There is a rattle and hiss as a Subway train hurtles by, the painted metal a riot of colour – a speeding canvas for guerilla artists against the smoking cityscape. This is The Big Apple 1977 and the city is on fire.
In the Bronx, a new kind of hybrid music – a DIY collage of looped Funk and Disco breaks that will one day dominate the sonic landscape – is being born on street corners and in makeshift dance halls. They call it Hip Hop.
In Central Manhattan the lights of Broadway shine down on the throngs clamouring outside Studio 54, as inside Warhol gets down with Grace Jones, and the stars swing from the mirror balls and dance, ankle deep, in glitter.
The word is out – there’s a block party in Harlem tonight, and you jump the barriers and head Uptown. You get off at 125th street, the bass making the pavement beneath your feet shudder as you head towards the sound. There’s electricity in the air tonight and the streets themselves feel alive – because this the city that never sleeps, where the party never stops and the night is always young.
Visit this winter as we turn our rooftop space in Brixton into a scene from New York in the 1970s; drawing inspiration from iconic venues such as Studio 54 and the Harlem Apollo we are taking you across the pond and back in time with a selection of themed bars, a night club, private rooms and New York inspired street food.
Le Freak (night club) glittering mirror ball playground, inspired by the legendary Studio 54
Brixton Apollo (bar / club) art deco homage to Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theatre: ‘Where stars are born and legends are made’
Club Rapture (bar) punk rock palace – The grubby jewell in the crown of the Lower Eastside scene
Coldharbour Cafe (bar) prop up the counter of a quintessential New York diner
Rachel Maclean is a Glasgow-based multi-media artist who creates artificial visions using green-screen technology. Within her fantastical settings Maclean parodies fairy tales, children’s television programmes, beauty product advertising, internet videos, and pop culture playing all the extravagantly costumed characters herself. At once seductive and nightmarish, glossy and grotesque, her films destabilise power dynamics and consumer desires.
Curated by Elsa Coustou, Assistant Curator, Contemporary British Art. Maclean’s new film work, It’s What’s Inside That Counts (2016), has been commissioned by HOME, Manchester. The film has been created in partnership with HOME, Manchester, the University of Salford Art Collection, Artpace San Antonio, Zabludowicz Collection, Tate, Frieze Film and Channel 4 Random Acts. The exhibition has been created in partnership with HOME, Manchester.
Exploring an unparalleled period in American art, this long-awaited exhibition reveals the full breadth of a movement that will forever be associated with the boundless creative energy of 1950s New York.
In the “age of anxiety” surrounding the Second World War and the years of free jazz and Beat poetry, artists like Pollock, Rothko and de Kooning broke from accepted conventions to unleash a new confidence in painting.
Often monumental in scale, their works are at times intense, spontaneous and deeply expressive. At others they are more contemplative, presenting large fields of colour that border on the sublime.
These radical creations redefined the nature of painting, and were intended not simply to be admired from a distance but as two-way encounters between artist and viewer.
It was a watershed moment in the evolution of 20th-century art, yet, remarkably, there has been no major survey of the movement since 1959.
South African artist William Kentridge (b.1955, Johannesburg) is renowned for his animated expressionist drawings and films exploring time, the history of colonialism and the aspirations and failures of revolutionary politics.
In this major exhibition of six large-scale installations by the artist, music and drama are ruptured by revolution, exile and scientific advancement.
Highlights include the film work Second-hand Reading (2013), installation O Sentimental Machine (2015) and The Refusal of Time (2012), an immersive work created with composer Philip Miller, projection designer Catherine Meyburgh, choreographer Dada Masilo, scientist Peter Galison and collaborators from around the world.
From dance as activism to British Sign Language, interaction with robots to political posturing: what do languages of the body reveal or conceal about the experience of inhabiting one?
Workshops & activities!
– Zine workshop with Collective Creativity artists
– Voguing mini-ball
– Social robotics
– Body to Brain (science of high-fives to face-palms)
– Performance workshop on the language of healthcare with Josh Bitelli
– ‘Speaking Without Words’ with autism expert Phoebe Caldwell
– ‘Fat Activism’ with author and activist Charlotte Cooper
– ‘Body Language and rhetoric’ with physiologist Harry Witchel
An exhibition of new paintings by American artist Peter Saul. This is the first London exhibition by Saul, who remains a vital presence in American painting through more than fifty years.
Peter Saul was born in San Francisco in 1934. Following his studies at the California School of Fine Arts and Washington University, St. Louis, he settled for six years in Paris, an unusual choice for a young artist at a time when New York City was the place to be. Saul has remained something of an outsider ever since.
Neither a believer in the promise of abstraction, nor a disciple of the Existentialist philosophies underlying the artspeak of the day, Saul remained true to his personal influences and obsessions: French academic painting, MAD magazine, artists such as Paul Cadmus and Rosa Bonheur.
Saul embraced narrative and figuration in painting when painting was supposed to be non-objective (if one didn’t already believe painting to be dead). His ironic and caustic humour, love of the grotesque and dogged insistence on the necessity of a picture to tell a story, have left him at odds with every dominant style and “-ism” of the past five decades.
Saul has developed into a profound history painter whose ambivalent politics and lurid imagery further complicate the reception of his painting. Consequently, he has long existed outside the canon of acceptable contemporary artists, a radical fringe figure who nonetheless exerts profound influence on younger artists.
Despite spending his whole professional life in the Belgian seaside town of Ostend, James Ensor was very successful in his lifetime and exerted considerable influence on the development of Expressionism. An innovator and an outsider, he rebelled against the conservative art teachings of the late 19th century academy in Brussels, drawn instead to the avant-garde salons where his radical creative vision could thrive.
Ensor’s childhood spent among the fantastical treasures of his family’s curiosity shop offers a clue as to how the seeds of this wild imagination were sown. The imagery of masks and carnivals runs through much of his work, from vibrant colours and flamboyant costumes to an ever-present sense of drama and satire.
We invited the artist Luc Tuymans, a fellow Belgian and admirer of Ensor, to curate this unique exhibition. Taking a personal view, Tuymans looks back at Ensor’s singular career through a selection of his most bizarrely brilliant and gloriously surreal creations.
Revel in some of the most interesting, most transgressive moments in cinema, as we explore the trashier side of celluloid.
From famously grubby origins as a fairground attraction, film is looking pretty respectable these days: there are reviews in broadsheet newspapers, directors recast as ‘auteurs’ and the pomp and circumstance of international festivals.
But for all this, the movies have never been entirely co-opted into official ‘high-culture’. Part art form, part mass entertainment, they have always had a trashier side, and this has made it one of the great pleasures of cinema-going across the years. If we stick with only ‘good films’ and ‘acceptable’ content, well, we’re missing out on some of the greatest moments in all cinema.
In this spirit, Barbican invites you to revel in some of the most interesting, most transgressive moments committed to celluloid, carefully curated by our team.
Featuring work by Catherine Breillat, Werner Herzog, Douglas Sirk and ‘Pope of Trash’ John Waters, among many others, this season of arthouse shockers, exploitation classics, ‘failed art movies’ and outrageous melodrama feature questionable morals, shocking endings, a bit of nudity and a whole bunch of raised-eyebrow moments.