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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Head of Onslow Ford's The Singer
Edward Onslow Ford
The Singer exhibited 1889 (detail)


Michael Schreyach

The American abstract expressionist artist Barnett Newman considered his painting Adam 1951, 1952 a major achievement in his efforts to visualise what he called the ‘metaphysical content’ of art.

Sophie Halart

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

Emily Warner

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

John R. Blakinger

This In Focus explores Oppenheim’s Salt Flat through the systems aesthetics of critic Jack Burnham, showing how the artist’s seemingly straightforward action of spreading salt on a parking lot and its deadpan documentation are in fact part of a complex system.

AnnMarie Perl

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

Alex Taylor

This In Focus presents Rosenquist’s Silo as a reflection on the image of the female consumer in the 1950s and 1960s, casting its prominent sculptural ‘T-zone’ as a metaphor for taste, consumption and advertising’s persuasive tactics.

Anna Arabindan-Kesson

Offering the first in-depth study of this key nude portrait by Barkley L. Hendricks, this In Focus is enriched throughout by an interview with the artist conducted several months before his death in April 2017.

Valerie Hellstein

This In Focus explores Women Singing II – a painting inspired by pop singers that Willem de Kooning saw on television – as the product of a shifting, mutable act of remembering and an iterative creative process involving drawn, traced and recycled imagery.

Sandra Zalman

First displayed in a partially dilapidated artist-run space in New York, Walls Paper’s photo-silkscreens of cracking, crumbling urban walls mirrored the site’s own deterioration. This In Focus positions the installation as a multi-dimensional collage that addresses the meaning of ownership, development and decay in the modern city.

Kirsten Swenson

This In Focus presents the first in-depth study of this key work of conceptual art from the 1970s, examining Bartlett’s preoccupation with mathematical concepts, systems theory, industrial materials and mechanised processes – as well as with individual craftsmanship and autographical mark marking.

Rachel Wells

Filmed from a helicopter circling the Statue of Liberty in New York, Steve McQueen’s Static fixes its gaze on this most iconic representation of freedom. This In Focus project examines the artwork in depth to delineate the questions it raises about freedom, surveillance, migration and the construction of history.

Andrew Witt

Drawing together the history of California, science fiction, technological experimentation and catastrophe, this In Focus examines how Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel’s Evidence complicates the conventions and assumptions of photographic truth.

Alex Taylor

Given by the artist to prominent art critic Clement Greenberg, Gift exemplifies Greenberg’s taste for high modernist abstraction. This In Focus offers a new reading of the painting in relation to the social and cultural mores of 1960s America, from the cold war space race to popular psychology.

Katherine Markoski

This In Focus asks whether Dancers on a Plane – a key painting from Johns’s ‘crosshatch’ period – can be seen as a work about the shifts and transitions taking place in the artist’s style and career in the early 1980s.

Ayla Lepine

Fresh research into Knights’s dramatic depiction of the biblical flood charts its relationship to religion, conflict, dance and gender, and suggests new art historical sources for the painting.

Alexandra Kokoli

Psychoanalytic ideas, ethnographic display and the artist’s free associations between physical remains, personal memories and historical events shape this in-depth new study of Susan Hiller’s From the Freud Museum.

Amy Concannon

New research into Constable’s brooding, dramatic and compositionally complex Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows offers an expanded context – political, religious, artistic and scientific – in which the painting may be understood.

Grace Brockington

This In Focus presents the first sustained analysis of this enigmatic painting – now regarded as a key work in Bell’s oeuvre and in the histories of British and European modernism.

John Chu

Offering a multi-disciplinary discussion of Gainsborough’s early triple portrait, this project considers the painting as a depiction of polite and refined society, as a reflection of the growing wealth of a global mercantile elite, and as a ‘painting within a painting’ by an artist as renowned for his landscapes as he was his portraiture.

Stephanie Schwartz

Examining Allan Sekula’s ‘anti-journalistic’ manifesto Waiting for Tear Gas in a new light, this In Focus considers the work as a radical form of portraiture and of street photography, a critique of the journalistic photo-essay and a profound anti-capitalist statement.

Christiana Payne

Using contemporary reviews of this major work, the artist’s own papers and a visit to the original site, this In Focus asks: is this a religious painting, a religious painting in disguise, or a painting about religious doubt?

Sophie Cras

Through analysis of source material, the artist’s creative process and new archival resources, this In Focus investigates new interpretations for this pivotal painting’s reception in Paris at a time of artistic and political turbulence.

Aaron Rosen

Tate’s first acquisition of a work by a contemporary American artist after 1945, Orthodox Boys is charged with the anxieties and aspirations of Jews in post-war New York. Its graffitied wall offers a constellation of names from the artist’s own life, examined here in depth for the first time.

Alex Taylor

Tracing the early evolution of Black Wall, this In Focus reveals Nevelson as a collector and scavenger on the streets of New York, and features a newly digitised interview with the artist by critic David Sylvester.

Sam Smiles

Offering new information on techniques and materials as well as contemporary accounts of the reception of the work, this In Focus explores this unfolding Norfolk landscape, seeking greater understanding of the artist’s motivations, the painting’s title and its likely date of execution.

Christian Weikop

The most detailed investigation of this photographic series to date, this In Focus explores the ongoing use of the prints in Kiefer’s work and positions Heroic Symbols in the wider cultural and political context of post-war Germany.

Samuel Shaw

An early sketchbook owned by Tate, analysed here for the first time, informs this thorough investigation of Rothenstein’s early development, focusing on a painting long considered the artist’s most important work.

Erika Balsom

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

Chad Elias

Exploring how On Three Posters advances the intellectual and creative production of the performance upon which it was founded, this In Focus also examines the significance of the work in relation to the image politics of the Lebanese Left.

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 in wrestling, this project sheds new light on the sculpture and its cast.

Jason Edwards

This In Focus discusses the creation and reception of these two sculptures in the context of the Victorian enthusiasm for ancient Egypt, providing the first translations of some of the hieroglyphs found on their decorative bases.