Reclamation for the nation … Peter Saville, Hayes Davidson and Herzog & de Meuron at the Tanks: Art in Action festival, Tate Modern, London

What makes the art of today different from the art of 1912? One answer is: the kinds of space in which it is shown. Since the 1960s, reclaimed industrial space has replaced traditional galleries as the chosen theatre of avant-garde art. It began with artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol taking over old factories in downtown Manhattan. It has gone on to mean sculptors working in steel yards , or museums converting old docks. Art students in Glasgow this summer showed degree work in a venue called the Glue Factory that is … an old glue factory.

Minimalist art, with its use of industrial materials and setting out of objects in potentially limitless arrays, started in the 1960s and was made for warehouses. This interaction between space and style has shaped the art of today.

Tate Modern, already one of the world’s most exciting reclaimed buildings, this summer moves into newly converted regions of its former power station. The Tanks will be a venue for live art, another form for which industrial spaces seem made. The opening season is about to start. It is certain to be spectacular.


Jonathan Jones