In 1913 the Futurist F.T. Marinetti printed the Variety Theatre Manifesto, which was designed to provoke and scandalise its audience. Suggestions included ‘spreading powerful glue on some of the seats’ and offering free tickets to people who were ‘notoriously unbalanced, irritable or eccentric’. Of course, Marinetti and company thought they were being hilarious, but they also had serious intentions. As Boris Groys points out in his conversation with Claire Bishop, they wished to ‘destroy the long-held benign contemplative attitude of the spectator, which had been the standard position of art audiences in the nineteenth century’. To this they added their unsavoury alliance with fascist ideology to create what was arguably the most vibrant and disruptive art movement of the twentieth century. It was destined to fail. However, their attitude would shape generations of future artists, activists and thinkers – from Tristan Tzara to Guy Debord, Allan Kaprow to Maurizio Cattelan. Now, it is fair to say that participation and collaboration have become the mainstays of contemporary art methodology, perhaps nowhere better exemplified than in Polish artist Artur Zmijewskis film Them 2007. This engrossing piece focuses on a series of painting workshops between four different ideological groups: Jews, the socialists, Polish nationalists and the Catholic church. Each is asked to make an image that represents their identity, and the results are discussed collectively. Inevitably, polite comment descends into chaos and bitter exchanges. Despite Zmijewskis cool, subjective editing, the complexity of a nations image of itself is brought alive in fifteen minutes. No doubt Marinetti would have approved.
Bice Curiger and Simon Grant
In this issue
As well as being noted for their avant-garde painting, the Futurists’ performances were legendary for their intent to provoke and scandalise the public. Often encouraging audience interaction, they led the way for participatory art, from Dada, Situationism and Allan Kaprow’s happenings to the present. To coincide with Tate Modern’s Futurism exhibition, Tate Etc. brings together two art professionals to explore this history
Tate Liverpool’s exhibition Colour Chart: Reinventing Colour, 1950 to Today explores the moment in twentieth-century art when a group of artists began to perceive colour as ‘readymade’ rather than purely scientific or expressive. The gallery’s director talks to one of its leading practitioners.
How Random Distribution of 40,000 Squares using the odd and even numbers of a Telephone Directory 1960 came into being
Last year one of the largest donations of art in Britain was made by Anthony d’Offay. The collection of more than 700 works by leading artists, known as ARTIST ROOMS and assembled over the past 28 years, is now owned jointly by the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) and Tate on behalf of the nation. This year Tate sites, NGS and thirteen museums and galleries across the UK are showing more than 30 ARTIST ROOMS in the first tour of the collection. Tate Etc. talks to Anthony d’Offay about the impetus behind the project, and also to a selection of the artists on display.
For the latest Duveen Commission at Tate Britain, Eva Rothschild has created a startling new sculpture that weaves its way through the gallery’s central space, reflecting her previous work’s blending of contemporary interpretations of sculptural traditions with her distinctive voice.
To coincide with Tate Modern’s exhibition of paintings by the Danish artist, the career of Per Kirkeby is explored – from his Pop motifs borrowed from Hergé’s Tintin books to his monumental architectonic sculptures.
Turner’s Figures in a Building
As a year-long season of exhibitions focusing on Polish art begins nationawide, Tate Etc. brings together four Polish art professionals to discuss why art from their country is not better known abroad and why it should be
Reflections on a work in the Tate collection
In his first visit to the Tate archive, Travis Elborough finds his mind going pleasurably adrift over a photograph of two unidentified men by the seaside found amid Francis Bacon’s archives.
Artitsts Rita McBride, Corey McCorkle and Stefan Brüggemann, who participated in United Technologies at Lismore Castle Arts, Waterford, talk to Tate Etc. about their work
This July Tamar Yoseloff presents a poem written exclusively for Tate Etc., Cryptographer, based on Cy Twombly’s Quattro Stagioni: Inverno, the Winter season from Quattro Stagioni (A Painting in Four Parts) This work is not currently on display in the galleries but can be found in the Tate Collection online
Lorraine Mariner also presents her poem, Hesitate, based on Bridget Riley’s work of the same name. This work is currently on display in Tate Liverpool and other works by the same author can be viewed on the Tate Collection online.