + Sumo + Tetrapods + Zen garden, Kyoto Carl Randall, "In the Footsteps of Hiroshige: Portraits of Modern Japan" @ National Portrait Gallery, London (until 15 Sep 2013)
Carl Randall won last year’s BP Portrait Travel Award with a really striking painting called “Mr Kitazawa’s Noodle Bar” => HERE. He was given £5,000 to go explore & paint Japan. Above are a few of the portraits that came out out that journey. 
Carl Randall:

The japanese woodblock-print artist Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) made prints depicting the places and people of his day. In 1832, he travelled along the Tokaido highway, a trading route from Tokyo to Kyoto, producing depictions of the people he met and the landscapes he experienced. Those prints now serve as a valuable document of life in japan at that time, forming an important part of the country’s cultural heritage. 
In june 2012, I travelled the same route to make modern portraits of people and their environments: a cross-section of old and mew japan, from salary men in office blocks to farmers in rice fields. The journey started in Tokyo where, drawn to its densely crowded streets, I painted hundreds of residents, directly from life. These depictions of strangers in crowded public spaces are related to my interest in urban alienation — people sharing physical space, but mentally existing in separate worlds. 
In cities such as Yokohama and nagoya, I painted other features of modern japan including sushi restaurants and department stores. As the highway moves out of cities and into rural areas, elderly rice farmers work their fields, their backs permanently bowed, skin leathery and wrinkled from a lifetime of farming. I also saw aspects of traditional japanese scenes: hot springs, fireflies and red autumn leaves. However, the modern and urban were ever present in the rural, with old and new often sitting side by side, such as bullet trains, motorways, telegraph poles and tower blocks. 
This unique and exciting opportunity allowed me to develop my interest in portraiture and japan, while following in the footstep of a great artist.

Sushi + Shibuya + Aka-fujii + The rice farmer’s daughters + Onsen + Rainy season + Kyoto + Sumo + Tetrapods + Zen garden, Kyoto Carl Randall, "In the Footsteps of Hiroshige: Portraits of Modern Japan" @ National Portrait Gallery, London (until 15 Sep 2013)
Carl Randall won last year’s BP Portrait Travel Award with a really striking painting called “Mr Kitazawa’s Noodle Bar” => HERE. He was given £5,000 to go explore & paint Japan. Above are a few of the portraits that came out out that journey. 
Carl Randall:

The japanese woodblock-print artist Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) made prints depicting the places and people of his day. In 1832, he travelled along the Tokaido highway, a trading route from Tokyo to Kyoto, producing depictions of the people he met and the landscapes he experienced. Those prints now serve as a valuable document of life in japan at that time, forming an important part of the country’s cultural heritage. 
In june 2012, I travelled the same route to make modern portraits of people and their environments: a cross-section of old and mew japan, from salary men in office blocks to farmers in rice fields. The journey started in Tokyo where, drawn to its densely crowded streets, I painted hundreds of residents, directly from life. These depictions of strangers in crowded public spaces are related to my interest in urban alienation — people sharing physical space, but mentally existing in separate worlds. 
In cities such as Yokohama and nagoya, I painted other features of modern japan including sushi restaurants and department stores. As the highway moves out of cities and into rural areas, elderly rice farmers work their fields, their backs permanently bowed, skin leathery and wrinkled from a lifetime of farming. I also saw aspects of traditional japanese scenes: hot springs, fireflies and red autumn leaves. However, the modern and urban were ever present in the rural, with old and new often sitting side by side, such as bullet trains, motorways, telegraph poles and tower blocks. 
This unique and exciting opportunity allowed me to develop my interest in portraiture and japan, while following in the footstep of a great artist.

Sushi + Shibuya + Aka-fujii + The rice farmer’s daughters + Onsen + Rainy season + Kyoto + Sumo + Tetrapods + Zen garden, Kyoto

    Carl Randall"In the Footsteps of Hiroshige: Portraits of Modern Japan" @ National Portrait Gallery, London (until 15 Sep 2013)

    Carl Randall won last year’s BP Portrait Travel Award with a really striking painting called “Mr Kitazawa’s Noodle Bar” => HERE. He was given £5,000 to go explore & paint Japan. Above are a few of the portraits that came out out that journey. 

    Carl Randall:

    The japanese woodblock-print artist Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) made prints depicting the places and people of his day. In 1832, he travelled along the Tokaido highway, a trading route from Tokyo to Kyoto, producing depictions of the people he met and the landscapes he experienced. Those prints now serve as a valuable document of life in japan at that time, forming an important part of the country’s cultural heritage.

    In june 2012, I travelled the same route to make modern portraits of people and their environments: a cross-section of old and mew japan, from salary men in office blocks to farmers in rice fields. The journey started in Tokyo where, drawn to its densely crowded streets, I painted hundreds of residents, directly from life. These depictions of strangers in crowded public spaces are related to my interest in urban alienation — people sharing physical space, but mentally existing in separate worlds.

