George Bures Miller
On display: Isa Genzken: Open, Sesame! - The Bloomberg Commission: Goshka Macuga: The Nature of the Beast - Passports: Great Early Buys from the British Council Collection - The Whitechapel Boys - Ursula Mayer, solo show - Minerva Cuevas S.COOP - Archive Adventures - John Kobal New Work Award - Social Sculpture (group exhibition).
Whitechapel Gallery to open on 5 April 2009 The Whitechapel Gallery will open to the public on Sunday 5 April 2009 following its ambitious £13.5 million expansion.
The Heritage Lottery Fund supported project has transformed the former library building next to the Gallery, increasing gallery space by 78%. Designed by leading Belgian architects Robbrecht en Daem (with London practice Witherford Watson Mann Architects), the expanded Whitechapel Gallery provides one of the most exciting new cultural buildings in Europe.
Included in the expanded building are new galleries dedicated to presenting collections and new commissions; a permanent gallery and research room for the Whitechapel Gallery’s historic archive, and an Education and Research Tower including study and creative studios.
These beautiful spaces for art have been designed by the architects in collaboration with leading artist Rachel Whiteread CBE.
The original exhibition spaces in the Whitechapel Gallery have been beautifully renovated and will be the site for a landmark exhibition of German sculptor Isa Genzken, the first major retrospective of her work, until 21 June 2009.
The Bloomberg Commission gives a new platform for an annual art commission. It launches with a site specific artwork by Goshka Macuga, who has been inspired by Picasso’s Guernica coming to the Whitechapel Gallery in 1939 on its first and only visit to the UK.
The Whitechapel Gallery will provide unprecedented public access to important art collections. The inaugural display of rarely seen works from the British Council collection is supported by specialist insurers, Hiscox. The Whitechapel Gallery’s 100 year old archive is brought to life with displays of rare documents and artists’ letters. The first exhibition, The Whitechapel Boys, looks at the moment when artists David Bomberg, Mark Gertler and Isaac Rosenberg contributed to forming the Vorticist movement in the former Whitechapel Library.
Two new project galleries show the work of Mexican artist Minerva Cuevas and the primary schools education project Archive Adventures. Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director, Whitechapel Gallery, said ‘This century old institution is the artists’ gallery for everyone. The exciting expansion enables the Whitechapel Gallery to open all year round so there will always be something free to see. The Gallery will become a major cultural resource and a destination for the arts.’
Exhibition highlights for 2009/10 include: painter Elizabeth Peyton (summer 2009); the return of the East End Academy (summer 2009); Sophie Calle (autumn 2009); a major exhibition looking at photography from south Asia from the 1840s to the present day (winter 2010); changing displays from the British Council collection and from the Gallery’s archives; and project gallery exhibitions by Julie Ault and Melanie Manchot.
The development of the Whitechapel Gallery is much needed: previously the Gallery had to close for up to 10 weeks each year to allow for exhibition installations. The Gallery’s former Education Studio could not accommodate full class sizes and the overwhelming number of schools wishing to use its facilities. Previously there was limited access for disabled people to the Gallery and there was no wheelchair access to the former library. The development unifies two landmark buildings; the Whitechapel Gallery and the adjoining Passmore Edwards Library. The project has enabled the restoration and preservation of an historically and culturally important building, keeping it open to the public. It also makes an important contribution to the regeneration of east London.
The Gallery has already raised £13 million towards its £13.5 million capital campaign target. This includes major awards from Heritage Lottery Fund, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Arts Council England, European Regional Development fund, and the London Development Agency. £2 million was raised from charitable trusts and individual donors; and £2.5million from an auction of artworks donated by artists in 2006.
The Whitechapel Gallery was founded in 1901 to bring great art to the people of east London. The Gallery’s history is a history of firsts: in 1939 Picasso’s masterpiece, Guernica was displayed at the Whitechapel Gallery on its first and only visit to Britain; in 1958 the Gallery presented the first major show in Britain of seminal American abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock; and in 1970 and 1971 the first shows of David Hockney, Gilbert & George and Richard Long were staged to great acclaim. Recent shows have included Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Liam Gillick, Nan Goldin, Cristina Iglesias, Paul McCarthy, Mark Wallinger and Franz West. The Gallery is internationally renowned for its exhibitions of modern and contemporary art and its pioneering education and public events programmes. The Whitechapel plays a unique role in the capital1s cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of east London as a leading contemporary art quarter.
