In Pictures: Through the looking glass at Tate Liverpool as Alice in Wonderland show opens

By Culture24 Reporter | 04 November 2011
In Pictures: Magic and mystery as new Tate Liverpool show Alice in Wonderland opens...

An image of a fairytale painting of a young girl
Magic Lantern Slide 1900-1925
© University of Exeter
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson - aka Lewis Caroll - only intended Alice's Adventures Under Ground to be a private Christmas present when he first produced the 90-page book, published in its final version in 1865 under the enduring title of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

A vintage black and white photo of a young girl asleep by a wall
Charles Dodgson, Alice Pleasance Liddell (July 1860). Albumen Print
Alice Pleasance Liddell was the literal incarnation of Alice and the inspiration for Dodgson more than 150 years ago, but other versions are everywhere here: pop, psychedelic and surreal art, language, meaning, smutty euphemisms and much more feature in a show which has taken three years to put together.

An abstract print of a figure in a forest swathed in dark red and earthy oranges
Max Ernst, Alice (1941). Oil on paper mounted on canvas© The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence. 2011
The attraction for the Surrealists is obvious, sharing an infatuation with the morphing of the apparently mundane into the magical underworlds of rabbits and mad hatters we are all so familiar with. Max Ernst and Salvador Dali are among those shown, as well as a group who dubbed themselves The Children of Alice.

An image of an abstract painting of a face on a sea shore
John Armstrong, Dreaming Head (1938). Tempera on wood© Tate
Dodgson's legacy, the show partially implies, is as much an evolving one of creativity fired by his original idea as it is about the ever-popular story itself.

An image of an abstract painting of two young girls standing on a red carpet in a hallway with an enormous sunflower sprawled on the floor infront of them
Dorothea Tanning, Eine Kliene Nachtmusik (1943). Oil on canvas
© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2010
The original manuscript, given to the 12-year-old Liddell as a Christmas present in 1864, acts as the starting point for the escapade, complete with Dodgson's own illustrations and those crafted by Sir John Tenniel in the first published edition. Images were always an integral part of the story.

An image of an abstract painting of four female figures in blue dresses stacked sideways on top of a large white rabbit
John Wesley, (Untitled) Falling Alice (1928). Acrylic on Paper© Fredericks & Freiser, New York
Contemporary works form the finale for the show in a conclusion aimed at underlining the continuing influence of Alice. Anna Gaskell, Annelies Štrba and Dan Graham are among the artists. "I am most curious how the visitors will like what we have done," quips guest curator Christoph Benjamin Schulz.

  • Alice in Wonderland opens at Tate Liverpool today (November 4 2011) until January 29 2012. Open 10am-5pm (except December 24-26), admission £5.40-£8. Book online.
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