A major new exhibition which connects the work of over 50 women from across the globe through a shared language of radical abstraction
Open Wednesday to Sunday 10am – 5pm (plus Bank Holidays)
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.
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.
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.