History of Firsts

  • Clement Atlee speaks before Picasso's Guernica at the Whitechapel Gallery

History of Firsts

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'Whatever the art, the Whitechapel has looked at it freshly and without prejudice, with spectacular results.’
Mail on Sunday

The Whitechapel Gallery’s history is a history of firsts:

1939
Guernica, Picasso’s iconic depiction of the horrors of the Spanish civil war is displayed at the Whitechapel Gallery on its first and only visit to Britain.

1958
The first major show in Britain of seminal American abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock.

1961
British premier of Mark Rothko – the installation of his work at the Whitechapel Gallery becomes his template for all subsequent shows.

1970 and 1971
First shows of British artists David Hockney, Gilbert & George and Richard Long.

1982
The Whitechapel Gallery introduces little-known Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo to London audiences.

1993
The Whitechapel Gallery showcases Lucian Freud, one of Britain’s greatest living figurative painters.

2001 and 2002
Liam Gillick and Nan Goldin stage their first major solo shows in the UK.

The Whitechapel Gallery has curated groundbreaking group exhibitions ranging from the proto-pop art show This is Tomorrow of 1956 to the revisioning of modernism in the 2004 blockbuster, Faces in the Crowd.

Since 1901 art has been presented alongside education. A not-for-profit educational charity, the Whitechapel Gallery has pioneered artists’ residencies in schools and other education innovations that have been adopted as models across the UK and internationally.

The Whitechapel Project will create the next century of firsts.