    In cities such as Yokohama and nagoya, I painted other features of modern japan including sushi restaurants and department stores. As the highway moves out of cities and into rural areas, elderly rice farmers work their fields, their backs permanently bowed, skin leathery and wrinkled from a lifetime of farming. I also saw aspects of traditional japanese scenes: hot springs, fireflies and red autumn leaves. However, the modern and urban were ever present in the rural, with old and new often sitting side by side, such as bullet trains, motorways, telegraph poles and tower blocks.

    This unique and exciting opportunity allowed me to develop my interest in portraiture and japan, while following in the footstep of a great artist.

    Sushi + Shibuya + Aka-fujii + The rice farmer’s daughters + Onsen + Rainy season + Kyoto + Sumo + Tetrapods + Zen garden, Kyoto

    Pieter by Susanne du Toit
1st Prize @ BP Portrait Award 2013, National Portrait Gallery, London
National Portrait Gallery: 

The portrait is Pieter, du Toit’s eldest son, and was painted in her studio over a number of sittings. He was allowed to find his own pose, on the condition that his hands were prominent. Du Toit says: “I have always found hands essential to communication. I look to the body to provide as much expression as the face.”
The judges felt susanne du Toit demonstrated a beautifully constructed simplicity and directness of approach in this portrait, and agreed unanimously that this should be the overall winner.

His stare and his knuckles are striking

    Pieter by Susanne du Toit

    1st Prize @ BP Portrait Award 2013, National Portrait Gallery, London

    National Portrait Gallery: 

    The portrait is Pieter, du Toit’s eldest son, and was painted in her studio over a number of sittings. He was allowed to find his own pose, on the condition that his hands were prominent. Du Toit says: “I have always found hands essential to communication. I look to the body to provide as much expression as the face.”

    The judges felt susanne du Toit demonstrated a beautifully constructed simplicity and directness of approach in this portrait, and agreed unanimously that this should be the overall winner.

    His stare and his knuckles are striking

    Kholiswa by Lionel Smit, 2013 © Lionel Smit
@ BP Portrait Award 2013, National Portrait Gallery, London
National Portrait Gallery:

The portrait is of a waitress in a township café that Smit visits frequently. He wanted this portrait to capture the essence of her life – including the long distances she travels to work and her struggles as a single mother. Over the course of two months of sittings, smit came to know her better and gained insights into her life.

Some more Lionel Smit => HERE

    Kholiswa by Lionel Smit, 2013 © Lionel Smit

    BP Portrait Award 2013, National Portrait Gallery, London

    National Portrait Gallery:

    The portrait is of a waitress in a township café that Smit visits frequently. He wanted this portrait to capture the essence of her life – including the long distances she travels to work and her struggles as a single mother. Over the course of two months of sittings, smit came to know her better and gained insights into her life.

    Some more Lionel Smit => HERE

    Self-portrait, Ian Cumberland
@ BP Portrait Award 2013, National Portrait Gallery, London
Cumberland is back on the BP Portrait Award’s shortlist — and on a rather large scale, this time. He never fails to impress me and this portrait is hands down my favourite of this year’s batch.
[Check out Ian Cumberland’s portraits selected in previous years => HERE] Self-portrait, Ian Cumberland
@ BP Portrait Award 2013, National Portrait Gallery, London
Cumberland is back on the BP Portrait Award’s shortlist — and on a rather large scale, this time. He never fails to impress me and this portrait is hands down my favourite of this year’s batch.
[Check out Ian Cumberland’s portraits selected in previous years => HERE]

      Self-portrait, Ian Cumberland

      @ BP Portrait Award 2013, National Portrait Gallery, London

      Cumberland is back on the BP Portrait Award’s shortlist — and on a rather large scale, this time. He never fails to impress me and this portrait is hands down my favourite of this year’s batch.

      [Check out Ian Cumberland’s portraits selected in previous years => HERE]

      American Art, Grant Snider
Grant Snider:

The summer before I began high school, my family took a road trip from Kansas to Chicago. After ten and a half hours of driving, the vast Midwest landscape of wheat, corn, and cows gave way to the skyscrapers of the city. The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. This was one of my first exposures to modern and contemporary art. I was intrigued by the humor and strangeness of the work in the contemporary gallery, including the massive silkscreen of “Mao” by Andy Warhol. The questioning attitude and rebellious approach of the paintings, sculptures, and installations appealed to my adolescent self.
The museum’s American collection was a quieter revelation. I got lost in the light and angles of an Edward Hopper canvas and fell in love with the smooth colors of Georgia O’Keeffe’s abstractions. My favorite paintings had an intense but calming beauty — an altogether different feeling from the irreverent energy of the contemporary works.
Since that formative vacation, the art museum is always one my of first stops in visiting a new city. In the comic above, I’ve curated my ideal collection of 20th-century American art.
Here’s a list of works in order of appearance:
Jasper Johns, “Flag”
Edward Hopper, “Morning Sun”
Ellsworth Kelly,”Red Blue Green”
Wayne Thiebaud, “Refrigerator Pie”
Grant Wood, “Young Corn”
Roy Lichtenstein, “Whaam!”
Stuart Davis, “Colonial Cubism”
Andy Warhol, “Campbell’s Soup Cans”
George Bellows, “Dempsey and Firpo”
Jackson Pollock, “Autumn Rhythm”
Georgia O’Keeffe, “Sky Above Clouds III”
American Art, Grant Snider
Grant Snider:

