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Melanie Smith

Adventures of the Black Square

Abstract Art and Society, 1915-2015


Melanie Smith's work is included in the Whitechapel Gallery's exhibition Adventures of the Black Square, which opens January 15 and runs through April 6, 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 Mondrian and 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 by Armando 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.


The exhibition is accompanied by an exhibition catalog, with essays by Tanya Barson, Briony Fer, Jiang Jiehong, and Tom McDonough.


Whitechapel Gallery

77-82 Whitechapel High St, London, UK

+44 (0)20 7522 7888