Art at the cutting edge swaps the scalpel for surrealism

THE SUICIDE of a squirrel, and a giant football table that can be played by 30 people at once are examples of the "new art" to be featured at the Tate Gallery in London.

The cutting edge of contemporary art around the world includes a stuffed squirrel lying prone across a kitchen table with a shotgun at its side. The Tate will re-create a kitchen around the squirrel when it mounts the show next summer.

Simon Wilson, curator of interpretation at the Tate, announced the exhibition yesterday, saying that this new spirit in art abroad has taken over from Damien Hirst and the Britpack of young, homegrown artists.

The exhibition, entitled Abracadabra, will bring together "playful and surreal" works by 16 international artists who are relatively unknown in this country.

"Exciting, poetic, disturbing and extravagant, this new art aims to establish new lines of communication with its audience, and in many of the works the element of humour is used to support a more serious message," said a spokeswoman at the Tate.

The interactive exhibits, which include the giant football table, may surprise traditionalists - as will the decision by the Tate to take down the walls dividing its exhibition galleries and have what Mr Wilson calls "one big architect-designed amusement arcade of new art".

Abracadabra has been put together by the curator of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Catherine Grenier, and the Tate Gallery curator, Catherine Kinley.

Mr Wilson said: "They have identified these artists as representing a new spirit in contemporary art that has succeeded Damien Hirst and the new British pack."

"User friendliness" and interactivity were important aspects of the new spirit, he said. "The Tate Millbank has a mission to bring contemporary art to as wide a public as possible."

Artists include the Italian Maurizio Cattelan, Belgian Patrick van Caeckenbergh, Japanese Momoyo Torimitsu, American Kathy Schimert, Spanish Fernando Sanchez- Castillo, the Briton Paul Noble and the French artists Marie-Ange Guilleminot, Xavier Veilhan and Pierrick Sorin.

But the Tate has not abandoned the Britpack entirely - it is also to show Damien Hirst's 1992 walk-in work, Pharmacy, next year.

The public will also get its first chance to see the late Francis Bacon's controversial sketches - the artist concealed their existence for much of his life - at a major Tate exhibition starting on 24 February.

One of the most popular Tate exhibitions of the year is expected to be the first big Jackson Pollock exhibition in this country for 40 years.

Pollock's influential splatter paintings will travel to Britain at the end of a Museum of Modern Art exhibition in New York, and open at the Tate Gallery in March.

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