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.
Carol Vogel gets the pros and cons on the Tate Modern’s expansion in her New York Times article that wonders at the wisdom of raising hundreds of millions of pounds in the middle of a financial catastrophe. But the Tate Modern, she notes, is a victim of its own success:
Visitors have not been kind to the building. When it opened, officials said they expected two million to two and a half million people the first year. More than five million came. Now attendance hovers around four and a half million people a year. (By way of comparison, the Museum of Modern Art in New York reports that its attendance last year was about three million, a record for the institution.) The Tate Modern’s galleries have taken a beating. Some look as though they could use fresh paint; the bathrooms are dirty; and during rush hour the cafes seem chaotic.Continue Reading
Will Gompertz wonders why no one cares about the vacancy atop the UK’s most popular museum:
[W]hen Vicente Todoli, the soon-to-be-leaving boss of Tate Modern, announced he was off a couple of months ago, it barely got a mention. Since then, there has been no discernable discussion about who might take over the world’s most-visited museum of modern art, no short-lists of potential candidates – no conjecture whatsoever. Well, at this blog, we are interested – and not because I used to work there.
Who are Gompertz’s picks for the job?Continue Reading
On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Tate Modern, the Telegraph charts the effect the museum has had on London and the British public’s taste for contemporary art:
Before it opened, London was the only major European city that did not have a world-class museum of modern art, perhaps because the British public was still unconvinced, uninterested and even suspicious of modern art. Experts lined up to predict that Sir Nicholas Serota, the director of the Tate, could never justify Tate Modern’s £134-million price tag, among them Dr Patrick Greene, then head of the Museum’s Association. “There simply aren’t enough visitors to go round,” he said.Continue Reading