Shopping: a century of art and consumer culture

Now on at Tate Liverpool

Tate was once advised to make visiting its galleries more like a “shopping experience” (The Art Newspaper (No. 129, October 2002, pp.18-19). Now, such is the power of shopping, that Tate Liverpool is organising an exhibition on the subject, a co-production with the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. For the occasion, Flemish artist, Guillaume Bill will transform one of its galleries into a supermarket, with tins of beans and checkouts, courtesy of Tesco (20 December-23 March), allowing visitors the weird pleasure of visiting a Tate gallery to simulate the experience of buying groceries. The theme allows Tate to exhibit art that has anything to do with shops or commercialism, sourced from a wealth of public and private collections. By grouping these together it is clear how dominant a subject shopping has become—the modern day equivalent of the Dutch genre scene or Spanish still life. The 240 pieces on show include early photographs by Eugène Atget of Paris shop fronts, Andy Warhol’s Brillo boxes, Gursky’s photos of stacked shop shelves (above, Prada, 1998), Christo’s wrapped shopping trolleys, Richard Estes’ photorealistic paintings of shop windows and Damien Hirst’s mock-up chemist shop “Pharmacy”.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 131 December 2002