The summer before I began high school, my family took a road trip from Kansas to Chicago. After ten and a half hours of driving, the vast Midwest landscape of wheat, corn, and cows gave way to the skyscrapers of the city. The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. This was one of my first exposures to modern and contemporary art. I was intrigued by the humor and strangeness of the work in the contemporary gallery, including the massive silkscreen of “Mao” by Andy Warhol. The questioning attitude and rebellious approach of the paintings, sculptures, and installations appealed to my adolescent self.
The museum’s American collection was a quieter revelation. I got lost in the light and angles of an Edward Hopper canvas and fell in love with the smooth colors of Georgia O’Keeffe’s abstractions. My favorite paintings had an intense but calming beauty — an altogether different feeling from the irreverent energy of the contemporary works.
Since that formative vacation, the art museum is always one my of first stops in visiting a new city. In the comic above, I’ve curated my ideal collection of 20th-century American art.
Here’s a list of works in order of appearance:
Jasper Johns, “Flag”
Edward Hopper, “Morning Sun”
Ellsworth Kelly,”Red Blue Green”
Wayne Thiebaud, “Refrigerator Pie”
Grant Wood, “Young Corn”
Roy Lichtenstein, “Whaam!”
Stuart Davis, “Colonial Cubism”
Andy Warhol, “Campbell’s Soup Cans”
George Bellows, “Dempsey and Firpo”
Jackson Pollock, “Autumn Rhythm”
Georgia O’Keeffe, “Sky Above Clouds III”
American Art, Grant Snider
Grant Snider:

The summer before I began high school, my family took a road trip from Kansas to Chicago. After ten and a half hours of driving, the vast Midwest landscape of wheat, corn, and cows gave way to the skyscrapers of the city. The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. This was one of my first exposures to modern and contemporary art. I was intrigued by the humor and strangeness of the work in the contemporary gallery, including the massive silkscreen of “Mao” by Andy Warhol. The questioning attitude and rebellious approach of the paintings, sculptures, and installations appealed to my adolescent self.
The museum’s American collection was a quieter revelation. I got lost in the light and angles of an Edward Hopper canvas and fell in love with the smooth colors of Georgia O’Keeffe’s abstractions. My favorite paintings had an intense but calming beauty — an altogether different feeling from the irreverent energy of the contemporary works.
Since that formative vacation, the art museum is always one my of first stops in visiting a new city. In the comic above, I’ve curated my ideal collection of 20th-century American art.
Here’s a list of works in order of appearance:
Jasper Johns, “Flag”
Edward Hopper, “Morning Sun”
Ellsworth Kelly,”Red Blue Green”
Wayne Thiebaud, “Refrigerator Pie”
Grant Wood, “Young Corn”
Roy Lichtenstein, “Whaam!”
Stuart Davis, “Colonial Cubism”
Andy Warhol, “Campbell’s Soup Cans”
George Bellows, “Dempsey and Firpo”
Jackson Pollock, “Autumn Rhythm”
Georgia O’Keeffe, “Sky Above Clouds III”
American Art, Grant Snider
Grant Snider:

The summer before I began high school, my family took a road trip from Kansas to Chicago. After ten and a half hours of driving, the vast Midwest landscape of wheat, corn, and cows gave way to the skyscrapers of the city. The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. This was one of my first exposures to modern and contemporary art. I was intrigued by the humor and strangeness of the work in the contemporary gallery, including the massive silkscreen of “Mao” by Andy Warhol. The questioning attitude and rebellious approach of the paintings, sculptures, and installations appealed to my adolescent self.
The museum’s American collection was a quieter revelation. I got lost in the light and angles of an Edward Hopper canvas and fell in love with the smooth colors of Georgia O’Keeffe’s abstractions. My favorite paintings had an intense but calming beauty — an altogether different feeling from the irreverent energy of the contemporary works.
Since that formative vacation, the art museum is always one my of first stops in visiting a new city. In the comic above, I’ve curated my ideal collection of 20th-century American art.
Here’s a list of works in order of appearance:
Jasper Johns, “Flag”
Edward Hopper, “Morning Sun”
Ellsworth Kelly,”Red Blue Green”
Wayne Thiebaud, “Refrigerator Pie”
Grant Wood, “Young Corn”
Roy Lichtenstein, “Whaam!”
Stuart Davis, “Colonial Cubism”
Andy Warhol, “Campbell’s Soup Cans”
George Bellows, “Dempsey and Firpo”
Jackson Pollock, “Autumn Rhythm”
Georgia O’Keeffe, “Sky Above Clouds III”
American Art, Grant Snider
Grant Snider:

