This autumn Tate Liverpool focuses on the work of Tracey Emin (b. 1963) and William Blake (1757-1827) to reveal surprising links between the two artists.
The free display juxtaposes important works from the Tate collection, demonstrating a shared concern with spirituality, birth and death in both artists’ work.
At the heart of the display is one of Britain’s most renowned artworks of the past 20 years, Tracey Emin’s My Bed 1998.
This will be the first time My Bed has been displayed in the north of England.
Featuring Emin’s own bed with stained sheets, personal objects and detritus, it offers an unflinching self-portrait in which the artist herself is absent. Combining public with domestic realms, this iconic work expresses ideas of containment and isolation while asserting the artist’s thematic preoccupations, including birth, death, dreams and sex.
My Bed, along with drawings by Emin from the Tate collection, will be presented alongside those of the visionary British poet and artist, William Blake. Presented in the context of Emin’s empty bed, and symbolising the absent figure, works include The Blasphemer c.1800 and The Crucifixion: ‘Behold Thy Mother’ c.1805 and other figurative works. Blake stood against the hypocrisies of his age and was vocal in his support of liberalism, sexual freedoms and above all advocated for unrestrained imaginative freedom of expression.
The new display affirms Blake’s Romantic idea of artistic authenticity through existential pain and the possibility of spiritual rebirth through art shared in the work of Tracey Emin. Following the display of My Bed 1998 at Tate Liverpool, the work will be shown at Turner Contemporary in Margate, Emin’s home town. This will provide a unique opportunity for audiences across the UK to see one of the most defining works of British art in recent years.
The Duerckheim Collection acquired the work in early July 2014 and it is now on loan to Tate for 10 years. Tracey Emin and William Blake in Focus is curated by Darren Pih, Exhibitions & Displays Curator, Tate Liverpool.