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The Tate Modern: Record and Development

Institutions in the Arts and Multimedia: Galleries and the climb of the artwork market - Focusing on the Tate Modern. (UK)

The dazzling success of the Tate Modern has threatened to overwhelm Tate Britain(previously the Tate Gallery. ) But, says Tate Director Nicholas Serota, Brit artwork was thriving long before Hirst et al renewedLondon's international status. (Taken from The Timeout Guide to Tate Britain, Nov 2001. )

In his Foreword to Tate Modern: The Handbook, Director Lars Nittve writes: every museum is exclusive; Tate Modern's personality lies not just in its collection or its location. . . but also in its architecture.

Indeed, what was once known as the Tate Gallery has been subject to a significant overhaul. There are now four branches: two in London (one at Millbank; the Tate Modern at Bankside; one in St. Ives; and one in Liverpool). According to Nittve, "the Tate at Millbank used to be the big mom ship, where everything sat-curators, administration, conservation, etc. Now we're moving to something more like a federation. "

This paper will take a close go through the Tate Modern, first exploring its singular background and its own architectural uniqueness. We will give attention to the prosperity and variety of its collection, which is split into four basic styles: scenery, still life, history painting, and nudes. Finally, we will study the Tate Modern in the the bigger framework of modern-day art and advertising, taking note of its effect on the united kingdom art work market, and measuring its position in the international skill world.

History of the Tate Modern

Nicholas Serota was appointed Director of the Tate at Millbank in 1988, and soon after this decided to embark on a quantity of modifications. So that they can re-establish the original architectural integrity of the Millbank building, Serota decided to remove all signals of artifice. He decided to obliterate the wrong ceilings and momentary wall surfaces. He also chose upon a major reorganisation of the collection.

Welcome as these changes may have been, they also brought to light the actual fact that there is simply not enough room to implement each one of these changes if the museum were to stay in its current setting up. This eventually resulted in the decision to expand, a move which has had far-reaching results in the art work world, not simply in the UK but internationally.

The search for a new site finally led to the old Bankside Power Station. Formerly designed and built after the Second World War, the Bankside Electricity Station was the work of Giles Gilbert Scott, a well known English architect. Scott also designed the [now defunct] power station at Battersea, as well as the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. He's most widely known, however, as the custom of the once ubiquitous telephone pack (Craig-Martin, 14).

Michael Craig-Martin, one of the trustees assigned to looking into potential sites for the new Tate, notes that:

The Bankside building was significant for its basic red brick external surfaces and the powerful symmetry of its horizontal mass bisected at the centre by an individual tall, square chimney. The building was articulated on three edges by some immense, well-detailed house windows. Really the only decoration came from the brickwork crenellation along the building's edging, cleverly mitigating its great volume (Craig-Martin, 14-15).

The discovery of the Bankside Ability Station exposed new vistas for the trustees of the new Tate. To begin with was the problem of size: the Bankside Power Station was bigger than any of them had thought. Adjusting their objectives to include such an enormous space opened up an entirely new perspective as well as a world of likelihood.

Second, of all, building yet they had assumed that they would be commissioning abuilding yet here was the energy station, basically intact. They now had to consider the probability that there would be no need to raze the prevailing building and start over what if they were to work with the existing framework, and make changes as needed? This, evidently, will be a break from just how things were usually done. Thus, after going to the Bankside Power Station, the trustees' perspective of what the new gallery could be began to change, and their preconceived notions were substituted by fascinating new principles (Craig-Martin, 15).

The living of so many positive factors convinced the trustees that the Bankside site was the best option as the new site of the house of modern art work. Not merely were the possibilities were appealing; also to be looked at was the location, which was ideal; the likelihood of development; and the interest and support of the local government.

Location was certainly a major consideration; this London location boasted first-rate carry facilities, including the new tube train station at Southwark. Furthermore, there is the possibility of any river bank connection with the Millbank gallery(Craig-Martin, 15). And the local Southwark Council thrown away virtually no time in acknowledging the impact this could have on the local community, an area much looking for a financial and industrial boost: The local council, Southwark, recognising the potential impact of the Tate task on development and occupation in this largely run-down area, enthusiastically reinforced it right away (Craig-Martin, 15).

