Reviewed by: Christine Oka, Research & Instruction, Northeastern University Libraries, Boston, MA
When the Tate Gallery opened at the original Millbank site in 1897, it displayed 245 works of British artists and was described as “the national collection of British art from 1500 to the present day.” Over the years, the gallery has expanded by adding international modern and contemporary art numbering nearly 70,000 artworks to the initial collection donated by industrialist Henry Tate. The collection is now displayed at four major sites throughout Britain: two galleries in London, Tate Britain and Tate Modern, as well as Tate Liverpool and Tate St. Ives (Cornwall).
The most recent issue of Tate Papers, Autumn 2015, demonstrates this new broad scope with articles examining pop art in the 1960s and 1970s from Argentina, Brazil, France and Yugoslavia in relation to local and global contexts, as well as the writings of nineteenth century critic, William Hazlitt. Articles about pop art include “Screen Politics: Pop Art and the Atelier Populaire,” which discusses the technical and symbolic impact of pop art posters produced by the artists and students who occupied the École des Beaux-Arts during the May 1968 strikes. How did American pop art graphics, which was regarded by the Atelier Populaire as ”an infantile neo-dada provocation, an attack on painterly technique via mass media images and the ideological agent of a foreign consumer society” become the medium used by Atelier Populaire to create the iconic posters of May 1968? This is a fascinating interdisciplinary read for those interested in art techniques, art history and political history.
The other theme in the issue coincides with the Tate Britain exhibit of “William Hazlitt: Through the Eyes of a Critic,” which focuses on Hazlitt’s art criticism, featuring a selection of paintings with Hazlitt texts about each one. Hazlitt was a drama and literary critic, painter, social commentator and philosopher as well art critic, a pioneer at a time when public galleries were new and print technology was beginning to bring newspapers to a mass readership. The Tate Papers articles closely examine his writings for his aesthetic theories, rhetorical devices and literary influences. For example, the essay “Critical Dilation: How William Hazlitt Judged Paintings,” looks at the “contradictions between Hazlitt’s radical politics and his opposition to the mass appreciation of art, compares his writings on aesthetic experience to those of his contemporary Karl Marx, and unpacks the critic’s enigmatic thoughts on J.M. W. Turner. . . “
The Tate Papers is a peer-reviewed research journal published in the spring and autumn with articles on British and modern international art, and on museum practice today. Submitted articles undergo a rigorous peer review process and those published in Tate Papers are “deemed by UK research councils to be suitable for submission to the Research Excellence Framework.” Past issues are archived and accessible on the Tate website.