For further press information please contact:
Rachel Mapplebeck on 020 75227880, 07811456806 or email RachelMapplebeck@whitechapel.org
Elizabeth Flanagan on 020 75227871 or email ElizabethFlanagan@whitechapel.org
Charlotte Burns on 020 72215000, 07500780604 or email Charlotte@boltonquinn.com
Isa Genzken: Open, Sesame!
5 April - 21 June 2009
Galleries 1, 8 & 9
In her remarkable pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale, German sculptor Isa Genzken immersed visitors in a series of environments on the theme of ‘Oil’. Like a three dimensional collage the pavilion presented a poetic culmination of the major themes in her work: the psychedelic qualities of industrial materials, architectural form, the loss of the natural world, the properties of colour, and the energy and violence of western culture.
This is the first retrospective of a major European artist whose fusion of photography, paint, architecture and found objects into the realm of sculpture has influenced generations of younger artists. The show commences with early floor works from the 1970s and continues with a sequence of windows, rooms and buildings cast from plaster and concrete in the 1980s. Living and working in Germany and in New York, Genzken’s column structures of the 1990s draw on the vertiginous, reflective forms of Manhattan skyscrapers, adapted in 2000 into proposals for improvements to the architecture of Berlin.
The exhibition also features elements from more recent installations such as Oil, 2007 and Ground Zero, 2008. They are created with toys, souvenirs, furniture, building materials — the stuff of consumer culture, arranged in associative scenarios that are in turn funny, poetic and disturbing.
Download an introduction to the exhibition.
Isa Genzken: Open, Sesame! is organised in collaboration with the Museum Ludwig, Cologne. Supported by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes, the Henry Moore Foundation, the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, the Goethe Institute, London and Hauser & Wirth, Zürich London. With thanks to Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne, and David Zwirner, New York.
The Bloomberg Commission: Goshka Macuga: The Nature of the Beast
5 April 2009-18 April 2010
London-based Polish artist Goshka Macuga is widely acclaimed for her sculptural installations of artefacts and photographs, derived from art history, politics and anthropology. The artist focuses on a key moment in the history of the Whitechapel Gallery: the presentation of Picasso’s Guernica in 1939.
Organised in collaboration with the Stepney Trade Union Council in east London to raise awareness of the Spanish Civil War, the suggested price of entry was a pair of boots, left underneath the work, to be sent to the Republicans in Spain. Forming the centrepiece of Macuga’s installation is a life-size tapestry of Guernica.
Commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller in 1955 it was created, in collaboration with Picasso, by weaver Jacqueline de la Baume Dürrbach, of the great Dürrbach Atelier in Paris. In 1985, Mrs Nelson Rockefeller lent the tapestry to the United Nations Headquarters in New York in memory of her husband who was present at the founding of the organisation, to offer a deterrent to war. It has hung ever since outside the United Nations Security Council.
Macuga’s project draws connections across historic and contemporary world affairs, their protagonists and the cultural ripple effects they have triggered. Evolving throughout the year, this major new commission intertwines narratives and constellations of objects to demonstrate the profound relation between aesthetics and politics.
Download an introduction to the exhibition.
Listen to art critics Andrew Graham-Dixon and Sister Wendy Beckett discuss the impact of Guernica on the BBC Today programme.
Passports: Great Early Buys from the British Council Collection
5 April-14 June 2009
Girl with Roses, 1947-48, is an iconic early painting by Lucian Freud, a psychologically charged portrait of the artist’s first wife Kitty. Her intense expression communicates a startling immediacy, amplified by the almost palpable lines of her sweater and the velvety folds of her skirt.
Recognised as a masterpiece of Freud’s early career, the painting is one among over 8000 works in the British Council Collection, one of the most impressive public collections of 20th century British art in the world. It is presented here among other key works drawn from the Collection, in the first of a series of exhibitions oganised over the next year, on the occasion of the British Council’s 75th anniversary.
