Tate opens all hours for Matisse and Picasso

Tate Modern is opening round the clock this weekend to accommodate the thousands of people expected over the last two days of its Matisse Picasso exhibition.

More than 250,000 have visited the show on the two 20th-century painters since it opened in May to mark the second anniversary of the gallery.

Matisse Picasso has been the venue's most successful exhibition to date, and will be one of the all-time five most popular when it closes tomorrow night.

The exhibition opens at 10am this morning and closes 36 hours later at 10pm. Special tours will be given tonight and will include a bar featuring absinthe – the drink favoured by Paris-based artists in the early part of the last century.

The first tour will be hosted by the jazz musician George Melly at 11pm while Tim Marlow, the presenter of Channel 5's recent programmes on the Tate, will host another at midnight. Lizzy Cowling, the exhibition curator, will take a third tour at 1am. Screenings of BBC 2's recent two-part Omnibus programme on Matisse will take place through the night.

The gallery, on the south bank of the Thames in London, has already been forced to extend its opening until 10pm every night because of the show's popularity. It shows how the two painters, friends throughout their artistic lives, influenced each other yet followed diverse paths, Matisse concentrating on decorative form while Picasso focused on the intellectual aspects of art.

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