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The University of Southampton
Winchester School of Art

Professor James Hall: Tate Modern Switch House: Facing the Future - or the Past? Seminar

Professor James Hall
16:00 - 17:30
3 May 2017
Harvard Suite (Room Number 3032), WSA

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Professor John Armitage at .

Event details

This talk will put the new Tate Modern Switch House extension in the context of the history of museums, and of the Tate brand itself. It is supposed to be provocative… It has become almost a patriotic duty to praise Tate Modern, but in what ways is it innovative, and are these innovations worthwhile? Herzog and de Meuron’s Switch House is a supreme example of ‘sculptural architecture’, yet this spectacular building type has a century-long history, extending from German Expressionism through to Frank Lloyd Wright’s and Gehry’s Guggenheim Museums. Predicated on the labyrinthine and asymmetrical, these controversial structures posit the viewer not as static and contemplative, but mobile and distracted. The Switch House overtly references alarming structures as the Tower of Babel and Nazi gun emplacements. The marketing slogan for the building is ‘Art Changes, We Change’, but to what extent does the art in the Switch House really register significant change? It contains art from 1960 to the present, and it posits a continuity between some key artforms of the 1960s - Minimalism, Conceptualism and Performance - and the art of today (MoMA does the same in its recent extension). In this respect it is not so different from traditional classifications, where you might get fifty years’ worth of Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-Classical, Romantic art. The key change is in the gender and nationality of the artists…

Speaker information

Professor James Hall,James Hall is Research Professor in Art History and Theory at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. He has written many essays on art history and contemporary art, and the following books: The World as Sculpture (Chatto 1999); Michelangelo and the Reinvention of the Human Body (Chatto 2005); The Sinister Side: How Left-Right Symbolism Shaped Western Art (Oxford University Press 2008); The Self-Portrait: a Cultural History (Thames & Hudson 2014).

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