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Art From Us MUSEUM GUIDE : Tate Modern : Claude Monet & Mark Rothko

Today we arrive Tate Modern – Claude Monet & Mark Rothko. For our weekly Museum Guide excursion, led by Divvya Nirula. We also take a look at the history of the Tate’s original art collection. And explore possible connections to slavery.

This gallery focuses on the works of Impressionist Claude Monet & Colourfield Abstractionist Mark Rothko. Presented here are our top three must-see objects on view here. Next time you visit the museum, do not miss these!

1. Untitled, 1950 – 1952, by Mark Rothko
2. Light Red over Black, 1957, Mark Rothko
3. Water Lillies, After 1916, by Claude Monet

image credit for artworks : Tate Modern

Some fun facts about the Museum : A connection to Slavery?

  • While Tate Modern opened in 2000, the first Tate museum, Tate Britain, was opened in 1897. At the time, the collection was limited to British art. These works had been collected by Sir Henry Tate.
  • Sir Tate loved to collect Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces. These shaped most of the Museum’s collection at the time. However, it is rumoured that Sir Tate was associated with the slave trade. Thus making the history of the works very murky.
  • Subsequently, Sir Joseph Joel Duveen and his son Lord Joseph Duveen also supported the Tate. They facilitated architectural expansions of the Millbank building. Also, the Duveen Sculpture galleries at Tate Britain were the country’s first galleries dedicated solely to sculpture. In addition to this, the Duveen’s funded the building of galleries to display the Turner Bequest in 1910.

A Final Thought :

From specialising in British art to shaping the Western canon for Contemporary art – the Tate has come a long way. Apart from the history of the artworks, it is interesting to note the history of the Tate itself. The success of the organisation is a result of the collective effort. But who are the people behind the set-up? It is a well-known fact that Sir Henry Tate, per several historic records, was a promoter of slavery. This murky history raises some questions about the provenance and procurement of the artworks. In fact, on their website, the Tate even admits to being indirectly associated with slavery, through their donors :

“While it is important to emphasise that Henry Tate was not a slave-owner or slave-trader, it is therefore not possible to separate the Tate galleries from the history of colonial slavery from which in part they derive their existence.”

While admitting this is a great step in social responsibility, is it enough?

Visit Art From Us Archive for Museum Guide collated by Divvya Nirula. Here you shall find more suggestions on where you should visit next. And what you should see there. 

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