ONE of Britain's most renowned artworks of the past 20 years, Tracey Emin’s My Bed 1998, comes to Liverpool next month for a year-long stay.

Regarded as one of the most defining works of British art in recent years it is the first time it has been displayed in the north of England. 

My Bed, which sold for £2.2 million in 2014, comes to rest at Tate Liverpool where curators have hooked Emin's work up with that of the visionary British poet and artist William Blake. 

There are "surprising links" between the two artists, it says, and the free show will highlight Emin and Blake's shared concerns with spirituality, birth and death.

My Bed was shown at Tate Britain in the exhibition for the 1999 Turner Prize, for which Emin was shortlisted. Like the runner up in the X Factor, it didn’t win, but it is the one that everyone remembers.

It was presented in the state that Emin claimed it had been when she said she had not got up from it for several days due to suicidal depression, brought on by relationship difficulties, and features an unmade bed and a floor littered with empty vodka bottles, cigarette butts, underwear with menstrual stains and condoms. 

Blake (1757-1827) stood against the hypocrisies of his age and was vocal in his support of liberalism, sexual freedoms and above all advocated for unrestrained imaginative freedom of expression. He spent most of his life in London, where the city and its people inspired his fantastic and, at times, nightmarish visions. 

"The new display affirms Blake’s Romantic idea of artistic authenticity through existential pain and the possibility of spiritual rebirth through art shared in the work of Tracey Emin," it says here.

My Bed, along with drawings by Emin from the Tate collection, will be presented alongside those of Blake "in the context of Emin’s empty bed, and symbolising the absent figure".  The Blake works include The Blasphemer c.1800 (pictured above),  The Crucifixion: 'Behold Thy Mother' c.1805 and other figurative works. 

Emin was born in London in 1963 and studied at Maidstone College of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. Associated with a generation of celebrated British artists who emerged in the late 1980s, Emin is known for making works that convey experiences and events from her own life by using a range of media, from needlework and drawing, to sculpture, writing and installation

Her artwork is exhibited all over the world but is also displayed more locally and her neon work For You 2008 and bird sculpture Roman Standard 2008 can both be seen at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral.

Following the display of My Bed 1998 at Tate Liverpool, the work will be shown at Turner Contemporary in Margate, Emin’s home town.

The Duerckheim Collection bought the work two years ago and it is now on loan to Tate for 10 years.

Count Christian Duerckheim said at the time: “I always admired the honesty of Tracey, but I bought My Bed because it is a metaphor for life, where troubles begin and logics die.”

*Tracey Emin and William Blake in Focus is curated by Darren Pih, Exhibitions & Displays Curator, Tate Liverpool. 16 September 2016 to 3 September 2017. FREE.

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