Tate Modern, London
TATE MODERN | Bankside
SE1 9TG London
artists & participants
Century City explored the relationship between cultural creativity and the metropolis, by focusing on nine cities from around the world at specific moments over the previous hundred years.
The cities and periods are:
Bombay/Mumbai 1992-2001 Lagos 1955-70 London 1990-2001 Moscow 1916-30 New York 1969-74 Paris 1905-15 Rio de Janeiro 1955-69 Tokyo 1969-73 Vienna 1908-18
All of these cities, at particular periods, have acted as crucibles for innovation, not only in art but in other disciplines, from architecture and dance, to film, literature, music and design.
While each of the nine cities featured here generated a distinct artistic culture, they can also be seen as emblematic of wider global tendencies. Century City is a celebration of creative flashpoints, the pivotal artistic and intellectual movements that have emerged in and reflect the context of the metropolis.
Transforming the City 'Some tens of thousands come here to make their future. Some make it, others don't. But the struggle goes on. That struggle is called Bombay.' K A Abbas
A spate of riots of unprecedented ferocity erupted in Bombay between 1992-3. The outburst of violence, in which Hindus and Muslims clashed, followed the destruction of the Babri Masjid, a mosque in the northern city of Ayodhya. The riots resulted in the wider polarisation of classes and communities across this city of 12 million inhabitants. The title of this section of the exhibition, 'Bombay/Mumbai', reflects the city's contested history. The old colonial name combined with the recently revived version in the Marathi language suggests a city re-figuring itself in history. A society of contradictions, Bombay has always accommodated both colonial and indigenous cultures, big business and slums, high art and populist entertainment, tradition and radicalism. This complex mix of ingredients provides the context for a contemporary art that seeks to contend with the violence of recent years in the city.
The art selected ranges from painting and sculpture to the latest technologies of photography, film, video and the web. Its prevailing spirit is eclectic: realism and modernism overlap; Indian mythology and the fictive melodramas of Bombay films are quoted; the impact of globalisation is explored. Rooted in the experience of modern urban life in India, the works address, amongst other themes, politics, identity, class division and the spectacle of the street.
Curated by Geeta Kapur, an art critic and curator based in New Delhi, and Ashish Rajadhyaksha, a film theorist from Bombay, now based in Bangalore.
The Artist's Self Bhupen Khakhar is one of the most significant contemporary Indian artists. His consciously naive oil and watercolour paintings draw on Indian popular art. Since the 1980s, the paintings have primarily explored his own sexual identity through the portrayal of homoerotic and transvestite subject matter. In a new commission for this exhibition, the younger painter Atul Dodiya chooses to work on laminate board and the kind of metal roller shutters used on shopfronts. Evoking the jostling imagery of Bombay streets, he mixes autobiographical portraits with those of well-known Indian public figures. Jitish Kallat moves into the culture of consumerism, creating an aggrandised self-portrait that effectively becomes an advertisement for himself.
Politics and Protest In her installation Between Memory and History, Navjot Altaf explores the pain of social disruption. It incorporates hundreds of paper ribbons knotted into a metal mesh, on which are written the testimonies of those who have witnessed cataclysmic events such as the Bombay riots. The monitors show documentary images of the events, while the multitude of voices offer possibilities for reconciliation. Vivan Sundaram's sculpture Memorial uses a newspaper photograph taken in the midst of the riots of a man lying dead in the street. In an elegiac act the artist places the photograph in an iron coffin mounted on a gun carriage, as if for a state burial. The title of Rummana Hussain's installation, A Space for Healing, which is part shrine, part hospital room, makes reference to the anguish of the city and her own illness - she died shortly after the work was finished. In the video installation Hamletmachine, Nalini Malani collages a text by the German playwright Heiner Mueller with images and sounds recalling the fascist era in Europe and Japan. In doing so she confronts fears of political violence in India.
