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03 November 2006


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Tim Rutherford-Johnson

Hey Darcy - just saw this, and as a Londoner who's just returned from his first visit to New York felt I had to add a comment. While I *love* the Tate, I felt MoMA easily stood up, and in many respects surpassed it. It has a much superior collection for a start, and that's hard to beat. Plus the layout - while conforming more or less to the standard history - made sense and revealed connections between things that I'd never seen before. It got me thinking about those connections too, whereas the Tate has never done that for me. It's such a peculiar layout (although I've not seen the recent rehang) that there's no sense of passing through periods, or styles, or anything. You just head straight for the paintings you want to see and ignore the rest. There's no narrative.

That said, the Tate's Turbine Hall is the greatest art space I know - and the series of Unilever commissions they've used to fill it have all been staggering. The museum is also free, too, which makes a huge difference in incorporating it into the local community. But still, I can't help but feel that a small part of Londoner's love for the Tate is simply that we don't have anything else quite like it, so it monopolises a need.


Hey Tim,

This may be a case of "grass is always greener" phenomenon. It's easy to take MoMA's permanent collection for granted when you've seen all the highlights many times, and it's possible that I would eventually become more impatient with the Tate's nonlinear approach after multiple visits. But I've never been one to "head straight for the paintings you want to see and ignore the rest." I'm always excited to discover exciting, compelling works by artists I've never heard of, and that happened a lot more at the Tate -- like with Giuseppe Penone's trees, Rebecca Horn's Concert for Anarchy, or Richard Hamilton's The subject. And, as I said, I found the layout of the Tate Modern far more functional and appealing.

And yes, Turbine Hall rocks, and "free" beats the pants off "$20."

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