Unit 7

Warhol's art used many types of media, including hand drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, silk screening, sculpture, film, and music. He was also a pioneer in computer-generated art using Amiga computers that were introduced in 1984, two years before his death. He founded Interview Magazine and was the author of numerous books, including The Philosophy of Andy Warhol and Popism: The Warhol Sixties. He managed and produced the Velvet Underground, a rock band which had a strong influence on the evolution of punk rock music.

Paul Taylor: The market for your work has changed a little in the last few years. To people my age - in their twenties - you were always more important than to the collecting group of people in their fifties and sixties.

Andy Warhol: Well, I think the people who buy art now are these younger kids who have a lot of money.

Paul Taylor: And that's made a difference to your market.

Andy Warhol: Yeah, a little bit.

Paul Taylor: How important is it for you to maintain control?

Andy Warhol: I've been busy since I started - since I was a working artist. If I wasn't showing in New York I was doing work in Germany, or I was doing portraits.

Paul Taylor: What I mean is that as more and more artists come up, and as new galleries open every day, the whole idea of what an artist is changes. It's no longer so special, and maybe a more special artist is one who maintains more control of his or her work.

Andy Warhol: I don't know. It seems like every year there's one artist for that year. The people from twenty years ago are still around. I don't know why. The kids nowadays - there's just one a year. They stay around, they just don't...

Paul Taylor: You were identified with a few artists a couple of years ago - Kenny Scharf, Keith Haring.

Andy Warhol: We're still friends.

Paul Taylor: But I never see you with any of this season's flavors.

Andy Warhol: I don't know. they got so much press. It was great. I'm taking photographs now. I have a photography show at Robert Miller Gallery.

Paul Taylor: And there's going to be a retrospective of your films at the Whitney Museum.

Andy Warhol: Maybe, yes.

Paul Taylor: Are you excited about that?

Andy Warhol: No.

Paul Taylor: Why not?

Andy Warhol: They're better talked about than seen.

Paul Taylor: Your work as an artist has always been so varied, like Leonardo. You're a painter, a film maker, a publisher... Do you think that's what an artist is?

Andy Warhol: No.

Paul Taylor: Can you define an artist for me?

Andy Warhol: I think an artist is anybody who does something well, like if you cook well.

Paul Taylor: What do you think about all the younger artists now in New York who are using pop imagery?

Andy Warhol: Pretty good.

Paul Taylor: Is it the same as when it happened in the sixties?

Andy Warhol: No, they have different reasons to do things. All these kids are so intellectual.

Paul Taylor: Do you like the punk era?

Andy Warhol: Well, it's still around. I always think it's gone but it isn't. They still have their hard-rock nights at the Ritz. Do you ever go there?

Paul Taylor: No. But punk, like pop, might never go away.

Andy Warhol: I guess so.

Paul Taylor: How's Interview [the magazine] going?

Andy Warhol: It's not bad.

Paul Taylor: You're going to be audited soon for the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Andy Warhol: Yeah, they're doing it now.

Paul Taylor: What difference will it make?

Andy Warhol: I don't know.

Paul Taylor: It will be better for advertising...

Andy Warhol: Yeah.



The Met's spring 2013 Costume Institute exhibition, PUNK: Chaos to Couture, examines punk's impact on high fashion from the movement's birth in the early 1970s through its continuing influence today. Featuring approximately one hundred designs for men and women, the exhibition includes original punk garments and recent, directional fashion to illustrate how haute couture and ready-to-wear borrow punk's visual symbols.

Focusing on the relationship between the punk concept of "do-it-yourself" and the couture concept of "made-to-measure," the seven galleries are organized around the materials, techniques, and embellishments associated with the anti-establishment style. Themes include New York and London, which tells punk's origin story as a tale of two cities, followed by Clothes for Heroes and four manifestations of the D.I.Y. aesthetic—HardwareBricolageGraffiti and Agitprop, and Destroy.

Presented as an immersive multimedia, multisensory experience, the clothes are animated with period music videos and soundscaping audio techniques.

This outfit was worn by Marian Williams, a singer in a punk band. The mohair sweater was bought at Camden Market and the bondage style trousers and studded t-shirt were from Kensington Market.

Punks rebelled against society through their behaviour and clothing. A lot of punk clothing was deliberately slashed, torn or ripped, to represent defiance. This top was sold pre-slashed. The trousers have two patch pockets at the front with zips across the centre. It also has zips, flaps and slit pockets elsewhere. The tie dyed black t-shirt underneath has a studded leather collar and shoulder straps with metal rings.

Loose knit mohair jumpers, preferably with holes in them like this, were adored by punks in the early 1980s. Many jumpers were knitted by the owner’s mother. Mohair jumpers were sold in Vivienne Westwood's and Malcolm McLaren's shop Seditionaries on the King’s Road in Chelsea. Dress designer Westwood said that she was inspired by the Beatnik fashion of wearing long mohair jumpers with tights.

