Tate Purchases Martin Creed’s Turner Prize Winning Light Installation

Martin Creed

The Tate has acquired Martin Creed’s Turner Prize winning installation ‘No 227: The lights going on and off’ It will now be added to the gallery’s permanent collection. Consisting of an empty room where lights are switched on and off every five seconds, it caused quite a stir when it was first exhibited in 2001.

Maurizio Cattelan, wrote in 2004; “We all have our bad days, when you just can’t get it right, like moments of loss and surrender. And we all have our good days, when everything seems to run smoothly, just perfect for no apparent reason. I can see clearly now the rain has gone. You wake up, things are okay, and the sun is shining. And then out of the blue, there you go again, down into the dark pit of depression. It’s not just a matter of mood swings. Its something more basic and perverse: the inability to preserve joy. The need to measure it against a black background. Art is no different. It’s a ride on the roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes I feel so happy, sometimes I feel so sad. I always thought Martin Creed’s Work No. 227: The lights going on and off had something to do with this simple truth. It has the ability to compress happiness and anxiety within one single gesture. Lights go on, lights go off – sunshine and rain, and then back to beginning to repeat endlessly. I do not know what Creed was thinking about when he made it but to me it always looked like a swing, a mood swing. That’s why I never found it funny but frightening in its simplicity, it’s a sculpture for our lithium oriented, Prozac enhanced reality. Are we afraid of the dark or just blinded by the light? I see a rainbow and I want to paint it black”.

Visitors to the exhibition walked out and one was said to have thrown an egg at the installation in protest. Tate was thought to have paid in the region of £110,000 for the artwork.  It was purchased with funds raised by Tate members, the Art Fund and a private donor. A spokeswoman for the gallery said the piece was “arguably one of Martin Creed’s most important works”. The work will go on display from 21 October at Tate Britain.


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