The summer before I began high school, my family took a road trip from Kansas to Chicago. After ten and a half hours of driving, the vast Midwest landscape of wheat, corn, and cows gave way to the skyscrapers of the city. The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. This was one of my first exposures to modern and contemporary art. I was intrigued by the humor and strangeness of the work in the contemporary gallery, including the massive silkscreen of “Mao” by Andy Warhol. The questioning attitude and rebellious approach of the paintings, sculptures, and installations appealed to my adolescent self.
The museum’s American collection was a quieter revelation. I got lost in the light and angles of an Edward Hopper canvas and fell in love with the smooth colors of Georgia O’Keeffe’s abstractions. My favorite paintings had an intense but calming beauty — an altogether different feeling from the irreverent energy of the contemporary works.
Since that formative vacation, the art museum is always one my of first stops in visiting a new city. In the comic above, I’ve curated my ideal collection of 20th-century American art.
Here’s a list of works in order of appearance:
Jasper Johns, “Flag”
Edward Hopper, “Morning Sun”
Ellsworth Kelly,”Red Blue Green”
Wayne Thiebaud, “Refrigerator Pie”
Grant Wood, “Young Corn”
Roy Lichtenstein, “Whaam!”
Stuart Davis, “Colonial Cubism”
Andy Warhol, “Campbell’s Soup Cans”
George Bellows, “Dempsey and Firpo”
Jackson Pollock, “Autumn Rhythm”
Georgia O’Keeffe, “Sky Above Clouds III”

        American Art, Grant Snider

        Grant Snider:

        The summer before I began high school, my family took a road trip from Kansas to Chicago. After ten and a half hours of driving, the vast Midwest landscape of wheat, corn, and cows gave way to the skyscrapers of the city. The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. This was one of my first exposures to modern and contemporary art. I was intrigued by the humor and strangeness of the work in the contemporary gallery, including the massive silkscreen of “Mao” by Andy Warhol. The questioning attitude and rebellious approach of the paintings, sculptures, and installations appealed to my adolescent self.

        The museum’s American collection was a quieter revelation. I got lost in the light and angles of an Edward Hopper canvas and fell in love with the smooth colors of Georgia O’Keeffe’s abstractions. My favorite paintings had an intense but calming beauty — an altogether different feeling from the irreverent energy of the contemporary works.

        Since that formative vacation, the art museum is always one my of first stops in visiting a new city. In the comic above, I’ve curated my ideal collection of 20th-century American art.

        Here’s a list of works in order of appearance:

        Jasper Johns, “Flag”

        Edward Hopper, “Morning Sun”

        Ellsworth Kelly,”Red Blue Green”

        Wayne Thiebaud, “Refrigerator Pie”

        Grant Wood, “Young Corn”

        Roy Lichtenstein, “Whaam!”

        Stuart Davis, “Colonial Cubism”

        Andy Warhol, “Campbell’s Soup Cans”

        George Bellows, “Dempsey and Firpo”

        Jackson Pollock, “Autumn Rhythm”

        Georgia O’Keeffe, “Sky Above Clouds III”

        (via nevver)

        Leandro Erlich’s Dalston House
        1-7 Ashwin Street, E8 3DL

        Barbican:

        Scale the walls of a Victorian house without your feet ever leaving the ground…

        Internationally known for his captivating, three-dimensional visual illusions, Argentine artist Leandro Erlich presents his new installation, Dalston House. 

        Swing, hang, crawl, roll, leap - let your imagination take over as you create your own gravity defying moments on this breathtaking, detailed facade of a Victorian terraced house – recalling those that once stood on the street. 

        For queue information, follow @DalstonHouse on Twitter. 

        This looks like a lot of fun. 

        Bird in Hand, 2006 ©Ellen Gallagher

        I stopped by Ellen Gallagher’s exhibition @ Tate Modern a few days ago. It was lunch time and I was on my way back to work. I had no time so I only meant to rush my way through it. Although I seriously resisted it, I got completely engrossed and ended up spending over an hour marvelling at Gallagher’s playful and intricate visual world + large scale paintings almost never fail to suck me in (the bigger, the better — pretty much always), especially when there’s a lot going on across the canvas and when the texturing is so rich.

        Ellen Gallagher: AxME @ Tate Modern until 1 Sep 2013 => HERE

        [I strongly recommend buying a combo ticket along with the Saloua Raouda Choucair exhibition — Choucair’s show is a secret gem and because it’s on a much smaller scale than Gallagher’s, it’s an easy one to fit in without feeling overwhelmed.]

