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Thursday, 4 May, 2000, 18:37 GMT 19:37 UK
Tate Modern scales new heights
The Tate Modern on London's Southbank has unveiled some of its new giant sculptures as a sneak preview before its grand opening.
The gallery's lofty spaces call for some larger-than-life artworks, and American sculptor Louise Bourgeois was commissioned to produce the first special exhibition.
Three 30ft structures - named I Do, I Undo and I Redo - have been moulded from decaying steel and surrounded by mirrors to give a raw, industrial feel.
The exhibition is part of a five-year sponsorship deal with Unilever worth £1.25m, which will see large-scale works created annually for the next five years.
New York-based Louise Bourgeois, a contemporary of the surrealists, will be joined by newer artists such as Rebecca Horn, Steve McQueen and Gillian Wearing.
Coils, cylinders and spirals
Bourgeois's towers are designed to fit into the 100ft-high turbine hall, which retains many features left over from the site's former life as the Bankside Power Station.
Two towers are cylindrical with spiral staircases coiled around them, giving sweeping views for visitors who brave the steps.
The third tower is rectangular with a staircase on one side and a secret chamber within.
Staircases are the width of two people to allow for a steady stream of gallery visitors moving in both directions.
A Tate Modern spokeswoman said: "The pieces are about the relationships and movement of people. The work makes you have confrontations with other human beings as you pass on the stairs."
The Tate Modern building will be as much an adventure as the wealth of art inside.
Aside from the turbine hall, a vertigo-inducing 325ft central chimney also remains.
Some of the 60 exhibition rooms also have ceilings which stand 40ft high.
For the first time, art will be explored by theme, with rooms devoted to topics such as landscapes, war and self-portraits, rather than by chronology.
Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron have added modern twists to the £130m gallery, including a glass structure which runs across the top of the building and bathes internal spaces with light.
Only only fifth of its collection is currently on display in Liverpool, St Ives and at its old Millbank site, now renamed Tate Britain to house British artists exclusively.
Tate Modern will allow curators to exhibit about two thirds of its available works.
The full feast of paintings and sculpture will be revealed on 12 May, when Tate Modern officially opens to the public.