Reality and Make-Believe Raghubir Singh's photographs follow workers, traders, and commuters engaged in their business, revealing Bombay as a crammed, colourful cosmos. Dayanita Singh explores the culture of performance, entertainment and pleasure in Bollywood cinema. The emphasis on theatricality is shared by Pushpamala N., who reinvents herself as the vampish heroine of her own cinematic 'photoromance', which she sets in Bombay and captures in a series of black-and-white photographs. Other photographers have examined the multitude of communities that make Bombay such a cosmopolitan city. Sooni Taraporevala documents the ancient immigrants to the sub-continent, the Parsi community, while Ketaki Sheth studies the Gujarati Patels, an upwardly mobile clan that has spread across the world. By photographing the sets of Patel twins she encountered in many different locations Sheth produces 'doubly' irrefutable evidence of the clan's biological and social success.
Bombay Cinema/ Bollywood Bombay's famous Hindi film industry offers numerous allegories for survival in the city. Melodramatic stories of faith, corruption, love and betrayal have helped mediate the real-life anguish of transition from rural to urban, feudal to capitalist, and local to global economy. On the streets of the city, hand-painted film hoardings are giving way to the enormous, digitally printed posters of the Bollywood spectacles of the 1990s. The exhibition brings together some of these hand-painted hoardings, reflecting the bold gestures of popular art in Bombay.
Highlife in the City 'Young artists in a new nation, that is what we are! We must grow with the new Nigeria and work to satisfy her traditional love for art or perish with our colonial past.' Uche Okeke
Lagos is one of Africa's most vibrant and diverse cities. Since the late nineteenth century, its importance as a trading centre has attracted a unique mix of peoples from across Nigeria and the rest of West Africa. The years 1955-70 were an extraordinary period in the life of the city. Nigeria was moving towards and celebrating independence from British rule, which it achieved in 1960.
In Lagos, this energy was manifested in a self-confident popular culture, symbolised in our exhibition by Highlife music. Literature and the visual arts also thrived at the Mbari Writers and Artists Club, established in 1961 by a group of Nigerian artists, actors, musicians, designers and writers. In the words of one of its most famous members, the writer Chinua Achebe, the club was 'a theatre in which to do battle'. Here politicised artists and intellectuals sought to shape a new post-colonial identity for Nigeria. Highlife music also reflected an incipient African nationalism, although it incorporated the sounds of Cuban rumba and Latin music. This process of fusion and exchange was one of the essential ingredients of Nigerian modernism. The coups of 1966, followed by the long Biafran civil war, ended this decade of optimism and caused many artists to flee the country.
Curated by Okwui Enwezor, writer, adjunct curator at the Chicago Art Institute, and director of Documenta XI, who is based in New York and Chicago, and Olu Oguibe, an artist and art historian based in New York. Mbari Writers and Artists Club
Artistic activity coalesced around the Mbari Club, founded by a diverse group of artists, writers, musicians and actors in the neighbouring city of Ibadan. Their intention was to develop a strong artistic identity for the new nation, celebrating Nigerian traditions while drawing on elements from other cultures. Mbari was an international environment, attracting artists from across Africa and beyond. Amongst the foremost visual artists associated with the group were Nigerians Bruce Onobrakpeya and Uche Okeke, the British artist Georgina Beier and the African American painter Jacob Lawrence, all of whose works are featured in the exhibition.
Literature Mbari played a major role in the birth of modern African literature. Following the publication in 1958 of his first book, Things Fall Apart, a study of the impact of colonialism, Chinua Achebe was hailed as 'the father of the African novel'. Drawing on the unique linguistic and narrative style of the Igbo, he created a new approach to the novel since, he later explained, 'The standard English of Dickens and other writers we read could not tell the story I wanted to tell'. Another leading member of the group, the future Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, was the founder of Masks, one of the first professional theatre companies in the country. In just two years, between 1963 and 1965, he produced five theatrical works that would earn him a reputation as Africa's foremost playwright. Black Orpheus magazine, co-founded by German academic Ulli Beier (the husband of artist Georgina Beier), provided a forum for writings from across Africa and its diaspora.
Architecture The booming economy and rapid urbanisation that accompanied independence led to a major building programme in Lagos. The shift from colonial enclave to a cosmopolitan, postcolonial centre made a critical impact on the city's architectural development. A new society demanded a monumental, nationalist architecture to reflect its transformed status. This was realised both by expatriate architects such as James Cubitt, and John Godwin and Gillian Hopwood, and by Nigerians including Oluwole Olumuyiwa. The concrete structures they produced belong to the global modernist tradition, but have been adapted to the tropics and to Nigerian traditions through collaboration with the country's leading artists. Paying little heed to any formal or hierarchical urban plan, Lagos developed into a tangled sprawl of contrasting districts, from the modern municipal centre, to the nineteenth-century 'Brazilian' quarter and the vibrant clubland. This eclecticism is part of Lagos's special identity and appeal.
