Concrete global! Curated by Luisa Heese and Anke Kempkes

01. Oktober 2022 until 15. Januar 2023

Banner Konkret global

Since their beginnings in the early twentieth century, constructive and concrete artists have not only created an alternative movement to figuration, but also developed artistic means to define their visions of a new society. The “Necessity of Concreteness” (Mari Carmen Ramírez) represents a quest for a universal language of art, architecture, and poetry. The global development of Concretism after 1945 was influenced by several factors: while Europe was processing the experience of the Holocaust and the Second World War, the countries of the Global South struggled to build up postcolonial societies. Artists who were living in a totalitarian system often regarded the universal language of Concretism as a counter draft to the political conditions of their own existence. Avoiding the simplifications of the Western narrative of “abstract art as a world language”, the study of concrete art in a global context can help to write a more nuanced history of the international avantgardes after 1945.

It is essential for our understanding of the global spreading of constructive and concrete art after 1945 that these movements did not exclusively originate in the hegemonial centres of the Western world such as in Paris. Instead, non-objective, and geometrically defined languages of art also came to life in comparably peripheric European places such as Zurich or Ulm – and they appeared in Central and South America, in the Middle East, in North and West Africa, and in South and West Asia – most notably in several cities of South America and in countries which had recently gained political independence such as Pakistan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, and Ghana. Artists in these countries manifested their self-confidence by actively taking part in a dialogue with the international tendencies of geometric and constructivist art. While using the formulas of European modernism (e.g. of Malevich, Mondrian, Moholy-Nagy), they drew a line against the dogmatic programs of these predecessors und followed their own principles. Carried by these historic (non-) simultaneities, new artistic concepts were formed amidst new cultural situations, often connected by transnational networks whose common concern can be described as the development of a new subjectivity in art.

Taking up the idea of post-World War II Concretism as a world-wide phenomenon, the exhibition “KONKRET GLOBAL!“ at the Museum im Kulturspeicher, Würzburg, assembles and analyses major works by key artists from various parts of the world, thus exploring the international contexts and the social and political conditions of a particular global artistic movement.

Funded by the
German Federal Cultural Foundation

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Funded by the Federal Government
Commissioner for Culture and the Media

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