10 iconic exhibitions from 50 years of Hayward Gallery
From the moment it first opened its doors in 1968, Hayward Gallery has played an integral part in the British art world.
For half a century, from its opening Henri Matisse retrospective to the current celebration of Lee Bul, the gallery has presented work by the world’s most adventurous and innovative artists.
In 2018, we celebrated Hayward Gallery’s 50th anniversary and took the opportunity to look back at some of the incredible exhibitions that have graced the concrete of our brutalist icon. From Bridget Riley to Tracey Emin, Francis Bacon to Antony Gormley we’re certainly not short on glittering highlights, but we have managed to curate the incredible role-call of artistic talent down to the following ten iconic exhibitions.
Bright, colourful and often intensely dynamic, Hayward Gallery’s 1970 exhibition Kinetics was a major international showcase of the new active sculptural art. Featuring works by Jean Tinguely, Nam June Paik, Peter Logan, Takis, Martha Boto and many others this presentation of art in motion dazzled a wide-eyed public.
1971 Bridget Riley: Paintings and Drawings 1951-1971
Bridget Riley was the first contemporary painter to have a full-scale retrospective here at Hayward Gallery. The exhibition, organised by the Arts Council as part of a European tour, featured the artist’s black and white works, alongside her lesser known paintings, early drawings and sketches. The retrospective took place ten years after the artist’s first solo exhibition at London’s Gallery One, and three years after she won the International Prize for Painting at the Venice Biennale.
1989 The Other Story
This seminal exhibition - devised and selected by artist, writer, editor and curator Rashed Araeen - celebrated the contribution of Artists from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean in post-war Britain. Deliberately not an academic or objective history, it was instead curated by an artist who declared himself to be ‘wholly involved in the story’. The Other Story was divided into four thematic sections: In the Citadel of Modernism; Taking the Bull by the Horns; Confronting the System; and Recovering Cultural Metaphors. Twenty-four artists took part in the exhibition, including Sonia Boyce, Eddie Chambers, Mona Hatoum, Lubaina Himid, Keith Piper and F.N. Souza.
1996 Spellbound: Art and Film
Our 1996 exhibition Spellbound explored the relationship between art and film. As well as installation pieces, which included a room full of props by Eduardo Paolozzi, the exhibition also showcased specially produced films from artists including Damien Hirst, Steve McQueen and Boyd Webb. Other artists played with the concepts of existing films; such as Douglas Gordon’s 24-Hour Psycho, which slowed down Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal work so as to make the film last a whole day.
1998 Anish Kapoor
In 1998 Hayward Gallery was the venue for the first major showing in a public gallery in the UK of the work of Anish Kapoor. The exhibition featured 20 large-scale sculptural works made between 1990 and 1998 including a number of site-specific works which responded to the architecture of the gallery. The artist described the exhibition, which took over the entirety of Hayward Gallery, as being ‘like theatre, but not theatrical’.
“It may be the most valuable insight into Anish Kapoor’s work to suggest that the presence of an object can render a space more empty than mere vacancy could ever envisage.”
2002 Paul Klee: The nature of Creation
This was the first major retrospective of Klee’s work to be held in the UK. Selected by the artist Bridget Riley and art historian Robert Kudielka, the exhibition benefitted from what the then Hayward Gallery Director Susan Ferleger Brandes described as both ‘a scholarly focus and an artist’s eye’. Featuring 96 works that ranged from drawings and watercolours to examples of Klee’s teaching at the Bauhaus, the exhibition set out to examine the seminal role Klee had in the development of twentieth-century art.
2007 Antony Gormley: Blind Light
For his first major showing in a London public gallery Antony Gormley presented a series of large-scale installations, including several newly commissioned works that dramatically engaged with Hayward Gallery’s architecture. Taking the body as its point of departure, the exhibition explored the ways in which we orientate ourselves spatially; how we react when disorientated and how we relate to architecture and the built environment.
The exhibition also memorably took the artist’s work beyond the gallery with Event Horizon, which featured 30 life-size bronze casts of the artist’s body sited on the rooftops of surrounding buildings and Waterloo Bridge – all of them visible from Hayward Gallery’s sculpture terraces.
2008 Psycho Buildings: Artists take on Architecture
In the summer of 2008 Hayward Gallery was visibly and physically transformed as it was filled with artist-designed architectural environments for Psycho Buildings, an exhibition that invited visitors to immerse themselves in a series of eleven atmospheric, enthralling and unsettling installations. As part of the exhibition the Austrian artists' collective Gelitin transformed our west facing sculpture terrace into a boating lake - complete with handmade boats - high above Belvedere Road.
Inside the sense of disorder was continued by Marco Castillo and Dagoberto Rodriguez, from the Havana-based collective Los Carpinteros, with their installation Cold Study of a Disaster which created a full-scale apartment caught mid-explosion complete with collapsing walls and furniture and furnishings flying through the air.
2012 Joy in People: Jeremy Deller
This mid-career survey provided a fresh overview of Jeremy Deller’s multi-faceted work. Describing himself as a ‘self-taught conceptual artist’, Deller has alternatively been an assembler of things and a ‘stager’ of events, orchestrating, curating and directing projects that include processions, historical re-enactments, demonstrations, films and exhibitions. Joy in People featured almost all of the artist’s major works since the early 1990s, including installations, photographs, videos, banners, performance works and sound pieces.
2013 Light Show
This exhibition brought together sculptures and installations that use artificial light to transform space and to influence and alter perception. Making use of materials ranging from off-the-shelf fixtures to computer-controlled lighting, the works stimulated many different - and often surprising - responses. Visitors were invited to wonder at, contemplate, investigate and, in some cases, to interact with illumination. Among the 22 artists exhibited in Light Show were David Batchelor, Olafur Eliasson, Dan Flavin, Nancy Holt, Jenny Holzer, Philippe Parreno and James Turrell.