Highlife Music Highlife music is an expression of the creative effervescence of African popular culture in the 1950s and 1960s. The origins of this jaunty guitar music can be found in the music of the slaves. When these immigrants returned to Nigeria from Brazil, Europe, the US and the Caribbean in the nineteenth century, they brought with them a musical style that blended the sounds of all these areas into a new, Pan-African form. Many of these influences, such as Cuban rumba and Latin music, had themselves originally been based on African music. Since Highlife was multicultural and transnational, whilst deriving from original African forms, it captured the sense of an emergent African nationalism based on notions of cultural exchange. The great period of Highlife music arrived when the Ghanaian bandleader E T Mensah visited Lagos shortly after the Second World War. Almost overnight, the modern incarnation of Highlife emerged, becoming immensely popular with the new leisure classes. Highlife stars included 'Cardinal' Jim Rex Lawson, Bobby Benson and Victor Olaiya.
goes beyond any boundary or convention. It is illimitable.' Peter Ackroyd City as Found Object
'The end of the twentieth century has seen London proclaimed 'the world's coolest city' by Newsweek magazine. Restaurants, clubs and bars are thriving. At the same time, homelessness has risen, and public transport is on the verge of collapse. At the beginning of the 1960s, half of the jobs in London were in manufacturing. That figure is now less than one in ten, and financial services have become the most significant source of revenue. London has been transformed into a post-industrial metropolis.
Ironically, it was a recession that laid the groundwork for London's thriving art scene. In 1987, £50 billion was wiped off share values in a single day, signalling the end of a stocks and property boom. Former shops, offices and warehouses became available on cheap, short-term leases as studios and exhibition spaces. Young artists, some still at art school, began to promote themselves outside the established gallery system. Their work was clever, accessible and often funny. A nation rarely concerned with modern art woke up and began to take notice. Since the 1990s, an aesthetic that is particular to London has linked the worlds of fashion, music, design and fine art. It is vernacular, recycled, humorous, able to draw poetic beauty from the ordinary and humdrum. The city is more than just a platform for international success: it has become a catalyst, a theme, and a source of inspiration.
Curated by Emma Dexter, senior curator at Tate Modern.
Street Life The 1990s saw a number of artists turn to the city itself for inspiration, materials and a way of connecting with a wider world. Gillian Wearing's video Homage to the woman with the bandaged face who I saw yesterday down Walworth Road celebrates London's power to throw up chance encounters. Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas brought art into the streets by opening their own shop in Bethnal Green where they sold their work. Gary Hume's use of ordinary household gloss paint reflects an aesthetic of the everyday shared by many London artists.
Urban reality For most of its residents, London life has little connection with the city portrayed in tourist brochures. Runa Islam conveys this gritty reality by recording the rubbish regularly dumped outside her home. Janette Parris's Skint reflects the continual presence of the homeless on London's streets. In Wolfgang Tillmans's photographs, the city's architecture is contrasted with glimpses of the distant glamour symbolised by Concorde. Architecture is also a theme for Rachel Whiteread who pictures tower blocks on the point of demolition, and for Inventory, who use a map of a council estate as the backdrop for a graffitied analysis of urban geography. A different side of London life is provided by Henry Bond and Liam Gillick, who posed as journalists to gatecrash a series of press conferences and other events, documenting their experiences.
Mixing it A characteristic of the London art scene is the fluidity of exchange between different disciplines. Style magazines like i-D and Dazed and Confused combine fashion, design and fine art, publishing works such as Nick Knight's groundbreaking photographs of disabled models. Designer Paul Elliman approaches the creation of typefaces with the ingenuity of an artist. Tord Boontje transforms furniture design into a political act, recycling bits of wood found in skips near his studio, and publishing instructions inviting the public to do the same.
The traditionally separate roles of artist, curator and dealer have been combined by groups such as City Racing, an artist-run gallery space situated in a former betting shop. Collectives, such as Bank and Inventory, have also challenged the idea of individual creativity by producing work authored by the group.
