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Tacita Dean

Tacita Dean
Born 1965 (age 50–51)
Canterbury, Kent
Nationality English
Education Falmouth University
Known for Conceptual art, installation art
Movement Young British Artists

Tacita Charlotte Dean OBE (born 1965) is an English visual artist who works primarily in film. She is one of the Young British Artists, and was a nominee for the Turner Prize in 1998.[1] She lives and works in Berlin.[2]


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
  • Work 3
    • Film 3.1
    • Photography and painting 3.2
    • Commissions 3.3
  • Exhibitions 4
    • Selected solo shows 4.1
  • Recognition 5
  • Filmography 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Early life and education

Tacita Dean was born in Canterbury, Kent.[3] Her mother is named Jenefer and her father was Joseph Dean, a lawyer who studied classics at Merton College, Oxford.[4] She has a sister named Antigone and a brother, an architect, named Ptolemy Dean.[5] Her grandfather was Basil Dean, the founder of Ealing Studios.[6]

Dean was educated at Kent College, Canterbury.[7] She studied at Falmouth University, graduating in 1988.[7] From 1990 to 1992, Dean studied for a Masters degree at the Slade School of Fine Art.[7]


In 1995, she was included in General Release: Young British Artists held at the XLVI Venice Biennale.[8] She is one of the "key names",[9] along with Jake and Dinos Chapman, Gary Hume, Sam Taylor-Wood, Fiona Banner and Douglas Gordon,[9] of the Young British Artists (YBAs).[9][10] Her work actually had little in common with the prominent YBAs, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.[11]

In 1997, Dean moved to London. That same year she began to exhibit splices of magnetic tape cut the length required to document the duration of the sound indicated, such as a raven's cry. In 2001 she was given a solo show entitled Tacita Dean: Recent films and Other Works at Tate Britain.[12] For the season 2004/2005 in the Vienna State Opera Tacita Dean designed the large scale picture (176 sqm) "Play as Cast" as part of the exhibition series Safety Curtain, conceived by museum in progress.[13]



Tacita Dean is best known for her work in 16mm film, although she utilises a variety of media including drawing, photography and sound. Her films often employ long takes and steady camera angles to create a contemplative atmosphere. Her anamorphic films are shot by cinematographers John Adderley[14] and Jamie Cairney.[15] Her sound recordist is Steve Felton. She has also published several pieces of her own writing, which she refers to as 'asides,' which complement her visual work. Since the mid-1990s her films have not included commentary, but are instead accompanied by often understated optical sound tracks.

Especially during the 1990s, the sea was a persistent theme in Dean's work. Perhaps most famously, she explored the tragic maritime misadventures of Donald Crowhurst, an amateur English sailor whose ambition to enter a race to solo circumnavigate the globe ended in deception, existential crisis and, eventually, tragedy.[16] Dean has made a number of films and blackboard drawings relating to the Crowhurst story, exploiting the metaphorical richness of such motifs as the ocean, lighthouses and shipwrecks. Re-turning to her attraction with the sea, Amadeus (swell consopio) was made for the Folkestone Triennial (three year art show) in 2008.[17]

In 1997, Dean made an audio work based on her futile effort to find the submerged artwork Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson in the Great Salt Lake of Utah.[18]

Sound Mirrors (1999) takes its name from the tracking devices built during the 1920s and 1930s and planted in the Kent countryside to detect incoming German aircraft.[19]

In 2000, Dean was awarded a one-year German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship to Berlin, where she moved that year with her partner, artist Mathew Hale.[20] She devoted attention to the architecture and cultural history of Germany, making films of such iconic structure as the Palast der Republik. Fernsehturm, is a 44-minute film set in the revolving cafe of the East Berlin television tower, completed in 1969 on Alexanderplatz. Other projects have concerned important figures in post-war German cultural history, such as W.G. Sebald and Joseph Beuys.

