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Display Narrative of Tate Modern Art Gallery from the Perspective of American Modernism

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Autor:   •  June 18, 2011  •  Essay  •  872 Words (4 Pages)  •  912 Views

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Tate Modern's permanent collection is showed in four thematic displays namely; Material Gestures, Poetry and Dream, Idea and Object, States of Flux. These displays abstain from the sequential model of exhibition with an intention of making a display of 20th Century art which is more subjected to recent narrative interpretations and less dependent on earlier understanding of art history. Tate Modern's early display used unclear and capacious thematic headings like History, Memory, Society, Landscape, Matter, Environment, and so on. Similarly the current rearrangement aims to give importance on shared tendencies within art practice rather than group art geographically or in terms of 'movements'.

This model is also advantageous up to now as it allows Tate to downplay the several voids in its collection. All the four themes have its own large 'main' room together with a group of smaller adjoining galleries. This arrangement allows a clear, unilateral understanding of the displayed theme. For instance, the main room in Material Gestures consists of mainly Abstract Expressionist painting giving a reasonably understandable interpretation of the thematic title; likewise Poetry and Dream equalize to Surrealism and Idea and Object equalize Minimalism. Tate's strong holdings of Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism and Pop art of American Modernism appears to start with post-war art with previous works from the Ash Can School, Precisionism, or New York Dada could adjust comfortably in the Poetry and Dream section but are missing (Tate Modern, 2009).

As a matter of fact prominence on pre-war American art is less significant as of work by Duchamp and Man Ray, made in New York before their shift to Europe in 1923 and 1921 respectively, is exhibited within the setting of the European avant-garde with no mention given to New York Dada or the Arensberg Salon even though the emphasis of these contexts for the work (Tate Modern, 2009). The absence of pre-war American art in the Tate's collection appears to carry a conventional view of art history; in other words emphasis shifted from Europe to America after World War Two. American Modernism is a fascinating tool for exhibiting different attributes of the Tate Modern's re-hang and the Material Gestures exhibition presents as a fine example. The Material Gestures display importance is given to New York painters from the late 1940's and the 50's such as Newman, Rothko, Pollock, Franz Kline, Still, and many more. Inside this frame several comparing and contrasting are made like between a late Monet and a Pollock, and two Barnett Newman's and an Anish Kapoor sculpture - with an expected aim of drawing out a specific dialogue, tracing the Expressionist tendency both back historically and forward to contemporary practices.

Regardless of how these strategies, strengthen by the informational wall texts that often appear to behave as inadequate stylistic illustrations:


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