For the first time, highlights from the David Roberts Collection – which constitutes 1800 works by 750 artists – are to be displayed in a public gallery space. ‘To Hope, To Tremble, To Live’ is an exhibition of 30 works selected by The Hepworth Wakefield, which is the largest purpose-built exhibition space outside of London.
The exhibition examines ways in which modern and contemporary artists represent the human body to explore psychological and emotional life, and concentrates particularly on the human head. Hirst’s ‘With Dead Head’ (1991) is a key early work depicting a teenage Hirst with a severed head, in the Leeds anatomy school he regularly visited to make life drawings. ‘With Dead Head’ is an expression of the difficulties inherent in attempting to understand our own mortality, and in dealing with the “unacceptable idea” of death. Hirst explains: “To me, the smile and everything seemed to sum up this problem between life and death. It was such a ridiculous way of being at the point of trying to come to terms with it, especially being sixteen [...] This is life and this is death.”
Amongst the artists featured in the exhibition are: Huma Bhabha, Louise Bourgeois, Tony Cragg, Lucian Freud, Thomas Houseago, Mark Manders, Eduardo Paolozzi, Marc Quinn, Man Ray, John Stezaker, Andy Warhol and Rebecca Warren.