Making History
Art and documentary in Britain from 1929 to now
Tate Liverpool: Exhibition
3 February 23 April 2006
  • Roger Mayne Teddy Boy and Girl, Petticoat Lane 1956

    Roger Mayne
    Teddy Boy and Girl, Petticoat Lane 1956

    © Roger Mayne / Museum of London

Making History: Art and documentary in Britain from 1929 to now surveys the impact of the documentary form on art and artists and vice versa. Encompassing film, photography, painting and installation art, the exhibition focuses on works where a dialogue between art and realist documentary occurs. It seeks to question the traditional opposition between art and documentary, and to ask whether this is really a false dichotomy.

The exhibition features work by artists and practitioners such as John Grierson, William Coldstream, Humphrey Spender, Bill Brandt, Humphrey Jennings, John Bratby, Lucian Freud, Martin Parr, Isaac Julien, Jeremy Deller and Gillian Wearing. Because of the strength of the documentary tradition in Britain, the exhibition has a national bias, focusing on artists, filmmakers and their associates working in this country including a number of key émigré artists. Since much of the work addresses national identity, the representation of British society and the construction of a national culture and self-image, a subsidiary theme of the exhibition is the portrayal of Britain and Britishness.