Leading article: Past masters

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The Independent Online

Paris is showing Picasso's work alongside the great masters who influenced him. Now the Tate is planning to do the same for Turner. Neither artist would be embarrassed by the comparisons. Indeed, both set themselves up to vie with their predecessors. Arrogance, no doubt. Yet it is precisely that self-confidence, that reach to compare oneself with the very best, that makes a great artist. And in that reach also lies respect. You cannot fully comprehend the work of one giant without understanding their relationship with the influences of the past.

Which is why it is so important to keep Old Masters such as the Titians in the galleries where they have influenced generations of younger artists. And it is why the Picasso and Turner exhibitions tell only half the story. Just as they were formed by the past, so they formed the future.

Rothko left his Seagram paintings to the Tate specifically to stand beside the Turners. The Tate have since moved them across the river to boost the Tate Modern. It might consider the hypocrisy of that as it prepares its Turner blockbuster and a separate show on Rothko.