Art of the Everyday Like many artists working in London today, Tom Dixon, Sarah Lucas and Tracey Emin draw on everyday materials and subject matter. Chris Ofili's Shithead, made using elephant dung and human hair, takes this 'back to basics' aesthetic to extremes. Ordinariness is also a theme of Go-Sees, a record kept by fashion photographer Juergen Teller of the endless stream of girls who appear uninvited on his doorstep hoping to be the next Kate Moss. Other artists such as Michael Landy, Gavin Turk and Johnny Spencer produce work that aspires to blend back into the urban surroundings, or to disappear among the signs and plaques of the gallery itself.
Revolutionary City 'The streets shall be our brushes - the squares our palettes' Vladimir Mayakovsky
'Art for the people! Art into Life!', proclaimed the Russian Constructivists in 1917, the year in which the Bolsheviks seized power and the Romanov dynasty fell to its knees. Moscow, the new capital of the Soviet Union, also became the centre for art as the avant-garde seized the opportunity to redefine culture and its role in modern society. Led by Vladimir Tatlin, El Lissitzky and Aleksandr Rodchenko, the Constructivists linked their radical vision with the ideals of the Revolution. Meanwhile, Kasimir Malevich was developing Suprematism. His search for a pure geometrical and spiritual essence set him apart from his more utilitarian contemporaries. Architects produced visionary designs for new types of building. Artists collaborated with writers and directors to transform the theatre and the cinema into a radical synthesis of the arts. But by the early 1930s, Stalin was tightening his grip. Asserting his control, and seeing the potential of art as a tool for propaganda, he established Socialist Realism as the official art form. The avant-garde were increasingly side-lined, forced to conform or face denunciation, imprisonment and even death.
Curated by Lutz Becker, a curator and filmmaker based in London. Art for the streets
'The streets shall be our brushes - the squares our palettes!' exclaimed Vladimir Mayakovsky in 1917. In the early days of the Revolution, artists embraced the call upon them to publicise the cause through the production of colourful propagand - a flood of posters, strip cartoons, and pamphlets engulfed the city. Flyposted on walls and displayed in empty shop windows, they transformed the bleak streets into a bright parade of startlingly modern graphic design, making inventive use of photomontage and other mass media techniques.
Building the new society Moscow was changing under a process of rapid industrialisation. Dsiga Vertov's film Man with a Movie Camera is a cross-section montage of urban life in Moscow, which captured the speed and machine rhythms of the new age. Technological advances and electrification were signalled by the sculptural wire webs of aerials atop telegraph stations and radio towers. An optimistic vision of the city found expression in a new architecture. Communal housing, workers' clubs, schools, power stations and factories changed the face of the city. In order to find the best architects for these buildings, competitions were held. The winning design for the Moscow office of the newspaper the Leningrad Pravda was a towering glass edifice by the brothers Aleksandr and Victor Vesnin. Like many of these ambitious projects it was never actually built.
Art into Life 'Down with art as a beautiful patch on the squalid life of the rich! Down with art as a precious stone in the midst of the dismal and dirty life of the poor! Down with art as a means of escaping from a life that is not worth living!' These slogans herald the vision of the Constructivist artist Aleksandr Rodchenko for a new, functional art that would be closer to industrial production. 'Awareness, experiences, purpose, construction, technique and mathematics', he continued, 'these are the companions of contemporary art'. In 1917 Rodchenko began making three-dimensional constructions, influenced by the work of his friend, and the founder of Constructivism, Vladimir Tatlin. Later, after 1922, the Constructivists would decide that such works were still too socially disengaged, and would devote their energies almost exclusively to the applied arts, focusing on industrial design, stage and film sets, posters, and documentary photography.
In the works which he called Prouns - El Lissitzky sought an 'interchange station between paintings and architecture'. Sharing with the works of Kasimir Malevich a quest for pure, geometric form, they resemble plans for three-dimensional constructions. Aleksandra Ekster was best known as a designer. She created dramatic sets for the theatre and made huge, abstract designs for 'agit-steamers' - or propaganda boats - and 'agit-trains'. Her paintings, with their semi-geometric slabs of colour, show the influence of Malevich's Suprematism.
