Thursday, 20 September 2012

Picasso and Modern British Art – The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

2nd September 2012

This was a second visit to an exhibition which I had first visited in Tate Britain in London (

Perceptions of the visual arts vary for visually impaired visitors. Much depends on the lighting for those with some vision, a lot depends on how busy the exhibition is and much depends on the companion for the description.  The exhibition in Modern One in Edinburgh is subtley different in having a Scottish dimension as well as a more intimate set of smaller rooms.  There is no interactive or audio guide so discussion is required. 

We went by bus (National Galleries of Scotland run a complimentary shuttle coach service between The Mound and Modern One)  We had 3 hours to tackle the Picasso in Modern One as well as the Munch Prints in Modern Two (Dean)

Exchanging my Culture Vulture ticket for a sticky label- this allows entry for the day, I was given some tips by the ticket desk. The exhibition would not be exactly the same and the room layout was quite different due to the former school buildings (John Watsons).  I mentioned that the Tate had sent me the picture labels and room panels from the large print text files which I could get my screenreader to play to me. 

The rooms have some 10 paintings in them and the exhibition is on two levels.  The top floor is also split and I used the stairs.  On the top floor I was chatting to Holly, one of the staff, about the exhibition and I was given more information about the Penrose archive.  Roland Penrose was the leading art dealer of the time and the archive was held in Modern Two.  Holly also mentioned the Scottish paintings.  I mentioned that in 2011 one of the staff had guided me round the top floor in Modern One with items of the permanent collection.

I found the Henry Moore pieces to be more interesting this time round.  This could have been as a result of different lighting on the sculpture though my vision varies throughout the day.  I found myself disliking the Sutherland pictures less though still not liking the Francis Bacon paintings at all.

The notes which were taken at the time of the visit are as follows:

Gallery 3
7 paintings
Duncan Grant
Design for a Firescreen c1912

Jars and Lemon, 1907

The two paintings are side by side on one wall.  Effective.

Gallery 4
Wyndham Lewis

A Reading of Ovid (Tyros) 1920-1
I noticed this large painting in the Tate show and said at the time that I must have “seen” it before.  It is a powerful painting. 
Oil on Canvas
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Workshop c1914-5
Oil on Canvas
Tate Britain

Gallery 3
Three cornered hat

Picasso theatre sketches and prints are delightful and one can inspect the designs up close.  I liked these at the Tate too.  Hockney sketches and designs were triggered in my mind for later.

Gallery 6
Roland Penrose

Untitled, 1937

The Roland Penrose Archive based at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Gallery 7
Ben Nicholson
Profile: Venetian Red c 1932
Next to
Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle, 1914

Ben Nicholson
1933(musical instruments), 1932-3
Next to
Guitar, Compote Dish and Grapes, 1924

Gallery 8
Henry Moore and Picasso

Better lit.  Could make out more of Moore’s work.

Nude Woman in a Red Armchair, 1932

Gallery 10
Francis Bacon
Graham Sutherland

Graham Sutherland
Association of Oaks
Green Tree Form, 1940

Gallery 22
Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde

Robert MacBryde (1913-1966)
Still Life – Fish on a Pedestal Table, 1950

Robert Colquhoun (1914-1962)
Figures in a Farmyard, 1953

Note: the Penrose-MacBryde-Colquhoun works are not included in the catalogue, which has been produced by the Tate. 

The Soles, 1940

Room 20
David Hockney

An Image of Celia, 1984-6
Lithograph on Paper

Harlequin, 1980
Set for Parade, 1980
Chinese Conjuror, from Parade Triple Bill, 1980

The Three Dancers, 1925

Modern One has an attractive café with a terrace in the sunshine.  Last year my hat blew off and was rescued by another visitor.  This year my hat stayed firmly on my head- these old skills learned on keeping a hat on one’s head in Edinburgh. 

Time should be allowed for visiting the collections at both galleries.  There is space in the grounds for outside installations and last year some works of Tony Cragg were on display here.  Tony Cragg is featured in Exhibition Road Museums in London this year.