cover-01-68e7a8bebff3afa8840dd13a6c353456 cover-02-08b6f767256f66d4e02006802bbb28e8 cover-03-2fdb7f291fd8271e20824aeeba857140 cover-04-24961fd87c3979b3282f46f27783aa42 cover-05-343bcf4eb770e7f4305bb805f93988fb cover-06-47ee5cee779adac68c43e39201648d2b cover-07-b8b69206045394b55e6b4d46fe440ed4 cover-08-ffd9e7c72b73746f3253221629e3b991 cover-09-aaedd41976a1b8ae941d3176be971060 cover-10-8b074bffc3e83e96d27e54aa96abd5f3 cover-11-a104ecdd95c7579416b8232ec18f2056 cover-12-3266d6b9b38588a99d96543f7488e96c cover-13-5e4de01d67bf50175ffcd67124de288d cover-14-b1a03c86991b2986422c62205fc9e95a cover-15-6d579649a418d520d2e22f271b9964e9 cover-16-874e766d1f4496f9342910687b093bf2 cover-17-1e234599a26ea41726ad1bc1df077580 cover-18-a1a95186dbded6c2bf096e53efef9ad1 cover-20-7d3f2daa41c7eec3f3502bbb6b98a1b7
cover-01-5130cf9fe8b12a040a0baa27c6046269 cover-02-833a1298c52d6664b96d930a6ef29a8e cover-03-f69122ace6ec29a066b900f500f64bd7 cover-04-7c2ccfbe47691e2c9920774e5b3b3f6f cover-05-ac73c929b0b623fa23acb9334d7a1fb8 cover-06-c0209221b42ce26d393d16edda9d8aca cover-07-13d68b7e03f6ca1e3bc15be17bb85427 cover-08-0eded7379cb2dc73680b338183b1fcb1 cover-09-3f2e693ef30b9bc633117749dfd3fb91 cover-10-2f99d682c4084954287e3d4652ee98f9 cover-11-13655c076a38842e465a397e12732408 cover-12-b17d3bcbf8a7e0fc6f63704ede3494c3 cover-13-ab21d972d1fbb2e32079671d8ba3c1af cover-14-6b0ab7c349e850b5f56a7e70fa3a4738 cover-15-78981fd5c6e1a9b132c941a8ee6ec829 cover-16-d0a1ed39c767fa65766fdeafec760e68 cover-17-a06f9e8022b460526da7b8227fae8a2b cover-18-cae3ac44bb92221fdd350473ad02611e cover-20-9f1b4d8fc2706cba6fed0f6a0d7ef7b3

Curator Talk

Frances Morris discusses her approach, alongside Skarlet Smatana, director of the Economou Collection and Gutai artist Yuko Nasaka at 8pm on 13th October

New Beginnings: Between Gesture and Geometry

The George Economou Collection Space

13 OCT. 2016 —
13 APR. 2017

Press Release

The George Economou Collection is pleased to announce New Beginnings: Between Gesture and Geometry, an exhibition bringing together work by nineteen artists who emerged in the years following World War II. Looking beyond the canonical Paris–New York axis, the show focuses on the geographically more dispersed but no less groundbreaking practices of artists in Europe and Asia whose radical innovations were the result of dialogue and exchange among a rich network of individuals and groups that transcended national borders.

After World War II, many artists felt that figuration had become impossible and turned to physical gestures and material processes as well as the immaterial qualities of light, space and movement to create a new and dynamic relationship with the viewer. Alberto Burri, Lucio Fontana and Yves Klein were all, in different ways, enormously important in liberating painting from its conventional pictorial role – bringing time, space and matter into the frame and thus into the consciousness of the audience. For many artists their example provided an important catalyst.

In Japan, a younger generation were exploring similar ideas and founded the Gutai Art Association in Osaka in 1954. Aware of developments in American painting, these artists deliberately sought to extend the potential of the medium through innovative techniques and unconventional materials. Kazuo Shiraga, for example, invented a technique of painting with his feet, while other artists incorporated non-artistic materials such as pebbles, cloth and sawdust into their work. Gutai was introduced to Western artists and audiences via their internationally distributed journal and through the intervention of the French critic and gallerist Michel Tapié, who began showing their work in Turin in the late 1950s.

Another related and almost simultaneous break with the past was initiated by the group Zero, founded in Düsseldorf three years after Gutai. Zero was a network of artists from across Western Europe with connections to Latin America and Japan as well as informal links to other groups in Europe such as the Dutch Nul group. Artists including Jan Schoonhoven and Heinz Mack rejected the language of gestural painting, proposing in its place a refined vocabulary of geometrically organised forms and a preference for the monochrome. This is echoed in the work of Korean artists associated with the Dansaekhwa movement and their own explorations, starting in the 1970s, of the materiality of non-figurative abstraction.

The works in New Beginnings are remarkable not only for their formal and conceptual innovations, but in how they trace the outlines of a global art world that has been too often overlooked in favour of a New York–centric art history. The belief shared by many of the artists that international exchange could be a vehicle of progressive innovation offers a new perspective on the history of postwar art and offers a fascinating model for intercultural collaboration and dialogue today.

-Frances Morris, 2016