We are delighted to announce the return of Dido Powell’s London Art Gallery Tours, starting on Sunday 11 February. This year we are offering a series of four tours, focusing on ‘The Ugly and the Beautiful in Art’. If you have done the tour before you will know what a wonderful way this is to spend a Sunday morning. Dido Powell is an artist and teaches the history of art. Her tours are always well informed and insightful.
Each tour costs £12 or you can book the whole series for £45. You can book by contacting Wendy Earle: email@example.com. To be sure of your place on the tours — detailed below — please book early.
Sunday 11 February:
Ugly Art (Tate Modern)
Sunday 17 March:
From Ugly to Ideal (National Gallery)
Sunday 28 April:
The Ideal Turns Sour (Tate Britain)
Sunday 19 May:
Artists’ Inspiration (British Museum)
Tour 1: Ugly Art
In 1918, the Dada poet Tristan Tzara, dismissed beauty in art as ‘a boring sort of perfection, a stagnant idea of a golden swamp’, encouraging artists to welcome ‘the ugly’.
In medieval Europe, beauty and ugliness coexisted in gargoyles and saints in Gothic cathedrals; in the Renaissance Leonardo da Vinci drew ‘grotesques’ out of curiosity and as complimentary to his search for beauty; and in the nineteenth century, Degas defended his right to paint women as ugly, stating ‘Because they are in general, ugly’.
This tour will focus on works of art which address disturbing subject matter, portraits by ’New Objectivity’ artists and three dimensional works made from visceral or dark materials. We will explore works which address the uncanny and early collages in which beauty is aspired to through balanced compositions made from un-aesthetic waste materials. We will also look at divergent abstract paintings to see which meet classical criteria of beauty, and which express aggression, dread or deviant impulses, as characterised by Karl Rosenkranz’ in Aesthetics of Ugliness (1853).