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Posted inOpinion

The Problem with Big Art

Ossian Ward has a feature in Art in America this month about the dismaying trend of bigness in the contemporary art world. The piece is an exploration of a problem that’s only been growing (no pun intended): art as a series of bigger and better spectacles, upstaged only by the vast and cavernous spaces in which it’s shown. Though the article is quite smart and thorough, it left me a little unsatisfied: I think Ward stops short of really digging into what’s at stake here. What exactly is the problem with art as entertainment, anyway? It may seem like an obvious question, but given its centrality to this discussion, it’s one worth asking.

Posted inNews

Ai Weiwei Spreads a Sunflower Seed Carpet at Tate’s Turbine Hall

Ai Weiwei, internationally famed artist and chief provocateur of the Chinese art world, opened his London Turbine Hall installation today, the eleventh, and first for an Asian artist, in the Tate’s Unilever series of exhibitions.

The installation forms a gesture both classic for the artist and yet totally unexpected: a carpet of sunflower seeds now covers over 1,000 of the Turbine Hall’s 3,400 square meters of floorspace, in total over 150 tons. Photos from afar show an unmeasurable expanse of gray, a rectangular infinity that calls to mind Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s candy fields: part minimalist, part maximalist. The seed carpet is visually stunning, but beyond its striking appearance, the installation has a deep political, historical and social background.