Recent films capture important artists and thinkers of the last fifty years and feature Mario Merz, Merce Cunningham, Leo Steinberg, Julie Mehretu, Claes Oldenburg, and Cy Twombly.[21] For example, Craneway Event (2008) is a film about Cunningham working on something with his dancers over three afternoons on site.[22]

In 2006, Dean shot Kodak, a movie in a Kodak factory in eastern France — the last one in Europe to produce 16-mm film stock. A few weeks after she visited, it closed for good.[20]

In 2013, Dean exhibited JG, a twenty-six minute 35mm film in color and black and white at the Frith Street Gallery in London.[23] The film returns to Dean's fascination with the famous land artwork Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson and her friendship with the science-fiction writer J.G. Ballard. During the film, the viewer also hears excerpts from the writings and correspondence of Ballard as well as of Smithson, all read by actor Jim Broadbent.[24]

Photography and painting

In 2001 Dean published Floh, a book in two parts that featured found photographs from the flea markets of Europe and America.[25] Dean said of Floh: "I do not want to give these images explanations: descriptions by the finder about how and where they were found, or guesses as to what stories they might or might not tell. I want them to keep the silence of the fleamarket; the silence they had when I found them; the silence of the lost object."[25] Similarly, in 2002 Dean created Czech Photos (1991-2002), a series of over 326 unedited photographs presented in a box for intimate engagement. The black and white photographs show a city in the moments before radical change, already somehow out of date the second they were taken.[26] Washington Cathedral (2002) is a series of more than 130 found postcards from the first half of the last century showing various imagined versions of the cathedral in Washington, DC before it was completed. Palindrome is a newspaper project celebrating the palindromic date 20.02 2002, which was inspired by numbers painted by Marcel Broodthaers's on a beam in his studio. In 2005, Dean began work on a series of found postcards featuring trees, which she transformed by painting out all the background detail with white gouache.


Dean has undertaken commissions for London's defunct Millennium Dome, the Sadler's Wells Theatre, and for Cork, Ireland, as part of that city's European City of Culture celebrations. She has also completed residencies at the Sundance Institute, the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, U.S., and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, Berlin

In 2011, Dean was the 12th artist commissioned by the Unilever Series to create a unique artwork for the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern.[27] The result, FILM, was an 11-minute silent film shot on 35mm film that was projected onto a 13 meter screen and sought "not only to invigorate debate about the threat film is under but also to stand as a testament to the distinctive qualities of this unique medium."[28]


2006 saw the most comprehensive retrospective of her work to date, Analogue, held at Schaulager Basel.[29]

In 2009, the Giorgio Morandi.

She has participated in the Bienal de São Paulo (2006; 2010), the Biennale di Venezia (2003; 2005; 2013) and dOCUMENTA (13).[31]

Selected solo shows


Following her 1996 film Disappearance at Sea, Dean was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1998. She has since been awarded the Aachen Art Prize (2002), Hugo Boss Prize (2006),[38] and the Kurt Schwitters Prize (2009),[39] among others.

She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to British art overseas.[40]


  • The Story of Beard, 1992
  • The Martyrdom of St Agatha (in several parts), 1994
  • Girl Stowaway, 1994
  • How to Put a Boat in a Bottle, 1995
  • A Bag of Air, 1995
  • Disappearance at Sea, 1996
  • Delft Hydraulics, 1996
  • Foley Artist, 1996
  • Disappearance at Sea II, 1997
  • The Structure of Ice, 1997
  • Gellért, 1998
  • Bubble House, 1999
  • Sound Mirrors, 1999
  • From Columbus, Ohio, to the Partially Buried Woodshed, 1999
  • Banewl, 1999
  • Teignmouth Electron, 2000
  • Totality, 2000
  • Fernsehturm, 2001
  • The Green Ray, 2001
  • Baobab, 2002
  • Ztrata, 2002
  • Section Cinema (Homage to Marcel Broodthaers), 2002
  • Diamond Ring, 2002
  • Mario Merz, 2002
  • Boots, 2003
  • Pie, 2003
  • Palast, 2004
  • The Uncles, 2004
  • Presentation Sisters, 2005
  • Kodak, 2006
  • Noir et Blanc, 2006
  • Human Treasure, 2006
  • Michael Hamburger, 2007
  • Darmstädter Werkblock, 2007
  • Amadeus, 2008
  • Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS (in three movements) to John Cage's composition 4'33" with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films), 2008
  • Prisoner Pair, 2008
  • Still Life, 2009
  • Day for Night, 2009
  • Craneway Event, 2009
  • Manhattan Mouse Museum, 2011
  • FILM, 2011
  • JG, 2013

