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Day #16: London

Woke up early, popped out to the Cafe Nero for a coffee and breakfast, and bought a phone charger at a local newsstand. 

We then headed to the Natural History Museum for its opening (tip: use the queue free side entrance if the main lined up down the block). We managed to get in and through the dinosaur exhibits without any hassle or delays. Most importantly, Emerson was able to visit her beloved Diplodocus in the Great Hall:

We then had lunch at NHM, which serves up a mighty fine pizza.

From there, we hopped on the Underground to Southwark to visit the Tate Modern. This was a “must do” for me, as the Tate had just opened an Agnes Martin retrospective. It did not disappoint! Indeed, I found the exhibition to be revelatory, as I came to understand her artistic practice much more. Far from being a minimalist, she has a very painterly and nuanced approached. 

This is something you can’t appreciate from reproductions in art books. It’s also something that is likely to be overlooked–unless you pay very close attention–when viewing a single work of hers hung amongst other spare, geometric, abstract works. But, in this dedicated environment, you are drawn  to get close to the canvasses to really examine her marks and use of color up close. Indeed, as evidence of what I mean, people get setting off the proximity alarms as they leaned in for a better look. This doesn’t happen with artists like Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt, or Ellsworth Kelly… nor does it with abstract expressionists like Pollack or Rothko. Martin’s work are sort of singular in this way form: a form of “minimalist” abstraction that are oddly magnetic / intimate rather than just atmospheric / immersive. Her paintings draw you closer; it doesn’t just surround you. 

After the museum, we headed over to Green Park for some shopping (window and otherwise) and wandering in Mayfair. Libby bought a new purse (shocking, I know) , and Emerson enjoyed Hamley’s, the venerable toy wonderland. 

Dinner was at Nando’s back in Kensington. 

All in all, a very good day but all too short of a stay in London! Tomorrow we fly home from Gatwick. 

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