The new Tate Britain November 2002

From: Dr R. Scholl
Category: Exhibitions
Date: 01 November 2001


I was disappointed on arriving at this new entrance and extended gallery space to find neither a spectacular new architectural talking point nor a perfectly honed minimal tribute to conservation. Instead just a lack of light, a product of the autumn eve perhaps, an unimaginative use of conventional materials, the usual overemphasis on shopping, and no aesthetic but that of bourgeois good taste which is very ugly in its assumptions of what is permissable.

Walking around the show of Victorina Nudes I was struck by the dull walls, mere partitions in the way they cut spaces, and the lack of attention paid to flooring, pale wood laminate is used mostly, annnouncing a lack of precision and thought, especially vis a vis the deeply coloured walls in the Victorian exhibition. Presumably the wall colours are meant to evoke or recreate the 19th Century Salon, but any success in this goal is compromised by the sharp shock of the incongruous anachronistic wooden flooring, which is ubiquitous in the early 21st Century gallery environment.

The Tate Britain, devoted to British Art, suffers because the history of British Art is in the main one of mediocrity and failure to join the avant-garde. Some of the Victorian figure sculpture with its extraordinary sparkling marmic finish and virtuosic composition in space, example Diana Wounded, does remind one of Bernini: But in the main, trailing around the less than beautiful galleries one is only reminded that this Island's sluggard art has yet to equal its soaring literature.

comments are closed on this review, click here for worldwidereview home