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Exhibition Review – Shape of Light : 100 years of Photography and Abstract Art at Tate Modern from 2nd May to 14th October 2018

A major new exhibition at Tate Modern reveals the intertwined stories of photography and abstract art. The exhibition entitled Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art will be the first show of this scale to explore photography in relation to the development of abstraction, from the early experiments of the 1910s to the digital innovations of the 21st century. 

Featuring over 300 works by more than 100 artists, the exhibition explores the history of abstract photography side-by-side with iconic paintings and sculptures.

The first room sets the theme for the exhibition with paintings by Mondrian, Braques and Kadinsky paired with Alvin Langdon Coburn’s pioneering ‘vortographs’ from 1917.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a number of photographers including Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand began to look closely at the ability of photography to show different elements of abstraction and began looking at familiar items in a variety of ways. The exhibition features a number of works by these artists and others that spanned diverse media like László Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray.

It was not just inanimate objects that attracted artists, some began to create abstractions from the human body including André Kertesz’s Distorsions, Imogen Cunningham’s Triangles and Bill Brandt’s Baie des Anges, Frances 1958.

Photographers began to play with light to produce a number of interesting effects, the exhibition pairs the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Otto Steinert’s ‘luminograms’. 

The exhibition acknowledges the impact of MoMA’s landmark photography exhibition of 1960, The Sense of Abstraction for raising the profile of this type of photography and some installation photographs of this show are displayed with some of the works originally featured in the exhibition, including important works by Edward Weston, Aaron Siskind and a series by Man Ray that has not been exhibited since the MoMA show, 58 years ago.

Some artists in the 1960’s began to use the various effects of abstraction to create optical effects, the exhibition pairs work by Bridget Riley and installations of key photographic works from the era by artists including Floris Neussis and Gottfried Jaeger.

Much of this early worked was dominated by black and white photography, however by the 1970s, colour was being used increasingly especially from artists like Barbara Kasten with her Photogenic Painting and Sigmar Polke with Untitled (Uranium Green) in the 1990s.

The final room brings visitors up to date with contemporary abstraction artists like Thomas Ruff, Maya Rochat and Daisuke Yokota.

This intriguing exhibition explores how the birth of abstract art and the invention of photography created a new modern visual culture which was often marginalised for most of the 20th century but gradually became more popular and respected for the innovation and originality of artists and photographers. It is difficult to know what was the interaction and influence of abstract art and abstract photography on each other, however they did create a genre where artists and photographers began to push back the boundaries of contemporary art.  

Visiting London Guide Rating- Highly Recommended

For more information or book tickets , visit the Tate Modern website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Shape of Light : 100 years of Photography and Abstract Art at Tate Modern – 2nd May to 14th October 2018

A major new exhibition at Tate Modern will reveal the intertwined stories of photography and abstract art. Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art will be the first show of this scale to explore photography in relation to the development of abstraction, from the early experiments of the 1910s to the digital innovations of the 21st century. Featuring over 300 works by more than 100 artists, the exhibition will explore the history of abstract photography side-by-side with iconic paintings and sculptures.

Shape of Light will place moments of radical innovation in photography within the wider context of abstract art, such as Alvin Langdon Coburn’s pioneering ‘vortographs’ from 1917. This relationship between media will be explored through the juxtaposition of works by painters and photographers, such as cubist works by George Braque and Pierre Dubreuil or the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Otto Steinert’s ‘luminograms’.  Abstractions from the human body associated with surrealism will include André Kertesz’s Distorsions, Imogen Cunningham’s Triangles and Bill Brandt’s Baie des Anges, Frances 1958, exhibited together with a major painting by Joan Miró. Elsewhere the focus will be on artists whose practice spans diverse media, such as László Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray.

The exhibition will also acknowledge the impact of MoMA’s landmark photography exhibition of 1960, The Sense of Abstraction. Installation photographs of this pioneering show will be displayed with some of the works originally featured in the exhibition, including important works by Edward Weston, Aaron Siskind and a series by Man Ray that has not been exhibited since the MoMA show, 58 years ago.

There will be rooms devoted to Op Art and Kinetic Art from the 1960s, featuring striking paintings by Bridget Riley and installations of key photographic works from the era by artists including Floris Neussis and Gottfried Jaeger. Rooms will also be dedicated to the minimal and conceptual practices of the 1970s and 80s. The exhibition will culminate in a series of new works by contemporary artists, Tony Cairns, Maya Rochat and Daisuke Yokota, exploring photography and abstraction today.

For more information or book tickets , visit the Tate Modern website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibition Review : Abstract Expressionism at the Royal Academy – 24th September 2016 to 2nd January 2017

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The Royal Academy of Arts presents the first major exhibition of Abstract Expressionism to be held in the UK in almost sixty years . The exhibition features over 150 paintings, sculptures and photographs from public and private collections across the world and includes works  by acclaimed American artists including Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Phillip Guston, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Aaron Siskind, David Smith and Clyfford Still.

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In 1946, critic Robert Coates coined the term  ‘Abstract  Expressionism’  to describe a new  movement in American art.  The artists who were considered part of this movement did not follow a particular school of painting but were generally Americans living through the politically turbulent times of the 1940s,50s and 60s.

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Arshile Gorky was considered one of the pioneers of Abstract Expressionism by the way that he was able to create a synthesis between various trends such as Cubism and Surrealism.

Three of the first seven rooms of the exhibition are given over to the three most famous names of the movement. Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko all bought their own originality to creating works that began to challenge some of the traditional views of painting.

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Jackson Pollock developed a process  of painting that involved a canvas being laid onto the ground and paint being dropped onto the canvas to create intricate webs of paint that built up into a complex tangle of paint and colour.  Pollock’s monumental  Mural (1943) and Blue Poles ( 1952) are shown in the same gallery for the first time in the exhibition.

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Willem de Kooning’s  work often turns its back on pure abstract by alternating between abstraction and figurative. Like many artists, he was inspired by the female form and many of his works such as Woman II ( 1952) have an erotic aspect.

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Mark Rothko maintained many of his paintings were ‘facades’ and the way that the artist created a painting of seemingly simple blocks of colour would suggest they could be taken merely on their ‘face value’. However they create a number of complex responses from the viewer who is often drawn into the picture.

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Many of the other rooms in the exhibition explore some of the many responses of artists to their surroundings in post war America. Gesture as Colour, The Violent Mark and  Darkness Visible  illustrate how some artists responded to the often violent times and urban life.

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Works by Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhardt and Clyfford Still are featured in the later rooms with sculptures by David Smith being used in many rooms and outside in the courtyard.

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Whilst Abstract Expressionism is rooted in post war America, it has since garnered universal appeal with some of the best known artists achieving ‘iconic’ status. This exhibition brings together works that illustrate that a diverse group of artists created a particular response to the troubled times they lived in.  Since the growth of interest in Abstract Expressionism, it had tended to divide opinion and is often criticised for being too simplistic. Others admire the often monumental scale of the works and their spontaneity and energy.

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This exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to make their own minds up with one of the largest shows of Abstract Expressionism works ever seen in the UK.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

Opening Times

10am – 6pm daily (last admission 5.30pm)

Fridays and Saturdays until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm)

Admission

£17 full price (£15 without Gift Aid donation); concessions available;

Children under 16 and Friends of the RA go free.

For more information and book tickets, visit the Royal Academy website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here