The Guardian,Christina Patterson
Join us on Friday night for a special late-night event curated by young people from Tate Collective London. Digital technology meets lo-fi materials in a range of interactive activities and installations with emerging artists and creatives. Radar Radio will provide the music as part of special audio-visual display.
Other highlights across the weekend include a choral work with over 500 singers from community choirs across London. A unique cycle of songs has been written in response to Tate Modern’s building, its history and its place in contemporary life. Film and video works from Tate’s collection will be on display in the newly refurbished Starr Cinema. Tate staff will be discussing their favourite works from the new collection hang in Uniqlo Ten Minute Art Talks.
For families there is a range of activities including Players, a space where you can play and experiment with sound and performance art.
Also watch out for BMW Tate Live performances which will emerge when you least expect.
The 200ft (65m) structure, boasting panoramic views of London, is part of a £260m revamp of the world-famous art museum.
It is being billed as the UK's most important new cultural building since the British Library.
More than half of the solo displays are dedicated to women artists.
At Tuesday's launch event, Frances Morris, Tate Modern's new director, promised a weekend of "discovery and celebration" when the new building opens to the public on Friday.
"As we have been building the new Tate Modern, the curators... have been building the collection," she said. "You will find more international art, more art by women and great new installations."
She added the representation of women artists had "substantially increased".
"There was a huge deficit in our collecting prior to 2000 - when we opened 17% of the art on display was by women.
"Now 50% of the solo rooms are works by women such as Phyllida Barlow and Louise Bourgeois."
It allows 60% more artworks from the Tate collection to go on show.
Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota expressed delight that the building work had been completed during a period of recession.
"Our aim is to be local, global, to have relationships with communities close to us and those across the world," he said.
The project was undertaken by architects Herzog & de Meuron, who transformed the derelict Bankside Power Station into Tate Modern in 2000.
The new Switch House rises almost 65 metres to the south of Tate Modern's huge Turbine Hall.
The windows and the viewing terrace appear as "cuts" in the surface which is clad with 336,000 bricks that mirror the look of the original building.
The tower is built above the former power station's subterranean oil tanks which were converted into performance spaces in time for the 2012 Olympics.
Analysis by BBC arts editor Will GompertzThe new Tate Modern is bold, both in its physical form and its curatorial hang.
The original building played a part in transforming the public's opinion of modern art; the contents of the new building is asking audiences to take an even greater leap of faith.
It's filled with art they've probably never seen from artists they've probably never heard of - and there's hardly a painting to be found.
It's a bold move by the Tate, but, in my view, an entirely appropriate one.
The old story of modern art which is dominated by white western males is being turned on its head with a new narrative that shows how artists of all types from across the globe have contributed and are contributing to the story of modern contemporary art.
Yes, there are a few misses, but they're far outweighed by the hits - and the way the works have been hung together in thematic galleries is both intelligent and illuminating.
Plans for the project were initially approved in 2007 because the gallery space, designed for two million visitors each year, was attracting five million. Building work began in 2010.
Tate chairman Lord Browne described the gallery's £260m revamp as the largest cultural fundraising campaign ever launched in the UK.
"A building that was once London's beating heart is now its cultural cathedral," he said at Tuesday's launch.
Significant donations have come from the government (£50m), the Greater London Authority, Southwark Council and private foundations and individuals.
Sadiq Khan, the new mayor of London, said the new Tate Modern would add to the capital's "huge cultural pull".
Tree sculptureThe Tate Modern relaunch is accompanied by a complete rehang of the gallery's artworks which will showcase more than 300 artists from about 50 countries.
Works by Mark Rothko, Agnes Martin and Joseph Beuys are joined by new acquisitions by Meschac Gaba, Sheela Gowda and Cildo Meireles.
A huge sculpture of a tree by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei stands in the centre of the Turbine Hall.
Some 3,000 school children from across the UK will be the first members of the public to see the new Tate Modern at a special preview on Thursday.