Architectural Design

Relocation to the Bankside site intended opened up a wealth of chance for the Tate. Forstarters, the vast size of the building meant that the Tate would have the ability tomore than twin its convenience of showing its collection as well as casing major large-scale momentary exhibitions (Craig-Martin, 15). Beyond this, the options looked like even more thrilling: even after extension, there would be a vast expanse of untouched space, leaving the options for continued progress and convenience of even greater acquisitions wide open.

But questions of how to overcome and re-design this space still had to be sorted out. DirectorNicholas Serota enlisted the assistance of Trustee Michael Craig-Martin andsculptor Charge Woodrow to go to some of the newer museums of modern day artwork onthe Continent, and also to consider them critically from our point of view asartists (Craig-Martin, 17). In this way, Serota helped to best utilize the newspace, with an eyesight on art, alternatively than architecture.

After visiting a number of modern museums, Martin and Woodrow discovered that for the most part, modern museums better offered the pursuits of architects and architecture than those of artwork and artists. Obviously the pursuits of art weren't the primary concern of those chosen to create the space that would best showcase it. Many architects obviously considered building a museum to be always a prime chance of high-profile signature work. On the other hand few architects looked like truly to comprehend or be enthusiastic about the needs of art (Craig-Martin, 17).

They reported these results to Serota and the other trustees, with the best result that there is a change in the thinking behind the architectural methodology. Now, the central matter of the design of the new building is always to treat the needs of art through the quality of the galleries and the range ofopportunities, both sympathetic and challenging, for showing art. While seeking the best possible architectural solution, we decided that the job would be art led not architecture led (Craig-Martin, 17).

The decision ofthe trustees was not a popular one in many circles. Architects specifically felt deprived, witnessing the decision only in light of their own potential expansion or shortage thereof: Some, finding this as the betrayal of a unique architectural chance for London, interpreted it as the consequence of a lack of institutional nerve (Craig-Martin, 17).

Ultimately, Herzog & de Meuron were determined to be the architects. These were the sole ones whose design managed to keep the building intact without making major changes to its basic composition, to appreciate the beauty and value already inherent in the existing structure: Herzog & de Meuron's was the only proposal that completely accepted the existing building its form, its materials and its own commercial characteristics and found the answer to be the change of the building itself into an art gallery (Craig-Martin, 17).

Indeed, as described by Insight Courses: Tate Modern has captured the public's creativity in a quite unprecedented way, both because of its displays and its building, which establishes a magnificent presence on the South Bank (194).

The Collection

Insight Guides claims that the set up of the collection makes it both more accessible to, and more popular with, everyone (194). Instead of achronology, the work is organized by way of a four different (though admittedly overlapping) themes or templates. The exhibits replace a single historical account numerous different reports of imaginative activity and suggest their relationship to the wider communal and cultural history of the 20th and early on 21stcentury (Perception Manuals 194).

The four themes or templates are, in essence: panorama, still life, background painting, and nudes.

Within each one of these broad themes it is possible to explore a rich syntax of purpose and strategy, (Blazwick & Morris, 35).


When comes up landscapes, a variety of scenes may come in your thoughts: waves crashing on a rocky beach; a horizon of dark, menacing clouds; skyscrapers silhouetted against a sunset. As Blazwick & Morris point out, the genre of landscape is primarily realized as a representation of an all natural or urban scene, that will be topographic, metaphoric or sublime (35). On the Tate Modern, however, the genre of landscape has been reconceived to add the area of the imaginary, uncanny dreamscapes, symbolic visualisations of nervousness and desire (Blazwick & Morris, 35).

As Jennifer Mundy points out, landscape is an ambiguous term and can have several overlapping meanings: much of its resonance derives from the often uncertain boundary between mother nature and culture, the target and the subjective (42). Thus a surroundings may be a faithful rendering of the physical world, including the dreamy middle-class countrysides of Impressionism. Or it may be symbolic making of an inside landscape, like the more obscure works of the Surrealists.

