Tate Modern: Collection 2003 in association with BT shows the Tate Collection of modern and contemporary art in four separate suites of galleries, each taking as its starting point a traditional artistic genre. The suites are Landscape/Matter/Environment, Still-Life/Object/Real Life, History/Memory/Society, and Nude/Action/Body. In each suite there is a variety of different approaches. Some rooms are dedicated to a single artist, others explore historical movements or periods; a number focus on an individual work, or bring together the historic and the contemporary.
Distinctive of Tate Modern’s curatorial approach is the way in which photography, film and video, as well as archival materials, both contemporary and historic, are integrated into the sequence of displays. The texture of displays has been enriched by loans from public institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, with whom Tate has developed a special partnership, and close relationships with private lenders such as the Froehlich Foundation, Daros Collection and the Pamela and Richard Kramlich Collection of Media Art.
In spring and autumn each year up to twenty galleries are reinstalled with a new selection of work. This allows Tate Modern to explore the extensive Tate Collection in depth, introducing rarely seen works and allowing more familiar work to be shown in new contexts. This cycle of change also allows Tate to share important works with its Regional partner galleries and museums, to be enjoyed alongside other public collections and by different audiences.
Since autumn 2002 the spring and autumn display changes have focused largely on a single suite at a time. Landscape/Matter/Environment was the focus of the autumn display changes which included the installation of The Four Seasons by Cy Twombly, a major recent acquisition by Tate. Cy Twombly’s energetic, looping paintings decorated with graffiti scrawls have established him as one of the most distinguished living abstract artists. Although born and trained in America, he has lived in Italy since the 1950s, and his work combines the abstract expressionist tradition of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning with a classical sensitivity to landscape.
Still-Life/Object/Real Life is the focus of the display changes in spring 2003.
History/Memory/Society will be the subject of major changes in autumn 2003, followed by Nude/Action/Body in spring 2004.
Following the highly acclaimed display of sculpture entitled The Upright Figure in summer 2002, the installation in the Turbine Hall in spring 2003 will be Henry Moore: Public Sculptures, a display focusing on the large, monumental public sculptures he made from the 1940s onwards.
Paul McCarthy on Bankside
Tate Modern displays are complemented by the installation on the north landscape of two inflatable sculptures by Paul McCarthy, the internationally recognised artist. This installation is presented by The Henry Moore Foundation Contemporary Projects in partnership with Tate Modern
Display Highlights, Spring 2003
This display looks at the ways in which artists in the twentieth century used objects to disrupt concepts of the real. It takes as its starting point the dadaist works of Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray, who used humour and surprise to wrest objects from the domain of the banal and everyday. Marcel Duchamp’s Why Not Sneeze Rose Sélavy?, 1921 replica 1964, looks like a birdcage filled with sugar cubes, but the cubes are made from marble and the birdcage has been subtly scaled down so that it is far too small for any bird. Man Ray’s New York, 1920 replica 1973, was originally an olive jar in which the olives were replaced by steel balls. With the advent of surrealism in the mid-1920s, objects became seen as carriers of dreams and desires. Found objects were prized for what they revealed about unconscious wishes and thoughts. The American artist Dorothea Tanning, a late adherent to the surrealist movement, created in the 1960s cloth sculptures which exude an extraordinary vitality and sexuality.
The display is associated with The AHRB Research Centre for Studies of Surrealism and its Legacies, in which Tate is a partner along with the Universities of Essex and Manchester. The display features works by Man Ray and Tanning that have recently been acquired by Tate, and a loan of an object by the contemporary Argentinian artist Jorge Macchi from the University of Essex Collection of Latin American Art. It also includes documentary items by the British artists Eileen Agar and Paul Nash, drawn from the holdings of Tate Archive, which have not been previously displayed.
During the summer of 1999, American artist Mark Dion and a team of local volunteers combed the foreshore of the Thames at low tide along two stretches of beach, one near what is now Tate Britain, and the other at the site that would become Tate Modern the following year. The team collected large quantities of items, including clay pipes, shards of delftware, oyster shells and plastic toys. In this display, Dion’s findings are meticulously presented in an old-fashioned mahogany cabinet, alongside photographs of the beachcombers and tidal flow charts. Antique items sit together with contemporary ephemera, prompting the viewer to create their own narratives across time and to question assumptions about value and disposability.
Trash into Art
Over the last hundred years, a number of artists have created art from everyday waste. In the 1920s the German artist Kurt Schwitters combined oil paint with materials such as magazine clippings, old tickets and stamps, to create subtly-balanced abstract compositions. The French artist Arman first presented debris as art in his poubelle (dustbin) works in 1959. In Tate’s example, the objects were salvaged from his wife’s bathroom bin. By placing these intimate items on a plinth, Arman raises questions about value and the status of the art object.
In 1917, Marcel Duchamp caused a furore when he submitted a mass-produced men’s urinal to an exhibiton in New York, and declared it a work of art. Eighty-five years after it was first created, Fountain, as Duchamp titled the urinal, still provokes the response: ‘is this really art?’ Taking this now iconic sculpture as its starting point, the display traces the enduring legacy of Duchamp’s readymades, as he called them, for subsequent generations of artists. Works will include key examples of Pop Art, such as Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes 1964, and Roy Lichentstein’s Whaam! 1963, alongside sculptures by contemporary artists such as Sarah Lucas and Jeff Koons.
