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Tate Modern

  • Art
  • Bankside
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Thanks to its industrial architecture, this powerhouse of modern art is awe-inspiring even before you enter. Built after World War II as Bankside Power Station, it was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, architect of Battersea Power Station. The power station shut in 1981; nearly 20 years later, it opened as an art museum, and has enjoyed spectacular popularity ever since. The gallery attracts five million visitors a year to a building intended for half that number; the first fruits of work on the immensely ambitious, £215m TM2 extension opened in 2012: the Tanks, so-called because they occupy vast, subterranean former oil tanks, will stage performance and film art. As for the rest of the extension, a huge new origami structure, designed by Herzog & de Meuron (who were behind the original conversion), will gradually unfold above the Tanks until perhaps 2016, but the work won’t interrupt normal service in the main galleries.

In the main galleries themselves, the original cavernous turbine hall is still used to jaw-dropping effect as the home of large-scale, temporary installations. Beyond, the permanent collection draws from the Tate’s collections of modern art (international works from 1900) and features heavy hitters such as Matisse, Rothko and Beuys – a genuinely world-class collection, expertly curated. There are vertiginous views down inside the building from outside the galleries, which group artworks according to movement (Surrealism, Minimalism, Post-war abstraction) rather than by theme.


Tube: Southwark/Blackfriars
Opening hours:
Mon-Thu, Sat, Sun 10am-6pm; Fri 10am-10pm (last adm 45 mins before closing)
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Lubaina Himid review

  • 4 out of 5 stars

Lubaina Himid wants you to feel like an actor, a performer on the stage set of this exhibition. It’s a nice idea, but actors are fed lines to repeat, they play roles, they do as they’re directed. Instead, this show works best when it forces you to question, confront and undermine the ideas it presents, not perform them. Himid – Turner Prize-winner and one of the most quietly influential artists working in the UK today – helps you along with questions painted across the walls: ‘what does love sound like?’, ‘what are monuments for?’, and most importantly ‘we live in clothes, we live in buildings – do they fit us?’ It sets you up for an exhibition that makes you question, well, everything. Earlier paintings here show imaginary buildings that twist and morph impossibly, windows that look out onto geometric patterns, houses filled with simple furniture. It feels like Himid imagining what life would be like if she was her own architect, if she could build her own environment instead of living in one made by an uncaring society. There are jelly moulds covered in African fabric patterns and Black faces, a wagon painted with fish, a wave represented by undulating planks of wood: it’s Himid reshaping her world, and encouraging you to question yours. It’s brilliant, clever, vibrant and often very beautiful. It’s brilliant, clever, vibrant and often very beautiful Far less good are the sound installations dotted around the space. Do you need a voice reading out the word ‘blue’ in differ

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms

Yayoi Kusama's mirror rooms are some of the most popular works of art today, and this installation keeps selling out. But the Tate knows what's up, so they have just extended it until June 2023. Tickets are released through the years, so sign up to the Tate mailing list to stay in the know. This could be your chance to experience two absolutely iconic works by the great Japanese arts. There are two featured works: ‘Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life’, one of Kusama’s largest installations, specifically created for her landmark 2012 retrospective at Tate Modern and ‘Chandelier of Grief’, a 2016 room which creates the illusion of a boundless universe of rotating Swarovski crystal light fittings.  Kusama, whose spotty pumpkins basically destroyed Instagram back in 2016, began her ‘Infinity’ or ‘Mirror Room’ series in 1963, disorientating environments that play with notions of space and distance as well as creative possibilities and her own sometimes troubled mental state. Experiencing one of them is unforgettable. Tickets are free for Tate Members, £10 for non-members and just a fiver if you’re under 25.  Book tickets HERE. Yayoi Kusama ‘Infinity Mirror Rooms’, Tate Modern. Until Jun 11 2023

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