Tuesday, 22 December 2009

New! 'Scrooged' at Art21

Tate Britain has just unveiled its 22nd annual Christmas Tree, designed, as usual, by a contemporary British artist. The Christmas Tree tradition at the Tate started in 1988 with Bill Woodrow’s cardboard box decorations, and has retained its position of locus for skepticism ever since. Michael Landy’s infamous tree – dumped in a bright-red bin amongst crushed beer cans and discarded packaging – looked, in 1997 (the year of Sensation at the Royal Academy), like a final, sarcastic postscript to an annus horribilis for the bastions of traditional art. The current tree, by Tacita Dean, uses a pine tree hung with beeswax candles, lit at 4pm as the sun sets, which burn out by 6, when the gallery closes. It looks like a normal Christmas tree, in other words—a “delightful, almost magical sight,” according to Martin Gayford at Bloomberg. There’s no mistaking the undertone of relief in his words.

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