Death (2023) 

Artist and writer Sean Burns explores the nature of death and its tangled relationships with life and love as depicted in art.
Death haunts art. It lurks in the shadows of Edward Collier’s Still Life (1699) as a reminder of our fragile mortality. It overcomes all in Francis Bacon’s Triptychs and Anna Lea Merritt’s Love Locked Out (1890).

From personal responses to general meditations on the fleeting transience of life, Burns looks at the breadth of historical and contemporary works in Britain’s national collection to explore how artists have immortalised death in art.

‘Look Again’ is a new series of short books from Tate Publishing, opening up the conversation about British art over the last 500 years and exploring what art tells us about our lives today. Written by leading voices from literature, art and culture, each book sheds new light on some of the most well-known, best-loved and thought-provoking artworks in the national collection and asks us to look again.

Images: Sean Burns, Death, 2023. Courtesy: Tate Publishing