- See more at: http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/explore-online/pocket-histories/london-look-london-fashion-trends-19502002/how-did-punk-influence-london-look/#sthash.rOv3REQA.dpuf



The emergence of the Punk subculture in the latter half of the seventies also brought with it a whole manifesto of anti-establishment ideology, of which the DIY ethic is arguably the most significant and enduring. The Punk DIY ethic developed as an effort to reject the mass produced media and cultural products which punks felt they were being forced to consume, instead of passively ingesting mainstream cultural products they sought to be proactive in their cultural activity. 

  • “The driving ethic behind most sincere Punk efforts is DIY – Do it yourself. We don’t need to rely on rich business men to organize our fun for their profit – we can do it ourselves for no profit. We punks can organise gigs, organise and attend demos, put out records, publish books and fanzines, set-up mail-order distributions for our products, run record stores, distribute literature, encourage boycotts, and participate in political activities. We do all of these things and we do them well. Can any other youth-based counterculture of the 80’s and 90’s claim so much? ” (Joel PE #11/12, Autumn 1991, 10).

Punks set up their on bands, and when no one would let them play they began to organise their own gigs and establish their own record labels from which they could distribute their music. And when they couldn't get their records into the shops without corporate backing, punks even set up their very own record shops from which they could sell their self-produced albums. But it wasn't just the musicians who where doing-it-for-themselves, a whole new troop of punk journalists comprised of die-hard fans had begun to write and publish their own fanzines, or 'zines. They often used letters cut out of newspapers and magazines to effect a punk aesthetic and then xeroxed the pages, stapled them together and distributed the fanzine to their mailing list. The key underlining concept of the punk DIY ethic was that anyone could be a producer or a consumer, the line between the two had been blurred. Punks had felt alienated by the mystic and grandeur that surrounded mainstream pop-artists, they felt like these people came from a different planet. They wanted to connect with their musicians and cultural producers on a much more intimate level and they wanted their consumables to come from people just like them.


Panic Attack! Art In The Punk Years At The Barbican London

In London, its pioneers were styled by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, the latter having picked up a thing or two from the bands and clubs of New York. However, there was more to the era than the music, the graphics and the clothes. A stream of art that rose in the 1970s and early 80s drew on the same rebellious themes; do-it-yourself, appropriation and urban decay, in particular critiquing the mass media machine and taking up gender politics.

The exhibition Panic Attack! Art in the Punk Years, showing until September 9 2007, reviews the works of some key players from this time, taking in Jamie Reid’s ubiquitous Sex Pistols artwork to the graffiti of Keith Haring in the early 1980s. It’s presented in the 30th anniversary year of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, which marked a pinnacle of the punk years (defined by the curators as 1974-1984) as the Sex Pistol’s released their seditious version of God Save the Queen.



Alien She’ Exhibit Explores the Connection Between Punk Rock and Fine Art

lien She is the first exhibition to examine the lasting impact of Riot Grrrl on artists and cultural producers working today. A pioneering punk feminist movement that emerged in the early 1990s, Riot Grrrl has had a pivotal influence, inspiring many around the world to pursue socially and politically progressive careers as artists, activists, authors and educators. Emphasizing female and youth empowerment, collaborative organization, creative resistance and DIY ethics, Riot Grrrl helped a new generation to become active feminists and create their own culture and communities that reflect their values and experiences, in contrast to mainstream conventions and expectations.

Riot Grrrl formed in reaction to pervasive and violent sexism, racism and homophobia in the punk music scene and in the culture at large. Its participants adapted strategies from earlier queer and punk feminisms and ‘70s radical politics, while also popularizing discussions of identity politics occurring within academia, but in a language that spoke to a younger generation. This self-organized network made up of teenagers and twenty-somethings reached one another through various platforms, such as letters, zines, local meetings, regional conferences, homemade videos, and later, chat rooms, listservs and message boards. The movement eventually spread worldwide, with chapters opening in at least 30 states and 22 countries.* Its ethos and aesthetics have survived well past its initial period in the ‘90s, with many new chapters forming in recent years. Riot Grrrl’s influence on contemporary global culture is increasingly evident – from the Russian collective Pussy Riot’s protest against corrupt government-church relations to the popular teen website Rookie and the launch of Girls Rock Camps and Ladyfest music and art festivals around the world. 




The revamped reissue of Christopher Makos’s White Trash is dedicated to Lou Reed. And yet the late Velvet Underground singer is nowhere among the familiar faces staring out from this celebrated photographic document of New York’s punk scene. “I should have put him in,” the 65-year-old Makos groans, “he’s the original grandfather of punk!”

Makos can be forgiven though, as Reed is one of the few key players not contained within his bold, beautiful book. Originally released in 1977, White Trash has achieved seminal status for its direct portraits of Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith and David Bowie, alongside the gutter-glamour ephemera – safety-pin earrings and cigarette butt necklaces – that characterised the artful nihilism of punk. 

