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Sunday 12th May 2013

Roy Lichtenstein; A Retrospective

At the Tate Modern, London.

Entry £14

This might come as something as a surprise to you, but I really like art galleries. Yes, there are the obvious artistic qualities to the work of one of the great American exponents of Pop Art, but there’s far more to a trip to an art gallery than just the exhibits.

The Tate Modern has the advantage of a stroll over the Millenium Bridge from St Paul’s Cathedral if you take the tube to either Mansion House or St Pauls stations. But the interest starts as soon as you enter the gallery.

In my normal trips round the world’s football grounds I see, well football types. I know them, I understand them, and in many cases I like them, but artistic types are a whole new breed, and I find them fascinating! It was a shame that the gallery didn’t like me taking pictures, understandable if I were looking for pictures of the actual Lichtenstein works themselves, but if you want reproductions of those, there are no end of books available, or better still come to the exhibition, it really is excellent.

But look out for the people too. There’s the culture vultures, studying every brush stroke, and there’s the gaggle of sixth form art students, who feel they ought to be there. There’s people like me, the tourists eager to learn something, and look out also for the pensioners on their Sunday out. Then there’s the parents to whom it hasn’t occurred that for a 5 year old the art gallery is nothing more than an adventure playground.

But the people I found the most interesting were the poor souls who were employed to mind every room. In today’s digital age it’s impossible to enforce a no photography rule, short of banning every mobile device. It was almost written on their faces, “Be involved at the cutting edge of art they said…Britain’s best gallery for Modern Art they said… Now look at me- stopping a tourist taking a picture….” I felt for them even if I was part of their problem.

I smiled as I exited via the gift shop (isn’t that the way these days?) but I did enjoy the genius that is a Lichtenstein colouring-in book, and the great advantage of having a coffee in the Tate Café is that the people watching needn’t finish!