Focusing on Great Early Buys the exhibition also includes key works by Paul Nash and Ben Nicholson; rare early carvings by Henry Moore; Cataract 3, one of Bridget Riley’s first major paintings in colour; and later works by a younger generation of artists such as Peter Doig, Sarah Lucas and Chris Ofili. Selected by the artist Michael Craig-Martin, the display focuses on one of the Collection’s great strengths – buying from artists at early stages in their careers.
Following on throughout 2009, three further guest curators will present displays drawn from the Collection. A fifth display in Spring 2010 will result from an international competition open to curators worldwide.
The Whitechapel Boys
5 April-20 September 2009
The Pat Matthews Gallery (Gallery 4)
In 1901, 25% of the population of east London was Jewish, hailing from central and eastern Europe. A group of remarkable artists and writers emerged from this diaspora and came to be known as the Whitechapel Boys. Using the Whitechapel Library as a meeting place, their discussions contributed to the founding of British Modernism.
Strongly iconoclastic, the painters and sculptors in the group began to experiment with dynamic form and a move to abstraction, with works such as Racehorses by David Bomberg, Study for Rock Drill by Jacob Epstein and Rabbi & Rabbintzin by Mark Gertler.
The writers and poets searched for innovative prose to express their philosophical and political views. The show includes the first edition of Stephen Winsten’s Chains, John Rodker’s Collected Poems from 1912-1925, and items from their personal collections, such as the manuscript of Clare Winsten’s autobiography and Alfred Wolmark’s first sketch books.
Presented alongside are catalogues, correspondence and press cuttings relating to their work and milieu. The Whitechapel Boys looks at the origins of a company of radical thinkers who overcame the restraints of living in the impoverished East End and became a vibrant avant garde.
5 April-21 June 2009
The Art Deco splendour of Eltham Palace; the cool modernist interior of Erno and Ursula Goldfinger’s house; a salon of Surrealist objects. These are the stage sets of Ursula Mayer’s films, explorations of cinematic convention that play out mesmeric encounters between the artistic and architectural avant gardes.
Interiors, 2006, features two women of two generations walking through Goldfinger’s 1930s north London home. They do not meet, ascending and descending its spiral staircase and occupying its rooms through movement and touch. Their focus is a rotating sculpture by Barbara Hepworth, which becomes a beacon for silent communication between two generations.
Set in the opulent glamour of south London’s Eltham Palace, The Crystal Gaze, 2007, imagines three glamourous women, whose hair, clothes and make up each embody the style of a decade. Their appearance and dialogue show a female subjectivity entrapped in artifice, desire and the seductive distortions of film itself.
Mayer’s most recent work Lunch in Fur/Le Déjeuner en Fourrure, 2008 reflects on the influence of femininity and race in the formations of Surrealism, imagined as an encounter between the artists Dora Maar and Meret Oppenheim, and the singer and dancer Josephine Baker.
Born in Austria and recently graduated from Goldsmiths College, Ursula Mayer is shown as part of Art in the Auditorium, a programme of moving image work organised with galleries in Europe, USA, South America and the Far East.
Minerva Cuevas S.COOP
5 April-7 June 2009
176 Project Gallery
(Gallery 6) and
26-28 Toynbee Street
In 1998 Mexican artist Minerva Cuevas created Mejor Vida Corp. (Better Life Corporation), a project that distributes free products and services like international student ID cards and barcode stickers for cheaper foods. Assuming the role of political and artistic agent, her works often propose cultural experiments that shadow existing structures and systems, and are realised in spaces that range from the public realm to museums and the internet.
The S·COOP project refers to a system of economics that dates back to the 1900s, premised not on money but on tokens offered by English co-operative societies for food and fuel. Designed by Cuevas, the S·COOP is a coin that has been produced by the Mexican Mint to be circulated by east London market traders, as change for purchases made on Petticoat Lane Market.
Cuevas subtly inserts the S·COOP coins into people’s everyday shopping experiences and into the local economy, posing questions of value and commercialism in today’s society and exploring the points of intersection between personal, commercial and artistic economies.
Until 26 April, S·COOP coins can be redeemed and exchanged at Monochrome, a specially designed ice cream parlour as part of the The Street — a year-long series of artists’ commissions on and around Wentworth Street. Although available in different flavours in Monochrome the ice creams are all white: a delicious translation of the revolutionary concept of abstraction.
