The New Monumentality

29 May – 29 August 2009

Exhibition in Galleries 1, 2 and 3

Gerard Byrne, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Dorit Margreiter explore the attraction of modern post-war buildings for three artists born in the heyday of monumental architecture, as typified by London’s Barbican Centre.

Byrne, Gonzalez-Foerster and Margreiter are among the most interesting artists working in Europe today. All three use film and script to investigate and animate the architecture of the 1960s and this project brings them together for the first time.

After World War II, architects looked to the abstract language of sculpture as a way of investing their buildings with greater power and significance. These forward-thinking forms, which still seem modern today, frame the exhibition.

Both Byrne and Margreiter present newly commissioned work filmed on the 1960s campus of the University of Leeds, one of the most ambitious of all European post-war university campuses. Chamberlin Powell and Bon created the celebrated Barbican Centre in the same years, but their monumental campus in Leeds is little known and still unlisted. This unique exhibition thus provides a special opportunity to fuse an international idiom with the locally site-specific.

Gonzalez-Foerster presents a recent work, filmed in Brazil, set under the canopy designed by Oscar Niemeyer for the first São Paolo Bienal in 1951. Together the films look at how we understand and remember space, at what was modern then compared with what is modern now, and at how sound-tracks both corroborate and undermine the proof of the naked eye.

Gerard Byrne (b.1969, based in Dublin) represented Ireland at the last Venice Biennale and is currently showing at the Lisson Gallery. Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (b.1965, based in Paris) showed in the 2007 Skulptur Projekte Münster and realised the current Turbine Hall commission at Tate Modern. Dorit Margreiter (b.1967, based in Vienna) is currently showing at MAK in Vienna and has been selected for the Austrian Pavilion in this year’s Venice Biennale.

The New Monumentality coincides with Concrete and Poetry, a Gallery 4 show devoted to the drawings of Lina Bo Bardi for São Paulo’s Museum of Modern Art, a project of similar vintage and ambition. Both exhibitions build on earlier projects at the Institute which have made reference to modernist architecture and its relationship to art and leisure, including Model Forms, Sites for Sculpture in Modern Brazil and Figuring Space. It will be accompanied by talks and a symposium on the aspirational character of both post-war educational and architectural thinking.

Venue details

Venue address

Henry Moore Institute
The Headrow
United Kingdom
T: 0113 246 7467

Opening times

Galleries: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm

Research Library: Monday to Friday, 10am - 5pm
Archive of Sculptors' Papers: Tuesday to Friday, by prior appointment

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