Tate Britain is to rehang its entire collection as it reinstates proper labels explaining what the art is about, it has emerged, as its director says he wants to invite audiences to understand the works properly.
Alex Farquharson, who took over Tate Britain 18 months ago after the surprise departure of Penelope Curtis, said he will be grouping paintings into themes in a bid to improve the audience experience.
Curtis, who departed the gallery for Lisbon in 2015 after five years at the helm, had faced much criticism over her exhibitions, with strident calls for her dismissal described at the time as “verging on a vendetta”.
Her decisions including hanging the Tate Britain collection in chronological order, and overseeing a change in labelling to cut down on information to let visitors interpret more of the art for themselves.
Chris Stevens, curator, explained in 2013: “Your [the audience’s] response is as valid as our knowledge, and this re-hang presents a sort of release for the artist and their work from this encumbrance of academic protocols.”
One art historian called the concept of equating specialist knowledge with guesses from the public “chilling”.
In an interview with the Evening Standard, as Tate announced its plans for 2018, Farquharson confirmed he advocated labels once again offering interpretation of the art.
He added the chronological collection will be rehung thematically, in a key reversal of the old guard’s ways.
“If one frames art that way it’s an invitation to an audience to understand the work without prior knowledge of art historical categories,” he said.
“So there could be big themes, like London as an urban space in the 18th century or Britain in the post-war age of anxiety. We want to look at how social factors caused art to take the forms it did.”
The labels at Tate Britain, a source said, has “kept evolving” since the 2013 policy, with experts quietly reintroducing more information even before Farquharson’s arrival.
Tate Britain plans for 2018 include the first exhibition of the work of pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne-Jones held in London in 40 years.
Another show, All Too Human, will explore the “intense experience of life” through figurative painting and the works of Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, RB Kitaj and Paula Rego.
Tate Modern will host video and textile art from Joan Jonas and Anni Albers alongside its blockbuster Picasso exhibition, while Tate St Ives explores 35 female artists led by the works of Virginia Woolf.[“Source-ndtv”]