5 April-7 June 2009
Outset Project Gallery (Gallery 5)
Situated in a poor yet cosmopolitan locale, the Whitechapel Gallery has always provided a platform for the international trends and radical ideas of local communities of artists and activists. In the 1900s, the East End was the crucible for political ferment, artistic innovation and social change. While Bolshevik revolutionaries including Lenin and Trotsky were meeting in Whitechapel to discuss ideas that would affect the world, the Whitechapel Gallery presented exhibitions of art from Turkey, Iran, India and Morocco, displays of school children’s work and an exhibition about the effects of tuberculosis.
Over 650 children from across east London have worked alongside artists Meera Chauda, Sam Perry, Emma Smith, Daniel Wallis and historian Marion Try. They have explored personal, local and global histories through photographs, press cuttings, maps and stories drawn from the Whitechapel Gallery’s 100 year-old archive, as well as documents from their schools’ and local archives. These were brought to life in reenactments, walks, discussions and activities that forged links between past and present, weaving together fact and fiction. This exhibition brings together the stories that emerged and a website created with Bigland Green Primary School, including a timeline, scrapbooks and graphics conceived by the children themselves.
John Kobal New Work Award
5 April-21 June 2009
Foyer and throughout the building
As the Whitechapel Gallery closed for expansion, five artists making lens-based work were offered a challenge. Could they capture the transformation of two historic buildings, their locale and their communities?
Andrew Grassie depicts the Fine Art and Childrens sections of the former library as their books are removed. Transposing the photographic into the painterly, he evokes the architectural past and then juxtaposes it with the new life of these interiors as galleries.
Rosalind Nashashibi’s installation is inspired by a 16mm film found in a skip in east London; and a show of kilims at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1977. Through found images she shows how pattern is encoded with symbolic narratives; and how it offers unexpected parallels across time and culture.
Nick Relph and Oliver Payne’s film installation looks at the aspirations of regeneration projects. Filmed in an anonymous abandoned library, the work uses digital manipulation to critique processes of gentrification.
Juergen Teller’s portraits feature figures who live locally and have a relationship with the Gallery and its past. Like Paris in the 1900s, or New York in the 1960s, east London in the early 21st century is a mecca for artists and a crucible for culture. Teller photographs just some of the individuals who play a part in this defining moment.
Throughout the building
Throughout the Gallery works of art offer a space for contemplation, discussion or just sitting down.
Christian Boltanski, known for his meticulous archival reconstructions, has created Vie Impossible Whitechapel (2006) — a noticeboard assembling photos, letters and ephemera evoking the time of his 1990 Whitechapel Gallery show.
Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller’s Artangel audio walk, The Missing Voice: Case Study B (1999), guides visitors on a physical and psychological journey through the streets of Spitalfields.
Liam Gillick, who engages with the semiotics of architecture and design, uses a spectrum of Kvadrat fabrics in his seating project, Prototype Conference Room (2002/09) for the Zilkha Auditorium. Adjustment Filter (2009) in the Café/Bar includes a joke featuring God, Stanley Kubrick and a bicycle; and a maze-like mural on the ceiling.
Rodney Graham’s copper and steel working Weathervane (2008) is permanently installed on the Gallery roof. It depicts the artist as the sixteenth century scholar, Erasmus, seated backwards on a horse while reading The Praise of Folly.
Mary Heilmann’s clubchairs reflect her celebrated painterly style, with their woven backs of multi-coloured, polypropylene webbing.
Annie Ratti, a self-confessed ‘waterphile’, presents a drinking fountain, which exposes the science of water filtration; and offers a moment of privacy with her Tête à Tête chair.
Tobias Rehberger’s multi-coloured acrylic columns of light provide at once a source of beauty and illumination.
Richard Wentworth, the sculptor, photographer and inveterate collector, curates the Study Studio’s ‘cabinet of curiosities’.
Franz West’s Diwan or couch, invites visitors to take a rest, have a conversation, indulge in Freudian introspection and become part of the work of art.
image: Minerva Cuevas
80-82 Whitechapel High Street - London