Lon­don draws the art lovers

At­tracted to Rothko? Com­pelled by Capa? Take a week­end break in the City, says

The Jewish Chronicle - - Travel -

TWO BLOCK­BUSTER SHOWS of rarely seen work by ma­jor Jewish artists pro­vide a com­pelling rea­son to travel to the heart of Lon­don be­tween now and Chanu­cah. That’s not the fa­mil­iar and easy-to-reach West End, but the an­cient heart of the city, in­clud­ing a sig­nif­i­cant stretch south of the river which re­mains a mys­tery to many North Lon­don­ers, let alone out-of-town­ers.

How­ever, the en­tire south-cen­tral bank of the Thames from Water­loo to Tower Bridge has now be­come too hap­pen­ing a cul­tural cen­tre for any se­ri­ous lover of art and the­atre to ig­nore. Hap­pily, given that it’s a schlep even for sub­ur­ban Lon­don­ers, hote­liers and res­tau­ra­teurs are mak­ing SE1 more comfortable and hos­pitable by the month.

Tate Mod­ern, housed in an enor­mous for­mer power sta­tion just east of Black­fri­ars, is one of the world’s premier show­cases of 20th- and 21st-cen­tury art, thanks to a su­perb per­ma­nent col­lec­tion.

How­ever, Mark Rothko’s huge, brood­ing ab­stract can­vasses, orig­i­nally painted for the Four Sea­sons restau­rant in New York, make the gallery even more of a must-see than usual. The Tate al­ready had a few of th­ese paint­ings — they ar­rived in 1970 on the day news came through of Rothko’s sui­cide — but now the se­ries has been dou­bled by a loan from Ja­pan to cre­ate the art show of the year.

Mean­while, a cou­ple of Jewish war pho­tog­ra­phers — whose great works of the ’40s pre-date Rothko’s Sea­gram mu­rals, as they’re known, by 20 years — take pride of place from this month at the Bar­bican. Hun­gar­ian-born Robert Capa doc­u­mented the Arab-Is­raeli con­flict which fol­lowed in­de­pen­dence, though the rai­son d’etre of this par­tic­u­lar show are his strik­ing im­ages of the Span­ish Civil War. A long over­due show­ing is also be­ing given in the same show to his fel­low war pho­tog­ra­pher, and lover, Gerda Taro.

Nei­ther gallery is that easy to reach, but there is plenty to de­tain the vis­i­tor who makes the ef­fort to get to ei­ther venue. Tate Mod­ern has both a smart restau­rant and a well-priced brasserie at street level, both with river­side views, ditto an ex­cel­lent espresso bar, and one of the best mu­seum shops in Lon­don.

A few min­utes fur­ther east, Lon­don Bridge has be­come an at­trac­tion in it-

The Thames, with the dis­tinc­tive out­line of the Tate Mod­ern — home of the Rothko ex­hi­bi­tion — at the cen­tre

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