Making Traces at The Tate Modern


I'm a grumpy arsehole and easily annoyed, and that all came to the forefront when I visited Making Traces at the Tate Modern. I like to see art, in fact it's one of my favourite things to do.


  • I don't like people in the way of my art.

Let me expand - because I need to. I like to visit exhibitions when they're quiet; so I can listen to the works and enter into a conversation with them. I like to be able to view works from a distance and see how they sit in the space and the works they're hung by, I like to look at the works close up and notice the brush strokes, the mistakes that have attempted to be erased. I like to discuss with individuals their interpretation of the art, and then to compare this to how the artist wanted the work to be interpreted. I like to read how a critic, how other artists, responded to these works. I really really enjoy being proved wrong.


Making Traces at the Tate Modern was busy, as in small-children-running-and-screaming-and-old-ladies-in-the-way busy. Then again, what am I to expect, it's the Tate Modern and is listed as a 'must visit' in all guides to London. (Maybe I should have gone to see Barbara Hepworth at Tate Britain instead?)

Tate Modern have finally taken down their 'Poetry and Surrealism' collection (which I loved the first time I saw it, about ten years ago), and are now showing Making Traces, Structure and Clarity, and Energy and Process. All of which were extremely busy on a Thursday morning, meaning I need to go back to really take my time with Structure and Clarity, and Energy and Process.

Making Traces at the Tate Modern was a lovely surprise, and almost as good as when I happened upon the Louise Bourgeois exhibition that they had. There are some big paintings, including a whole room dedicated to Rothko in which I managed to find five minutes to sit quietly and take in the sheer scale and depth of the works. The whole show has a really nice balance between abstraction and figurative works, and also includes some stunning pieces by Gerhard Richter. (Talk to me about big works, talk to me about colour).


(Don't talk to me about my battery dying on my camera and people getting in the way of my art.)

The exhibition is organised by room and displays artists that provoke a dialogue, it's a fun game to see who influenced who in this collection of works, and it's also a joy to see the traces of expression that these artists are sharing. There is a reverence in art that seems (at times) exclusive to the old masters (as an aside I find these protestors against Renoir hilarious), but when looking at these works there is evidence of Serusier, Pissaro, Gaugin, et al.

Making Traces at the Tate Modern displays artists that have worked across mediums, investigating their own interests, the exhibition allows the viewer a chance to compare Horn to Condo and how they have demonstrated their explorations in different veins. There's work by Matt-Clark and an overall feeling of 'this is who we are', a trace of humanity in a big city, a trace of individual thoughts and feelings presented to a big crowd taking photos on their phones.


Making Traces

Tate Modern, London

Free Entry