Tate appeals for 'free' art

2004-10-25 21:08

London - Too short of money to plug the holes in its collection, London's Tate Gallery has appealed to leading artists to donate works - and received promises of 23 pieces by luminaries including David Hockney, Damien Hirst and Lucien Freud.

Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley and Turner Prize winner Chris Ofili have also pledged works to the Building The Tate Collection, Tate director Nicholas Serota said.

A number of private collectors such as Lord Attenborough have offered to bequeath important British works, and members of the gallery have committed another £1m to acquire artworks.

collection 'full of gaps'

The Tate possesses nearly 65 000 works, but critics say the collection is full of gaps.

The museum counters that while government funding has been steadily reduced over the past 20 years, prices on the art market have risen by as much as 1 000%.

"No museum can survive by standing still," Serota said. "The collection lies at the heart of what we do. We have a duty to acquire works by living artists, to build the leading collection of British art in the world and an outstanding collection of international modern and contemporary art.

"We have to take this initiative to sustain our public collections in the face of declining public resources."

100 donated works in a decade

The museum hopes to receive 100 donated works over the next 10 years, promising that they will be exhibited across Britain.

Other artists who have pledged pieces include Frank Auerbach, Anthony Caro, Peter Blake, Paula Rego, Rachel Whiteread and Gilbert and George.

Kapoor has donated his 1990 wall sculpture, "Blue Void," while Caro is to give one of his table pieces from the 1960s and Gormley has pledged his 1993 sculpture "Testing A World View."

Items from private collections include Freud's 1950 painting "Boy Smoking" and a portrait of the actress Dame Peggy Ashcroft by Walter Sickert.

The Building The Tate Collection initiative will also establish a group of patrons who are willing to help with the purchase of major works that come onto the market "at short notice or at advantageous price."

Serota has said the Tate is regularly offered works that it cannot afford.

In May, the museum was desperate to save Francis Bacon's "Study After Velasquez" from being sold abroad, but conceded that the £9.5m price tag was beyond its means.