Category Index
Books About Big Art
  • A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932
    A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932
    by John Richardson
  • Sarah Lucas: A Catalog Raisonné
    Sarah Lucas: A Catalog Raisonné
    by Yilmaz Dziewior, Sarah Lucas
  • Grayson Perry
    Grayson Perry
    by Jacky Klein
  • Hendrik Kerstens (English and Dutch Edition)
    Hendrik Kerstens (English and Dutch Edition)
    by Pim Milo, Kathy Ryan
  • David Hockney: A Bigger Picture
    David Hockney: A Bigger Picture
    by Marco Livingstone, Margaret Drabble, Tim Barringer, Xavier Salomon, Stuart Comer, Martin Gayford
  • Vernon Ah Kee: Born in this Skin
    Vernon Ah Kee: Born in this Skin
    by Robert Leonard, Anthony Gardner, Aileen Moreton-Robinson, Blair French, Glenn Barkley
  • Yayoi Kusama
    Yayoi Kusama
    by Midori Yamamura, Jo Applin, Yayoi Kusama
  • Henry Moore: From the Inside Out; Plasters, Carvings, Drawings
    Henry Moore: From the Inside Out; Plasters, Carvings, Drawings
    Prestel Publishing
  • Wall and Piece
    Wall and Piece
    by Banksy
  • Mark Rothko
    Mark Rothko
    by Mr. Jeffrey Weiss
  • Louise Bourgeois
    Louise Bourgeois
    by Robert Storr, Paulo Herkenhoff
  • Damien Hirst
    Damien Hirst
    by Ann Gallagher
Join the Big Picture

A blog that aims to spark thoughts and inspire by seeking out and sharing works of art

Historically, artists have always worked big, and nowadays those boundaries are being pushed to the limits.

Large-scale art, whether in the form of photos from the Hubble space telescope, sharks floating in tanks of formaldehyde, rooms full of dots, concrete sculptures cast from Victorian buildings or hand knitted blankets wrapped around trees, large-scale art is all around us. Join the Big Picture aims to spark thoughts and inspire by seeking out and sharing these works.

All content by Karla Thompson, an ex-pat Aussie living in East London. When not working on Join the Big Picture she is part of the backbone to the Leonhard Pfeifer brand.

Read an interview about Join the Big Picture here.


Karla Thompson
Creative Partner




Detail of Yarn Bombing UK

Entries in Tate Modern (9)


A tree of 12 metres

Giuseppe Penone Tree of 12 Metres, 1980-2
Wood (American larch)

'At a time when many artists were abandoning traditional sculptural techniques, Penone began to use perhaps the most ancient method – carving. He took industrially sawn units of timber and, using chisels followed the knots in the planks to remove rings of wood and expose the shape of a tree. His work looks at the relationship of industry and nature, suggesting that a sensitive approach to materials is still possible in an industrialised world. Peonone’s first trees were made in 1969 and this work dates from 1980'

Words from the exhibit at Tate Modern


Dame Barbara Hepworth 

"I felt the most intense pleasure in piercing the stone in order to make an abstract form and space; quite a different sensation from that of doing it for the purpose of realism."

Dame Barbara Hepworth from brainyquotes

Dame Barbara Hepworth is one of those extraordinary female artists I admire for her array of talents and life achievements.

Her skilful transformation of a block of stone or wood into a sumptuous organic sculpture that is both hard and soft; her unswerving focus for her work; her never ending fascination to create undulating forms as well as her strength of character, circle of friends and her professional kudos.

Pierced Hemisphere II 1937-1938
Hoptonwood stone on Portland stone base

I visited her house and gallery in St Ives the summer of 2007 and found the gallery both a modernist dream and walled botanical oasis. The small seaside town of St Ives is a tourist haven in the summer (read busy, crowded and overpriced…) and the Hepworth home was a small section of sanctity in the hot bustling town.

Pierced Hemisphere II was made for her friend’s garden in Cornwall in 1938 and I can see in my minds eye the completeness this grounded form would bring to such a walled garden as visited in St Ives.

Forms in Echelon 1938

Forms in Echelon are two smooth, almost worn looking pebble shapes, working in harmony and standing tall with the negative space of a small hole linking them together visually.

From the Tate: This work relates to her interest in situating sculpture in the landscape an early image showed it superimposed onto a photograph of a garden. 

The sculpture has an upward growth but the curves of the two monoliths make a closed composition which, in the open, with light all round, they create a quietness, a pause in the progress of the eye’ Hepworth said.

Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975
Born and worked Britain

Both works Forms in Echelon and Pierced Hemisphere II are on display at the Tate Modern


Cy Twombly – Curly paintings

A recent trip to the Tate Modern with my soon-to-be-5 year old resulted in a lot of playing on the indoor slippery slide on Level 4 and a little bit of looking at Art. Quite particular in what she does and does not like (classic 4 year old stuff) she walked around many of the pieces on Level 4 without saying much until we were in a room with three large Cy Twombly’s pieces. At which point she exclaimed that this was her favourite room and “Was it time to go to the café yet?”

Cy Twombly Untitled (Bacchus) 2006-8, Acrylic on canvas. On loan from a private collection

When I asked her what she liked about these paintings she remarked that they were curly. Sometimes it is easy to over-think art.

The three large “Untitled” pieces from 2006-08 are very curly. Curly and beautiful in their expressiveness – sweeping brush strokes in vivid red paint repeat in circular motions that are hard to imagine creating with your arms. We practiced making these circular sweeping arm gestures in the gallery and tried to imagine how we would paint such a large painting.

“On the floor” was the answer, and again the repeated question about the café. I took the hint and we went to the café. Bye bye curly beautiful paintings.

Cy Twombly Untitled (Bacchus) 2006-8, Acrylic on canvas. On loan from a private collection

Cy Twombly Untitled (Bacchus) 2006-8, Acrylic on canvas. On loan from a private collection

Detail - Cy Twombly Untitled (Bacchus) 2006-8, Acrylic on canvas. On loan from a private collection

Detail - Cy Twombly Untitled (Bacchus) 2006-8, Acrylic on canvas. On loan from a private collection

Edwin Parker "Cy" Twombly, Jr. was an American artist well known for his large-scale, freely scribbled, calligraphic-style graffiti paintings, on solid fields of mostly gray, tan, or off-white colors.


Lucy McKenzie - A Bigger Splash 

The recent works of Lucy McKenzie deal with complex issues of housing and the bourgeois. Stately houses that were once homes for wealthy families were converted and divided into bed-sit dwellings for many post-war Londoners.

McKenzie’s large-scale paintings are heavily influence by Muriel Spark’s 1963 novella The Girls of Slender Means and show the interior of a traditional Kensington town house in London that has been converted into a boarding house for these girls and women.

The room settings and walls at first glance appear grand and elaborate but reveal a sense of sadness after spending more time within the make-shift room. The walls are stained in shapes that suggest previous owners had once hung artwork whilst make-shift electrics and communal phones mounted on the wall convey stories of communal living in a new urban density.

Coin de Diable Corner Backrop, 2011
Oil paint on canvas

Coin de Diable Backdrop, 201
Oil paint on canvas (*Scale reference curtsey of my hubby...)


The paintings on show at the Tate Modern’s - A Bigger Splash exhibition are a collection of large-scale paintings that draw upon ‘tropme l’oeil’ techniques. A realistic painting technique rooted in the nineteenth-century that aimed to create the optical illusion of objects in three dimensions

Lucy McKenzie 1977,
Born Britain, works Belgium

A Bigger Splash Exhibition
14 November 2012 – 1 April 2013

Coin de diable translates to Devil’s corner in French, and these two paintings are featured in a series of short films. One of which I found on vimeo.

The short film piece - Le coin du Diable / work in progress directed by Lucile Desamory is an intense piece of video with a single sentence of dialogue for the new lodger - “Come with me. I'll show you your room.”

Intriguing and a little bit spooky!


‘Moore’ magic on display at the Tate Modern

Upright Internal/External Form by Henry Moore
Plaster on display at Tate Modern, London.

Henry Moore (1898-1986) is a magician with stone, plaster and all things androgynous and of volume. His work ‘Upright Internal/External Form’ at the Tate Modern appeals to me on many levels. The finish of the plaster is an intricate meshing of browns and neutrals – like the patina on later versions of this work cast in Bronze. The form undulates and swirls creating an intricate relationship between negative and positive space and setting the scene for complex human relationships.

As a mother myself, I am fully aware of the need to encapsulate and protect a cherished little one, but as a daughter, I too understand the shift of wanting to be nurtured and protected to that of wriggling to be free. The maternal bond is a strong and complex one.

From the Tate: "I have done other sculptures based on this idea of one form being protected by another" Moore recalled. "I suppose in my mind was also the Mother and Child idea and of birth and the child in embryo. All these things are connected in this interior and exterior idea."

Presented to Tate by the artist 1978