Art: Kissing a Grimy Princess

By turning a power station into a gallery of modern art, London's Tate brilliantly clarifies its collections

If ever there was a museum age in Europe and America, it happened in the last half of the 20th century as city after city, nation after nation, set out in pursuit of glory through the accumulation and display of works of art--their own and other people's. One might almost compare it to the sustained religious outpouring, construction as crusading, that covered medieval Europe with its "white mantle" of churches so many centuries ago.

In May a building opened to the London public that may be said to have written a dramatic coda to this narrative of building. It is one...

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