Pioneering American artist Joan Jonas joins a special in conversation with former Whitechapel Gallery Director Iwona Blazwick on the occasion of the Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon Award 2016, generously supported by the Swarovski Foundation.
Jonas’ work transcends genres to explore space, movement and myth. Trained in art history and sculpture, she was a central figure in the performance art movement of the late 1960s. Her experiments and productions up until the early 1970s were crucial to the development of many contemporary art genres, from performance and video to conceptual art and theatre. Since 1968, her practice has explored ways of seeing, the rhythms of ritual, and the authority of objects and gestures.
Joan Jonas is a New York native and she continues to live and work in New York City. She received a B.A. in Art History from Mount Holyoke College in 1958, studied sculpture at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and received an M.F.A. in Sculpture from Columbia University in 1965. Jonas has taught at MIT since 1998, and is currently Professor Emerita in the MIT Program in Art, Culture, and Technology within the School of Architecture and Planning.
The recipient of numerous honours and awards, Jonas’s most recent solo exhibitions include the U.S. Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale 2015, Centre for Contemporary Art, Kitakyushu Project Gallery, Japan (2014); Kulturhuset Stadsteatern Stockholm (2013); Proyecto Paralelo, Mexico (2013); Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (2013); Bergen Kunsthall, Norway (2011); and Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010). She has been represented in dOCUMENTA in Kassel, Germany, six times since 1972, and has had major retrospectives at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Galerie der Stadt Stuttgart, Germany; and the Queens Museum of Art, New York.
The Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon is an annual award and gala honouring the lifetime achievements of one of our greatest artists. Recipients of the award are Joan Jonas (2016), Richard Long (2015) and Howard Hodgkin (2014).
The Swarovski Foundation was incorporated in 2013, with the mission of building on the company’s heritage of philanthropic and charitable giving. The Foundation supports charitable initiatives and organizations working across three areas, including fostering Creativity and Culture by promoting the arts, advancing education, supporting cultural institutions and innovative projects with cutting edge talent and assisting the advancement and development of young people and communities. The Youth Programme Curator post at the Gallery is also generously supported by the Swarovski Foundation.