A major new exhibition which connects the work of over 50 women from across the globe through a shared language of radical abstraction.
Guest curated by Dr Flavia Frigeri.
Featuring: Carla Accardi; Novera Ahmed; Ruth Asawa; Maria Bartuszová; Lynda Benglis; Louise Bourgeois; Maria Theresa Chojnacka; Lygia Clark; Saloua Raouda Choucair; Sue Fuller; Eva Hesse; Marisa Merz; Yuko Nasaka; Louise Nevelson; Mona Saudi; Lenore Tawney; Hedda Sterne; Hannah Wilke, and more.
Saturday 3 February – Monday 6 May 2024
Media view: Friday 2 February 2024, 11:30am – 1:30pm
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.”
Sunley Gallery: Lynda Benglis
Saturday 3 February – Sunday 1 September 2024
To coincide with Beyond Form: Lines of Abstraction, 1950 – 1970 Turner Contemporary will present three recent sculptures by Lynda Benglis in the Sunley Gallery. Born in 1941, Benglis is celebrated for carving out a unique space within the male-dominated art world, earning acclaim for her pioneering use of wax and poured latex. Her latest polished bronze sculptures, with their dynamic and fluid forms, continue to challenge perceptions of space. These evolved from her Elephant Necklaces, clay sculptures, digitally enlarged into bronze, underscoring her deep exploration of materiality and the transformative process of form.
Clore Learning Studio
Turner Contemporary is working with the participatory artist group Leap Then Look to bring an interactive exhibition to the Clore Learning Studio, alongside the Children’s Art Library and workshop programme. Making connections between the abstract sculptural works featured in Beyond Form, Leap Then Look are bringing tactile objects to the space for visitors of all ages and abilities to make their own sculptural works across different scales and materials. The exhibition encourages people to work together, inspiring playfulness, inquisitiveness and experimentation.
Leap Then Look will be delivering a Lacuna session for arts educators and teachers on ‘Collaborative Practice’ in the Clore Learning Studio on Friday 22 March 2024.
Leap Then Look was established in Spring 2019 by artists Lucy Cran and Bill Leslie. Since then, they have run participatory projects at institutions including Tate, Royal Academy, National Gallery, Towner Eastbourne, Compton Verney, and V&A. They are supported by Arts Council England.
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Beyond Form: Lines of Abstraction, 1950 – 1970 at Turner Contemporary from Saturday 3 February to Monday 6 May 2024.
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.
The exhibition’s Principal Supporter is Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne and is Supported by Anastasia and Igor Bukhman. Additional support comes from the Beyond Form Supporters Circle. The publication accompanying the exhibition is supported by Good Produce. Turner Contemporary receives public funding from Arts Council England and Kent County Council. With special thanks to lenders: Arts Council Collection, British Council, ESCALA, Government Art Collection, Fitzwilliam Museum, Sainsbury Centre and Tate.
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.
Winter Hours until 31 March:
Monday, Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday – Sunday, plus Bank Holidays: 10am – 5pm
Summer Hours from 1 May:
Tuesday – Sunday, plus Bank Holidays: 10am – 5pm
The exhibition’s Principal Supporter is Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne and is Supported by Anastasia and Igor Bukhman. With additional support from Veronica and Lars Bane, Christian Levett, Stephen and Yana Peel, Maria Sukkar, and Polish Cultural Institute. The publication accompanying the exhibition is supported by Good Produce. Turner Contemporary receives public funding from Arts Council England and Kent County Council. With special thanks to lenders: Arts Council Collection, British Council, ESCALA, Government Art Collection, Fitzwilliam Museum, Sainsbury Centre and Tate.