Oh dear! My last two blogs make it look like this week off has left me in a foul and ranting mood. Nothing could be further from the truth, but I won’t say anything about our train journey to London last Saturday all the same. Katharine and I arrived at St Pancras around 12.30 to take up residence in Travelodge London Islington, which was the box we expected (budget hotels are the closest we ever get to camping).
We walked down to Tate Modern to be greeted by an old friend, Louise Bourgeois’ giant spider, Maman. She’s just got home from a world tour and we saw her in February this year at Guggenheim Bilbao. But that’s before blogging, so I’ve put the photo we took then here. (She looked best outside in Bilbao.) We had a quick skirt around Head to Head in the Turbine Hall and that was okay. But for me it doesn’t matter how many sculptures you display: the space demands single pieces on a grand scale: like Olafur Eliasson’s unforgettable Weather Project.
Anyway. On to the main event, the Hopper, which runs to 5 September. You can view thirty-four of the works online here (but not the ones I want to mention). There’s a degree of snobbery in some quarters over Hopper, that some compare to the difficulties Jack Vettriano faces. While I’ve some sympathy for Vettriano, I don’t think much of his work and find the comparisons rather crass. To illustrate, a rather snobby accented young woman complained of Intermission, ‘Who draws a door like that, phwa, phwa!?’, as if realism is all that matters in art.
What makes Hopper so special is his ability to imply a narrative in every thing he does (Vettriano, in comparison leaves me cold). However they are drawn, the individuals in Hopper’s works have an immediacy; you get the sense that this is a fragment of a life, a moment from their story; they’ve paused just to ponder. Hopper often captures individuals in the crowded city and he did so well before the idea of being alone in a crowded place was understood. Yet despite all this, his best work is somehow Sun in an Empty Room. It’s the place that has stories from the past and future, but somehow not now. It’s those brief moments of transition that Hopper captures; the brief moments when his subjects realise something of themselves and their situation.
We followed all that with a walk down to Cleopatra’s Needle en route to the National Portrait Gallery in the hope we might have squeezed in Sam Taylor-Wood’s video portrait of David Beckham, but there was no time.
The evening saw us a little let down by Time Out, who’d hyped up Bloomsbury as somewhere to eat. Seeing as we were edge of that part of town we headed off to Lambs Conduit Street in search of the many good restaurants they’d promised. I suspect that in a few years it might live up to that, but right now there’s just couple of the usual packed and trendy bars. We ended up having a good Indian meal at Chambeli on Russell Square.