The renowned video portrait of David Beckham sleeping by internationally-acclaimed artist and film director Sam Taylor-Johnson (Sam Taylor-Wood) has been unveiled today in its temporary new home at Whipps Cross Hospital, as part of the National Portrait Gallery’s flagship programme COMING HOME.
COMING HOME sees 50 portraits of iconic individuals from the national Collection traveling to the towns and cities most closely associated with their subjects.
In the National Portrait Gallery’s first major loan to a hospital, Taylor-Johnson’s portrait of David Beckham, (David), will be on display until March 2020 in the Ultrasound Department at Whipps Cross Hospital. The loan has been organised in collaboration with Vital Arts, the Arts and Wellbeing service within Barts Health NHS Trust, and is part of Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019.
David was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in 2004, with support from J.P.Morgan through the Fund for New Commissions. Sam Taylor-Johnson’s intimate portrait presents a reverential and vulnerable image of the international football icon. Drawing inspiration from the Renaissance artist Michelangelo’s Allegory of Night and Pop Artist Andy Warhol’s film Sleep featuring the poet John Giorno, Taylor-Johnson shot the film in a single long take, capturing Beckham asleep in Madrid after a long training session with his team. Simply lit from one light source, this rich, painterly film, is a meditation on celebrity.
Beckham was born in Whipps Cross Hospital on 2 May 1975. Growing up nearby in Leytonstone, he had scored over a hundred goals for his childhood team the Ridgeway Rovers by the age of eight. He became the first English player to win league titles in four countries while playing for Manchester United (1992–2003), Real Madrid (2003–7), LA Galaxy (2007–12) and Paris Saint-Germain (2013). He also captained the English team 115 times. Beckham retired in 2013, dedicating himself to his new team Inter Miami CF and charitable work, including his role as a UNICEF Ambassador.
Alan Gurney, Chief Executive of Whipps Cross Hospital, said: “We were delighted to receive the artwork on loan from the National Portrait Gallery, as part of their COMING HOME programme and also to support the Waltham Forest Borough of Culture. I am sure this will be of great interest to both the staff and patients of the hospital.”
Catsou Roberts, Director of Vital Arts, said: “Vital Arts welcomes the loan of this work by one of Britain’s most significant artists of her generation, Sam Taylor-Johnson. Our mission is to bring museum-quality art to the vast and diverse communities that access our east London hospitals, and this film will offer patients, visitors, and staff a meaningful encounter with contemporary art.”
Vital Arts is the arts organisation within Barts Health. It is charitably funded to deliver art projects that enhance the hospital environment and, in turn, improve the patient experience.
Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, said: “In our first-ever loan of an artwork to a hospital, we could not be more delighted to lend David to Whipps Cross Hospital as part of our innovative COMING HOME initiative. We hope that sending portraits ‘home’ in this way will foster a sense of pride and create a personal connection for local communities to a bigger national history; thus, helping to fulfil our aim of being truly a national gallery for everyone, in our role as the nation’s family album.”