About Tate Modern
Tate Modern is the national gallery of international modern art. Located in London, it is one of the family of four Tate galleries which display selections from the Tate Collection. The Collection comprises the national collection of British art from the year 1500 to the present day, and of international modern art. The other three galleries are Tate Britain, also in London, Tate Liverpool, in the north-west, and Tate St Ives, in Cornwall, in the south-west. The entire Tate Collection is available online.
Created in the year 2000 from a disused power station in the heart of London, Tate Modern displays the national collection of international modern art. This is defined as art since 1900. International painting pre-1900 is found at the National Gallery, and sculpture at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Tate Modern includes modern British art where it contributes to the story of modern art, so major modern British artists may be found at both Tate Modern and Tate Britain.
Built in two phases between 1947 and 1963, Bankside Power Station was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. He was also the architect of Battersea Power Station, Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, University libraries in Oxford and Cambridge, Waterloo Bridge, and the designer of the famous British red telephone box.
The western half of the structure, which included the chimney, replaced an earlier coal-fired power station, in 1952. The eastern half of the building was brought into commission in 1963. In 1981 Bankside Power Station closed due to increased oil prices, making other methods of generating electricity more efficient. Between 1981 and 1994 when the Tate Gallery acquired an option on the site, the building remained unoccupied apart from an operational London Electricity sub-station that still remains.
In the late 1980s it became clear to Tate that its collection had outgrown its home on Millbank. It was decided to create a new gallery to house Tate's international modern art, and a search began for a suitable site to build on, or a building that could be converted.
The redundant Bankside Power Station proved an astonishing discovery; a building of enormous size, great architectural distinction, superbly sited opposite St Paul's Cathedral and in a fascinating and historic, if neglected area, next to the rebuilt Globe Theatre. An international architectural competition was held, which over seventy architects entered, including some of the world's most distinguished. The final choice was the young Swiss practice, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron.
The Tate collection of modern and contemporary art represents all the major movements from Fauvism on. It includes important masterpieces by both Picasso and Matisse and one of the world's finest museum collections of Surrealism, including works by Dalí,Ernst, Magritte and Mirò. Its substantial holdings of American Abstract Expressionism include major works by Pollock as well as the nine Seagram Murals by Rothko. There is an in depth collection of the Russian pioneer of abstract art Naum Gabo, and an important group of sculpture and paintings by Giacometti. Tate has significant collections of Pop art, including major works by Lichtenstein and Warhol, Minimal art and Conceptual art. Tate also has particularly rich holdings of contemporary art since the 1980s.
Tate Modern's displays consist of four wings located on Levels 3 and 5. At the heart of each wing is a large central display, or ‘hub’, which focuses on a key period in the development of twentieth century art.
These four seminal periods are Surrealism, Minimalism, Post-war innovations in abstraction and figuration, and the three linked movements Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism. Around these ‘hubs’ a diverse range of related displays present works which anticipated, challenged or responded to these four major movements.
Moving back and forwards in time, these displays reflect the ongoing dialogue between past and present and suggest contemporary perspectives for approaching and reassessing the past.
BBC Culture Show
The Unilever Series: Tacita Dean
About the exhibition
Come and see the twelfth commission in The Unilever Series by the celebrated British filmmaker Tacita Dean at Tate Modern.
FILM is an 11-minute silent 35mm film projected onto a gigantic white monolith standing 13 metres tall at the end of a darkened Turbine Hall. It is the first work in The Unilever Series devoted to the moving image, and celebrates the masterful techniques of analogue film-making as opposed to digital. The work evokes the monumental mysterious black monolith from the classic science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film feels like a surreal visual poem, including images from the natural world among others, with the epic wall of the Turbine Hall showing through, in a montage of black and white, colour, and hand-tinted film.
About the artist
Tacita Dean is a British artist now based in Berlin, best known for her use of film. Dean’s films act as portraits or depictions rather than conventional cinematic storytelling, capturing fleeting natural light or subtle shifts in movement. Her static camera positions and long takes allow events to unfold unhurriedly. Other works have attempted to reconstruct events from memory, such as an infamous thwarted attempt to circumnavigate the world.
Dean’s interest in the cinematic also extends to her work in other media. The Russian Ending 2001 borrows its title from the early Danish cinema tradition of making two alternate endings for a film: one happy for the American market and one tragic for the Russian market. In this work, Dean annotated postcards of catastrophes with director's notes.
Many of Dean’s works show the ways in which architecture can be transformed by the camera's lens. Craneway Event 2009 follows the choreographer Merce Cunningham (1919–2009) and his dance company rehearsing in a former Ford assembly plant, built of glass and steel and overlooking the San Francisco Bay. Dean’s film allows the ever-changing light of this environment to fall in rhythm with the dancers’ movements.