Opening in 2000, the Tate Modern Museum was quickly a hit with both Londoners and tourists. Although some of that can be attributed to the lack of an entrance fee (a real find for any travel in Britain), the contents of the Tate Modern London might also have something to do with it – this national museum of international modern art revels in its diversity. It is also the most popular of the Tate museums, including the Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St. Ives.
Overlooking the Millennium Bridge, and located just
a few steps away from St. Paul’s Cathedral, the
Tate Modern Gallery is housed in a converted power station
in London, a setting that lends a utilitarian flavor to
the museum. Spread across five floors, the Tate
Modern London differs from many modern art museums (such
York’s MOMA) as the pieces are not arranged
chronologically, but in accordance with artistic themes:
Still Life/Object/Real Life History/Memory/Society; Nude/Action/Body;
Not all Tate Modern artwork is laid out this way, though – there are four sections that are not compartmentalized, drawing attention to monumental times in art history. The third floor places the work of artists like Monet and Rothko with other abstract expressionists under the heading Material Gestures. Surrealist treasures, including some by Dali and Bacon, headline the Poetry and Dream section.
The special subdivisions on the fifth floor focus on minimalism, cubism and futurism. The former is collected in the Idea and Object, features works by Carl Andre and also includes artists whose style falls under the banner of constructivism. The last of what the Tate Modern Gallery considers the most important movements in modern art is called States of Flux, where the work of Warhol and Lichtenstein meet with Picasso and other cubists, futurists and pop artists.
The bottom floor of the Tate Modern Museum is the aptly named Turbine Hall, where the monstrous generators used to sit. Five stories tall, the cavernous hall is now the home of a revolving series of temporary artists, displaying pieces specially commissioned for this location. Whether this instance of art winning out over machinery is symbolic or not, the Turbine Hall is often the most talked about section of the Tate Modern London.
While modern art can sometimes be something of an acquired taste, the Tate Modern Gallery is one of the world’s best examples of what recent artists are capable of - a collection of astounding beauty and power, scattered within a building unlike any museum in the world.