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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

London, England - Tate Britain

Tate Britain gallery which houses works by Don...Image via WikipediaBy Harry Preston
No gallery can rival Tate Britain for its collection of British art from 1500 to the present day - the closest, the Yale Center for British Art, can claim similar expansiveness but has less depth.
Although intended as a national gallery of British art from its inception, when it opened in 1897 it was named after Henry Tate, the sugar millionaire. He paid for the building and kick-started the project with his collection of Victorian pictures.
In the 100-plus years since, the gallery has become a multifaceted exploration of Britain itself. From Tudor England through to Gainsborough and Reynolds in the 18th century, from the 19th-century Pre-Raphaelites and beyond to Spencer, Hockney and the iconoclastic Bacon in the 20th, its portraits are an intimate social history of the country. It has outstanding examples of the Romantic artists Blake (1757-1827), Constable (1776-1837) and Turner (1775-1851), the latter housed in the spare, almost hallowed spaces of the Clore Gallery, designed by Sir James Stirling. The gallery is internationally known for its sponsorship of contemporary art.
Since 1984 it has awarded the Turner Prize annually to a British artist under the age of 50. Controversial almost from the beginning, the prize has become particularly associated with conceptual art. The permanent collection, which is arranged chronologically, is complemented by temporary exhibitions that focus on a theme or individual artist. If you want to visit Tate Modern on the same day, a high-speed boat decorated with Damien Hirst spots will zip you upriver. The Tate Britain is a must see when in London.
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