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Capital of creation

Liverpool? Centre of the creative universe? Plenty of world renowned artists have thought so, and their fascination and their work has now been brought together by the Tate

Published on February 23rd 2007.


Capital of creation

Pool of life: Discuss. Well Carl Jung, the big Swiss cheese of psychology, famously said so. But he wasn't the only visitor to make Liverpool his port of call and discover that there was more to life than all the stuff you know. It was, in fact, the centre of the creative universe.*

Now we could start arguing the toss about this and keep going all night, but a new exhibition has just opened at Tate Liverpool on this very subject, so it would seem churlish to start having a go.

Centre of the Creative Universe, Liverpool and the Avant-Garde, presents a very persuasive take on its theory indeed, bringing some of the biggest names in post-war art together, who have one thing in common: they have all drawn inspiration from Liverpool.

It's a timely subject, given that it's the city's 800th anniversary and Culture's Heritage Year, so Tate Liverpool has been busy investigating how the city has inspired and influenced a diverse range of nationally and internationally renowned artists since the 1940s.

The sense of Liverpool looking out to the world, and the world returning this gaze, is a big feature of the city's character. As George Melly once said, Liverpool is aware of its own myth and eager to project it. The show takes this as its cue, presenting Liverpool as a world city with an undying capacity to inspire imaginations.

Alongside the rise of Liverpool as the epicentre of 1960s pop, it reveals how the city has inspired documentary photography and politically motivated art, and played host to avant-garde artists and art movements from pop art to conceptual art.

Keith Arnatt, Stewart Bale, John Baum, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Boyle Family, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Maurice Cockrill, Jeremy Deller, Rineke Dijkstra, Filmaktion, Adrian Henri, Candida, Hofer, John Latham, Melik Ohanian, Yoko Ono, Martin Parr, Bob and Roberta Smith, Alec Soth, Sam Walsh, and Tom Wood are all in there. The exhibition is accompanied by a Liverpool University Press book featuring full-colour images of exhibited works, and essays by key thinkers and historians.

*We're not sure if Jung liked the sound of the 'pool of life' line more than the reality, and it's thought he actually never made it here.

Centre of the Creative Universe, Liverpool and the Avant-Garde, Tate Liverpool, Albert Dock, until September.

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