An exhibition about the influence of left-wing politics on art is currently taking place in the apt venue of Tate Liverpool. Art and politics have always been in constant dialogue, and some key examples in Art Turning Left: How Values Changed Making 1789–2013 don’t bother hiding their agenda behind too much metaphor. One of the star exhibits is one of Jacques-Louis David’s versions of The Death of Marat. This example differs from others David painted in bearing the explicitly sympathetic message “unable to corrupt me, they murdered me” about the demise of the French Revolution radical.
This is not, however, an exhibition of left-wing art in those terms – instead, the effect of socialist values on the production and transmission of art is the focus. David granted the Republican movement permission to use his work in support of the cause and became one of the propaganda painters of the Revolution, reaching a huge audience. In Britain, socialist and designer William Morris’s forthright views on the role of the worker and their right to expect a better lot than was afforded by most Victorian factories was as bold as his famous patterns. More modern exhibits include comprehensive material from Palle Nielsen’s social experiment The Model – A Model for a Qualitative Society from 1968, in which the artist turned a Stockholm museum over to children to observe how a fairer society might look. All things being equal, the exhibition will run until 2 February.