Lars Nittve

By Frankel, David | Artforum International, April 2000 | Go to article overview

Lars Nittve


Frankel, David, Artforum International


In the early '90s, I asked the astute British critic Stuart Morgan what he thought of the work of Lars Nittve, then director of the Rooseum in Malmo. "Well," said Stuart, "he won't be in Malmo for long." And Nittve's ascendant career trajectory, culminating in his recent appointment to the directorship of Tate Modern, has certainly borne out the prediction.

I first met Nittve in the early '80s, when he briefly stayed in New York as a visiting Stockholm newspaper critic and began writing regularly for Artforum. Returning home, he was named a curator at the Moderna Museet, then, in 1990, moved to Malmo, in southern Sweden, to open the Rooseum. Nittve's thematic shows--perhaps most notably "Implosion--A Postmodern Perspective," 1986, in Stockholm, and "Trans/Mission," 1991, in Malmo--won him an international reputation, and he moved to increasingly visible posts: in 1995, to the Louisiana, outside Copenhagen; and now to the Tate, where he oversees Tate Modern's brand-new home, the former Bankside Power Station in South London.

The Tate Gallery, Nittve remarks, has been restructured in crucial ways. "The Tate at Millbank used to be the big mother ship, where everything sat-curators, administration, conservation, etc. Now we're moving to something more like a federation." The Tate's four branches (in St. Ives, Liverpool, and now two in London) will share the collection as a common resource; in other words, Tate Modern is to have its own Exhibitions and Display department, which will show the modern parts of the collection (as will the old Tate Gallery, now called Tate Britain) and run its own exhibition program. Nittve has hired Iwona Blazwick to head that department, which also includes the American Donna De Salvo, a recent appointment; Emma Dexter, from the London ICA; the respected Tate curator Frances Morris; and other staffers. …

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