Popular galleries dedicated to the Pre-Raphaelite artists and JMW Turner will also be rehung with new rooms dedicated to John Constable and William Blake. Polly Staple, Tate’s director of collection, British Art, says in a statement: “Tate Britain’s new displays will embody our commitment to expanding the canon and diversifying British art history.”
Previous rehangs at the institution have proved controversial. In 2001, the then director Stephen Deuchar reverted to the method of displaying work chronologically instead of juxtaposing paintings and sculptures from different artists and periods, a plan proposed 18 months previously (parts within the display were thematic). The former director Penelope Curtis, who stood down in 2015, unveiled an acclaimed chronological rehang of the entire collection. Farquharson’s rehang will be “broadly chronological”.
Meanwhile, Tate recently commissioned the artist Keith Piper to create a “site-specific installation” engaging with the 1927 mural The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats in the former Rex Whistler restaurant. The work includes scenes of a Black child being enslaved and caricatures of Chinese figures. The gallery admitted that the mural at Tate Britain includes “racist imagery”; the new work “will be exhibited alongside and in dialogue with the mural, reframing the way the space is experienced”. It will also be accompanied by “new interpretative material, which will critically engage with the mural’s history and content, including its racist imagery”.