See also


  1. ^ Glaister, Dan. "Turner Prize Goes to Ofili". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Wright, Karen. "In the Studio: Tacita Dean, Artist". The Independent. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Dean, Tacita. "Joseph Dean obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Bradbury, Dominic. "Ptolemy Dean: Britain's Buildings, Places and Spaces". The Telegraph (London)). Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "His Honour Joseph Dean". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c
  8. ^ "Scuola San Pasquale General Release: Young British Artists", British Council. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
  9. ^ a b c Grant, Simon (27 March 2009). "Cultural propganda?" [sic]".  
  10. ^ Daly, Emma. "The once and future Oporto", The New York Times, 11 March 2001. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
  11. ^ Bush, Kate (October 2004). "Young British art: Kate Bush on the YBA sensation".  
  12. ^ "Tacita Dean: Recent Films and Other Works - Tate". 
  13. ^ "Safety Curtain 2004/2005".  
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Tacita Dean: Disappearance at Sea from the National Maritime Museum
  17. ^ "Tacita Dean - The Falmouth Convention". 
  18. ^ Tacita Dean (27 April 2009), The cosmic clock with Ballard at its core The Guardian.
  19. ^ Tacita Dean, 22 February – 25 March 2000 Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.
  20. ^ a b Emily Eakin (31 October 2011), Celluloid Hero The New Yorker.
  21. ^ Tacita Dean: Five Americans, 6 May – 1 July 2012 New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York.
  22. ^ Tacita Dean: Craneway Event, 13 May – 26 June 2010 Frith Street Gallery, London.
  23. ^ "Exhibitions - Tacita Dean - Frith Street Gallery". 
  24. ^ Nicolas Rapold (April 15, 2014), Two Artistic Outlooks, Heightened Side by Side New York Times.
  25. ^ a b "Floh" Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  26. ^ Tacita Dean, 10 January – 8 February 2003 Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.
  27. ^ Higgins, Charlotte. "Tacita Dean's Turbine Hall Film pays homage to a dying medium". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  28. ^ "Tacita Dean: Film". Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  29. ^ See the accompanying catalogue: Theodora Vischer and Isabel Friedli (eds.): Tacita Dean, Analogue, Drawings 1991–2006
  30. ^ "Fondazione Nicola trussardi - Still Life". 
  31. ^ documenta13. "dOCUMENTA (13)". 
  32. ^ "Tacita Dean and Gerco de Ruijter" Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  33. ^ "Tacita Dean" Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  34. ^ "Tacita Dean" Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  35. ^ "Tacita Dean: Recent Films and Other Works" Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  36. ^ "Tacita Dean" Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  37. ^ "Hugo Boss Prize 2006: Tacita Dean" Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  38. ^ "HUGO BOSS PRIZE - HUGO BOSS Corporate Website". 14 January 2015. 
  39. ^ "Tacita Dean Awarded Kurt Schwitters Prize 2009 by Lower Saxony Savings Bank Foundation". Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  40. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60367. p. 26. 29 December 2012.

Further reading

  • Barcelona 2001: Tacita Dean. Barcelona: Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona and Actar.
  • Godfrey, Mark: Photography Found and Lost: On Tacita Dean’s Floh, October vol. 114, Fall 2005, 90–119.
  • Royoux, Jean-Christophe, Marina Warner and Germaine Greer: Tacita Dean. London: Phaidon Press, 2006.
  • Trodd, T.: Film at the End of the Twentieth Century: Obsolescence and Medium in the Work of Tacita Dean, Object 6, 2003/4.
  • Vischer, Theodora. and Friedli, I.: Tacita Dean. Analogue: Drawings 1991–2006. Basel: Schaulager, 2006.
  • De Cecco, Emanuela: Tacita Dean. Milano: postmedia books, 2004.
  • Obrist, Hans Ulrich: The Conversation Series: Tacita Dean. Köln: Walther König, 2013.

External links

  • Stillness. Una Danza para la Quietud: Cage, Cunningham, Dean
  • Tacita Dean in the Tate Collection — artist biography and works viewable online
  • Tacita Dean: FILM — Exhibition at Tate Modern 2011-2012
  • Tacita Dean — Aerial View of Teignmouth Electron, Cayman Brac. 16 September 1998
  • Waterlog exhibition featuring recent work Michael Hamburger 2007
  • Frith Street Gallery, London
  • Tacita Dean at Fondazione Nicola Trussardi
  • Works by Tacita Dean in Cal Cego. Contemporary Art Collection
  • review of 2009 ACCA exhibition by Tony Lloyd
  • Tacita Dean at Kadist Art Foundation
  • Tacita Dean Kapsul Image Collection
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