Debbie Harry

“White Trash was an artefact. It was in your face – it was like a visual manifesto of the times,” Makos explains by telephone from the same West Village apartment where several of the book’s shots were taken. Many others were captured at CBGB, the scene’s beating live-venue heart, or at Makos’ friend Andy Warhol’s Factory studio. 

The “manifesto” is now being re-released as White Trash: Uncut, with 25 new pictures and an essay from Makos explaining his instinctive connection to the raw simplicity of the scene in which he immersed himself. “There was so much going on in NYC in the Seventies. Real estate wasn’t so expensive, so you could have small pop-up art galleries, or places like CBGB – it was a perfect storm of creativity in the arts.”

Makos was born in Massachusetts but grew up in California, later moving to New York after high school. He also spent time in Europe, where he met eminent American photographer Man Ray, who taught him “to obey your first impressions”. 

 Andy Warhol

But it was in New York that Makos made his name. He was a frequent contributor to Warhol’s Interview magazine and a mainstay of his Factory clique, becoming friends with the coterie of hip, outré creative types who frequented the pop artist’s studio at 860 Broadway in Manhattan. “Everyone was everyone’s friend,” Makos remembers. “Debbie Harry and I spent the New York City [electricity] blackout in 1977 my apartment, sitting there by candlelight.”

Makos talks with a chatty zeal which almost makes it seem like you were there with him – a quality which is translated in the stark immediacy of many of his portraits, which have been exhibited in more than 100 museums around the world. Warhol had a deep admiration for Makos, who taught him how to use his first camera, and particularly loved White Trash: when the original was released in 1977, he was so enamoured that he bought 1000 copies. 

Looking back, Makos considers the book to be about more than just punk. “It was about being different, being who you are, and that being ok.” There are shots of drag queen actress Divine; trailblazing gay performer Lance Loud in leopard-print pants and make-up artist Gigi Williams’s bare breasts. In the reissue, these sit beside photographs of Tennessee Williams and Man Ray, the “precursors to punk”, as Makos calls them: “These people made the landscape so that things like punk could grow and emerge.”


He’s proud of the White Trash re-issue, but Makos says he’s no sentimentalist, and prefers to focus on the now. How, then, would he document New York City circa 2014? “Everything in Manhattan now is a clothing store, a coffee shop or a bank” he grumbles. “I can’t believe that any place could sustain so many coffee places. It’s the new drug. People walking around with their faces in their phones, jacked up on coffee.” Step aside White Trash; next up it’s White Coffee.



Pop art is now most associated with the work of New York artists of the early 1960s such as Andy WarholRoy LichtensteinJames Rosenquist, and Claes Oldenburg, but artists who drew on popular imagery were part of an international phenomenon in various cities from the mid-1950s onwards. Following the popularity of the Abstract Expressionists, Pop's reintroduction of identifiable imagery (drawn from mass media and popular culture) was a major shift for the direction of modernism. The subject matter became far from traditional "high art" themes of morality, mythology, and classic history; rather, Pop artists celebrated commonplace objects and people of everyday life, in this way seeking to elevate popular culture to the level of fine art. Perhaps owing to the incorporation of commercial images, Pop art has become one of the most recognizable styles of modern art. 

Key Points

By creating paintings or sculptures of mass culture objects and media stars, the Pop art movement aimed to blur the boundaries between "high" art and "low" culture. The concept that there is no hierarchy of culture and that art may borrow from any source has been one of the most influential characteristics of Pop art.
It could be argued that the Abstract Expressionists searched for trauma in the soul, while Pop artists searched for traces of the same trauma in the mediated world of advertising, cartoons, and popular imagery at large. But it is perhaps more precise to say that Pop artists were the first to recognize that there is no unmediated access to anything, be it the soul, the natural world, or the built environment. Pop artists believed everything is inter-connected, and therefore sought to make those connections literal in their artwork.
Although Pop art encompasses a wide variety of work with very different attitudes and postures, much of it is somewhat emotionally removed. In contrast to the "hot" expression of the gestural abstraction that preceded it, Pop art is generally "coolly" ambivalent. Whether this suggests an acceptance of the popular world or a shocked withdrawal, has been the subject of much debate.
Pop artists seemingly embraced the post-WWII manufacturing and media boom. Some critics have cited the Pop art choice of imagery as an enthusiastic endorsement of the capitalist market and the goods it circulated, while others have noted an element of cultural critique in the Pop artists' elevation of the everyday to high art: tying the commodity status of the goods represented to the status of the art object itself, emphasizing art's place as, at base, a commodity.
The majority of Pop artists began their careers in commercial art: Andy Warhol was an highly successful magazine illustrator and graphic designer; Ed Ruscha was also a graphic designer, and James Rosenquist started his career as a billboard painter. Their background in the commercial art world trained them in the visual vocabulary of mass culture as well as the techniques to seamlessly merge the realms of high art and popular culture.

