Adventures of the Black Square:
Abstract Art and Society 1915-2015
This huge exhibition at the Whitechapel examines a century of Abstract art from 1915 to today. In six exhibition spaces across the gallery it brings together over 100 works by 100 modern masters and contemporary artists including Kazimir Malevich, Carl Andre, Piet Mondrian, Gabriel Orozco, Hélio Oiticica, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Sophie Taeuber-Arp and Theo Van Doesburg.
Adventures of the Black Square,
Gallery 8, Installation View 2
Photo Stephen White
The exhibition explores how abstract art evolved around the world from its genesis in Russia and gave a kick in the teeth to the ancien régime of traditional figurative art. It looks also at how abstract art has influenced and responded to society and politics across a century of enormous and rapid change, which included two world wars.
Arranged chronologically, the exhibition opens with one of Kazimir Malevich’s radical ‘black square’ paintings, Black and White. Suprematist Composition (1915) which was shown in the famous exhibition The Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings: 0.10 in Petrograd, now St Petersburg, in 1915. The exhibition goes on to cover the pivotal moments of Abstract Art with work by big players from the major abstract art movements including Russian Constructivism’s Tatlin, De Stijl’s Mondrian and Neo-Concretists from Brazil such as Hélio Oiticica. The exhibition is brought right up to date with work from Sarah Morris and Armando Andrade Tudela.
The show includes paintings, sculptures, film and photographs spanning the century and is divided into four key themes: ‘Communication’ examines the possibilities of abstraction for mobilizing radical change; ‘Architectonics’ looks at how abstraction can underpin socially transformative spaces; ‘Utopia’ imagines a new, ideal society, which transcends hierarchy and class; and finally, ‘The Everyday’ follows the way abstract art filters into all aspects of visual culture, from corporate logos to textile design.
Highlights of the exhibition include the wall of photographs of soaring radio towers by Aleksandr Rodchenko and László Moholy-Nagy, blow-up archive photographs of the most important and pivotal exhibitions in the history of abstraction and of course the iconic Malevich where it all started.
Until 6th April
Whitechapel High Street E1
Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm
Thursdays late until 9pm
Admission: £13.50 (incl Gift Aid donation)/under 16s Free/various concs see website