Just a couple of observations on yesterday's walk. Now it's been cleaned, the Portland stone of St Paul's is the precise colour of latte foam, with the same tones and gradations; it makes the stately exuberance of its baroque architecture even more enjoyable. Second, on a sunny day, the tower of the former Bankside power station can look laughably absurd rather than sinister. It shares with the tower of the University Library in Cambridge, also by Giles Gilbert Scott, what Orwell described (with reference to top hats) as an 'Assyrian absurdity'.
This time, our mission was to see the Futurism exhibition at Tate Modern. It was magnificent, the best exhibition I've attended there. I was under the impression that it just featured the Italian Futurists. It actually offered a cross-section of the works of future-looking artists from four countries - France, Britain and Russia, as well as Italy - but all from the period 1909-1915.
It was interesting to see contemporaneous works by artists inhabiting more or less distinct national styles but who were all innovating, trying to capture the qualities of the future. The real treat, though, lay in witnessing and appreciating, side-by-side, the very individual exuberance of artists such as Delaunay, Braque, Gontcharova, Wyndham Lewis, Boccioni and Severini. What's more, many of the works retained a freshness and crispness that still made them feel redolent of new beginnings.
I added the last artist - Severini - to the list above entirely as a result of the visit today, having not been familiar with his work before. Previously, I'd associated the Italian Futurists solely with images of mechanistic motion ('that looks speedy-fast', as our eldest said in the first room, which featured classic Futurist images of movement). But Severini's paintings are often light and playful: colourful streetscapes and large, busy interiors done in a style that whilst incorporating the dynamic perspectives of Futurism also exhibits a bravery in colour reminiscent of Fauvism. They're executed in lively (sometimes even pastel) colours in a hand that clearly loves paint. A melding of styles I found both unusual and beautiful.
I strongly recommend you visit. There's still plenty of time as it finishes on 20th September. I will certainly be back at least one more time.
Just a final note. On the way back, a journey of no more than half a mile, we enjoyed: some gypsy buskers playing Gypsy Kings covers on the south bank; a jazz ensemble playing songs from The Jungle Book on a street-piano and their own brass on the north bank; a contemporary dance group with sound system performing on the steps of St Paul's; another street-piano, this time playing boogie-woogie, randomly accompanying the activities of a tight-rope walker in Paternoster Square. We got on our bus happily overwhelmed by a surfeit of culture. What a city!