Opened in 2000, with major developments since, the Tate Modern has the distinction of being one of the world’s most-visited modern art museums. Occupying what was once the Bankside Power Station, the museum’s many galleries showcase some of the most important artworks from the 20th and 21st centuries. Whether your interest is Cubism, Surrealism, or contemporary installation, the Tate Modern’s sweeping collection and temporary exhibitions are sure to impress. For guests staying at 41 Hotel, our five-star boutique property by Buckingham Palace, the museum is just a short jaunt away, so we’ve selected ten of the Tate’s celebrated artworks for any London itinerary.
1. Ships in the Dark, Paul Klee
This oil painting by avant-garde, 20th-century artist Paul Klee exhibits the artist’s rhythmic linear style, representing brightly coloured sailing boats and the light of the moon. This along with a number of other works were inspired by his time spend in the Mediterranean.
2. Weeping Woman, Picasso
Modelled on Picasso’s lover, Dora Maar, this colourful but unhappy scene depicts a distraught woman, her face broken up into Cubist shards. The work is an offshoot of Picasso’s iconic work Guernica, and is intended to convey the suffering of the Spanish Civil War.
3. Metamorphosis of Narcissus, Salvador Dali
One of the geniuses of Surrealism, Salvador Dali’s delirium-like paintings once inspired Freud; today, they attract legions of museum visitors. This work, which depicts his unnerving interpretation of the Greek myth of Narcissus, was one of his first to plumb deeper psychological depths.
4. Water Lilies, Claude Monet
On long-term loan from the National Gallery, Monet’s Water Lilies is still one of the most beloved works of Impressionism. The dreamy and hazy composition centres on a tranquil scene of blossoming water lilies floating in a lake, and also conveys the artist’s fascination with light.
5. Red on Maroon, Mark Rothko
One in a series of paintings created as a commission for New York’s Four Seasons Restaurant in the late 1950s, this work displays Rothko’s characteristic large-scale compositions and colour-blocking techniques. Displayed alongside his other works, it has a powerfully transportative effect.
6. Maiastra, Constantin Brancusi
This sculpture reflects the inspiration Brancusi took from his home country Romania, while living in Paris. Its polished form evoking a golden bird with miraculous powers, the sculpture draws on Romanian folk tales.
7. Untitled, Mira Schendel
One of Latin America’s most important 20th century artists, Mira Schendel’s work has been exhibited extensively at the Tate. The 1963 oil painting Untitled is a geometric composition encompassing cream and grey diamonds, which contrast with the artwork’s hand-drawn lines and textured surface.
8. Cadeau, Man Ray
A leading member of the Dada movement, Man Ray delighted in producing absurdist works that depicted everyday tools and objects made unusable by their defects. This piece, a clothing iron studded with nails, has become nothing short of a Dadaist icon.
9. Number 14, Jackson Pollock
Moving away from his famous splatter canvases, Pollock created this more figurative, monochromatic artwork by pouring the paint rather than dripping. Now this painting is among the collection of Pollock’s artworks, which are known as ‘black pourings’.
10. Breath 5, Giuseppe Penone
It’s not easy to walk past Giuseppe Penone’s breath 5 without stopping to have a look. A member of Italy’s Arte Povera movement, Penone made this large clay sculpture in the kilns of the Castellamonte pottery near Turin in northern Italy, beginning by making a cast of himself.
Image credits: Cover photo of Tate Modern © iStock / guysargent. Inside Tate Modern © Flickr / Aurelien Guichard. Section of Weeping Woman by Picasso © Flickr / Ben Snooks. Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salvador Dali © Flickr / cea+. Red on Maroon by Mark Rothko © Flickr / Christine und Hagen Graf. Man Ray’s Cadeau © Flickr / Tom Ipri.