Adventures of the Black Square

Abstract Art and Society 1915–2015

  • Dóra Maurer, Seven Rotations 1 -6, 1979

    Dóra Maurer Seven Rotations 1 – 6, 1979, collection of Zsolt Somlói and Katalin Spengler © Dóra Maurer.

  • Peter-Halley-Auto-Zone-1992

    Peter Halley Auto Zone1992 © Peter Halley, courtesy Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia

  • El Lissitzky Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge!, 1919–1920

    El Lissitzky Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge! 1919–1920 collection Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven.


Zhao Yao Painting of Thought I-493 (2015

Medium: 7 colour overprint of multi-layered Plasticol ink on digitally printed Buckram BookclothDimensions: 59.5 x 52.6 cm (23.5 x 20.07 inches). Edition of 55 works, signed and numbered rervso.

Adventures of the Black Square Abstract Art and Society 1915–2015

Exhibition Catalogue

A publication exploring how the universal visual language of geometric abstraction relates to society and politics.

Past Exhibition

This exhibition was on 15 Jan - 06 Apr 2015

Abstract Square Earrings

Designer Tom Pigeon has created a limited edition jewellery collection inspired by Adventures of the Black Square.


David Batchelor Found Monochromes Postcard Pack

Using David Bachelors Found Monochromes, we have created a pack of 12 postcards to accompany the artist’s installation at the Whitechapel Gallery. Postcards are A6 (10.5 x 15 cm) in size and supplied in a wallet.


Nikolái Punin Mini-Print

A high quality mini-print produced exclusively for the Adventures of the Black Square exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery. Image: First Cycle of Lectures, Read for a Short Course for Drawing Instructors,1920, Lithograph. Courtesy Archivo Lafuente. Paper size: 35.5 x 28 cm



Edited by Maria Lind. Part of the acclaimed series of anthologies which document major themes and ideas in contemporary art. This anthology reconsiders crucial aspects of abstraction’s resurgence in contemporary art, exploring formal abstraction, economic abstraction and social abstraction.

Adventures of the Black Square:
Abstract Art and Society 1915–2015

“Exciting, thought-provoking, intelligent, informative and fun? Definitely.” The Times
“As Beautiful as it is brainy” ☆☆☆☆ Time Out
☆☆☆☆The Telegraph

This epic show takes Kazimir Malevich’s radical painting of a black square – first shown in Russia 100 years ago – as the emblem of a new art and a new society. The exhibition features over 100 artists who took up its legacy, from Buenos Aires to Tehran, London to Berlin, New York to Tel Aviv. Their paintings, photographs and sculptures symbolise Modernism’s utopian aspirations and breakdowns.

Presented chronologically the show follows four themes:

‘Utopia’ is expressed through Malevich’s black square, the progenitor of new aesthetic and political horizons, seized by artists from Vladimir Tatlin to Hélio Oiticica.

‘Architectonics’ presents floating geometries that propose new social spaces as imagined by Lyubov Popova or Piet Mondrian and Liam Gillick.

‘Communication’ spreads the message to the masses in manifestos and avant-garde graphics.

The ‘Everyday’ embeds routines and objects in the aesthetics of progress as observed in a textile by Sophie Taeuber-Arp or the abstract motifs painted on Peruvian lorries captured by Armando Andrade Tudela. Middle Eastern artists such as Nazgol Ansarinia link Modernism with Arabic and Persian decorative arts; while Western artists such as Lewis Baltz, Peter Halley or Jenny Holzer critique economic and political abstraction. Adventures of the Black Square explores how abstract art has travelled worldwide, permeating our life and times.

Until 6 April 2015

Special Openings:
Friday 3 & Saturday 4 April, 11am-9pm
Easter Monday, 6 April, 11am-6pm

Book Now:
T +44 (0)20 7092 9895

Adventures of the Black Square has been made possible by the generous support of:  

Dilyara Allakhverdova and Elchin Safarov, Maryam and Edward Eisler, Candida and Zak Gertler, Jack Kirkland, Ringier Collection Zurich, Maria and Malek Sukkar, Galeria Graça Brandão, Embassy of Israel to the UK, Multimedia Art Museum / Collection of Moscow House of Photography Museum, Outset Israel, Pace Gallery, taubert Contemporary, Vilma Gold, London, White Cube, With support from the Government of Mexico as part of the Year of Mexico in the UK 2015. 

This display has been made possible by the provision of insurance through the Government Indemnity Scheme. The Whitechapel Gallery would like to thank HM Government for providing Government Indemnity and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council
England for arranging indemnity.

Transport partner: Martinspeed


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