Theatre and Cinema Soviet theatre was a vibrant, energetic mix of all the art forms. Artists and architects collaborated with the great reformers of the stage: Vsevolod Meyerhold, Aleksandr Tairov and Nikolai Foregger. Enactments of revolutionary events and new plays written by Vladimir Mayakovsky and others provided entertainment for politically aware audiences. The Meyerhold Theatre was for many years one of Moscow's cultural centres, attracting all those ready to experience the unexpected. Their production of Fernand Crommelynck's The Magnanimous Cuckold in 1922, was seen as the epitome of Constructivist stagecraft. The sets and costumes were designed by the artist Liubov Popova, who devised a mobile stage construction representing a windmill with permanently rotating blades. Aleksandr Vesnin's set for The Man Who Was Thursday incorporated platforms, conveyer belts, escalators, film projections and kinetic light elements to simulate a capitalist metropolis. Film, described by Lenin as 'the most important of all the arts', was approached with a similarly collaborative and experimental spirit as the dynamic and imaginative film posters of the period reveal - Rodchenko, for instance, designed the poster for Sergei Eisenstein's seminal film Battleship Potemkin.
The Total Art of Stalin Stalin's introduction of the first Five-Year Plan led to the forced collectivisation of agriculture and the construction of Soviet heavy industry. The Communist Party sponsored a journal entitled Art to the Masses, which promoted traditional values and representational art. The hard necessities of building the economic base for Socialism became an excuse for the introduction of mechanisms for repression and censorship. In 1930 Mayakovsky committed suicide and Malevich was imprisoned as a suspected spy. Stalin's terror had begun. From now on, the Party determined the form and content of Soviet art. Vera Mukhina's model for a sculpture, Industrial Worker and Collective-Farm Woman (c.1938), typifies the result. Brandishing the symbol of the Soviet Union, the hammer and sickle, these enthusiastic workers, representing industry and agriculture, surge towards a heroic tomorrow.
New York 1969-1974 City as Stage 'A city whose living immediacy is so urgent that when I am in it I lose all sense of the past' Kenneth Tynan
'New York in the early '70s was Paris in the '20s', said the artist Laurie Anderson. Despite being poised on the brink of financial collapse, the city became the centre for an explosion of creative activity. At its heart was the downtown district of SoHo, with its dingy basements, empty warehouses, rundown lofts and bars. 1969 was the year that Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, and the Woodstock music festival was held. New frontiers, both physical and psychological, were opening up and questions relating to the notion of gender, race, public and private space, came to the fore. The city became an arena in which to challenge all kinds of received notions. For the expression of these concepts, a new range of media was being explored - in particular, video, photography and performance. Collaboration and exchange of ideas between artists, dancers and musicians was common. In contrast to the impersonal and socially disengaged approach of Minimalism, these artists sought to reclaim biographical content, taking their art out into the real world, and allowing the urban environment to shape it. Curated by Donna De Salvo, a senior curator at Tate Modern.
Questioning Identity In the context of the feminist movement, which arose in the late 1960s, a number of women artists rejected the benchmarks imposed by a predominantly male art establishment. Hannah Wilke intended to create 'specifically female' art. For her performance Super T-Art, staged at the Kitchen, she stripped, presenting her body in poses that suggested both religious imagery and eroticism. She documented the performance in a series of photographs.
Oozing across the gallery floor, Lynda Benglis's slick of latex, titled Contraband, can also be read as a feminist gesture. It has many qualities that encapsulate ideas of femininity - flowing lines, colour, organic shapes - and at the same time masculine connotations of the marking-out of territory, as the slick invades the gallery space.
Questions of identity became a preoccupation for Adrian Piper, as critic Maurice Berger wrote: 'She could no longer reconcile the socially removed, elitist mind games of Minimalist and Conceptual art with the fact that as an African American woman she faced constant discrimination both within and outside the art world.' In her radical performance Food for the Spirit, she turned the focus on her own body, photographed naked in front of a mirror. Like many performances and 'happenings' of the time, it took place in a New York loft as an alternative to that bastion of white, liberal activity, the art gallery.