The Autonomous Object
Much sculpture of the 1960s and 1970s embraced the cool spirit of Minimalism, and the credo that a work of art should stand alone, representing nothing but itself. This display will feature sculptures by American artists such as Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt and Larry Bell, often made using industrial materials and showing no trace of the artist’s hand. The austerity of the geometric forms in these sculptures is balanced by a sensuous attention to colour and materials.
This film Lightplay: Black-White-Grey 1930, by László Moholy-Nagy complements the display of kinetic and optical art in the adjoining gallery. The images derive from a kinetic sculpture built by the artist in 1930, titled Light Space Modulator, which he described as an ‘apparatus for the demonstration of the effects of light and movement’. The sculpture was composed of continuously rotating panels cut from glass, metal and wood, illuminated in such a way that they cast dramatic shadows against the wall.
Moholy-Nagy’s film captures the astonishing light effects created by the apparatus.
Optical and Kinetic
Creating movement, or the illusion of movement, in paintings and sculpture has preoccupied a number of artists. Naum Gabo was one of the earliest to experiment with kinetic, or moving sculpture. His Kinetic Construction (Standing Wave) 1919-20, became visible as a wave-like, three-dimensional form only when its vertical metal rod was made to oscillate. In the 1960s artists such as Victor Vasarely and Bridget Riley began to use perceptual devices to generate optical effects, annihilating the static concept of traditional picture making. In some works, such as Julio Le Parc’s Continuel Mobil 1963, kinetic and optical effects combine, creating a sense of movement both literally through space and as a retinal sensation.
Pablo Picasso: Eroticism and Impotence
For the first time Tate Modern is able to show together a selection of Picasso’s paintings and works on paper. Most of the works on display, including a powerful group of Picasso’s etchings, are from the later years of the artist’s life and capture a heady conflict of eroticism and impotence. The tone of the work is personal and tragic: an increasingly aggressive sexuality in his treatment of the female body accompanies an evident inactivity, rendering the male voyeur ridiculous in his lasciviousness.
Mariko Mori: Miko No Inori (The Shaman Girl’s Prayer), 1996
This futuristic video installation by Japanese artist Mariko Mori has been generously lent to Tate Modern by Richard and Pamela Kramlich who, through their foundation New Art Trust, are also supporting a curatorial post in video and film. It is the first in a series of important works that they will share with Tate audiences over the coming years. Mariko Mori’s extraordinary vision, blending science fiction, kitsch and spirituality, reflects her interest in fashion and the context of high-tech, futuristic Tokyo where she was brought up.
Five Angels for the Millennium, 2001 is a key installation by Viola, one of the most important artists working in the field of film and video today. This is the first display of the work since it was recently acquired by Tate, The Whitney Museum of American Art and Centre Pompidou, each gallery holding equal shares in the work.
Five Angels for the Millennium is five large-scale projections showing figures descending into and ascending out of water. Accompanying ambient music reaches a crescendo as the figures erupt through the surface of glistening pools; at times hovering above the surface making it unclear as to whether the viewpoint is above or below the water. Each screen is individually entitled. In ‘Departing’ light glimmers through the dark waters - the sound of sonar radiates through dark, soothing waters. A figure floats into view, rushing through a storm of air bubbles to the surface. A figure shoots through the frame in ‘Birth’ while mystical light turns the waters of ‘Fire’ a deep blood red. ‘Ascending’ shows the figure floating face down as though drowned. ‘Creation’ shows a figure with outstretched arms recalling the iconography associated with the crucifixion.
Since the early 1970s, Viola has used video to explore the phenomena of sensory perception as an avenue to self-knowledge. His works focus on universal experiences - birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness - and have roots in both Eastern and Western art, as well as Islamic Sufism, Christian mysticism, and Zen Buddism.
Still Water (The River Thames, for Example) 1999, is an installation of fifteen photographs of the River Thames by the American artist, Roni Horn. The photographs are lent to Tate Modern by the American Fund for the Tate Gallery, courtesy of the American Acquisitions Committee which supports the acquisition of contemporary American art for presentation to Tate.
Horn (born 1955) has observed that the appearance of the River Thames, dark, fast-moving, and with visibility reported at three feet or less, does not conjure images of the pastoral and romantic. Horn was influenced by other associations, and from 1995 to 1996 she researched Metropolitan Police Thames Division reports which record the details of all bodies found in or alongside the river. From them the artist produced fictionalized versions of the accounts and of anecdotes told by police and boatmen. These tales, along with countless personal observations and thoughts about the river, appear as a series of footnotes to the photographs.
Horn began writing the footnotes a year before she started to photograph the river. These stream-of-consciousness thoughts mirror the fluidity and darkness of the water’s surface, creating a dialogue between the viewer, the voices in the footnotes, and the photographs.
Since the late 1970s, Horn has produced an extensive body of work in a variety of media, including sculpture, books and photographs as part of an ongoing exploration of form and structure.
In Focus Displays, Levels 3 and 5
Two parallel displays explore the history of iconic sculptures from the Collection: Epstein’s Jacob and the Angel, 1940-1, and Carl Andre’s Equivalent VIII. Jacob and the Angel will be displayed at Tate Modern for the first time, while Equivalent VIII will be displayed alongside two other sculptures from the Equivalent series. Documentary material will be displayed, charting the often controversial history of these works and the public’s changing perception of them.