The idea of philanthropy was close to your heart, and your generosity led to the beginnings of the Tate collection. Since then, artists, collectors and donors have followed your example. For national art institutions, it has never been a more important time to give. Government Grant-in-Aid is no longer a reliable source of income for acquisitions, and art market prices have soared, which means that the actual purchasing power of existing funds has decreased dramatically. Looking at this photograph, we feel that the donors to Tate give in a belief, as you did, that their gift is well placed – it is not going to be lost in a rusty box.
So far, our culture has been reluctant to embrace the benefits of benevolence. However, the recent initiative launched by Tate – Building the Tate collection – will hopefully encourage the practice on a wider scale. It starts with a commitment of £1 million from Tate Members, plus gifts from artists including Richard Hamilton and Rachel Whiteread, as well as further donations from private collectors, such as Lord Attenborough’s gift of several important works including Michael Andrews’s Self Portrait 1959.
The collection is a key part of Tate, and it is the artists who have shaped it. We at Tate Etc., however, wish to add to the energy generated from the institution that carries your name by exploring the work of artists both within Tate and beyond. In this issue, for example, we examine how contemporary artists such as Keith Tyson and Maurizio Cattelan have built on the legacy of one of the great artists of the twentieth century – Joseph Beuys (whose exhibition opens at Tate Modern in February).
We also extend the vision of Turner Whistler Monet (opening at Tate Britain in February) by placing their work alongside that of filmmakers and photographers of the period. Similarly, we take a fresh look at the often misunderstood Salvador Dalí, and celebrate his profound influence on popular culture.
It is often easy to forget that art is about the human touch. Many of the images in this issue show artists at work as well as the art they produce. In this spirit, we include graphic interventions by Lily van der Stokker, specially commissioned by Tate Etc., which appear on the cover. We hope you like them Henry.
Bice Curiger and Simon Grant