In Focus projects examine artworks in Tate’s collection from a range of perspectives, reflecting contemporary approaches to object-based scholarship. They are typically written by a number of specialists from different disciplines and comprise linked essays that explore particular aspects of the works’ making and history in depth. The projects often draw on Tate’s own research resources, featuring materials found in conservation files, Gallery Records and Tate Archive.


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The Unknown Political Prisoner (Defiant and Triumphant) 1952 by Theodore Roszak

Alex Taylor

This small model for an unrealised monument was the first work of post-war American sculpture to enter Tate’s collection.

Blood of a Poet Box 1965–8 by Eleanor Antin

Lucy Bradnock

Blood of a Poet Box 1965–8 was Eleanor Antin’s first conceptual artwork, introducing the themes of identity, originality and genius ...

Cathedral 1950 by Norman Lewis

Andrianna Campbell

Cathedral became one of the first works by an African American artist to be shown at the Venice Biennale.

String Composition 128 1964 by Sue Fuller

Alex Taylor

Sue Fuller’s construction testifies to the often overlooked influence of craft traditions on the development of modernist abstraction.

Adam 1951, 1952 by Barnett Newman

Michael Schreyach

The American abstract expressionist artist Barnett Newman considered his painting Adam 1951, 1952 a major achievement in his efforts to ...

Wrinkle 1968 by Liliana Porter

Sophie Halart

Liliana Porter’s Wrinkle 1968 recasts printmaking as a conceptual art form rather than a labour-intensive craft.

Pompeii 1959 by Hans Hofmann

Emily Warner

Pompeii 1959 gained an international reputation in the 1960s, representing Hans Hofmann and his ‘slab’ paintings across the US, Europe ...

Salt Flat 1968 by Dennis Oppenheim

John R. Blakinger

This In Focus explores Oppenheim’s Salt Flat through the systems aesthetics of critic Jack Burnham.

Meryon 1960–1 by Franz Kline

AnnMarie Perl

Franz Kline’s late work Meryon 1960–1 calls into question established ideas about abstract expressionism, including its essential ‘Americanness’.

Silo 1963–4 by James Rosenquist

Alex Taylor

This In Focus presents Rosenquist’s Silo as a reflection on the image of the female consumer in the 1950s and ...

Family Jules: NNN (No Naked Niggahs) 1974 by Barkley L. Hendricks

Anna Arabindan-Kesson

The first in-depth study of this key nude portrait by Barkley L. Hendricks

Women Singing II 1966 by Willem de Kooning

Valerie Hellstein

This In Focus explores Women Singing II – a painting inspired by pop singers that Willem de Kooning saw on ...

Walls Paper 1972 by Gordon Matta-Clark

Sandra Zalman

First displayed in a partially dilapidated artist-run space in New York, Walls Paper’s photo-silkscreens of cracking, crumbling urban walls ...

Surface Substitution on 36 Plates 1972 by Jennifer Bartlett

Kirsten Swenson

This In Focus presents the first in-depth study of this key work of conceptual art from the 1970s

Static 2009 by Steve McQueen

Rachel Wells

Filmed from a helicopter circling the Statue of Liberty in New York, Steve McQueen’s Static fixes its gaze on this ...

Evidence 1977 by Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel

Andrew Witt

This In Focus examines how Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel’s Evidence complicates the conventions and assumptions of photographic truth.

Gift 1961–2 by Kenneth Noland

Alex Taylor

Given by the artist to prominent art critic Clement Greenberg, Gift exemplifies Greenberg’s taste for high modernist abstraction.

Dancers on a Plane 1980–1 by Jasper Johns

Katherine Markoski

This In Focus asks whether Dancers on a Plane – a key painting from Johns’s ‘crosshatch’ period – can be ...

The Deluge 1920 by Winifred Knights

Ayla Lepine

Fresh research into Knights’s dramatic depiction of the biblical flood charts its relationship to religion, conflict, dance and gender, and ...

From the Freud Museum 1991–6 by Susan Hiller

Alexandra Kokoli

Psychoanalytic ideas, ethnographic display and the artist’s free associations between physical remains, personal memories and historical events shape this in-depth ...

Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows exhibited 1831 by John Constable

Amy Concannon

New research into Constable’s brooding, dramatic and compositionally complex Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows

Abstract Painting c.1914 by Vanessa Bell

Grace Brockington

This In Focus presents the first sustained analysis of this enigmatic painting – now regarded as a key work in ...

Peter Darnell Muilman, Charles Crokatt and William Keable in a Landscape c.1750, by Thomas Gainsborough

John Chu

Offering a multi-disciplinary discussion of Gainsborough’s early triple portrait, this project considers the painting as a depiction of polite and ...

Waiting for Tear Gas 1999–2000 by Allan Sekula

Stephanie Schwartz

Examining Allan Sekula’s ‘anti-journalistic’ manifesto Waiting for Tear Gas in a new light, this In Focus considers the work as ...

Pegwell Bay, Kent – a Recollection of October 5th 1858 ?1858–60 by William Dyce

Christiana Payne

Using contemporary reviews of this major work, the artist’s own papers and a visit to the original site, this In ...

Parts of the Face: French Vocabulary Lesson 1961 by Larry Rivers

Sophie Cras

Through analysis of source material, the artist’s creative process and new archival resources, this In Focus investigates new interpretations for ...

Orthodox Boys 1948 by Bernard Perlin

Aaron Rosen

Tate’s first acquisition of a work by a contemporary American artist after 1945, Orthodox Boys is charged with the anxieties ...

Black Wall 1959 by Louise Nevelson

Alex Taylor

Tracing the early evolution of Black Wall, this In Focus reveals Nevelson as a collector and scavenger on the streets ...

Mousehold Heath, Norwich c.1818–20 by John Crome

Sam Smiles

Offering new information on techniques and materials as well as contemporary accounts of the reception of the work, this In ...

Heroic Symbols 1969 by Anselm Kiefer

Christian Weikop

The most detailed investigation of this photographic series to date, this In Focus explores the ongoing use of the prints ...

The Doll’s House 1899–1900 by William Rothenstein

Samuel Shaw

An early sketchbook owned by Tate, analysed here for the first time, informs this thorough investigation of Rothenstein’s early development ...

The Girl Chewing Gum 1976 by John Smith

Erika Balsom

This In Focus situates Smith’s film historically, analyses its intersections with film and visual theory, and explores the changing conditions ...

On Three Posters 2004 by Rabih Mroué

Chad Elias

Exploring how On Three Posters advances the intellectual and creative production of the performance upon which it was founded, this ...

Wrestlers 1914, cast 1965, by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska

Sarah Victoria Turner

Drawing on material in the Tate Archive and early twentieth-century sports periodicals, and using previously unexamined material about Gaudier-Brzeska’s interest ...

The Singer exhibited 1889 and Applause 1893 by Edward Onslow Ford

Jason Edwards

This In Focus discusses the creation and reception of these two sculptures in the context of the Victorian enthusiasm for ...