Creative industries typically need each other to survive - art feeds on music, music feeds on art, fashion feeds on both and advertising eats everything it can get its mouth around. The bond between fashion and art is currently as strong as ever as evidenced everywhere from Prada's Spring/Summer 2014 commission of six graffiti artists, Bottega Veneta's work with Ryan McGinley and the modern-art-museum-worth of Louis Vuitton collaborations with artists like Yayoi Kusama to Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince.

This commercially fruitful partnership goes back to the first half of the 20th Century, when Salvador Dali placed a giant-sized lobster on a white Elsa Schiapparelli dinner dress. 

Speaking to Wayne Tunnicliffe, the charismatic curator of Sydney's Pop to Popism exhibition, he explains that the relationship has been intensifying ever since. "In the 1960s the creative scene was smaller and more fluid than it is now, and many of the most innovative fashion designers moved in the same circles as artists and musicians and other people shaping the culture of the times - I'm sure many pop artists were aware of fashion, but fashion also often used pop art images during this period. Some direct crossovers include Andy Warhol's soup can dresses, or in Australia the Ken Reinhard designed dresses that models wore at one of his art openings."

Pop artists didn't only use fashion in their work they also used fashion designers. One of David Hockney's most famous works is his portrait of fashion designer Ossie Clark and Clark's wife, textile designer Celia Birtwell.

This solo exhibition of Tony Oursler – the artist’s first of new work in the UK for over five years – centres around his fascination with the evolution of identity via techniques of facial recognition technology. Oursler explores the nuanced ramifications of these tools increasing ubiquity in daily life. The artist’s interest in the face as the locus of communication and identity, through features, movement and expression, is central to these works. A series of seven imposing photographic visages looms over the spectator in the main gallery, all but one punctured by video screens of eyes or mouths. One of part of this installation is an endlessly shifting projection of 150 algorithmically produced Eigen faces, revealing the beautiful yet distinctly non-human qualities of biometric analysis. One of the artist’s intentions is to “invite the viewer to glimpse themselves from another perspective, that of the machines we have recently created”. Each of these giant portrait heads bears the network of marks or nodes associated with different facial recognition systems, used by border controls, law enforcement agencies and even ATM machines. The images, staggered maze-like throughout the space in the manner of theatrical props, present themselves as potential police mug shots, closed-circuit camera stills or anonymous faces in the crowd, albeit magnified in scale and distorted by their mediation through surveillance technology.

This main installation reflects an ongoing body of multimedia works by Oursler related to mimetic technology and its effect on contemporary psychology. Another new parallel series situates these reconfigured faces squarely in the undefined context of the 21st century. Nine wall-hung, stainless steel panels contain traces of now further abstracted facial features, with the latticeworks used to recognise people here transposed into etched silhouettes constituting the altered identities we are increasingly forced to assume by the strictures of modern life.

The pursuit of biometric data in facial scans, iris patterns and fingerprints all add to our burgeoning and invisible electronic profiles, amounting to a sinister accumulation of personal information on databases that capture and categorise humans according to outward appearance, unique bodily traits and even DNA sequencing. Oursler himself has studied and written about various methods of facial recognition, ways to circumvent such means of detection, as well as the phenomena of physiognomy, anthropometry and pareidolia (the mistaken appearance of faces in nature or everyday objects): “The illusory face triggers part of the brain that is used in pattern recognition – long thought to be important to the evolution of the species. Without it we would not learn from the stimuli around us. So keen is our ability to find patterns that it is more important to the species to make false positives than not.” Tony Oursler, On Chance and Face, from Vox Vernacular, 2013.

Tony Oursler's exhibition agentic iced etcetera at the PinchukArtCentre in Kiev, Ukraine, is the first major solo exhibition by the artist in Eastern Europe. Tony Oursler: agentic iced etcetera features specially produced new works -- including a Ukrainian speaking installation -- as well as some of the most iconic pieces by the artist. The New York-based risk-taker has been a pioneer of New Media and video art, and is known for projecting moving images onto objects. In the video below, Eckhard Schneider (General Director, PinchukArtCenter) talks about the mission of PinchukArtCentre, and Bjorn Geldhof (Deputy Artistic Director, PinchukArtCenter) speaks about the significance of Oursler's oeuvre. Finally, Oursler himself talks in detail about his new works on view:

Oursler is today among the most important as well as the most influential artists of our generation. Formally, he has has developed a wide-ranging use of materials such as resin, glass, fabric, steel and various found objects, which are kaleidoscopically overlaid with projection, light and sound, forming a unique embodiment of his themes.

Projecting moving images onto objects, Oursler moves beyond traditional uses of media such as cinema, television and the computer and creates something akin to "living" sculptures. The scenarios he devises are often full of p


oetic and humorous performances, incorporating all manner of physical and auditory representations of the human form.



The exhibition brings together 250 works by 110 artists from China, the Former Soviet Union, Taiwan, the UK and the USA in a comprehensive survey celebrating Pop Art's legacy. Post Pop: East Meets West examines why of all the twentieth century's art movements, Pop Art has had such a powerful influence over artists from world regions that have had very different and sometimes opposing ideologies. 

