November 4, 2011 - Tate Liverpool - Alice in Wonderland
November 4, 2011

Alice in Wonderland

Annelies Štrba, “Nyima 438,” 2009.*

Alice in Wonderland

Tate Liverpool
Albert Dock
Liverpool, L3 4BB, UK
+ 44 (0) 151 702 7400


Lewis Carroll’s timeless novels, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, have fascinated and inspired many generations of artists since the first novel was published over 150 years ago. Alice in Wonderland at Tate Liverpool is the first exhibition to give a comprehensive historical exploration of how the stories have influenced the visual arts, providing insight into the creation of the novels, the adoption of the text as an inspiration for artists and the revision of its key themes by artists up to the present day.

The starting point for the exhibition is Carroll’s original manuscript, given to the twelve year old Alice Liddell as a Christmas present in 1864. Carroll’s own illustrations in the manuscript, and the famous illustrations by Sir John Tenniel in the first published edition, indicate that images were an integral part of the story, creating a visual world which took on a life of its own. Carroll was part of the art scene of his day: a photographer and art connoisseur, he mixed in artistic circles and counted Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Sir John Everett Millais amongst his friends. Work by Rossetti and Millais will feature, alongside paintings by William Holman Hunt and Arthur Hughes, referenced in Carroll’s diaries or held in his personal collection. There will be a rare opportunity to view Carroll’s own drawings, photographs and photographic equipment, alongside Victorian Alice memorabilia.

Carroll’s stories were soon adopted by artists, both inspiring and providing an expression for themes within their work. Particularly sharing a fascination with Carroll for the uncanny and the unexpected were the Surrealists, who began to reference Alice and her dreamed adventures from the 1930s onwards. They regarded Carroll as an artistic predecessor whose literary worlds and characters seemed to prefigure their own anti-rationalist ideas, with artists such as Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, René Magritte and Dorothea Tanning responding to the novels. The British Surrealists Group, formed in 1936 and dubbed ‘the children of Alice,’ will also be presented, with key pieces from Paul Nash, Roland Penrose, Conroy Maddox and F.E. McWilliam.

From the 1960s through the 1970s, conceptual artists took Alice as a lens through which they looked at our relationship to perception and reality, and the stories inspired responses in both Pop and Psychedelic art. This section will bring together work by Mel Bochner, Jan Dibbets, Dan Graham, Yayoi Kusama, Adrian Piper, and Marcel Broodthaers amongst others to highlight the era’s engagement with the novel as it reached its centenary. Mel Bochner will reprise his seminal 1969 work Measurement: Perimeter in Tate Liverpool’s Wolfson Gallery. For the exhibition Bochner has re-imagined this work with a unique ‘Alice’ twist, giving the viewer a new perspective of the scale of their surroundings and entitling the piece Measurement: Eye-level Perimeter (Ask Alice) 1969/2011.

Contemporary artists continue to take inspiration from the books, exploring ideas such as the journey from childhood to adulthood; language, meaning and nonsense; scale and perspective; and perception and reality. The photography of Anna Gaskell, alongside more recent pieces by AA Bronson, Joseph Grigely, Torsten Lauschmann, Jimmy Robert, Annelies Štrba and Luc Tuymans demonstrate how the continuous revision of the form and themes within Carroll’s novels have preserved their artistic relevance.

The exhibition is curated by Christoph Benjamin Schulz with Gavin Delahunty, Head of Exhibitions & Displays, Tate Liverpool assisted by Eleanor Clayton. Accompanying the exhibition will be a full colour publication with contributions by Dame Gillian Beer, Carol Mavor, Christoph Benjamin Schulz, Edward Wakeling and Alberto Manguel.

In association with Mersey Care NHS Trust
With Support from Liverpool City Council, the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Liverpool and Sefton Health Partnership Limited and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Media Partner: The Times.

The exhibition will tour to
MART – the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto, Italy from 25 February–3 June 2012
Hamburger Kunsthalle from 20 June–30 September 2012

For press information and images please contact:, +44 (0)151 702 7444/5.

*Image above:
© Courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London.

Alice in Wonderland
Tate Liverpool
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