Jeff Wall

A Sapling Held by a Post


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Jeff Wall born 1946
Photograph, c-print on paper
Support: 508 × 406 mm
image: 405 × 330 mm
Presented by Tate Publishing 2000


This is one in a portfolio of ten photographs commissioned by Tate Publishing to celebrate the opening of Tate Modern in May 2000. Ten contemporary artists working with photography were invited to make an image inspired by the Bankside building and its surroundings. The resulting pictures chart different aspects of the site’s development from power station to museum of modern art under the direction of Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron. With the exception of Craigie Horsfield, all the contributors photographed in colour.

The artists focused on the structure of Bankside Power Station and its conversion, on the surrounding area of London and the impact of Tate Modern on it, and on the staff and contractors working at the site. Bankside Power Station, London. December 1994, 2000 (Tate P11680) by Craigie Horsfield and Bankside 5 1995, 1995 (Tate P11683) by Thomas Struth show interior views of Bankside before work began on the conversion in 1994. Catherine Yass’s lightbox transparency, Bankside: Cherrypicker 2000 (Tate P11685), presents a view of construction work underway in the Turbine Hall, featuring the equipment and materials of the building processes but not the builders themselves. For Arrow 2000 (Tate P11677), Richard Billingham photographed one of the hidden spaces underneath the building, where he found a faint chalk arrow drawn on a section of concrete. Thomas Ruff, who has photographed a number of Herzog and de Meuron’s buildings in Germany and Switzerland, superimposed a reflection of the tiles from the Café onto an interior view of the glass wall inside the Turbine Hall to create Tate01, 2000 (Tate P11681). True Stories 8, 2000 (Tate P11678) by Hannah Collins is a dramatic photograph of the skyline view of the City of London from Bankside, dominated by an intense green sky. Untitled (00.1), 2000 (Tate P11676) by Uta Barth is a two-part image comprising photographs taken from near and far viewpoints through the wall of windows under the museum’s roof. Both photographs look through black lettering applied to the outside of the glass, across the Thames River to the buildings on the other side. Sam Taylor-Wood photographed a member of the curatorial team working at the museum, set in the lush red seating of the museum’s Starr auditorium, for her image entitled Red 2000 (Tate P11682). By contrast, James. Tate Modern, London. 10 December 1999, 1999 (Tate P11679) by Rineke Dijkstra is a portrait of a workman standing in front of a newly plastered gallery wall. Finally, Jeff Wall’s image of a young tree fixed to a wooden support, A Sapling Held by a Post, may be read both as a symbol of the regeneration of the surrounding parts of Southwark and of Tate Modern’s potential for the future.

The portfolio Tate Modern: Ten Artists, Ten Images was commissioned for sale in an edition of fifty. Proceeds from sales are being put towards running costs of the exhibitions and displays programme at Tate Modern. An additional five artists’ proofs were produced. Three of these remain the property of the artists; one was used as an exhibition copy for the opening display at Tate Modern and the final one, this one, is in the Tate Collection and may be viewed in the prints and drawings room.

Further reading:
Deyan Sudjic, ‘Modern Masters’, Tate: the Art Magazine, Tate Modern Special Issue, No.21, Tate Modern 2000, pp.20-5
Thierry de Duve, Arielle Pelenc and Boris Groys, Jeff Wall, London 2002

Elizabeth Manchester
May 2004

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