Press Release

Shopping: A Century of Art and Consumer Culture

Tate Liverpool
20 December 2002 – 23 March 2003

Shopping: A Century of Art and Consumer Culture is the first exhibition to examine in-depth the pervasive relationship between the display, distribution and consumption of commodities and modern and contemporary art. Located on two floors of the gallery, Shopping, a co-production with the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, will be one of the most ambitious and spectacular exhibitions ever staged at Tate Liverpool.

Since the nineteenth-century flâneur of the Parisian arcades, the browsing, selection, purchase and consumption of commodities has been recognised as a defining activity of modern urban life. Shopping has long transcended the mere satisfaction of mundane physical necessities and has become an essential ritual of contemporary life through which identities are manifested, shaped and transformed. This exhibition investigates shopping as a dominant phenomenon of twentieth-century culture and tracks the productive dialogue between art and commercial presentation techniques.

In Shopping, the crossover into the commercial sphere ranges from Eugène Atget’s photographs of Paris storefronts in the 1910s to site-specific installations by contemporary artists. The exhibition will include works from and recreations of major installations and environments such as Claes Oldenburg’s Store (1961), the American Supermarket (1964) in New York (with Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Robert Watts, Tom Wesselmann, etc.), Gerhard Richter and Konrad Lueg’s Living with Pop - A Demonstration for Capitalist Realism in a Dusseldorf furniture store (1963) and classic examples of Christo’s covered store fronts (1969).

In addition to the presentations of these dramatic environments, Shopping includes Richard Estes’ photorealistic paintings of shop windows and an ensemble of Jeff Koons’ monumental vacuum-cleaner vitrines. Damien Hirst is represented with his room-sized installation Pharmacy (1992) while Guillaume Bijl will construct a contemporary supermarket complete with shelves, products, signage and checkout in the galleries. Contemporary artists will create site-specific installations that promise to transform the gallery spaces, spilling over into the city’s adjoining shopping environment and thus creating an infiltrating network of objects.

An illustrated catalogue will be produced to accompany the exhibition.