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Sotheby’s Renews Funding of Tate Britain’s Sculpture Commission

An installation "Harrier and Jaguar" by artist Fiona Banner. The work is on show at Tate Britain through January. Source: Tate via Bloomberg

July 26 (Bloomberg) -- Sotheby’s said it is renewing its sponsorship of Tate Britain’s contemporary-art commissions for three years -- a program that in 2008 saw Martin Creed send sprinters through the London gallery.

No figures were given for the sponsorship, which began in 2008. The yearly commission allows a sculpture to be created and later shown in Tate Britain’s columned hall. It recalls Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall installations, which Unilever backs to the tune of 2.16 million pounds ($3.5 million) over five years.

“We are very proud to be supporting Tate for the fourth year,” Cheyenne Westphal, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art in Europe, said in an e-mail sent by the Sotheby’s press office. It “will allow the work of a British contemporary artist to be exhibited on this international and well-known stage.”

Tate Britain Director Penelope Curtis said the name of the artist selected for 2012 -- year of the London Olympic Games -- will be announced later.

“I am delighted that Sotheby’s have chosen to continue their sponsorship of the Tate Britain commission for a further three years,” Curtis said in an e-mail sent by the Tate press office.

The last sculptor commissioned to create a work for Tate Britain’s 86-meter Duveen gallery was Fiona Banner, who showed two disused fighter jets. Her display lasted from June 2010 to January 2011.

No sculptor has been commissioned so far this year; the next one will have work on display from March 2012. Tate said the schedule had shifted because of building works and not because the Sotheby’s sponsorship had run out momentarily.

In 2008, Creed sent a runner charging every 30 seconds through the Duveen gallery. The project lasted four and a half months. The sprinters were each paid 10 pounds an hour to make 15 runs per half-hour shift.

The 2007 artist was Mark Wallinger, who, in his “State Britain,” recreated peace campaigner Brian Haw’s wall-length anti-Iraq-war protest in London’s Parliament Square. The work helped him win that year’s Turner Prize, the U.K.’s highest contemporary-art distinction.

To contact the reporter on this story: Farah Nayeri in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Beech at

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