Tate Etc issue 11 cover

Dear Henry Tate,

Do artists have ‘stages’ in the way that they used to? Philip Guston famously ditched abstraction for cartoon-inspired figuration, much to the bemusement of critics. Jackson Pollock got famous for work he made over a five-year period. Some stages are short-lived. As Bernard Marcadé writes, Magritte’s underrated ‘vache’ period – which was a clear break from his traditional Surrealism – lasted only a couple of years. J.E. Millais (at Tate Britain) has many stages in his long career. Best known for his Pre-Raphaelite picture Ophelia, in later life he painted emotive, empty landscapes. They reflected a poetic sincerity that avoided the mawkish sentimentalism of the High Victorian era.

Some artists, however, remain confidently consistent throughout. One such is Louise Bourgeois. As her retrospective exhibition at Tate Modern will show, her drawings and sculptures reflect the strength of vision of her personal universe that has been there from the beginning

Retrospectives in themselves are selective, and, due to the naturally patchy nature of any museum’s collection, we are more likely to see a piece in isolation - or in the context of other works. Where and how these are displayed together shapes the way we think about them, a theme explored in Jonathan Harris’s piece on Tate Liverpool’s rehang. The critic Ralph Rugoff once commented that if you took Damien Hirst’s shark to Sea World, it would be just a dead fish. Something to bear in mind when visiting the Turner Prize retrospective at Tate Britain. Martin Herbert describes the prize as ‘a bellweather of contemporary British art practice’, but how will these works – seen together for the first time – look today?

Bice Curiger and Simon Grant.

Henry Tate holding a model of Tate Gallery Pall Mall Gazette 21 July 1897.
Henry Tate holding a model of Tate Gallery, Pall Mall Gazette, 21 July 1897



Massimiliano Gioni

When Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping was forced to expel the beasties that inhabited his Theater of the World he complained that ‘animal rights were violently interfering with the rights of an artwork to be freely exhibited’. Why are so many contemporary artists using live animals in their work? Massimiliano Gioni investigates.

Barnett Newman
Carter Ratcliff

The older man in the photograph was Barnett Newman, unexpectedly being kissed by the youngster Michael Auder. Carter Ratcliff looks at how two generations are brought together in this remarkable image.

Nicholas Hilliard's 'Queen Elizabeth I'
Antonia Fraser

There are many portraits of Elizabeth I, but few reflect her image as steely icon as perfectly as the one attributed to Nicholas Hilliard. Antonia Fraser looks at the history behind the face, from her status as queen in 1575 to the ingredients for the cosmetics that gave her that ‘translucent glow’.

Doris Salcedo
Madeleine Grynsztejn

The social, historical and political landscape of Colombia and beyond has deeply informed the work of the artist who is creating the next Unilever Series commission for the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern

Louise Bourgeois
Nancy Spero and Helmut Lang

Two artists who know Louise Bourgeois talk about how she has played a part in their lives.

Louise Bourgeois at Tate Modern
Elaine Showalter

Literary critic and feminist, Elaine Showalter explores the life and work of artist Louise Bourgeois.

Louise Bourgeois II
Denyse Bertoni

For many years Louise Bourgeois conducted a monthly salon from her house in New York. It was a chance to meet the distinguished artist, but you never knew what was going to happen, as one visitor remembers

Norma Jeane
Alessandra Galasso

Norma Jeane is the alias of an artist who never appears in public and has no studio, using Marilyn Monroe’s real names for an identity. From cheesemakers to dancers and economics professors, Alessandra Galasso finds that the art is as enigmatic as its creator.

The World as a Stage
Marie de Brugerolle

To coincide with the forthcoming The World as a Stage exhibition at Tate Modern, Marie de Brugerolle explores how contemporary notions of the theatre are being explored by artists. The co-curators ask some of the participants what the idea of theatre means to them.

William Blake
Katharine Stout

William Blake famously declared: “I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s.” His visionary work is on view at Tate Britain and in Tracey Emin and William Blake in focus at Tate Liverpool. Five contemporary artists page homage to the eighteenth-century master. By Katharine Stout.

Turner Prize
Martin Herbert

On a yearly basis it provokes passionate debate on the state of contemporary British art, and it has inspired other institutions abroad to follow its exhibition model. The Turner Prize, as Martin Herbert observes, is ‘a perpetual work in progress, twitchily tracking both an evolving culture and itself’

René Magritte
Bernard Marcadé

In 1947 Magritte gave up what he called his ‘tactile conformism’ partly to distance himself from the rigours of Parisian surrealism. He painted a series of hilarious pictures that trumped his colleagues - until his wife Georgette complained. Bernard Marcadé looks at René Magritte's Période Vache.

Edward Platt

Millais’s early career was closely linked to his friendship with the Lemprière family. The teenage artist’s desire for one of the daughters encouraged him to write a series of illustrated letters, pages of which are shown here for the first time.

Millais's Chill October
Kathleen Jamie

Many of Millais’s late landscapes in Scotland were painted en plein air and given titles inspired by his favourite poems. Variously described as melancholic, elegiac or celebratory, they have been an overlooked part of the artist’s output – until now. Tate Etc. invited a contemporary poet to visit the spot where he created Chill October.

Tate Liverpool Rehang
Jonathan Harris

Jonathan Harris interprets Tate Liverpool’s comprehensive rehang, and how it shows many of the works in the collection in a new context. Much of the art is figurative, but how do such displays affect our perception of the works?

Carsten Nicolai, Duncan Marquis, Piers Faccini and Andrew Graham-Stewart
Art & theatre
Nicholas Ridout

‘Since visual art practice has so decisively repudiated, problematised, complicated the whole business of pretending’, says Nicholas Ridout, ‘it's hardly surprising that the theatre should be given a wide berth.’ But what, if any, are the crossover potentials between art and theatre?

Henry Lamb's 'Death of a Peasant'
George Shaw

George Shaw sketched his father for several decades, until his death last year. Prompted by a visit to the Tate stores to view Henry Lamb’s painting Death of a Peasant, he reflects on family, memory and loss.

Tate Archive
Iain Sinclair

Iain Sinclair visits the Tate archive and unearths the images of a photographer ‘trembling on the brink of life and death’


The World as a Stage II
Jessica Morgan and Catherine Wood

Co-curators of the Tate Modern exhibition, ask some of the participating artists about its themes