ADVENTURES OF THE BLACK SQUARE
15 January – 6 April 2015
Whitechapel Gallery, London
This epic show, which includes work by Keith Coventry, takes Kazimir Malevich’s radical painting of a black square – first shown in Russia 100 years ago – as the emblem of a new art and a new society. The exhibition features over 100 artists who took up its legacy, from Buenos Aires to Tehran, London to Berlin, New York to Tel Aviv. Their paintings, photographs and sculptures symbolise Modernism’s utopian aspirations and breakdowns.
The exhibition begins with one of Kazimir Malevich’s radical ‘black square’ paintings. Alongside Malevich’s Black and White. Suprematist Composition (1915), included in the famous exhibitionThe Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings: 0.10 (1915) in Petrograd, now St Petersburg, prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917, these iconic works are the starting point for telling the story of Abstract art and its political potential over the next century.Arranged chronologically, the exhibition 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.
‘The Everyday’ follows the way abstract art filters into all aspects of visual culture, from corporate logos to textile design.
The exhibition includes paintings, sculptures, film and photographs spanning the century from 1915 to the present, brought together from major international collections including Archivo Lafuente, Spain; 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.
© Whitechapel Gallery London