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Tate Modern


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Tate Modern is a modern art gallery located in London. It is Britain's national gallery of international modern art and forms part of the Tate group (together with Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, Tate St Ives and Tate Online). It is based in the former Bankside Power Station, in the Bankside area of the London Borough of Southwark. Tate holds the national collection of British art from 1900 to the present day and international modern and contemporary art. It is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the world.

 

History

The galleries are housed in the former Bankside Power Station, which was originally designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the architect of Battersea Power Station, and built in two stages between 1947 and 1963. The power station closed in 1981. In 1992 The Tate Gallery at the British National Art Museum proposed a competition to build a new building for modern art. The purpose for the new building would help with the ever-expanding collection on modern and contemporary art. In 1995 it was announced that Herzog & de Meuron had won the competition with their simple design. The architects decided to reinvent the current building instead of demolishing it. The Tate modern is an example of adaptive reuse, the process of finding new life in old buildings. The building itself still resembles the 20th century factory in style from the outside and that is reflected on the inside by the taupe walls, steel girders and concrete floors. The façade of the building is made out of 4.2 million bricks that are separated by groups of thin vertical windows that help create a dramatic light inside.

The history of the site as well as information about the conversion was the basis for a 2008 documentary Architects Herzog and de Meuron: Alchemy of Building & Tate Modern. This challenging conversion work was carried by Carillion. The southern third of the building was retained by the French power company EDF Energy as an electrical substation (in 2006, the company released half of this holding).

Frances Morris' appointment as director was announced in January 2016.

The galleries

The collections in Tate Modern consist of works of international modern and contemporary art dating from 1900 until today.

Tate Modern currently has seven floors, originally numbered 1 to 7, they were then renumbered 0 to 6 in 2012. Levels 0 to 4 contain gallery space.

Collection exhibitions

The main collection displays consist of 4 wings each taking up approximately half a complete floor of the main building. Each wing has a named theme or subject. Within each wing there are some rooms that change periodically showing different works in keeping with the overall theme or subject of the wing.

Previous collection exhibitions

When the gallery opened in 2000, the collections were not displayed in chronological order but were rather arranged thematically into four broad groups each allocated a wing on levels 3 and 5 (now levels 2 and 4):

  • 'History/Memory/Society'
  • 'Nude/Action/Body'
  • 'Landscape/Matter/Environment'
  • 'Still Life/Object/Real Life'

This was ostensibly because a chronological survey of the story of modern art along the lines of the Museum of Modern Art in New York would expose the large gaps in the collections, the result of the Tate's conservative acquisitions policy for the first half of the 20th century.

The first rehang at Tate Modern opened in May 2006. It eschewed the thematic groupings in favour of focusing on pivotal moments of twentieth-century art. It also introduced spaces for shorter exhibitions in between the wings. The layout was:

Material Gestures (now closed)

This focuses on abstraction, expressionism and abstract expressionism, featuring work by Claude Monet, Anish Kapoor, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Henri Matisse and Tacita Dean.

Poetry and Dream

This features a large central room dedicated to Surrealism while the surrounding rooms feature works by artists influenced by Surrealism and its methods.

Energy and Process

This focuses on Arte Povera, with work by artists such as Alighiero Boetti, Jannis Kounellis, Kasimir Malevich, Ana Mendieta, Mario Merz and Jenny Holzer.

States of Flux (now closed)

This focuses on Cubism, Futurism, Vorticism and Pop Art, containing work by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and the photographer Eugène Atget,

Current collection exhibitions

As of mid-2012, a third rehang is in progress. The current arrangement is:

Poetry and Dream

As above.

Structure and Clarity

Focussing on abstract art, replacing States of Flux.

Transformed Visions

Focusing on Abstract Impressionism and related fields after the Second World War, replacing Material Gestures.

Energy and Process

As above.

Setting the Scene

A smaller section, located between wings, covering installations with theatrical or fictional themes.

It has not been announced whether the current rehang will eventually replace all four of the sections introduced in the first rehang.

Temporary exhibitions

The Turbine Hall

The Turbine Hall, which once housed the electricity generators of the old power station, is five storeys tall with 3,400 square metres of floorspace. It is used to display large specially-commissioned works by contemporary artists, between October and March each year. This series was planned to last the gallery's first five years, but the popularity of the series has led to its extension until at least 2012.

The artists who have exhibited commissioned work in the turbine hall as part of the Unilever series are:

Until 2012, the series was named after its corporate sponsor, Unilever. Between 2000 and 2012, Unilever had provided £4.4m sponsorship in total including a renewal deal of £2.2m for a period of five years agreed in 2008.

When the series is not running, the Turbine Hall is used for occasional events and exhibitions. Most recently it has been used to display Damien Hirst's For The Love Of God and a sell out show by Kraftwerk in February 2013 which famously crashed the ticket hotline and website causing a backlash from the band's fans.

In 2013, Tate Modern signed a sponsorship deal worth around £5 million with Hyundai to cover a ten-year program of commissions, then considered the largest amount of money ever provided to an individual gallery or museum in the United Kingdom. The first commission for the Hyundai series is Mexican artist, Abraham Cruzvillegas.