Later this year Tate will launch Tate Exchange, an "open experiment" occupying an entire floor of the new Switch House building, that will enable 50 invited organisations from the across the UK to display their work.
The Tate Modern building is great, but don’t assume the art inside is Christina Patterson
An awful lot of the art makes you feel you are seeing copies of things you have seen many times before
If the Queen were on hand today to open Tate Modern’s new extension – a 10-storey “twisted pyramid” costing £260m – she would see another giant spider, and a lot of square tubes and some wooden trellises hanging on a ceiling to make Pavilion Suspended in a Room. She would also see a building that twists and turns and is full of light and space, a building which has bricks arranged in a pattern that allows light to shine through it at night. She would see a kind of palace of modern art.
In the 16 years since it opened, Tate Modern has had more than four million visitors a year. That’s an awful lot of people at a time when almost anything to do with art is thought to be too rarefied for mainstream television.
Tate Modern has become a place to go to, and a place to be seen. As soon as you walk over the bridge that was once wobbly, and into a giant industrial space that now seems like the godfather of all those “artisan” cafes that try to look like old warehouses, you can feel yourself being wrapped in a cloak of what you can really only call “cool”. You are hip! You are curious! You are at the cutting edge!
You will gaze at square tubes and trellises, and stroke your chin and nod your head. And when you catch the eye of another person nodding, you might just smile, because a lot of people wouldn’t understand those tubes. And you have to admit that it makes you feel as if you’re part of an intellectual elite.
Art has changed. We all know it has. It changed with Duchamp, of course, and the urinal he called Fountain; and with Yves Klein’s attempt to leap out of a window; and Carl Andre’s pile of bricks. But when it really changed in Britain was when Charles Saatchi opened a gallery in 1985, and when he started buying art by artists who will now for ever be known as Young British Artists, who put fried eggs on a table, or pickled sharks in glass cases, or displayed beds with dirty sheets.
In 1997, these artists showed their work in an exhibition titled Sensation. The exhibition – of work all owned by Saatchi – included a painting of the Moors murderer Myra Hindley, mannequins that had penises instead of noses, and a head made with the artist’s own frozen blood. “There will,” said a sign at the entrance of the exhibition, “be works of art on display in the Sensation exhibition which some people may find offensive.” You can say that again. But the visitors flowed in.
Charles Saatchi was an ad man. He knew about the power of the brand. He also knew how to create a market. And boy, did he create a market. Artists who had raged against capitalism became multimillionaires and started moaning about tax. Hedge funders, who can read a balance sheet and sniff a good investment, hovered like vultures over their work. The old questions about art were starting to be forgotten. The only one that mattered was: what is it worth?
This art, the art that now fills so many of our galleries, is usually trying to convey some thought in the artist’s head. A catalogue will tell you that the artist is trying to “interrogate” something, or “question” something, or “disrupt” something, and you begin to wonder why the artist is so keen to “subvert traditional hierarchies” when the whole system seems to have served so many artists rather well.
Some of this art is good. Some of it isn’t. Some of it makes you think. Some of it makes you yawn. Some of it makes you think again, and look again, and feel things you haven’t felt for a while. But an awful lot of it doesn’t. An awful lot of it makes you feel you are seeing copies of things you have seen many times before.
I have seen work at Tate Modern that has made me cry. Rothko’s Seagram muralsmade me cry. Matisse’s Cut-Outs – so vital and colourful and fresh – made me want to yell that I was glad to be alive. Olafur Eliasson’s giant sun had me lying on the ground and gazing in awe. Louise Bourgeois’s giant spider made me feel like an ant on the face of the Earth. But you have to wade through an awful lot of dross to find the art that hits you in the heart.
Tate Modern has done a wonderful thing in getting tens of millions of people to come and look at contemporary art. It has made it popular. It has made it fashionable. But let’s remember that it takes more than a great gallery to make good art. Let’s remember, in fact, that a giant spider can be beautiful and a tube can be – well, just a tube.