The Sea is History: Art and Black Atlantic Cultures

Symposium Friday, 20.10, 11 am

 The Sea is History: Art and Black Atlantic Cultures
A Symposium around the work of Frank Bowling

With:
Sonia Boyce, J. Michael DashEllen Gallagher, Isaac Julien, Courtney J. Martin, Steve McQueen, Mark NashDavid Scott, Allison Thompson

Explore the symposium's program here

On June 23, 2017, Haus der Kunst opened Frank Bowling: Mappa Mundi, a comprehensive survey of monumental and mid-sized paintings by the distinguished Guyanese-born, British painter Frank Bowling.

Although born in Anglophone South America, Bowling’s art is deeply connected to, and inflected by Édouard Glissant’s notion of a “Caribbean Discourse”, namely the idea that the entire critical literature and art created within the historical complex of the Black Atlantic is an ongoing process of philosophical reflection. It is for this reason that Derek Walcott’s great poem “The Sea is History” serves as a critical aperture through which to view and locate Bowling’s monumental achievement as an artist.

In his turn to abstraction in 1967, Bowling wanted to shift away from the speculative realism of the figure that underpinned his earlier work from the late 1950s to the id 1960s, in order to imagine a sensorial and visceral experience of painting, not only through lived experience, but also by invoking mythic memory, absence, loss, exile, and errantry.

Hence, Bowling developed a chromatic repertoire of dazzling colors and muted tones, modulated surfaces and shifting planes. Working with the idea of slow time – in unhurried, absorbent application of his preferred medium of acrylic paint– he built the paintings in subtle and contrasting layers. The slowly accreted surfaces of the paintings became scenes of a type of historical recall evoking unfixed territory, floating continents, evanescent seascapes, geological landscapes, liquefied magma, and anthropocentric fields.

It may be asked: why the Black Atlantic now, in the discourse of the visual? How might the visual, through the insistent aesthetic, formal, and theoretical lens of art offer us a sense of the renewal and interest in Black Atlantic cultures and the cosmopolitan variants of critical practice that it has engendered? In recent times, artists ranging from Sonia Boyce, Isaac Julien, Peter Doig, Steve McQueen and Ellen Gallagher have produced works that intervene in this diasporic critical space. Likewise, theorists such as J. Michael Dash and David Scott continue to examine questions surrounding the Antilles and the Caribbean as active sites of philosophic imagination.

 “The Sea is History: Art and Black Atlantic Cultures” engages not only with Bowling’s diasporic unconscious as an emigré, transnational, and cosmopolitan artist; it seeks to map and examine how his work upended various modernist pieties about pure immanence that surrounded formalist abstraction and its criticism within late modernism. While Bowling’s earlier humanist interest appeared to have dissipated into pure abstraction in New York, however, the abstract form in his work did not necessarily dissolve content, nor did it separate itself from representation.

Like many black artists of his generation, Bowling was confronted with the changing allegiances between the late modernist idea of the autonomy of the artwork and the demands on individual artists as agents of social and political change. With his celebrated “Map Paintings” in 1967, Bowling engendered a new discursive and critical awareness not only of the historical, but also of the specifically spatial and temporal dimension of the “Caribbean Discourse” of his painterly practice. In this radical turn the “Map Paintings” were situated at the center of the Black Atlantic as a worldly site of universal meaning and artistic invention. This self-conscious formal, and philosophical move is, in many ways, analogous to the work of West Indian and Antillean writers such as Aimé Cesaire, Derek Walcott, Wilson Harris, George Lamming, Édouard Glissant, Edward Kamau Braithwaite, and Stuart Hall, all of whom Bowling deeply admired.

The goal of this symposium, then, is to examine the intersection of the artistic, theoretical, literary, and cultural dimensions of Bowling’s practice. Over the course of the symposium, the invited participants, ranging from artists to literary scholars, cultural theorists, and art historians, will bring into sharp focus the ways in which the Black Atlantic continues to inform the production of art today by a new generation of artists, in conversation with Frank Bowling: Mappa Mundi.

Friday, October 20, 2017
11 am - 7 pm

With thanks to ICF International Curators Forum for the support of the symposium. Additional thanks to an anonymous supporter and David A. Bailey.

The symposium will be held in English

Admission: 5 €

Explore the symposium's program here

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The Sea is History: Art and Black Atlantic Cultures

Friday, 20.10, 11 am

Stretch your view


Stretch your view


EXHIBITION

Frank Bowling: Mappa Mundi

23.06.17 – 07.01.18

The comprehensive overview presents rare and never-before exhibited large-scale paintings along with other works by the Guyanese-born British painter Frank Bowling. MORE


Specters of Communism

16.11 – 21.11.17

On the occasion of the centenary of the October Revolution in Russia and nearly one hundred years after Kurt Eisner declared the Free State of Bavaria as a socialist republic at the Mathäser-Bräu in Munich, Haus der Kunst will convene Specters of Communism: A Festival on the Revolutionary Century MORE


EXHIBITION

Kiki Smith — Procession

02.02 – 03.06.18

"Procession" embraces the multifaceted practice of American artist Kiki Smith and maps its development into the present day. MORE


Publication

Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945–1965 - Exhibition Guide

MORE


“Frequencies” – Action Day for students and educators

Friday, 24.11, 3 pm

On Action Day, together Anna Pigott of Oscar Murillo’s studio, the participating pupils will present their work and talk about their experiences. Parallel to this, visitors will have the opportunity to take part in a public workshop, during which an expansive mural, consisting of sewn-together canvases, will be created. MORE


Edition

Thomas Struth

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Edition

Sarah Sze — Point for Point, 2017

MORE


Edition

Oscar Murillo

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Free First Thursday

05.10.17, 6 pm

Every 1st Thursday of the month, the entry is free of charge between 6 and 10 pm. MORE


Workshop 6 until 12 years

Frank Bowling

Saturday, 28.10, 2 pm

Frank Bowling introduces us to a new sensation of space! The large format of his paintings draws us into his world of images. Can colour create a sense of space? MORE


Workshop 6 until 12 years

Frank Bowling

Saturday, 25.11, 2 pm

Frank Bowling introduces us to a new sensation of space! The large format of his paintings draws us into his world of images. Can colour create a sense of space? MORE


Workshop 6 until 12 years

Frank Bowling

Saturday, 23.12, 2 pm

Frank Bowling introduces us to a new sensation of space! The large format of his paintings draws us into his world of images. Can colour create a sense of space? MORE


Permanent Exhibition

Archive Gallery 2017/18

18.07.17 – 04.02.18

The focus is the summer of 1937 in Munich, when the new Haus der Deutschen Kunst opened with the first "Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung", and the vilified show "Entartete Kunst" [Degenerate Art] was presented concurrently in the gallery building in the nearby Hofgarten MORE


Art commission

DER ÖFFENTLICHKEIT: Sarah Sze

15.09.17 – 12.08.18

American artist Sarah Sze has designed a new installation for Haus der Kunst's Middle Hall as the fifth edition of the annual art commission DER ÖFFENTLICHKEIT ― VON DEN FREUNDEN HAUS DER KUNST. MORE


EXHIBITION

Again and Again

15.09.17 – 08.04.18

Again and Again presents a selection of works by artists such as Mark Leckey, Bjørn Melhus, Tracey Emin, and Brice Dellsperger which exhibit a fascination for the cleaved or reproduced subject. The works collectively probe the notion of selfhood at the turn of the twenty-first century. MORE


Workshop 6 until 12 years

Frank Bowling

Saturday, 21.10, 11 am

Art Lab II: Colours tell stories – Who are you? Where do you come from? The outlines of countries and continents can be discovered in many of Frank Bowling’s Map Paintings. Together, we discover the maps in his exhibition, before we go into the studio to experiment with maps, paint and brushes. Who am I? MORE


Workshop 6 until 12 years

Thomas Struth

Saturday, 04.11, 11 am

Art Lab II – Family portraits: Thomas Struth has visited many different families around the world to photograph them. Where does your family come from, and who are its members? MORE


Ages 8 and up / German

Thomas Struth

Saturday, 11.11, 2 pm

We invent and craft our own characters and make them come alive. We tell a story. Those who like to cut and edit are in the right place here! MORE


Workshop 6 until 12 years

Frank Bowling

Saturday, 18.11, 11 am

Splash, drip, pour, splatter ... an experiment with colour: In Frank Bowling's paintings, there is much to discover. Shells, packaging material, finds from his studio and much more cover his pictures. MORE


Workshop 6 until 12 years

Thomas Struth

Saturday, 02.12, 11 am

Art Lab I – Future labs: Thomas Struth presents many unknown places in his photographs. In the studio, we create our own three-dimensional models of places: you decide what happens in them! MORE