The exhibition celebrates the art being produced in these four distinct regions since the heyday of Pop, and presents them in relation to each other through the framework of six themes: Habitat; Advertising and Consumerism; Celebrity and Mass Media; Art History; Religion and Ideology; Sex and the Body. 

Widely regarded as the most significant art movement of the last century, Pop Art exploited identifiable imagery from mass media and everyday life to reflect on the nature of the world we live in. This exhibition examines the relationship between western Pop Art and its lesser-known eastern counterparts including "Sots Art" in the Soviet Union and "Political-Pop" or "Cynical Realism", which has flourished in Greater China since the turn of the twenty-first century. 

Using humour and a vernacular language, and borrowing freely from popular culture, Pop Art gave subsequent generations of artists the licence to exploit popular visual imagery and to connect with the public through the familiarity of the images being referenced. In the Former Soviet Union the abundance of imagery comparable to mass produced commodities and advertising in the West was propaganda images and text, and in Greater China visual iconography of Socialist Realism. 

Although from fundamentally different cultures and ideological backgrounds, the artists in this exhibition play with imagery from commercial advertising, propaganda posters, pictures of the famous as well as monetary and patriotic motifs in wry and provocative works that unmistakably reference the Pop Art movement which emerged in America and Britain in the 1950s and 1960s. In the Soviet Union region these works draw attention to state control, conformity, ceremony, pomp and the façade of unanimity amongst the people; in America and the UK they serve as a critique of commodity fetishism, the cult of celebrity and our mass-produced, status-driven man-made world; and in Greater China as commentary on the social dislocation created by a new super power's fascination with wealth and luxury following a period of extreme austerity. 

The exhibition is co-curated by pre-eminent authorities Andrey Erofeev, a leading art critic and writer, and former head of the contemporary art department of the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow; Marco Livingstone, an independent curator who has worked on numerous publications, retrospectives and Pop Art exhibitions that have toured throughout Europe, Japan and Canada; and Tsong-Zung Chang, a curator and guest professor of China Art Academy who co-founded the Asia Art Archive and the well-established Hanart TZ Gallery in Hong Kong. 

Given the global energy being enjoyed by contemporary art, this exhibition aims to make audiences more aware of Pop Art as a major influence on current art practice. 


First Happenings: Adrian Henri in the ‘60s and '70s

First Happenings: Adrian Henri in the ‘60s and '70s, offers a focussed look at Adrian Henri’s pioneering role in the ‘happenings movement’ in Britain, setting up the first ‘Event’ in 1962, through to enabling various collaborative events into the 1970s.

As a painter, poet, musician and performer he was a central protagonist during a period of intense creativity and collaborative artistic endeavours that centred in Liverpool – at the time a parallel centre for such activity alongside London and New York. Henri corresponded with performance artists including Allan Kaprow, Yoko Ono and Mark Boyle and authored a landmark publication, Total Art, Environments and Happenings(Thames and Hudson, 1974).

Reflecting Henri’s eclecticism and insatiable curiosity, the display features numerous artefacts from the Adrian Henri estate, including original prints, collages, annotated scripts and hand-made posters for happenings, objects, ephemera, rock posters, counterculture documents and correspondence, as well as rare audio and video material.

Adrian Henri (1932–2000) trained as a painter under Victor Pasmore and Richard Hamilton, and taught at Liverpool Art College in the 1960s. He came to prominence as one of the 'Liverpool poets', alongside Roger McGough and Brian Patten, through the best-selling Penguin anthology The Mersey Sound - irreverently urban and popular. Performance was central to Henri’s practice, both as a visual artist and as a poet. In the 1960s and 70s he fronted the poetry and rock group Liverpool Scene (signed by RCA). Their debut album was produced by John Peel, who dubbed Henri ‘one of the great non-singers of our time.' In 1969, the band performed at the Isle of Wight Festival, supported Led Zeppelin and toured America.

One of the few UK organisations that acknowledged the radical music, art and performance scene in Liverpool outside of the city itself, the ICA hosted Henri’s exhibitions and performances on various occasions including his solo exhibitionAdrian Henri: Poet, Painter, 1968, I Wonder. A play by Adrian Henri and Michael Kustow, was performed at the ICA in 1968 as part of the ICA’s centenary celebration of Apollinaire and Henri was also included in the 1970 ICA exhibition AAARGH!!! A Celebration of Comics.

Viviane Sassen: Pikin Slee

The ICA is delighted to present a solo exhibition of recent work bViviane Sassen, a photographer who has garnered parallel critical acclaim as a fashion photographer and in the context of contemporary visual art. The content of the exhibition focuses predominantly on a body of work that Sassen made in Pikin Slee, Suriname in 2013. Pikin Slee is the second-largest village on the Upper Suriname River, deep within the Surinamese rainforest. The exhibition consists of black and white and colour works shot on an analogue camera.