Major temporary exhibitions

Two wings of the main building are used to stage the major temporary exhibitions for which an entry fee is charged. These exhibitions normally run for three or four months. When they were located on a single floor, the two exhibition areas could be combined to host a single exhibition. This was done for the Gilbert and George retrospective due to the size and number of the works. Currently the two wings used are on levels 2 and 3. It is not known if this arrangement is permanent. Each major exhibition has a dedicated mini-shop selling books and merchandise relevant to the exhibition. A 2014 show of Henri Matisse provided Tate Modern with London’s best-attended charging exhibition, and with a record 562,622 visitors overall, helped by a nearly five-month-long run.

The Tanks

The Tanks, located on level 0, are three large underground oil tanks, connecting spaces and side rooms originally used by the power station and refurbished for use by the gallery. One tank is used to display installation and video art specially commissioned for the space while smaller areas are used to show installation and video art from the collection.

Project Space

The Project Space (formerly known as the Level 2 Gallery) is a smaller gallery located on the north side of the building on level 1 which houses exhibitions of contemporary art in collaboration with other international art organisations. Its exhibitions typically run for 2–3 months and then travel to the collaborating institution for display there.

Other areas

Small exhibition spaces can be created between the wings on levels 2 to 4. These have been used to display recent acquisitions and other temporary displays from the collection. Works are also sometimes shown in the restaurants and members' room. Other locations that have been used in the past include the mezzanine on Level 1 and the north facing exterior of the building.

Other facilities

In addition to exhibition space there are a number of other facilities:

  • A large performance space in one of the tanks on level 0 used to show a changing programme of performance works for which there is sometimes an entrance charge.
  • The Starr Auditorium and a seminar room on level 1 which are used to show films and host events for which there is usually an entrance charge.
  • The Clore Education Centre, Clore Information Room and McAulay Studios on level 0 which are facilities for use by visiting educational institutions.
  • One large and several small shops selling books, prints and merchandise.
  • A cafe, an espresso bar, a restaurant and bar and a members' room.
  • Tate Modern community garden, co-managed with Bankside Open Spaces Trust

Extension project

Tate Modern has attracted more visitors than originally expected and plans to expand it have been in preparation since 2004. These plans are focused on the south west of the building and will provide 5,000m2 of new display space, almost doubling the amount of display space.

This project was initially costed at £215 million Of the money raised, £50 million came from the UK government; £7 million from the London Development Agency; £6 million from philanthropist John Studzinski; and donations from, among others, the Sultanate of Oman and Elisabeth Murdoch.

In June 2013, international shipping and property magnate Eyal Ofer pledged £10m to the extension project, making it to 85% of the required funds. Eyal Ofer, chairman of London-based Zodiac Maritime Agencies, said the donation made through his family foundation would enable "an iconic institution to enhance the experience and accessibility of contemporary art". The Tate director, Nicholas Serota, praised the donation saying it would help to make Tate Modern a "truly twenty-first-century museum".

The Tanks

The first phase of the expansion involved the conversion of three large, circular, underground oil tanks originally used by the power station into accessible display spaces and facilities areas. These opened on 18 July 2012 and are used to show live performance art and installations. Tate describes them as "the world's first museum galleries permanently dedicated to live art".

The western block

The new western block will occupy the space no longer required by EDF Energy for their electrical substation. The original block has been demolished and a new building will be built with large gallery spaces and access routes between the main building and the new tower on level 1 (ground level) and level 4. The new galleries on level 4 will have natural top lighting. A bridge will be built across the turbine hall on level 4 to complete the upper access route.

The tower

An eleven storey tower, 65 metres high, is being built above the oil tanks. The new building is scheduled to open in 2016.

The design, again by Herzog & de Meuron, has been controversial. It was originally designed as a glass stepped pyramid, but this was amended to incorporate a sloping façade in brick latticework (to match the original power-station building) despite planning consent to the original design having been previously granted by the supervising authority.

The tower will provide 22,492 square metres of additional gross internal area for display and exhibition spaces, performance spaces, education facilities, offices, catering and retail facilities as well as a car parking and a new external public space.

The chimney

The chimney is one of the most recognizable monuments on the South Bank. It is directly across the river from St Paul's Cathedral and stands at 325 ft, made completely from brick.

Access and environs

The closest station is Blackfriars via its new south entrance. Other nearby stations include Southwark, as well as St Paul's and Mansion House north of the river which can be reached via the Millennium Bridge. The lampposts between Southwark tube station and Tate Modern are painted orange to show pedestrian visitors the route.

There is also a riverboat pier just outside the gallery called Bankside Pier, with connections to the Docklands and Greenwich via regular passenger boat services (commuter service) and the Tate to Tate service, which connects Tate Modern with Tate Britain.

To the west of Tate Modern lie the sleek stone and glass Ludgate House, the former headquarters of Express Newspapers and Sampson House, a massive late Brutalist office building.

Transport connections

  • At the exit of Southwark tube station, orange lamposts direct visitors to Tate Modern.

Selections from the permanent collection of paintings

Directors

  • Lars Nittve (1998–2001)
  • Vicente Todolí (2003–2010)
  • Chris Dercon (2010–2016)
  • Frances Morris (2016–)

Liberate Tate from BP

Since 2010 there have been 14 protest art performances by the art collective Liberate Tate demanding the Tate to “disengage from BP as a sponsor, and stop allowing Tate to be used to deflect attention away from the devastating impacts that BP has around the world.” BP is criticized for operations in relation with Petroleum exploration in the Arctic, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Oil sands and climate change. The artists involved in the protests are referring to a deal between BP and the Tate: BP pays £224,000 a year to the Tate. The Tate presents the brand BP in return. In June 2015 a group of artists occupied Tate Modern for 25 hours.

 


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