Tate Britain To Host Its First Major ‘Queer British Art’ Exhibition in 2017

It marks an odd anniversary in England's history.

David Hockney, Portrait of an Artist ( Pool with Two Figures) (1972). © David Hockney, photo: Richard Schmidt.
Queer British Art

From Left: Francis Bacon, David Hockney, and Duncan Grant ca. 1910, Alvin Langdon Coburn (British, b. United States, 1882-1966). 
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, YouTube, and the George Eastman Museum, gift of Alvin Langdon.

When British parliament passed the Sexual Offences Act on July 27, 1967, gay sex was effectively decriminalized in England and Wales. (However, Scotland didn’t pass the bill until 13 years later, in 1980, and it passed in Northern Ireland in 1982). Despite its limited status, the bill was a major step forward for the gay rights movement in the United Kingdom.

On its 50th anniversary in 2017, Tate Britain plans on commemorating the occasion with an unprecedented show in the museum’s history.

In “Queer British Art,” the Tate’s first major exhibition of its kind, works by John Singer Sargent, Francis Bacon, and David Hockney will be on view. The works, according to a statement from the museum, will include an assortment of paintings, drawings, personal photographs, and films.

Though these intimate documents and works are intended to reflect the private and often painful interior worlds of these artists, the Tate notes that the exhibition will also offer works that cater to a wider audience.

Dora Carrington, <em>Spanish Landscape with Mountains</em> (1924).<br>Photo: Courtesy of Tate.

Dora Carrington, Spanish Landscape with Mountains (1924).
Photo: Courtesy of Tate.

However, given the specific historical moment that the Tate’s exhibition draws inspiration from, one wonders if the show is only dedicated to celebrating the life and work of gay men. The only lesbian artist mentioned in the release is Dora Carrington, an English painter from the 19th century. (It’s worth noting that lesbian sex had never been illegal under British law, for complex reasons.)

David Hockney, <em>Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) </em> (1971).<br>Photo: Courtesy of Tate.

David Hockney, Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) (1971).
Photo: Courtesy of Tate.

Representatives at Tate Britain declined to comment after artnet News reached out for a statement.

Queer British Art” opens next year on Wednesday, April 5 and runs through Sunday, October 1.

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