Anarchitecture The city sometimes became the literal subject matter for artists during this period. Trained as an architect, Gordon Matta-Clark used empty warehouses and buildings destined for demolition as his raw material. In what he called his 'cuttings', he literally carved out sections of buildings. In this way, he revealed their hidden construction and provided new ways of perceiving space. He made Bingo by removing the facade of a house, section by section.
Anarchitecture, a group that included Gordon Matta-Clark, Laurie Anderson, and Jene Highstein sought an 'alternative' architectural language. Their 1974 group exhibition featured photographs and drawings of neglected urban features, the 'voids, gaps, left-over spaces, places that were not developed'.
The Urban Stage 'Each day, I pick out a different person, at random, in the street, any location: I follow that person as long as I can ...' To performance artist Vito Acconci, the city offered a protective cloak of anonymity and the possibility for chance encounters. In one of his most notorious works Seedbed, he hid beneath a wooden ramp in the Sonnabend Gallery and masturbated while talking to the visitors walking above.
The fabric of the city, its streets and downtown warehouses were often the backdrop for performances. Trisha Brown, a founder member of the influential Judson Dance Theatre, used the Manhattan skyline as a stage for her performance Roof Piece. The availability of video and film-making equipment allowed artists to document their actions and reach a wider audience. In the 1970s, artists such as Mary Miss also began siting their works, without invitation, in public areas around the city. In 1973, for example, she created a wooden sculpture in a wintry urban landfill along the Hudson River in Manhattan.
Alternative spaces The experimental artwork being made downtown exposed the limitations of the commercial art system. Low rents in SoHo allowed younger, less established artists, to turn vacated manufacturing premises into raw art spaces. For artists, dancers, musicians, filmmakers and poets alike, these were places to socialise, and to work without constraints. In 1970 Jeffrey Lew opened the lower floors of 112 Greene St. to local artists known and unknown. Lew stated, 'most galleries won't even let you put a scratch in the floor, here you can dig a hole in it.' Food, a restaurant established by Gordon Matta-Clark and Caroline Goodden in 1971, offered artists a meeting point, a performance space, and often a wage. Its menu boasted everything from fish chowder to 'used car stew'.
City as Modernity 'Paris was where the twentieth century was... Paris was the place to be' Gertrude Stein
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Paris was the unrivalled centre of the art world, a city in the throes of rapid modernisation. In 1909 Bleriot flew the English Channel, while faster trains and cars seemed to quicken the pace of urban life. Culture reinvented itself through technology: cinema, photography, the gramophone and the telegraph were just a few of the developments changing society. New scientific ideas, including Einstein's theory of relativity and Freud's theory of the unconscious were overturning the understanding of reality.
Paris acted as a magnet for a remarkably international range of artists, writers, poets and musicians. They met in the studios, cafes and bars of Montmartre and Montparnasse, creating a culture of cross-fertilisation and collaboration. Cubist and Futurist artists sought a visual language to convey the dynamism and complexity of the contemporary world. Some began to bind the detritus of urban life into their work, making collages using newspaper cuttings, strips of wallpaper, and cardboard. Poets and musicians similarly invented new forms to convey the city's pulsing rhythms. This optimistic vision of a technological modernity ended with the First World War and, for many artists, first-hand experience of its killing machines.
Curated by Serge Fauchereau, a scholar and curator based in Paris
Fauvism Fauvism was unveiled in Paris in 1905. The Fauvists shocked the salons by using intense colour as a means of expression rather than trying to represent the world naturalistically. 'When I use a green it doesn't mean grass' Henri Matisse wrote, 'when I use a blue it doesn't mean the sky'. Such paintings were famously criticised as the work of fauves or 'wild beasts' when first exhibited. Although the nucleus of the group, which included Matisse, Derain, Marquet, Vlaminck, and van Dongen, lived in Paris, they often ranged beyond the city, finding inspiration in the Mediterranean fishing village of Collioure or the port of Le Havre, for instance.
Internationalism Paris was the acknowledged centre of the art world at this time. Robert Delaunay celebrated this cultural supremacy in his monumental painting The City of Paris, which locates the three Graces of Greek mythology in a fractured city panorama featuring that symbol of technological might, the Eiffel Tower.
