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News: EXHIBITION | Beyond Form: Lines of Abstraction, 1950 - 1970, February  7, 2024

EXHIBITION | Beyond Form: Lines of Abstraction, 1950 - 1970

February 7, 2024

Turner Contemporary
Beyond Form: Lines of Abstraction, 1950 - 1970

Saturday 3 February – Monday 6 May 2024
Guest curated by Dr Flavia Frigeri.

This spring, Turner Contemporary will present Beyond Form: Lines of Abstraction, 1950 – 1970, a group exhibition presenting abstraction as a radical global language shared by women artists in the twenty years following World War II. Guest curated by Dr Flavia Frigeri, the exhibition will bring together the works of more than 50 artists to examine how, through abstract forms, materials and modes, women pushed the boundaries of artmaking while tackling seismic cultural, social and political shifts. Comprising over 80 artworks, predominantly sculpture, the exhibition will trace how the language of abstraction developed on a global scale.

Beyond Form will re-evaluate how art, gender and the act of making intersected in the post-WWII period, when men often eclipsed women’s artistic contributions. It will highlight the pioneering efforts of women artists in the development of abstraction, asserting their vital role in the discourse of the times.

In the 1950s and 1960s, women actively resisted the pressure to return to domestic roles, instead capitalising on their substantial wartime work experiences. By embracing abstraction, these artists leveraged a form of expression that resonated with the era’s proto-feminist sentiments. Through employing techniques like hanging, stacking and weaving they subverted established art-craft hierarchies and challenged entrenched gender norms. Their innovative use of sculptural materials allowed them to investigate critical social topics and explore themes concerning the human form, political discourse and more. 

Looking beyond the Western canon, Beyond Form will present abstraction as a constellation of interconnected stories. It will celebrate artists from Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, positioning them as central figures in the history of abstraction and will bring to light many works that have previously gone unseen.

The exhibition will include sculptures by Mária Bartuszová, Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse and Hannah Wilke. It will highlight Marisa Merz’s Living Sculpture (1966), a piece realised within the intimate confines of a domestic space before the artist had a studio. It will also explore Carla Accardi and Marta Pan’s innovative use of modern materials to redefine space and perception. The fibre art of Maria Teresa Chojnacka and Ewa Pachucka will also be featured, symbolising resistance and liberation from state censorship or monitoring. Complementing the sculptural focus of the exhibition will be select paintings and reliefs, such as Carmen Herrera’s East (1965) and Agnes Martin’s Morning (1965), enriching the understanding of this artistic period. 

Together, the works included in Beyond Form will map a constellation that speaks to the global, collective language of abstraction that transcends geographical and cultural boundaries through the universal medium of sculpture. 

Beyond Form is guest curated by Dr Flavia Frigeri, art historian and ‘Chanel Curator for the Collection’ at the National Portrait Gallery, London. At Turner Contemporary the exhibition is realised with Sarah Martin, Head of Exhibitions. 

Dr Flavia Frigeri said: “There have been other exhibitions bringing together art by women from the post-war era, but what makes Beyond Form unique is connecting artists from across the globe through radical abstraction using forms and materials most recognisable in other contexts. We see a collection of artists who, at a surface level, are working in disparate locations, but are connected by a universal desire to express their personal, cultural, and political perspectives in ways that subvert the canon of the time.”    

A publication with a new essay by Dr Flavia Frigeri will accompany the exhibition, published by Eiderdown Books.  

Clarrie Wallis, Director of Turner Contemporary said: “Beyond Form: Lines of Abstraction, 1950 – 1970 stands as a crucial global exploration of post-war abstraction, showcasing its multifaceted nature and its transformative impact on the language of sculpture. By liberating themselves from traditional constraints and embracing new materials, women artists were revolutionising the way they conveyed ideas through sculpture and ushering in a new era of creative expression.” 


Exhibiting artists:

Carla Accardi; Novera Ahmed; Anthea Alley; Ruth Asawa; Mária Bartuszová; Lynda Benglis; Margaret Benyon; Anna-Eva Bergman; Sandra Blow; Lee Bontecou; Louise Bourgeois; Rosemarie Castoro; Jocelyn Chewett; Maria Teresa Chojnacka; Lygia Clark; Saloua Raouda Choucair; Dadamaino; Dorothy Dehner; Claire Falkenstein; Habuba Farah; Maria Freire; Elisabeth Frink; Sue Fuller; Barbara Hepworth; Carmen Herrera; Eva Hesse; Sheila Hicks; Ilona Keserü; Bice Lazzari; Felicia Leirner; Kim Lim; Agnes Martin; Mary Martin; Marisa Merz; Yuko Nasaka; Louise Nevelson; Ewa Pachucka; Marta Pan; Howardina Pindell; Pilloo Pochkhanawala; Bridget Riley; Meg Rutherford; Ana Sacerdote; Behjat Sadr; Nasreen Mohamedi; Mona Saudi; Hedde Sterne; Arpita Singh; Jean Spencer; Hedda Sterne; Lenore Tawney; Marilia Gianetti Torres; Paule Vézelay; Daniela Vinopalová; Hannah Wilke; Gillian Wise.

About Turner Contemporary   

Turner Contemporary is one of the UK’s leading art galleries. Founded to celebrate JMW Turner’s connection to Margate in 2001, the David Chipperfield designed gallery opened in 2011. Our work extends beyond showcasing world-class exhibitions to driving the social and economic regeneration of Margate and East Kent and transforming lives in one of the most deprived areas of the UK. 

Since it opened, Turner Contemporary has welcomed over 4.1 million visits, put over £80 million back into the Kent economy, and connected with thousands of people from the local community through our world-class programme.

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