The Tate Modern's Landscaping collection tries to reflect the range and diversity of the genre, while also addressing the complex risk of modern tools. As Mundy notes, today the threat posed to the surroundings by modern tools and the expansion of the population has made the natural landscaping a topical, even urgent, subject for fine art (50).

StillLife/Object/Real Life

Paul Moorhouse posits that among the countless radical innovations in the visible arts over the last hundred years, one of many has been the incredible growth and transformation of the genre known as still life (60). By the period of Cubism, still life no longer supposed an apple over a plate, but rather the complexity of the relationship of the things to one another and to the audience: The inertness of such items as a cup, a bottle, a pipe or a papers provided a perfect vehicle for causing the complex phenomenological human relationships between such artefacts, the encompassing space and the viewer perceiving them (62).

The Tate Modern's collection is a reflection of the advancement of the form known as still life, and which today defies classification. Corresponding to Moorhouse, this fusion of the genuine and the symbolic has generated the conditions for a impressive vitality and variety in contemporary artwork (68), a vitality and diversity mirrored in the Tate Modern's ever-changing representations of the genre.

History/Storage area/Society

The concept of history/memory/society is wide-ranging and ambitious, perhaps intentionally so. People morality, politics, ideology, idealism and suffering among other themes or templates still preoccupy painters today comments Jeremy Lewison (88). The Tate Modern collection tries to stand for these themes because they are portrayed in modernity, while reflecting the continuum in which they necessarily are present. Clearly this can be an ambitious task, taking into consideration the multitude of methods used to express and associate these concepts across the ages.

The research of history has descended to the micro level, posits Lewison, adding that it's been, in a sense, democratised. History is no more solely the provenance of leaders and heroes; it is rather, in the hands of the common individual. The painters of today have followed a similar course, Lewison suggests, and, by employing the same strategies, by opening themselves to techniques and concepts produced from the individual and social sciences, painters today treat issues highly relevant to modern life (88).


Among the most traditional man-made objects recognisable as belonging to the category that people callart are small naked individual figures carved from natural stone or ivory posits SimonWilson (96). Plainly, as humans we live enthusiastic about representations of the body which has been reflected throughout history.

The final generations of the twentieth century have seen remarkable changes in the concept of the body. Significant innovations in technology, combined with lengthened lifespans of your society, have spurred a re-thinking of what your body is indeed, sometimes it has appeared to become objectified. These changes are of course shown in skill.

As Wilson points out, during this time period artists started out to make use of their own body as the expressive medium, at first creating always ephemeral works by means of what became known as Performance art (104). This, together with use of various media such as film, video, but still photography, is all part of the Tate Modern's programme in accurately capturing and representing this genre.

The Tate Modern and the International Artwork World

The success of the Tate Modern may have initially seemed to eclipse the Tate Britain however, a reply like this surely needed been expected. The selection of Giles Gilbert Scott's Bankside Power Place as its new home was itself a newsworthy event. The subsequent choice of Herzog & de Meuron as architects caused extensive buzz in the skill world and the united states at large. Therefore it issmall wonder that whenever it finally opened up its doors, the world was indeed dazzled by the Tate Modern.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Tate Britain, writes in the Foreward to Humphrey's publication:

the creation in 2000 of Tate Modern and Tate Britain as distinctive entities with the Tate organisation, were primary steps towards renaissance of Millbank. Now, with many new galleries for displays and exhibitions, and with another programme preparing our choices withina plethora of new contexts, national and international, our role here as the world's centre for the study and pleasure of British artwork may emergewith fresh clarity. . .

There is, however, no doubt that the Tate Modern will play an influential role in the skill world. It is unique in conception, as mentioned earlier, because it was carefully made to meet up with the needs of the musician, as opposed to those of the architect. As Craig-Martin described, while seeking the perfect architectural solution, we decided that the job would be art work led not structures led(17).

