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. It examines why artists tend to be left wing, their political motivations and how art can engineer social change and deliver political messages. Not surprisingly it features the work of Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller, whose critically acclaimed exhibition at the Venice Biennale took a lacerating claw to tax evaders.
Displaying works by artists including Paul Signac, William Morris, Guy Debord and Guerrilla 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 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.
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 Martha Rosler.
Programmed in parallel with Art Turning Left, Tate Liverpool will also present a display of archival material from Palle Nielsen’s social experiment The Model – A Model for a Qualitative Society (1968). The Danish artist converted the Moderna Museet in Stockholm into a playground in order to observe children at play and present viewers with the opportunity to visualise a more equal society. The display will be the most comprehensive collection of material from the project including sound, documents and photographs.
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.
Art Turning Left: How Values Changed Making 1789-2013 Tate Liverpool 8 November 2013 – 2 February 2014
Top photo: Guerrilla Girls [no title] 1985-90 2003© courtesy www.guerrillagirls.com Bottom: