Tate Trustees and the public interest

The Tate

recently named two new trustees, one of whom is painter Tomma Abts.
She is a 44-year-old German, recently appointed


Professor of Painting at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, who won the Turner Prize in 2006.
an artist trustee, she replaced Jeremy Deller, who won the Turner Prize in 2004. Abts’s paintings are all the same small size (48 x 38cms) – it is claimed this tic is conceptually crucial for a reason never convincingly explained – and consist of polite abstract designs which might have looked original on curtains at the 1954 Ideal Home Exhibition. So much for the Cutting Edge. The Tate claims her pictures “possess a formal definition and coherence that suggests that they could never have
achieves a complacent monopoly src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> and is allowed by servile arts commentators to get away with it. Minutes of meetings make it clear

that artist trustees are encouraged to invite applications from those they consider suitable as their own
at the same time, and from the same source, that google_ad_slot = "7160667483"; Turner Prize judges were given a list of appropriate artists and exhibitions – just to help them along //--> you know, point them in the right direction. And there we were google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; thinking in the innocence of our ignorance that they might nominate anyone…

Serota also stated in 2005 that the Tate only rarely acquired work by serving trustees. The Jackdaw checked up on that and discovered (see src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> the editorial for Dec/Jan 2006 on our website) that he wasn’t telling the truth. Indeed, this whopper cost him a bollocking from the

Charity Commission. There were also a number google_ad_height = 90; of other flagrant economies with the truth concerning the Tate’s acquisition of work by serving trustee Chris Ofili, who was naturally a Turner Prize winner (1998), which also resulted in another six of the

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best from the CC. (I almost mentioned here the fact

Trustees themselves. How can ‘the public /* xin2 */ interest’ be considered served when the organisation under scrutiny is writing the job description of its

own scrutineers. If we are to have artist trustees let’s have google_ad_slot = "6023194682"; them from a cross-section of the artist community and not just those representing the Turner Prize. And
let’s have some eminent art historians in there too.

David Lee

The Jackdaw May-Jun 2011