        Saloua Raouda Choucair @ Tate Modern, London, 3 June 2013
During your next visit to Tate Modern please make sure not to miss the wonderful (and rather short) exhibition on Lebanese painter & sculptor Saloua Raouda Choucair. You won’t regret it.
Laura Cumming for The Observer:

A bolt from the blue is not what one expects at Tate Modern. Unqualified revelations have never been the museum’s priority. Nobody goes to Bankside hoping to be astonished by a brand new name, a new artist, a new strain of art that has not yet been bruited on the international circuit all the way from Venice to Sydney to Basel. It does not deal in risks or experiments or artists without a press review to their name. It is powerfully attached to the status quo.
Or at least that was the case until last week. For the first time in its 13-year history, Tate Modern has devoted a solo show to an artist who can confidently be described as completely unknown in Britain. She has never had an exhibition here, still less shown any of her paintings, drawings or sculptures here or practically anywhere outside her native Lebanon.Saloua Raouda Choucairis an extraordinary new name. She is also in her 97th year.
Choucairwas born in Beirut in 1916. She has never stopped making art despite the fact that her earliest success – in Paris in 1951 – was more or less her last. She studied in the studio of Fernand Léger in Paris and was a pioneer of abstraction (or, to my mind, semi-abstraction) in Lebanon, but did not sell a single work there until she was in her 50s.
Many artists have endured similar struggles but few have found themselves simultaneously quite so thwarted by political strife. One of the paintings in this show is pocked with holes from a bomb blast during the civil war that left Choucair’s husband deaf, and the Beirut art scene has been so devastated by violence that the galleries that represented her work have shut down in sequence over the years.
Of all the monumental sculptures she dreamed of making, only the beguiling prototypes exist. And in Beirut itself, all that survives of her public art works is a series of 17 stone forms that used to huddle together in a familial crescent, and upon which families used to sit, but which have been split in two bySolidere, the company in charge of rebuilding the city centre; an art work in divorce.
The show opens, as so often, with a youthful self-portrait. But in this case the sharply intelligent young woman all chopped about in post-cubist style, green shadows beneath the eyes, nameless urban jungle behind her, is wearing a headscarf. It is 1943 and Choucair has not yet left Beirut for Paris and seen the European avant garde at first hand. When she does, though, it will be with far less traditional responses.
Her reaction to Léger’s art, for instance, is to take his tubular belles and give them some spirit. Her dark-eyed models don’t just sit there holding the pose without any clothes, they drink espresso, converse and read books (in one case, books on great artists, and we may guess who). They are never content to remain passive within their heavy black outlines; there is always a sense of imminent movement.
A vein of humour is rare enough in art but it runs consistently through this show. Chores, as it’s called, could easily pass as some early modernist painting, all compressed forms and wild distortions. But if you look closely you can see that the bottle-washer’s head really is inside the giant wine glass she is washing; that the woman who’s doing the ironing is labouring away at the stretch of cloth that has been flattened against the substrate in true cubist style so that it doubles as the chore itself but also as her whole environment.
There are plenty of jeux d’esprit in the opening galleries, but the major work here is an exquisite little painting called Paris-Beirut. An Islamic star, Cleopatra’s Needle, the colours of the desert, the Arc de Triomphe: all are reduced to their essential forms and held in perfect balance in a picture as condensed as a sonnet. The Arc opens as a portal in both directions – which way will Choucair turn, should she go or should she stay?
In the event she returned to Beirut and a great stream ofgorgeous syncopated abstractsthat are based on mathematical permutations but fly free of science. Thermal currents, reflections, quivering trees, dancing figures; the catalogue places due emphasis on the strictly non-figurative principles underpinning the art, but paintings are their own evidence and these speak constantly of the visible energies of life.
Choucair’s sculptures fuse Islamic design with modernist traditions. Like her paintings they are small-scale, spry and ingeniously balanced. Two roundels fit together, making a friendship. Six molar-like lumps fit together, and a bridge is established. She has many vertical forms constructed out of idiosyncratic blocks that irresistibly evoke mid-rise towers. One of these sculptures, carved out of wood, with recesses, reliefs and louvred apertures, seems to vibrate from top to bottom with interior life – unseen human existence.
The last room has beauty in abundance, numerous sculptures created out of gossamer thread, spun steel and glass. Some are planetary, evoking eclipses and starbursts. Others have affinities with womankind – corkscrew curls, metal bows and gyrating curves – and the quirkiest are highly strung, shivering excitedly as one passes. Even without any knowledge of the Sufi principles apparently underlying this art, one has the sense of a free and humorous spirit perpetually at work.
That Saloua Raouda Choucair has had to wait a lifetime for such a show is shocking but standard. Western museums are resolutely conservative. But perhaps Tate Modern is about to change direction, for this is the first in a series ofexhibitionsof Arab and African artists whose work is cherished at home and entirely unknown here. Fittingly, it’s on for half a year and is neatly positioned among the themed galleries on level four so that browsing crowds will come across it more easily. Choucair profoundly deserves it.
Saloua Raouda Choucair @ Tate Modern, London, 3 June 2013
During your next visit to Tate Modern please make sure not to miss the wonderful (and rather short) exhibition on Lebanese painter & sculptor Saloua Raouda Choucair. You won’t regret it.
Laura Cumming for The Observer:

