The Guardian has the unsurprising news that Britain’s Tate Modern has purchased a large quantity of Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seeds from the vast pile of seeds created for his 2010 installation in the Turbine Hall. The Guardian tries to guess the price of the acquisition based upon an auction sale but it is important to remember that the Tate’s purchase will be advantageous for the artist and his gallery representatives.
Also, not long before the auction sale, bags of the sunflower seeds were being sold by Ai’s Danish gallery for a lower price:
Sunflower Seeds 2010, the work that the Tate has bought, represents less than a 10th of the 100m seeds, all individually sculpted and painted by Chinese craft workers, used for the installation.
Instead the artist has suggested the seeds can be arranged either laid out as a square or, more dramatically, as a cone five metres in diameter and one and a half metres tall – as they have been displayed at Tate Modern as a loan from the artist from last June until earlier this year.
The Tate acquired the work with the help of a grant from the Art Fund charity, but has not revealed the price. However, at a Sotheby’s auction last year a similar quantity soared above the top estimate and finally sold for just under £350,000, or £3.50 per seed.