In 2000, New Republic art critic Jed Perl mourned the state of the art world in his book Eyewitness. He wrote of the "Age of the Deal Makers" in the 90s, an era where the Guggenheim's former director Thomas Krens "looked at the Guggenheim in terms of its assets," putting on safe (and often stupid) shows that would attract a big crowd like flies to a moth.
Tate Liverpool's new exhibition "DLA Piper Series: Constellations" may be responding to this trend in blockbuster retrospectives and art star exhibitionsâ€”like the Met's "Regarding Warhol" and "Punk: Chaos to Couture." For the Tate Liverpool's new show, which opens July 19th, the curators have picked 10 "trigger" works from the Tate's collection. These pieces will serve as focal points for "constellations" of artworks that were inspired by themâ€”essentially creating a spider-web of influence. For example, the abstract painter Robert Delaunay will branch off from the focal points of Picasso and Matisse.
The first floor galleries will include post-war works before 1960: Pablo Picassoâ€™s Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle, Henri Matisse's The Inattentive Reader, Man Rayâ€™s L'Enigme d'Isidore Ducasse, Barbara Hepworthâ€™s Single Form (Eikon), and Jackson Pollock's Summertime: Number 9A. The second floor, which opened on May 3rd, exhibits works before 1980: Robert Morrisâ€™s mirrored cubes (Untitled), HĂ©lio Oiticicaâ€™s TropicĂˇlia, Marina Abramovicâ€™s Rhythm 0, and Barbara Krugerâ€™s Who Owns What.
Such an exhibit may be an attempt to push beyond the normative art star/retrospective paradigm and also to call attention to the Tate institutions as pivitol pieces in the art world themselves. In an exhibit in May, the Tate Britain removed wall texts for the exhibition "A Walk Through British Art." Clearly the Tate museums are attempting to structure their shows differently from other art institutions. But for "Constellations," it is up for debate if the works (or Tate museums) have just replaced the artists as the new art stars.