Adventures of the Black Square: Abstract Art and Society 1915 - 2015
15 January – 6 April 2015
Over 100 works by 80 modern and contemporary artists including Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Piet Mondrian, Gabriel Orozco and Aleksander Rodchenko.
December 1915 was a key moment in the history of Abstract art. The Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings: 0.10 opened in St. Petersburg with a display of paintings by Kazimir Malevich featuring blocks of colour floating against white backgrounds. Powerfully reductive, these were the very first examples of geometrical abstraction. One hundred years later, Black and White. Suprematist Composition from 0.10 in 1915, is the opening piece of this exhibition at Whitechapel.
Abstraction had been gathering pace in Europe since 1911, thanks to a group of painters who believed a new style of art was needed to encompass the fundamental changes taking place in technology, science and philosophy. Rejecting methods which focused solely on reproducing visual objects, they instead used colour, shape and texture to create new images.
Here the gallery brings together paintings, sculptures, film and photographs which trace the development of abstraction over the last century. As well as exploring its intimate connection with society and politics, it charts how the movement spread across the globe into Asia, the US and Latin America.
The exhibition explores abstraction's existence outside of the gallery, tracing how it infiltrated into architecture, textile design and magazine typography.