In her first visit to Pikin Slee in the summer of 2012, Sassen was intrigued by the village and its inhabitants. Her eye was caught by the overwhelming natural beauty and the Saramacca's very traditional way of living, combined with the more mundane objects which seemed to seep through daily life. The Saramacca community are isolated from the outside world, living without running water, electricity, roads or the internet. The only way to access the village is by canoe, a journey of about three hours up-river. They grow their food on small agricultural plots, producing cassava bread, pressed maripa palm oil and dried coconut.

Shot mainly in black and white and of contained format, Sassen's series of abstract compositions and elusive subjects are an exploration of the beauty of the everyday, an investigation of the sculptural qualities of the ordinary.

My memories of Africa have always played a major role in my life and in my work. I guess that’s because they filled my very first consciousness. It’s in my spine, my blue-print so to speak… When I returned back from Kenya, all I knew was my life there, so Holland seemed very strange and new to me... Now that I’ve travelled so much in Africa over the past 12 years, my ideas about the continent and about myself in relation to it, have changed of course. But it’s a continuous journey, both in the inside world and the outside world. My work is a reflection of that journey - Viviane Sassen

Structure and Clarity

The central room in the wing is devoted to the abstract or ‘constructive’ art of the inter-war years. The artists associated with a range of groups embraced the possibilities of producing art that was, to different degrees, coolly geometrical and no longer imitative of visible reality. Aspiring to universal qualities, these artists set out a utopian ideal for art and society, which bound them to wider developments in design and architecture. 

The surrounding displays show the impact of abstraction on a variety of media such as film and photography, as well as looking at the minimalist art of the 1960s, whose crisp, unadorned aesthetic echoed but also departed from the work of the 1920s and 1930s.


Vanessa Bell was one of the first British artists to experiment with abstraction. In the early 1910s her painting was radicalised by her encounter with works by artists such as Cézanne, Gauguin, Picasso and Matisse. ‘Here was a possible path’, she wrote, ‘a sudden liberation and encouragement to feel for oneself, which were absolutely overwhelming.’

Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair’s approach to western abstraction is enriched and complicated by her knowledge of Islamic aesthetics, and by the influence of mathematics and science. Since the mid-1950s Choucair has worked mainly with sculpture, producing several series of modular forms. Works such as Poem Wall are often made up of interlocking pieces. Choucair explores the way in which component pieces relate to the whole, mirroring the structures of Sufi poetry.


While the large central gallery in this wing looks at the abstract art of the 1920s and 1930s, this room focuses on developments of the 1950s and 1960s. In the earlier period, abstraction was defined by European movements such as constructivism and concrete art, which emphasised ordered geometric forms. Their successors drew upon but also disrupted these established modes. Some of the artists included here were inspired by mathematical systems or naturally occurring patterns such as the Golden Section or the Fibonacci sequence, while others developed a more organic, asymmetrical and therefore destabilised geometry. In addition, they introduced a greater concern with the relationship of the viewer to the art object, emphasising physical and sensory participation, and with aspects of space, time, light and movement.

The display takes its title from a group of artists whose work embodied an extension of constructivism in post-war Britain from about 1950 through the 1960s. Taking a broader view, the room also includes a number of other artists who worked in this vein, such as those associated with the neo-concrete movement in Brazil in the 1950s and 1960s



Charlotte Posenenske and Ursula Schulz-Dornburg both explore the intersection between architecture, mass-produced objects and found sculptural forms. 

Posenenske’s democratic concept of art was realised in works that she compared to ‘building elements’. Increasingly interested in industrial methods of production, she began to produce free-standing sculptures which often resemble standardised architectural units. These were designed to be replicated in unlimited editions. Prototype for Revolving Vaneis the original model which Posenenske went on to use for a series of box-like constructions in the form of a room, articulated and open to various arrangements and configurations. This prototype was made from found particle board on which the remnants of graffiti can be seen, highlighting the artist’s use of cheap, easily available materials. 

Like Posenenske’s sculptures, Schulz-Dornburg’s photographs highlight the presence of architectural forms in the everyday landscape. From 1997 to 2005, Schulz-Dornburg returned repeatedly to Armenia to document its concrete bus stops. Built in the 1970s and 1980s, these bus stops represented the golden age of socialist construction. Each one was unique, designed by a different architect. Combining creativity and spectacle with a utilitarian, functional role, the structures are at odds with the ethos of mass production usually associated with the Soviet era. Schulz-Dornburg photographed the bus stops as she found them, with people present, highlighting their ongoing functionality but also making clear the ironic gap between intention and effect. While the designs of the bus stops suggest protection, they often left their users very much exposed to the elements. 


