The exhibition focuses on the historical as well as iconographic significance of the depiction of the bed and will include paintings, sculptures, drawings, photos, and video works spanning old masters to present-day artists.
As the territory of birth, love, illness, and death and as the most anthropomorphic shape in the history of all civilizations, the bed a much-reproduced object in art and a common metaphor for the human condition. The vast majority of people are born on beds; one can even claim that the inexplicable miracle of life starts on a bed. A key work of the show is a sixteenth-century painting by Lavinia Fontana, who rendered a secular portrait of an infant in a cradle – supposedly the first of its kind in art history. This tradition of the display of birth in art has continued down to the present day - realised in works by Robert Gober or Sherrie Levine.
Hirst's spin installation 'The Startling Effects of Mesmerism on a Dying Man' (2008) is included alongside work from Nobuyoshi Araki, Diane Arbus, Lucian Freud, Yayoi Kusama, Jannis Kounellis, Antoni Tàpies, Rosemarie Trockel, Egon Schiele, Jürgen Teller, Franz West, Rachel Whiteread, Tracey Emin, Mona Hatoum, Jim Lambie and Sarah Lucas.