In addition, there is the simple, yet vitally important issue of size and space exclusively. The discovery of the Bankside Power Station exposed new vistas for the trustees of the new Tate. Bankside Electric power Station was bigger than some of them had imagined, and the process of altering their expectations to include such a huge space opened up an totally new perspective. Not only were the possibilities were inviting; also to be considered was the positioning, that was ideal; the probability of development; and the eye and support of the neighborhood government.

Beyond the mere physical properties such as architecture and size will be the ways that these characteristics are utilised. The perspective of the Tate Modern thus far seems to be on the cutting edge. The best museums of the future will. . . seek to market different settings and degrees of 'interpretation' by subtle juxtapositions of 'experience' writes Nicholas Serota. He further asserts that the best museums will contain somerooms and works that'll be fixed, the pole superstar around that your others will change. . . in this manner we can expect to make a matrix of changing relationshipsto be explored by site visitors according with their particular passions and sensibilities (54-55).

As Deuchar hassaid, we no more choose to associate an individual narrative of English art and culture, but to explore a network of reports about art and about Britain, with our choices at its primary (Foreward to Humphreys' reserve). And has Nittve has described "the Tate at Millbank used to be the big mom dispatch, where everything sat curators, supervision, conservation, etc. Now we're moving to something more like a federation (Frankel).

The Tate Modern, the required extension of this primary, may in truth be viewed as a pole star in itself, at the forefront of the modern art scene, with a world of limitless potential forward.

Reference List

Adams, Brooks, Lisa Jardine, Martin Maloney, Norman Rosenthal, and Richard Shone. 1997. Experience: Young Uk Designers from the Saatchi Collection. London: Royal Academy of Arts.

Blazwick, Iwona and Frances Morris. 2000. Displaying the Twentieth Century. In Tate Modern: The Handbook, eds. Iwona Blazwick and Simon Wilson, pp. 28-39. Berkeley: U of CA Press with Tate Gallery Publishing Limited.

Craig-Martin, Michael. 2000. Towards Tate Modern. In Tate Modern: The Handbook, eds. Iwona Blazwick and Simon Wilsonpp. 12-23. Berkeley: U of CA Press with Tate Gallery Publishing Limited.

Frankel, David. April 2000. Skill Forum.

http://www. 24hourscholar. com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_8_38/ai_61907715 Accessed May 26, 2005.

Humphreys, Richard. 2001. The Tate Britain Associate to British Art work. London: Tate Posting.

Insight Guides: Museums and Galleries of London. 2002. Basingstoke, Hants: GeoCenter InternationalLtd.

Lewison, Jeremy. 2000. Record Recollection/Society. In Tate Modern: The Handbook, eds. Iwona Blazwickand Simon Wilsonpp. 74-93. Berkeley: U of CA Press, with Tate Gallery Publishing Limited.

Massey, Doreen. 2000. Bankside: International Local. In Tate Modern: The Handbook, eds. Iwona Blazwick and Simon Wilsonpp. 24-27. Berkeley: U of CA Press with Tate Gallery Publishing Limited.

Moorhouse, Paul. Still Life/Thing/RealLife. 2000. In Tate Modern: The Handbook, eds. Iwona Blazwickand Simon Wilsonpp. 58-73. Berkeley: U of CA Press with Tate Gallery Publishing Limited.

Mundy, Jennifer. 2000. Landscape/Subject/Environment. In Tate Modern: The Handbook, eds. Iwona Blazwick and Simon Wilsonpp. 40-53. Berkeley: U of CA Press with Tate Gallery Publishing Limited.

Serota, Nicholas. 1996. Experience or Interpretation: The Issue of Museums of Modern Artwork. WalterNeurath Memorial Lectures, London: Birkbeck University.

Shone, Richard. 1997. From 'Freeze' to accommodate: 1988-94. In Experience: Young British

Artists from the Saatchi Collection. London: Royal Academy of Arts.

Wilson, David M. , ed. 1989. The Collections of the English Museum. London: British MuseumPress.

Wilson, Simon. 2000. Nude/Action/Body. In Tate Modern: The Handbook, eds. Iwona Blazwick and Simon Wilsonpp. 94-107. Berkeley: U of CA Press with Tate Gallery Publishing Limited.

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