Adventures of the Black Square @ Whitechapel Gallery
A major new exhibition tracing a century of Abstract art from 1915 to today opened at the Whitechapel Gallery on 15 January 2015. Whether clever planning or a happy coincidence, the launch date was just the first of many things about this brilliant show that made us grin.
The exhibition brings together over 100 works by 100 modern masters and contemporary artists including Carl Andre, David Batchelor, Dan Flavin, Andrea Fraser, Piet Mondrian, Gabriel Orozco, Hélio Oiticica, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Sophie Taeuber-Arp,Rosemarie Trockel, Theo Van Doesburg and Andrea Zittel, displayed over six spaces across the gallery.
Curated by Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director, and Magnus af Petersens, Curator at Large, Whitechapel Gallery, Adventures of the Black Square: Abstract Art and Society 1915 – 2015, (15 January – 6 April 2015), is international in its scope and takes a fresh look at this ‘new art for a modern age’, asking how art relates to society and politics.. As well as following the rise of Constructivist art from its revolutionary beginnings amongst the avant-garde in Russia and Europe, the exhibition sheds new light on the evolution of geometric abstraction from continents across the globe including Asia, the US and Latin America.
Those of you who, like us, enjoyed the recent Malevich retrospective at Tate Modern, will be pleased to see his radical ‘black square’ paintings kick-off the Whitechapel show, alongside the artist’s Black and White. Suprematist Composition, included in the famous exhibition The Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings: 0.10 (1915) in St Petersburg. Significantly, this presentation took place just before the Russian Rovultion of 1917 and, one hundred years later, these iconic works are the starting point for this fascinating new exhibition, which tells the story of Abstract art and its political potential over the next century.
The exhibition is divided into four key themes, ‘Communication’, ‘Architectonics’, ‘Utopia’ and ‘The Everyday’, bringing together a century of paintings, sculptures, film and photographs from major international collections including Archivo Lafuente (Cantabria & Madrid), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), Museum of Contemporary Art (Barcelona), Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago), Greek State Museum of Contemporary Art – Costakis Collection (Thessaloniki), National Galleries of Scotland (Edinburgh), Tate (London) and Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven).
Further exhibition highlights include an entire wall filled with photographs documenting the radio towers of Moscow and Berlin by Aleksandr Rodchenko and László Moholy-Nagy amongst others, blow-up archive photographs of iconic exhibitions running through the history of abstraction and a selection of magazines which convey revolutionary ideas in art and society through typography and graphic design.
To coincide with the show, abstract art takes over the Whitechapel Gallery with displays, commissions and a programme of special events, including what promises to be a fascinating introduction to the subject by Whitechapel Gallery director and exhibition co-curator, Iwona Blazwick. Don’t miss.
15th January – 6th April 2015 www.whitechapelgallery.org