As a tribute to Stuart Morgan, writer, teacher and curator, who died in August 2002, aged 54, Tate Modern is presenting a memorial display in History/Memory/Society on Level 5 of works by those artists who were presented by Stuart Morgan and co-curator Frances Morris in the 1995 Tate Gallery exhibition Rites of Passage, Art for the End of the Century.
The memorial display, curated by Frances Morris, brings together photographs by John Coplans, an installation by Louise Bourgeois, sculpture by Miroslaw Balka and Mona Hatoum, works on paper by Robert Gober, and a small sculpture by Pepe Espaliu, which was given to Stuart Morgan by the artist and has entered the Tate Collection in his memory.
Rites of Passage, Art for the End of the Century was intended as a demonstration of art’s capacity to confront and mediate life experiences, and evoked sensibilities and tendencies that were widespread in the art of the 1980s and 1990s. It was typical of Morgan that Rites of Passage created a dialogue between artists from different generations and between works in different media. An installation by the late Joseph Beuys lay at the heart of the show, rooting the experience of other work into a meditation on the body, autobiography, faith and trauma. The exhibition included works by other well-known senior artists such as Louise Bourgeois and John Coplans and younger artists such as Hamad Butt and Pepe Espaliu who had both recently died from Aids. Several artists were given prominent exposure for the first time.
Stuart Morgan is best known for his erudite and passionate texts on art and artists. He wove together an amazing breath of knowledge and thought - from philosophy, literature, as well as his experiences and observations of life - into countless essays, catalogue texts and reviews published throughout the 1980s and 1990s, predominantly in Artscribe (which he edited from 1988-1989), Artforum and Frieze. The selection brought together in What the Butler Saw, 1996 are a joy to read in their combination of irreverence, acute observation and tantalising speculation. A second selection of writings will be published early in 2003.
As a champion of the young and the overlooked Morgan was one of the first writers to engage with the emerging talents of Rachel Whiteread and Damien Hirst, as well as leading the reassessment of senior figures such as Louise Bourgeois and John Coplans. Morgan will also be remembered by his students as a vibrant, incisive and often mischievous teacher and mentor.