Welcome to the 25th issue of Tate Etc. We are celebrating this little milestone by featuring a special section on the Tanks at Tate Modern, which open in July and mark another momentous moment in the history of Tate. For twelve years visitors from around the globe have enjoyed Tate Modern. Now the spectacular subterranean Tanks will add another dimension – extraordinary raw industrial spaces that, after their subtle transformation by architects Herzog & de Meuron, will play host to a festival of international cross-disciplinary and live event-based work and performance from past and present. These spaces promise to be some of the most exciting in the art world – a challenging new venue that will help to define the museum of the twenty-first century. And at the heart of the rich programme on show, which the curators describe as an ‘open manifesto’, is the audience. As Tate’s director Nicholas Serota says in his introduction to the Tanks section, the aim is that the works you see could ‘radically change the way people think about and experience art’ and ‘answer the enthusiasm of artists and the appetite of our audience’. We also have an insightful round table discussion with the curators, who reveal how they will bring the new spaces to life. We hope you enjoy this issue and look forward to seeing you in the Tanks throughout the summer.
Bice Curiger and Simon Grant
Robert Smithson, best known for his Land Art piece Spiral Jetty, and Nancy Holt, best known for her work Sun Tunnels, were both fascinated by man’s imprint on the natural landscape. They often travelled together and documented their work – and themselves – in photographs. In 1969 they took an important journey through England and Wales visiting sites that resonated with their practice, ranging from ancient ruins and landscaped gardens to wild natural places. For the first time, Holt reflects on the trip and its influence on their art
In 1930, when Munch was 66 years old, an intraocular haemorrhage in his right eye affected his sight. For several months, with methodical precision, he attempted to render on paper what he saw through his affected eye as his condition changed. Inside the eye, the blood had coagulated into shapes, spots and smudges which were superimposed upon his normal vision. To him, some looked like birds, others like concentric circles. A professor of ophthalmology, who has studied the artist’s works and his eye condition, explores how the sketches and watercolours of these ‘visions’ reflect a remarkable period of Munch’s output late in life
Since the early 1960s the American artist and musician has created surreal and often politically satirical images, whose influences range from Dada to Mickey Mouse. Described as a ‘Zelig of contemporary art’, he refers to his work not only as a ‘light romance with nostalgic Americana’, but also as ‘scathing commentaries on the insidious nature of commercial pop culture’
The work of the British-born German artist Tino Sehgal exists solely as a set of choreographed gestures and spoken instructions acted out by performers in gallery settings. Often these actions directly involve visitors who witness them, as in the case of This Is Propaganda 2002, which took the form of a female attendant singing the title of his work each time someone entered the space
The first season of performance, choreography and film programmes in the new Tanks at Tate Modern has grown out of the gallery’s renowned curatorial approach to recent tendencies in art. Tate Etc. brings together the three curators involved and Tate’s head of learning to hear about their vision for the museum of the future
The Underground chambers of the old power station at Bankside, where oil once lurked with electric potential, will soon open to the public with a programme dedicated to art that has traditionally sat uneasily within a museum collection. Large installations and interdisciplinary works will feature strongly, while the South Tank will be dedicated to the presentation of live performance.
The first commission for the East Tank is by the notable South Korean artist Sung Hwan Kim (born 1975), who combines video, music, sculpture, light and drawing in his installations and performances. His work is often a form of subtle and engaging storytelling that interweaves recent personal experiences, Korean culture, folklore and history
For many centuries artists have been fascinated by the magical, visceral power of projected light as action, as a performative medium in itself. Lucy Reynolds looks at how artists such as Malcolm Le Grice and Annabel Nicolson have radically transformed the passive experience of viewing – and created a legacy that is shaping the work of younger generations of practitioners
The artistic director of Tate St Ives visited one of America’s most respected artists working today, in his New York studio, where Alex Katz talked about how he broke away from the prevailing mood of Abstract Expressionism in the late 1950s to develop his energetic and colourful signature style that has influenced a generation of younger artists
Between 1930 and 1980 photographers from across the globe came to capture the essence of London. To coincide with an exhibition at Tate Britain featuring around 150 works, David Campany looks at how many of these visitors saw more than their British counterparts, and introduces a selection of photographers who reveal the stories behind the images
The Norwegian artist is best known for his pictures of moody lovers and tortured souls. However, these were not merely a product of his feverish imagination. His paintings, prints and ghostly photographs reflected a contemporary fascination with spiritualism (which included an Ouija board session with Strindberg), the supernatural, the occult and the newly discovered X-ray