A bolt from the blue is not what one expects at Tate Modern. Unqualified revelations have never been the museum’s priority. Nobody goes to Bankside hoping to be astonished by a brand new name, a new artist, a new strain of art that has not yet been bruited on the international circuit all the way from Venice to Sydney to Basel. It does not deal in risks or experiments or artists without a press review to their name. It is powerfully attached to the status quo.
Or at least that was the case until last week. For the first time in its 13-year history, Tate Modern has devoted a solo show to an artist who can confidently be described as completely unknown in Britain. She has never had an exhibition here, still less shown any of her paintings, drawings or sculptures here or practically anywhere outside her native Lebanon.Saloua Raouda Choucairis an extraordinary new name. She is also in her 97th year.
Choucairwas born in Beirut in 1916. She has never stopped making art despite the fact that her earliest success – in Paris in 1951 – was more or less her last. She studied in the studio of Fernand Léger in Paris and was a pioneer of abstraction (or, to my mind, semi-abstraction) in Lebanon, but did not sell a single work there until she was in her 50s.
Many artists have endured similar struggles but few have found themselves simultaneously quite so thwarted by political strife. One of the paintings in this show is pocked with holes from a bomb blast during the civil war that left Choucair’s husband deaf, and the Beirut art scene has been so devastated by violence that the galleries that represented her work have shut down in sequence over the years.
Of all the monumental sculptures she dreamed of making, only the beguiling prototypes exist. And in Beirut itself, all that survives of her public art works is a series of 17 stone forms that used to huddle together in a familial crescent, and upon which families used to sit, but which have been split in two bySolidere, the company in charge of rebuilding the city centre; an art work in divorce.
The show opens, as so often, with a youthful self-portrait. But in this case the sharply intelligent young woman all chopped about in post-cubist style, green shadows beneath the eyes, nameless urban jungle behind her, is wearing a headscarf. It is 1943 and Choucair has not yet left Beirut for Paris and seen the European avant garde at first hand. When she does, though, it will be with far less traditional responses.
Her reaction to Léger’s art, for instance, is to take his tubular belles and give them some spirit. Her dark-eyed models don’t just sit there holding the pose without any clothes, they drink espresso, converse and read books (in one case, books on great artists, and we may guess who). They are never content to remain passive within their heavy black outlines; there is always a sense of imminent movement.
A vein of humour is rare enough in art but it runs consistently through this show. Chores, as it’s called, could easily pass as some early modernist painting, all compressed forms and wild distortions. But if you look closely you can see that the bottle-washer’s head really is inside the giant wine glass she is washing; that the woman who’s doing the ironing is labouring away at the stretch of cloth that has been flattened against the substrate in true cubist style so that it doubles as the chore itself but also as her whole environment.
There are plenty of jeux d’esprit in the opening galleries, but the major work here is an exquisite little painting called Paris-Beirut. An Islamic star, Cleopatra’s Needle, the colours of the desert, the Arc de Triomphe: all are reduced to their essential forms and held in perfect balance in a picture as condensed as a sonnet. The Arc opens as a portal in both directions – which way will Choucair turn, should she go or should she stay?
In the event she returned to Beirut and a great stream ofgorgeous syncopated abstractsthat are based on mathematical permutations but fly free of science. Thermal currents, reflections, quivering trees, dancing figures; the catalogue places due emphasis on the strictly non-figurative principles underpinning the art, but paintings are their own evidence and these speak constantly of the visible energies of life.
Choucair’s sculptures fuse Islamic design with modernist traditions. Like her paintings they are small-scale, spry and ingeniously balanced. Two roundels fit together, making a friendship. Six molar-like lumps fit together, and a bridge is established. She has many vertical forms constructed out of idiosyncratic blocks that irresistibly evoke mid-rise towers. One of these sculptures, carved out of wood, with recesses, reliefs and louvred apertures, seems to vibrate from top to bottom with interior life – unseen human existence.
The last room has beauty in abundance, numerous sculptures created out of gossamer thread, spun steel and glass. Some are planetary, evoking eclipses and starbursts. Others have affinities with womankind – corkscrew curls, metal bows and gyrating curves – and the quirkiest are highly strung, shivering excitedly as one passes. Even without any knowledge of the Sufi principles apparently underlying this art, one has the sense of a free and humorous spirit perpetually at work.
That Saloua Raouda Choucair has had to wait a lifetime for such a show is shocking but standard. Western museums are resolutely conservative. But perhaps Tate Modern is about to change direction, for this is the first in a series ofexhibitionsof Arab and African artists whose work is cherished at home and entirely unknown here. Fittingly, it’s on for half a year and is neatly positioned among the themed galleries on level four so that browsing crowds will come across it more easily. Choucair profoundly deserves it.
Saloua Raouda Choucair @ Tate Modern, London, 3 June 2013
During your next visit to Tate Modern please make sure not to miss the wonderful (and rather short) exhibition on Lebanese painter & sculptor Saloua Raouda Choucair. You won’t regret it.
Laura Cumming for The Observer:

