It’s been 50 years since homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales and to celebrate, Tate Britain, as part of its 2017 programme, will be putting on the first exhibition of its kind dedicated to the subject. The exhibition, to be named, Queer British Art, will exhibit the work of artists including David Hockney, Francis Bacon, Keith Vaughan, Duncan Grant and Ethel Sands, whose works challenge traditional ideas of sexual identity through depicting different sexualities and desires, in and outside of the home. For example, Duncan Grant’s homoerotic panorama depicting seven nudists bathing, the caress of Simeon Solomon’s Sappho and Erinna in an edenic sexual paradise and Ethel Sand’s pastel-painted tea for the mischievous three.
As a time remembered by many for the moments spent tiptoeing through the world of homosexuality, curator Clare Barlow explains that the exhibition will inevitably have its moments of gloom and sadness, but will also highlight the images of strength and happiness that led a nation to wake up and put an end to the madness. Reporting to The Guardian, Barlow said, ‘There is definitely a bit of torture and misery in the show’, ‘but it will be a show with a lot of quieter moments and really beautiful moments, and art which just celebrates the humdrum, the backdrop to people’s everyday lives, the houses they shared with their lovers. That is often every bit as radical as the stories and court cases we gasp over.’
Clare maintained that the show ‘goes to the core of a lot of debates in society today’ and will ask us to think about ‘how does our sexuality or gender identity relate to our self? It will offer a lot of different possible answers to that question’.
Part of a very exciting programme at the Tate, Queer British Art will run from April to October 2017 and will follow the gallery’s retrospective of David Hockney opening in February.
5 April – 1 October 2017