Art Turning Left – How Values Changed Making 1789–2012

Posted July 25th, 2013

Art History, Politics, Propaganda, Shows

Art Turning Left is the first exhibition to examine how the production and reception of art has been influenced by left-wing values, from the French Revolution to the present day. Displaying works by artists including Paul Signac, William Morris, Guy Debord and Guerilla Girls, Art Turning Left explores how artists across the globe have values linked to the political left embedded in their modes of production and distribution. The exhibition (8 November 2013 – 2 February 2014 at Tate Liverpool) will demonstrate how key left-wing values such as collectivism, equality and the search for alternative economies have underpinned transformations in the processes of art-making and the reception of art.

Left-wing political values have continuously influenced the making of art and visual culture, from the way in which William Morris organised his production line to the deliberate anonymity of the designers of the Atelier Populaire posters in Paris 1968. The direct involvement of visual artists in politics and the social and ethical values of left-wing politics emerged during the French Revolution, when artists such as Jacques-Louis David granted permission for their artwork to be reproduced to support the Republican cause. Versions of David’s iconic image of The Death of Marat 1793–4, one of the most famous images of the Revolution, will feature.

[no title] 1985-90, Guerrilla Girls

Art Turning Left is a thematic exhibition, based on key concerns that span different historical periods and geographic locations. They range from equality in production and collective authorship to the question of how to merge art and life. The exhibition moves away from the political messages behind the works and claims about the ability of art to deliver political and social change, and instead focuses on the effect political values have had on the processes, aesthetics and display of artworks. This structure allows for a comparative analysis of artistic materials, production methods and public reception, juxtaposing work by artists who have been influenced by similar social or political concerns but have brought to life very dissimilar art objects at different moments in history and in distant parts of the globe.

Artists include Marianne Brandt, Luis Camnitzer, Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane, Equipo 57, Ruth Ewan, Pinot Gallizio, Piero Gilardi, G.R.A.V., Walter Gropius, The Hackney Flashers, El Lissitzky, Maximilien Luce, Cildo Meireles, The Mass Observation Movement, David Medalla, László Moholy-Nagy, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Tim Rollins and K. O. S., Allan Sekula, and Iwao Yamawaki.

Programmed in parallel with Art Turning Left, Tate Liverpool will also present The New Modelin the Wolfson Gallery. The exhibition is the result of a collective research project rethinking Palle Nielsen’s work The Model 1968, when the Moderna Museet, Stockholm converted the building into a playground where children could attempt to visualise a more equal society.

Art Turning Left is curated by Francesco Manacorda, Artistic Director, Tate Liverpool and Lynn Wray, Collaborative Doctoral Award Researcher at Liverpool John Moores University and Eleanor Clayton, Assistant Curator.

Image on top of page: Rubbish May be Shot Here, 1937, Julian Trevelyan 1910-1988