Sculptor in bronze, steel and aluminum. Born 8 March 1924 in London. Studied engineering at Christ's College, Cambridge, and afterwards sculpture at Regent Street Polytechnic 1946 and at the R.A. Schools 1947–52; worked as part-time assistant to Henry Moore 1951–3. From 1952 modelled single figure subjects in clay for bronze casting, but in 1959 began non-figurative sculpture in plaster which was later destroyed. Visited the U.S.A. on a Ford Foundation Travel Grant 1959. Since 1960 has worked on bolted and welded steel and aluminium sculptures. First one-man exhibition at the Galleria del Naviglio, Milan, 1956; his first in England at Gimpel Fils 1957. Awarded a Paris Biennale Sculpture Prize 1959. Exhibition of his non-figurative work at the Whitechapel Art Gallery 1963. Has taught at St Martin's School of Art since 1953, and at Bennington College, Vermont, 1963–4.


Adventures of the Black Square

Abstract Art and Society 1915–2015

This epic show 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.

Presented chronologically the show follows four themes:

‘Utopia’ is expressed through Malevich’s black square, the progenitor of new aesthetic and political horizons, seized by artists from Vladimir Tatlin to Hélio Oiticica.

‘Architectonics’ presents floating geometries that propose new social spaces as imagined by Lyubov Popova or Piet Mondrianand Liam Gillick.

‘Communication’ spreads the message to the masses in manifestos and avant-garde graphics.

The ‘Everyday’ embeds routines and objects in the aesthetics of progress as observed in a textile by Sophie Taeuber-Arp or the abstract motifs painted on Peruvian lorries captured byArmando Andrade Tudela. Middle Eastern artists such as Nazgol Ansarinia link Modernism with Arabic and Persian decorative arts; while Western artists such as Lewis Baltz, Peter Halley or Jenny Holzer critique economic and political abstraction. Adventures of the Black Square explores how abstract art has travelled worldwide, permeating our life and times.

Swiss painter, sculptor and designer. She studied textile techniques at the Ecole des Arts Appliqués in St Gall from 1908 to 1910 and then in Hamburg at the Kunstgewerbeschule in 1912. Her career began in the centre of Dada activity in Zurich between 1915 and 1920. Although she did not date her work until the last two years of her life, its chronology was reconstructed by Hugo Weber from the testimony of her husband, Hans Arp, and from internal evidence.

Taeuber-Arp’s work evolved in groups, each characterized by a distinctive use of formal elements. The first prevailing format was a horizontal–vertical sectioning of a square or vertical rectangular ground, as in Pillow Sham, a wool embroidery (c. 1916; Zurich, Mus. Bellerive). Its structure reveals the importance of her textile training as much as the influence of Cubism. Her austerely geometric art arose from her belief in the innate expressive power of colour, line and form, and was informed by unusual wit and freedom. She rejected her contemporaries’ progressive schematization of objective form. During the years of Dada in Zurich (1916–20), Taeuber-Arp not only painted but also made a series of polychrome wood heads, including the portrait of Jean Arp (1918–19; Paris, Pompidou), and designed the sets and marionettes (Zurich, Mus. Bellerive) for a performance of Carlo Gozzi’s König Hirsch in 1918 in conjunction with the exhibition of the Swiss workshop in Zurich. She was an accomplished dancer and performed at Cabaret Voltaire evenings. From 1916–29 she also taught at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich.


Next to Bernd and Hilla Becher, Stephen Shore and Henry Wessel, Lewis Baltz is one of the most prominent representatives of the New Topographics movement, which was seminal to the development of conceptual photography. 

Baltz's photo series document the side effects of industrial civilization on the landscape, focusing on places that lie outside the bounds of canonical reception: urban wastelands, abandoned industrial sites, warehouses. His photographs uncover the correspondences between spatial forms that occur in the everyday world and advanced forms found in art. Baltz's strategies imply a reflexive knowledge of the history of photography in that they deploy the photographer as a teacher of seeing who makes things visible through reductive gestures. He already turned in the mid-1960s towards a reduced, minimalist-style aesthetic, orienting himself on artists in the fields of painting, sculpture and Land Art. 

The Prototype Works and the 25-piece The Tract Houses are among his earliest projects, which broke with mainstream photographic traditions to reveal pronounced modernist references. Baltz manages in his work to extend the notion of the documentary; he "emphasizes the paradoxical position of photography within the art history of its time" (Sheryl Conkelton).


Baltz's minimalist and reduced image compositions explore the photographic style as a process, and refer not only to the art of photographers like Lee Friedlander or Robert Frank but also to painters and sculptors of his day such as Donald Judd, Frank Stella, Jasper Johns or Sol LeWitt. Convergences are to be found in his formal and aesthetic compositional patterns as well as in the content he fixes on, which Baltz subjects to a highly critical analysis, without however losing sight of essentials. The focus is on universal aspects instead of particularities, as expressed above all in his "Prototype Works".



