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Tuesday, 10 September, 2002, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Tate Modern designer 'lambasts rivals'
Jacques Herzog and Lars Nittive and Nicholas Serota
Herzog (second from right) helped make Tate Modern a success
The designer of Tate Modern in London, Britain's most successful art museum, has criticised two of the most prestigious museums in the world, say reports.

Jacques Herzog said the Museum of Modern Art (Moma), New York, which attracts visitors from across the world, was driven by a cynical and elitist strategy, according to the Independent newspaper.


The collection is not the brand

Paola Antonelli, Moma
Mr Herzog said the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, designed by Frank Gehry, left him cold because it was "a very bad example for museums in the future", reported the paper.

The designer made his remarks at a seminar on the relationship between branding and art presentation.

The 50-year-old criticised museums such as Moma as portraying art as decoration for trendy lifestyles.

'Lend-lease'

His comments have ignited a debate about museums and how they should brand themselves.

Architecture critic Charles Jencks sided with Herzog, saying the Guggenheim was "partly cynical in that it was global branding" and contained "lend-lease art", reported the paper.

Guggenheim, Bilbao
The Guggenheim is world famous
He said the Guggenheim was taking over the art world "like McDonald's".

The concern expressed at the seminar was that museums' design, shops and even the art collections were being ovely influenced by branding concerns.

Mr Herzog said the Guggenheim was like "an alien", it was reported.

"Take all that out and cultivate it with ingredients from the city," he advised.

Visitors

The Guggenheim and Moma are two of Tate Modern's biggest rivals in the field of globally-famous art museums.

Recently, however, Tate Modern and Moma collaborated in putting together an exhibition on Matisse and Picasso which drew more than 500,000 visitors to the London museum.

Moma attracts more than 1.6 million annual visitors, 30% of which come from abroad.

Since Tate Modern opened its doors in May 2000 it has attracted more than 10 million visitors while the Guggeheim drew 1.3 million visitors in the year after it opened in 1997.

Mr Herzog is celebrated for designing structures which correspond to the surrounding locations while the Bilbao Guggenheim is famous for its non-conformist curves and silver cladding.

But his comments have been dismissed by the Museum of Modern Art, in New York.

Paola Antonelli, Moma's architecture and design curator, who was at the seminar, said: "Why on earth can't art be a special experience?

"The collection is not the brand. Our brand and our presentation is how we grew Moma's personality."

See also:

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