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Tate Modern

  • Art
  • Bankside
  • price 0 of 4
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

The Tate Modern is one of London - and the world’s - most iconic art galleries. As well as having an international collection of modern and contemporary artworks that few can beat, it's a historic piece of architecture worth visiting in its own right. It’s hard to imagine how empty London’s modern art scene must have been before this place opened, but we’re sure glad it did. Tate Modern is one of four Tate venues in the UK, and it welcomes a stonking 5 million visitors through its doors each year.

The gallery opened in 2000, making use of the old Bankside Power Station. The imposing structure on the banks of the Thames was designed after WWII by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the same architect behind Battersea Power Station. It was converted by Herzog & de Meuron, who returned to oversee a massive extension project. This started with the opening of the Tanks in 2012, and ended with the brand-new Switch House extension in 2016.

The twisted pyramid-like structure marked the most significant new opening of a cultural institution since the British Library on Euston Road. Like the rest of Tate Modern, it’s well worth having a gander at its super-stylish outside - but for the real treats, you need to head indoors. The Switch House gave Tate Modern an additional 60% of space, and they’ve used it wisely. Their international focus means their collection of over 800 works are by artists hailing from over 50 different countries. They’ve also tackled the gender debate in a much more pro-active way than most art galleries, with their solo displays split 50-50 between male and female artists.

Along with their permanent collection (featuring big names including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Barbara Hepworth), Tate Modern’s blockbuster temporary exhibitions never fail to pull in the crowds.


Tube: Southwark/Blackfriars
Free (permanent collection); admission charge applies for some temporary exhibitions
Opening hours:
Mon-Sun 10am-6pm (last adm 5:30pm)
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What’s on

‘Capturing the Moment’

  • 3 out of 5 stars

The problem with doing an exhibition about art in the age of photography is that all art for over 150 years has been made in the age of photography. You could literally whack in anything made in the twentieth century and say ‘see? This was made while cameras were a thing’.  Which is what the Tate’s done. Sure, they could have just concentrated on painters whose work has a tight, necessary relationship with photography. But they haven’t. This big exhibition starts with Francis Bacon, who painted from photographs, hung next to Lucian Freud, who didn’t. There’s Dorothea Lange’s iconic ‘Migrant Mother’, which is a photo, opposite Alice Neel’s lovely portrait of two little Puerto Rican kids, which isn’t.  It gives you an immediate headache. They’ve set up the premise so that anything fits it, and ‘photography has changed how we see the world, so all paintings are influenced by photography’ is a batshit approach to curation. What has George Condo’s frantic, neurotic Pop abstraction or Georg Baselitz’s upside-down portraiture got to do with photography? Nothing, but here they are anyway.  There are huge photographs by modern giants of the medium like Thomas Struth, Candida Höfer and Andreas Gursky. They capture vast housing estates, ornate libraries, hushed cathedrals. They are jaw-dropping, detailed, beautiful things. But if you’re including them because it’s photography made in the age of painting then holy moly, this show just got even messier. It gives you an immediate headache

Philip Guston

  • 5 out of 5 stars

Get ready to see Philip Guston implode. Because over the course of this big retrospective of the American artist’s (1913-1980) work, you watch one of the greatest painters of the twentieth century fall to pieces, collapse in on himself, and then be born anew. It’s amazing.He came of age in a time of political turmoil, a turmoil that would never cease. The child of Jewish refugees, he watched racism flourish on the streets of LA at the hands of the KKK and chose to create art of resistance. He painted revolutionary murals in Mexico, portable frescoes for left-wing events, murals for housing projects, a swirling tornado of a painting in protest at the Spanish civil war. Art for Guston at this point was a tool of revolution and protest. His style was sombre social realism; dark, hazy, angry and weird, like a hyper-caffeinated, angry de Chirico.  But he was hamstrung by figuration and realism. Post-war, things like Pollock and Rothko were happening, and Guston couldn’t resist the lure of abstraction. So he chipped away at reality until all that remained was big fleshy canvases smudged over with pink and blue and black, like vast bruises. They are gorgeous works of bodily abstraction. They feel like Guston imploding, taking everything that made him who he was and destroying it, a whole visual language swallowed up and turned to mush. And they were necessary, because as he said ‘you know, you have to die for a rebirth’. So out of that destruction comes something new. Real, solid, f

‘A World in Common: Contemporary African Photography’

  • 4 out of 5 stars

You should be deeply suspicious of anyone who thinks they can neatly sum up a whole continent’s artistic output. Because even if you focus on just one artform – like photography, in the case of the Tate’s latest exhibition – you’ve given yourself a pretty impossible task. But ‘A World in Common’ gives it a valiant, vibrant go anyway. It starts with George Osodi’s gorgeous, lavish portraits of Nigerian kings and queens; regal figures who survived as cultural custodians despite Britain tearing their lands apart, sat on ornate thrones in luxurious robes. It sets the tone for the show, because at its best this exhibition acts as a portrait of a continent bearing the indelible scars of colonial wounds. Colonialism and its impact is ever-present in the works on display. In shadowy, silently violent photographs, Em’kal Eyongakpa documents his journey through sacred lands that were once a place of anti-colonial Cameroonian resistance; Sammy Baloji juxtaposes colonial-era portraits with images of modern mines to show that exploitation of Africa's land and people never really stopped. Ndidi Dike’s installation of hundreds of binders filled with reams of information shows how data was used to manipulate power. There are so many scars here.  The future might be bright, and it might be gloomy, it’s all still being written But it would be wrong to assume that all African photography is a confrontation with colonialism; it does a disservice to the countless artists from the continent who h

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