A bolt from the blue is not what one expects at Tate Modern. Unqualified revelations have never been the museum’s priority. Nobody goes to Bankside hoping to be astonished by a brand new name, a new artist, a new strain of art that has not yet been bruited on the international circuit all the way from Venice to Sydney to Basel. It does not deal in risks or experiments or artists without a press review to their name. It is powerfully attached to the status quo.
Or at least that was the case until last week. For the first time in its 13-year history, Tate Modern has devoted a solo show to an artist who can confidently be described as completely unknown in Britain. She has never had an exhibition here, still less shown any of her paintings, drawings or sculptures here or practically anywhere outside her native Lebanon.Saloua Raouda Choucairis an extraordinary new name. She is also in her 97th year.
Choucairwas born in Beirut in 1916. She has never stopped making art despite the fact that her earliest success – in Paris in 1951 – was more or less her last. She studied in the studio of Fernand Léger in Paris and was a pioneer of abstraction (or, to my mind, semi-abstraction) in Lebanon, but did not sell a single work there until she was in her 50s.
Many artists have endured similar struggles but few have found themselves simultaneously quite so thwarted by political strife. One of the paintings in this show is pocked with holes from a bomb blast during the civil war that left Choucair’s husband deaf, and the Beirut art scene has been so devastated by violence that the galleries that represented her work have shut down in sequence over the years.
Of all the monumental sculptures she dreamed of making, only the beguiling prototypes exist. And in Beirut itself, all that survives of her public art works is a series of 17 stone forms that used to huddle together in a familial crescent, and upon which families used to sit, but which have been split in two bySolidere, the company in charge of rebuilding the city centre; an art work in divorce.
The show opens, as so often, with a youthful self-portrait. But in this case the sharply intelligent young woman all chopped about in post-cubist style, green shadows beneath the eyes, nameless urban jungle behind her, is wearing a headscarf. It is 1943 and Choucair has not yet left Beirut for Paris and seen the European avant garde at first hand. When she does, though, it will be with far less traditional responses.
Her reaction to Léger’s art, for instance, is to take his tubular belles and give them some spirit. Her dark-eyed models don’t just sit there holding the pose without any clothes, they drink espresso, converse and read books (in one case, books on great artists, and we may guess who). They are never content to remain passive within their heavy black outlines; there is always a sense of imminent movement.
A vein of humour is rare enough in art but it runs consistently through this show. Chores, as it’s called, could easily pass as some early modernist painting, all compressed forms and wild distortions. But if you look closely you can see that the bottle-washer’s head really is inside the giant wine glass she is washing; that the woman who’s doing the ironing is labouring away at the stretch of cloth that has been flattened against the substrate in true cubist style so that it doubles as the chore itself but also as her whole environment.
There are plenty of jeux d’esprit in the opening galleries, but the major work here is an exquisite little painting called Paris-Beirut. An Islamic star, Cleopatra’s Needle, the colours of the desert, the Arc de Triomphe: all are reduced to their essential forms and held in perfect balance in a picture as condensed as a sonnet. The Arc opens as a portal in both directions – which way will Choucair turn, should she go or should she stay?
In the event she returned to Beirut and a great stream ofgorgeous syncopated abstractsthat are based on mathematical permutations but fly free of science. Thermal currents, reflections, quivering trees, dancing figures; the catalogue places due emphasis on the strictly non-figurative principles underpinning the art, but paintings are their own evidence and these speak constantly of the visible energies of life.
Choucair’s sculptures fuse Islamic design with modernist traditions. Like her paintings they are small-scale, spry and ingeniously balanced. Two roundels fit together, making a friendship. Six molar-like lumps fit together, and a bridge is established. She has many vertical forms constructed out of idiosyncratic blocks that irresistibly evoke mid-rise towers. One of these sculptures, carved out of wood, with recesses, reliefs and louvred apertures, seems to vibrate from top to bottom with interior life – unseen human existence.
The last room has beauty in abundance, numerous sculptures created out of gossamer thread, spun steel and glass. Some are planetary, evoking eclipses and starbursts. Others have affinities with womankind – corkscrew curls, metal bows and gyrating curves – and the quirkiest are highly strung, shivering excitedly as one passes. Even without any knowledge of the Sufi principles apparently underlying this art, one has the sense of a free and humorous spirit perpetually at work.
That Saloua Raouda Choucair has had to wait a lifetime for such a show is shocking but standard. Western museums are resolutely conservative. But perhaps Tate Modern is about to change direction, for this is the first in a series ofexhibitionsof Arab and African artists whose work is cherished at home and entirely unknown here. Fittingly, it’s on for half a year and is neatly positioned among the themed galleries on level four so that browsing crowds will come across it more easily. Choucair profoundly deserves it.

