For the 7th time we have attended the annual course “Feminist Perspectives in Artistic Productions and Theories of Art“, held at the Azkuna Center in Bilbao and organized by Lourdes Méndez and Xabier Arakistain, which we cannot help but recommend. And once again we have been shocked by how necessary this type of events are. However, happy that this year the program allowed us to see and listen to Frances Morris, director of Tate Modern. No better excuse than this to recognize a woman who has come so high in the world of Contemporary Art.
Frances Morris (London, 1958) was appointed director of Tate Modern at the beginning of 2016. She has, however, been involved with the institution since 1987, when she began her career as a curator, later becoming Director of Exhibitions (2000-2006) and Director of Collections and International Art (2006-2016). She has played a key role in the evolution of the Tate Modern.
She was jointly responsible for the initial presentation of the opening collection displays at Tate Modern in 2000, which radically transformed the way museums present the story of modern art. Something that earned her numerous criticisms from the most “established” sectors of the art world.
Did you know that Frances Morris was a pioneer in breaking the chronological order in the collections of the museums in favor of grouping by themes? She argued that the linear sequence does not create a context. However, grouping by themes (i.e. nudes, landscapes, etc.) would create new contexts that would facilitate the understanding of the history of art. And periodically, the artworks were changed and grouped differently. New contexts. New understandings.
The breakdown of the chronology and the new distribution of the artworks yielded a very clear conclusion: the works of women and international artists (except for the classic regions: Europe, North America) were not represented.
Frances has worked to re-imagine Tate’s collection and has been instrumental in the development of the museum’s international reach and its representation of women artists. She is responsible for 3 major retrospectives of women artists: Louise Bourgeois (2007), Yayoi Kusama (2015) and Agnes Martin (2015).
Frances Morris is the first woman to manage a British gallery and throughout her professional career she has struggled to make women artists visible. And that’s just why she deserves to be made known to our small but select audience!