Walking into the Tate Modern, I had low expectations for what I felt I would resonate with while moseying about. Not to say that I wasn’t intrigued beforehand, but unlike Kimberly, this is not the type of art I am artistic with. I am a self-titled ‘Artist’ as well but more of a musician instead. Music has been a huge part of my life ever since I began taking piano lessons at the prime age of 5 years old. Initially feeling lost amongst the art, I eventually came across two paintings that struck a chord with me.
Georges Braque’s La Mandore displays a lute with surrounding reverberations in the cubist style. The plaque corresponding to La Mandore exhibits that, “Its fragmented style suggests a sense of rhythm and acoustic reverberations that match the musical subject”. In this piece, the shapes encompassing the abstract lute are the various notes and rhythms being played on the lute represented in a physical form. In Jesus Soto’s Cardinal, the artist wanted to create the feeling of movement. Although a picture doesn’t do it justice, the model visually seems to vibrate as you move around it. The striped background and depth between the sculpture and the wall behind it visually creates the appearance of vibration.
In the informational plaque next to Soto’s Cardinal, it reads that, “he set out to make paintings that appeared to move”. While Cardinal is not explicitly intended to be a representation of music, music in itself is the creation of vibrations within a specifically designed environment in order to facilitate the sound. A trumpet does not create the sound produced by the musician, it is merely an amplifier for the vibrations produced by the player’s lips buzzing into a mouthpiece. The waves produced create music.
The viewer experiences different music through each of these interpretations of vibrations. The fragments scattered amongst the lute in La Mandore represent the plucks of the player coming together to create a musical phrase. La Mandore exemplifies this by displaying the cubism mostly centered around the lute, but as the cubes move outward they begin to blend, much like how individual notes come together to create music. In Cardinal a growing drum roll is represented with the vibrations of the sticks placed in a downward motion but appear to reverberate back up with the overlapping between sticks.
The overwhelming sense of vibration given off by the piece gives the indication that it is bass-like and the floating pieces of wood represent drumsticks. Although it was not intended by Jesus Soto to create a representation of music as a model much like how George Braque’s did, he succeeded in both because music is just the movement of vibrations through the use of an instrument.
Links to the informational pages about these pieces below: