An online initiative curated by Tate Media uncovers the many contemporary artworks that have been stolen, destroyed or simply never realized over the past 100 years.
Launched today, Gallery of Lost Art will eventually feature the works of over 40 artists, including Rachel Whiteread and Willem de Kooning, with a new work added every week over the course of six months.
Set to an eerie soundtrack, the site asks visitors to not only contemplate how and why these works disappeared, but also discuss “the subject of lost art as a whole,” and how these missing pieces continue to shape the contemporary art scene as it stands today.
The interactive site has been created by design studio ISO. Users can trawl through archival photographs, moving image shorts and essays, exploring and piecing together the disappearance of major pieces, such as Tracey Emin’s Everyone I Have Ever Slept With tent, which was destroyed in an East London warehouse fire in 2004, or Lucian Freud’s unfinished portrait of Francis Bacon, stolen in 1988. These are “significant works” that would prove hard to exhibit in a conventional gallery or museum context because they no longer exist as objects.
Creative Director of Tate Media, Jane Burton, explains further:
It could only ever exist virtually. The challenge was to come up with a [way] of showcasing these artworks and telling their stories. The result is a new way of looking at art: an immersive website in the form of a vast warehouse, where visitors can explore the evidence laid out for them.
You can check it out for yourself, although the site will disappear itself after a year. See our recent New Art Venues report for more examples of galleries experimenting with virtual exhibition formats. – Samantha Fox