Gallery of Lost Art
It is strange to think that some the most important works of art from the past 100 years have been lost, erased, destroyed, stolen, censored, or allowed to rot, and can now no longer be seen.
The Gallery of Lost Art is a virtual exhibition that reconstructs the stories behind the disappearances of some of the world’s best known and influential works of art. It’s the biggest virtual exhibition of its kind, and is curated by Jennifer Mundy, and is produced by the Tate in association with Channel 4 television. The virtual Gallery has been beautifully designed by digital studio ISO, and the site will be kept live for 12 months, before it is lost.
Amongst those currently on exhibition at the Gallery of Lost Art are:
Lucian Freud Portrait of Francis Bacon (1952)
This small painting was stolen in at exhibition in Germany on May 27th, 1988. It is considered one of Freud’s best early works, and although there was a police investigation and a hefty reward (300,000DM) the portrait has never been recovered.
Tracey Emin: Everyone I have Ever Slept With 1963-1995
Made in 1995, when Tracey Emin was still relatively unknown, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995 is a tent covered with the names of all the people Emin had slept with, including lovers, friends, family members and foetus 1, foetus 2. Inspired by an exhibition of Tibetan nomadic culture, which included examples of their tents, which are used by Tibetan monks for meditation, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995 made Emin an over-night sensation and one of the most controversial artists working in Britain at that time. The work was bought by Charles Saatchi, who kept it (along with hundreds of other art works), in a warehouse in London’s east end. In 2004, a fire destroyed this warehouse and most of Saatchi’s collection - including 40 paintings by Patrick Heron.
Graham Sutherland: Portrait of Sir Winston Churchill (1954)
Commissioned and paid for by members of the British Parliament, Graham Sutherland’s Portrait of Sir Winston Churchill (1954) was intended as a present to mark the great politician’s 80th birthday. The painting proved to be an unwanted and deeply hated gift, which was destroyed by Churchill’s wife, Lady Clementine, one year after its presentation. Clementine later said Sutherland’s painting had caused much distress to Churchill, as he felt it made him look old, stooped, tired, and posed as if sitting on the lavatory.
Frida Kahlo The Wounded Table (1940)
Frida Kahlo’s The Wounded Table was intended for the Surrealist Exhibition in Mexico City, 1940. Andre Breton had described Kahlo’s art as a bomb wrapped with a ribbon, and the essence of Surrealism.
Kahlo’s paintings were highly autobiographical, and dealt directly with her emotions, her moods, “the profound reactions that life has produced within me.” The Wounded Table reflected her painful life, her difficult relationship with her philandering partner Rivera, and the role of the artist in society. The Wounded Table was a star attraction at the Surrealist exhibition in 1940, and Kahlo kept it in her home until 1946, when she entrusted it to the Russian ambassador in Mexico. The last report of the painting is from 1955 at an exhibition in Warsaw, Poland. It was thought the painting was owned by a Soviet museum, but all record of the painting has vanished.
Marcel Duchamp Fountain (1917)
One of the first, most famous and influential pieces of Conceptual Art, Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain was lost shortly after it was first submitted (and then rejected) by the Society of Independent Artists. The work - a urinal signed “R. Mutt 1917” - is famed because of its photograph, rather than through its inclusion in any exhibition. The work was later replicated several times by Duchamp for show, but the original has only ever been seen through its photograph.