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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Tuesday August 01 2006

It was announced last week but I’ve only just noticed.

image

That’s right.  Tate Modern is expanding:

The £165m extension that will rise from the back, or south-west, of the existing building, will take the form of a giant and fragmented glass pyramid, or ziggurat. Its design can, says architect Jacques Herzog, of Herzog and De Meuron, the Swiss practice which conjured Tate Modern from Bankside power station, “be interpreted in two ways: as the erosion of a pyramid and, in contrast, as a pyramid in the process of emerging”. Whichever, this complex tower will offer 10 new galleries, six cafes and bars, two shops, a range of teaching rooms, and a chance for the Tate to show more of everything from across every fine art discipline imaginable, as well as more of its own permanent collections. It is rather like a bigger and more subtle version of the Spiral, the radical gallery of contemporary design that the Victorian & Albert Museum talked about for many years, but never had the courage to build.

Controversially, the tower will climb up above the brick facade of the existing Tate Modern, changing the skyline of Southwark as seen from St Paul’s and the Millennium Bridge that links the Tate to the City of London. This, though, is far from just another witless, gas-guzzling B-movie City skyscraper of the future, but an addition to the London skyline every bit as fascinating in its own ultra-modern way as a baroque church tower by Hawksmoor or the stepped pyramid of Holden’s 55 Broadway at Westminster. Herzog and de Meuron’s design promises to be richly complex, and as compelling as the most hyped blockbuster.

Personally, I like witless, gas-guzzling B-movie City skyscrapers of the future, especially when they spring up in clumps.  But this erection could also be pretty good.  I’m looking forward to photo-ing it.

The stuff inside will mostly be junk (fairly harmless) or stuff for sale (often rather good).  But the building’s the thing, not the contents.  It’ll be something interesting to stare at, photo, and wander about in, when on a date or on holiday.

The emptiness of modern art, and of modern art galleries, is not a problem.  Tate Modern itself has proved that.

It looks alright. Personally, I think London has THE best art galleries in the world.

Speaking of London art, I’ve just done an interview with Martin Firrell regarding his work in the Trafalgar Square Festival this coming Thursday at trafalgarsquareblog.blogspot.com

Posted by Maxim on 01 August 2006
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