EXHIBITION REVIEW: Marianne Faithfull’s Innocence and Experience at Tate Liverpool

IF TATE Liverpool’s latest celebrity exhibition is, as she herself puts it, a visualisation of the inside of Marianne Faithfull’s head then what an exciting place that must be.

Assisted by her ex-husband John Dunbar, the man who introduced John Lennon and Yoko Ono at his Indica Gallery, she has put together a show based on her own tastes and experiences.

The result is the most personal of Tate Liverpool’s guest curated displays so far, ranging from Robert Mapplethorpe’s striking portraits of Faithfull and other 60s icons to a pair of William Blake’s sumptuous colour prints, which remind the singer of her father giving her the poet’s book Songs of Innocence and Experience when she was a child.

Central to the exhibition is Richard Hamilton’s poster Swingeing London 67, a montage of newspaper cuttings of the infamous drugs raid on Rolling Stone Keith Richards’ Sussex country home, after which which Faithfull would forever be known as “the girl in the fur-skin rug”. This is Tate’s own copy of the work – Faithfull has another on the wall of her Paris apartment.

Hamilton’s work summarises the entire exhibition – which depicts both a party lifestyle and its hangover.

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As well as pop artist Pauline Boty’s Marilyn painting The Only Blonde in the World, Peter Blake’s balloon-bedecked Portrait of David Hockney in a Hollywood Spanish Interior and Jim Lambie’s blingy sculpture Ska’s Not Dead, there is Nan Goldin’s portrait of drug-addicts Greer and Robert on the bed, NYC 1982 and Francis Bacon’s Study for Portrait II (after the Life Mask of William Blake).

There’s also a rare chance to see Man Ray’s Indestructable Object – a metronome embellished with a photograph of his muse Lee Miller’s eye – although unfortunately, and ironically given its name, it isn’t operational.

Whether these works truly represent the inside of Faithfull’s mind or not, it is an exhibition that could only she could have put together.

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