          Saloua Raouda Choucair @ Tate Modern, London, 3 June 2013

          During your next visit to Tate Modern please make sure not to miss the wonderful (and rather short) exhibition on Lebanese painter & sculptor Saloua Raouda Choucair. You won’t regret it.

          Laura Cumming for The Observer:

          A bolt from the blue is not what one expects at Tate Modern. Unqualified revelations have never been the museum’s priority. Nobody goes to Bankside hoping to be astonished by a brand new name, a new artist, a new strain of art that has not yet been bruited on the international circuit all the way from Venice to Sydney to Basel. It does not deal in risks or experiments or artists without a press review to their name. It is powerfully attached to the status quo.

          Or at least that was the case until last week. For the first time in its 13-year history, Tate Modern has devoted a solo show to an artist who can confidently be described as completely unknown in Britain. She has never had an exhibition here, still less shown any of her paintings, drawings or sculptures here or practically anywhere outside her native Lebanon.Saloua Raouda Choucairis an extraordinary new name. She is also in her 97th year.

          Choucairwas born in Beirut in 1916. She has never stopped making art despite the fact that her earliest success – in Paris in 1951 – was more or less her last. She studied in the studio of Fernand Léger in Paris and was a pioneer of abstraction (or, to my mind, semi-abstraction) in Lebanon, but did not sell a single work there until she was in her 50s.

          Many artists have endured similar struggles but few have found themselves simultaneously quite so thwarted by political strife. One of the paintings in this show is pocked with holes from a bomb blast during the civil war that left Choucair’s husband deaf, and the Beirut art scene has been so devastated by violence that the galleries that represented her work have shut down in sequence over the years.

          Of all the monumental sculptures she dreamed of making, only the beguiling prototypes exist. And in Beirut itself, all that survives of her public art works is a series of 17 stone forms that used to huddle together in a familial crescent, and upon which families used to sit, but which have been split in two bySolidere, the company in charge of rebuilding the city centre; an art work in divorce.

          The show opens, as so often, with a youthful self-portrait. But in this case the sharply intelligent young woman all chopped about in post-cubist style, green shadows beneath the eyes, nameless urban jungle behind her, is wearing a headscarf. It is 1943 and Choucair has not yet left Beirut for Paris and seen the European avant garde at first hand. When she does, though, it will be with far less traditional responses.

          Her reaction to Léger’s art, for instance, is to take his tubular belles and give them some spirit. Her dark-eyed models don’t just sit there holding the pose without any clothes, they drink espresso, converse and read books (in one case, books on great artists, and we may guess who). They are never content to remain passive within their heavy black outlines; there is always a sense of imminent movement.

          A vein of humour is rare enough in art but it runs consistently through this show. Chores, as it’s called, could easily pass as some early modernist painting, all compressed forms and wild distortions. But if you look closely you can see that the bottle-washer’s head really is inside the giant wine glass she is washing; that the woman who’s doing the ironing is labouring away at the stretch of cloth that has been flattened against the substrate in true cubist style so that it doubles as the chore itself but also as her whole environment.

          There are plenty of jeux d’esprit in the opening galleries, but the major work here is an exquisite little painting called Paris-Beirut. An Islamic star, Cleopatra’s Needle, the colours of the desert, the Arc de Triomphe: all are reduced to their essential forms and held in perfect balance in a picture as condensed as a sonnet. The Arc opens as a portal in both directions – which way will Choucair turn, should she go or should she stay?

          In the event she returned to Beirut and a great stream ofgorgeous syncopated abstractsthat are based on mathematical permutations but fly free of science. Thermal currents, reflections, quivering trees, dancing figures; the catalogue places due emphasis on the strictly non-figurative principles underpinning the art, but paintings are their own evidence and these speak constantly of the visible energies of life.

          Choucair’s sculptures fuse Islamic design with modernist traditions. Like her paintings they are small-scale, spry and ingeniously balanced. Two roundels fit together, making a friendship. Six molar-like lumps fit together, and a bridge is established. She has many vertical forms constructed out of idiosyncratic blocks that irresistibly evoke mid-rise towers. One of these sculptures, carved out of wood, with recesses, reliefs and louvred apertures, seems to vibrate from top to bottom with interior life – unseen human existence.

          The last room has beauty in abundance, numerous sculptures created out of gossamer thread, spun steel and glass. Some are planetary, evoking eclipses and starbursts. Others have affinities with womankind – corkscrew curls, metal bows and gyrating curves – and the quirkiest are highly strung, shivering excitedly as one passes. Even without any knowledge of the Sufi principles apparently underlying this art, one has the sense of a free and humorous spirit perpetually at work.

          That Saloua Raouda Choucair has had to wait a lifetime for such a show is shocking but standard. Western museums are resolutely conservative. But perhaps Tate Modern is about to change direction, for this is the first in a series ofexhibitionsof Arab and African artists whose work is cherished at home and entirely unknown here. Fittingly, it’s on for half a year and is neatly positioned among the themed galleries on level four so that browsing crowds will come across it more easily. Choucair profoundly deserves it.