Alexander Calder 1898-1976

American sculptor and draughtsman, pioneer of mobiles. Born in Philadelphia, the son and grandson of sculptors. Studied engineering and worked at various jobs before attending the Art Students League, New York, to study painting 1923-6. Began in 1926 to make small animated animals in wood and wire, which eventually became numerous enough to form a circus. First one-man exhibition at the Weyhe Gallery, New York, 1928. Lived 1928-33 mainly in Paris, where he became friendly with Miró and Pascin, and joined the group Abstraction-Creation 1931. Started to make sculptures, to which Duchamp gave the name mobiles, which could be moved by hand or by small electric motors, followed from 1934 by pieces which were set in motion by air currents. The name stabiles was later suggested by Arp for his sculptures which did not move. Lived mainly in the USA, at Roxbury, Connecticut, from 1933 until 1953, when he also bought a house at Sache (Indre-et-Loire). Awarded the main prize for sculpture at the 1952 Venice Biennale and the First Prize for Sculpture at the 1958 Pittsburgh International. Died in New York.



DIY ethic refers to the ethic of self-sufficiency through completing tasks without the aid of a paid expert. Literally meaning "do it yourself," the DIY ethic promotes the idea that anyone is capable of performing a variety of tasks rather than relying on paid specialists. The DIY ethic requires that the adherent seeks out the knowledge required to complete a given task. The term can refer to a variety of disciplines, including home improvement, first aid or creative works.

Rather than belittling or showing disdain for those who engage in manual labor or skilled crafts, DIY champions the average individual seeking such knowledge and expertise. Central to the ethic is the empowerment of individuals and communities, encouraging the employment of alternative approaches when faced with bureaucratic or societal obstacles to achieving their objectives.

 The V&A presents more than 150 radical designs for theatrical productions by celebrated figures of the Russian avant-garde. Created over the course of two decades marked by the Russian revolutions and First World War, the works represent an extraordinary point in Russian culture during which artistic, literary and musical traditions underwent profound transformations.


Since the 1960s, Gerhard Richter has immersed himself in a rich and varied exploration of painting. Gerhard Richter: Panorama highlights the full extent of the artist’s work, which has encompassed a diverse range of techniques and ideas. It includes realist paintings based on photographs, colourful gestural abstractions such as the squeegee paintings, portraits, subtle landscapes and history paintings.

Gerhard Richter was one of the first German artists to reflect on the history of National Socialism, creating paintings of family members who had been members, as well as victims of, the Nazi party. Continuing his historical interest, he produced the 15-part work October 18 1977 1988, a sequence of black and white paintings based on images of the Baader Meinhof group. Richter has continued to respond to significant moments in history throughout his career; the final room of the exhibition includes September 2005, a painting of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York in 2001.

Lovers of the epic beauty of Rothko, Twombly and Hodgkin will have much to enjoy, as will those who appreciate striking portraiture or the crystal-clear precision of photorealism.




Robert Rauschenberg’s art has always been one of thoughtful inclusion. Working in a wide range of subjects, styles, materials, and techniques, Rauschenberg has been called a forerunner of essentially every postwar movement since Abstract Expressionism. He remained, however, independent of any particular affiliation. At the time that he began making art in the late 1940s and early 1950s, his belief that “painting relates to both art and life” presented a direct challenge to the prevalent modernist aesthetic.

The celebrated Combines, begun in the mid-1950s, brought real-world images and objects into the realm of abstract painting and countered sanctioned divisions between painting and sculpture. These works


established the artist’s ongoing dialogue between mediums, between the handmade and the readymade, and between the gestural brushstroke and the mechanically reproduced image. Rauschenberg’s lifelong commitment to collaboration—with performers, printmakers, engineers, writers, artists, and artisans from around the world—is a further manifestation of his expansive artistic philosophy.


Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925–2008) was renowned as an enfant terrible, famous for his work in the 1950s, in the period between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. Born in Port Arthur, TX, Rauschenberg was barely exposed to art until he attended school. His most significant art education took place at Black Mountain College, which exposed him to influential artists such as Josef Albers (American/German, 1888–1976) and John Cage (American, 1912–1992). In his early years in New York, he gained attention for his Black Paintingsand White Paintings; during this time, he also became very close friends with the painter Jasper Johns (American, b.1930), who greatly influenced Rauschenberg's work. 

In the 1950s, Rauschenberg began to incorporate any material he could scavenge into his combines (sculptural collages) by incorporating found objects, traditional brush strokes, photographs, and any other materials he encountered. This interplay between materials defined Rauschenberg's entire career; he also experimented with silk screening and solvent transfers on a diverse selection of surfaces, as he explored the boundaries of traditional art forms and incorporated the vast visual offerings of American culture into his work such as Signs. Rauschenberg also developed an interest in art activism: his “Experiments in Art and Technology” (EAT) initiative encouraged collaborations between artists and scientists; the “Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange” (ROCI) project allowed him to visit locations worldwide to work with artists and exhibit his own art; and the non-profit “Change, Inc.” helps struggling artists pay medical expenses. Rauschenberg died of heart failure in Captiva, FL, in 2008.

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