An international community of artists gathered in the city. Chagall arrived from Russia, Kupka was Czech, Brancusi was Romanian. German and Scandinavian artists were drawn to the academy founded by Matisse. Many exiles and emigres used Paris as a vantage point from which to reinvent their own native cultures, fusing folk art with a modernist sensibility. Something of this kaleidoscope of nationalities is suggested in a portrait of the Mexican artist Diego Rivera painted by the Italian Amedeo Modigliani, in Paris in 1914.
Collaging the city 'The painters scrutinised everything' wrote the poet Blaise Cendrars. Picasso and Braque were at the forefront of this process of visual experimentation. One of their breakthrough innovations, which followed from the development of Cubism, was the papier collé. By glueing real objects such as newspaper cuttings and strips of wallpaper onto the canvas, they literally incorporated urban reality into their work. It was an art form capable of expressing the clutter, sensations and textures of contemporary life, and was eagerly taken up by others.
The Ballets Russes The Ballets Russes, founded by Russian impresario Sergey Diaghilev, electrified Paris. Productions such as The Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring combined groundbreaking modernist scores by Igor Stravinsky, with experimental choreography, and costumes and sets designed by artists such as Alexandre Benois and Léon Bakst. In 1912, the Russian ballet's star, Vaslav Nijinsky produced a scandalously erotic performance as the goat-god in Claude Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. Dance, for many writers, musicians and artists of the period, was viewed as an excitingly dangerous ritual which could tap into primal, creative forces.
Modern visions The conventional, academic styles of art that dominated the Paris salons were rejected by the avant-garde. They sought new forms that could express their experience of modernity. Gino Severini's Suburban Train Arriving in Paris bursts like a fist through the outskirts of the city, scattering hills and houses. This Futurist enthusiasm for speed and machine energy would begin to flag as the reality of war and its unprecedented mechanised violence became apparent.
In creating the world anew, modernist artists also looked back to their origins. Picasso's early Cubist painting Three Figures under a Tree suggests the influence of African carving on his work. Masks and carvings from non-Western cultures, and from Africa in particular, fascinated artists. The avant-garde appropriated the forms and motifs of these objects and applied them to their own images of the human figure. A love of popular entertainment, including music, theatre, and performance is reflected in numerous works, such as Henri Laurens's multicoloured, contorted Clown. Images of musical instruments abound in the Cubist works of Picasso and Braque, their fragmented style suggesting a sense of rhythm and reverberation that matches the musical subject. Movement was another obsession, a response to the speed of modern life. Leopold Survage painted a series of watercolours called Twelve Coloured Rhythms, which he intended to form the basis for the first abstract colour film. Severini's Articulated Dancer incorporates moving parts: the viewer could pull at its string to make the dancer move. The dream of flight inhabits Brancusi's mythical golden bird Maiastra. This sculpture was inspired by a Romanian folk tale, but the smooth and simplified form, poised above a roughly carved base, makes it above all modern, and a creature of Paris.
Rio de Janeiro 1950-1964
Rhythmic City 'We are Blacks, Indians, Whites - everything at the same time - our culture has nothing to do with the European' Hélio Oiticica.
An unprecedented climate of optimism gripped Rio in the 1950s, as the city emerged from its colonial past to become a modern metropolis of 2.5 million inhabitants, with a strong cultural identity. New forms of art, music, film and architecture appeared almost simultaneously. The names of these movements encapsulated this climate of new beginnings: Neoconcretism, Bossa Nova, Cinema Novo.
Even the President was known as 'Bossa Nova', and the city's burgeoning youth culture was symbolised by the glamorous Copacabana beach. Artists such as Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica were developing a unique form of Brazilian modernism that emphasised simplicity of form and spatial construction. Epitomised by Antonio Carlos Jobim's song The Girl from Ipanema, the Bossa Nova was the height of laid-back cool. Daring, state-led architectural projects made the new spirit physically palpable on the streets. Brazil's first World Cup victory in 1958 seemed entirely fitting in this moment of great national self-esteem. Only with the military coup of 1964, would the heady period of invention and enthusiasm come to an end.
Curated by Paulo Venancio Filho, an art critic and art historian based in Rio de Janeiro
Neoconcretism The 'Neoconcrete' artists developed an approach to abstract painting and sculpture that emphasised experiment and visual expressiveness. Their works have an immediate, sensory impact, often through strong colour and a dynamic use of space. Lygia Clark created sculptures using sheets of metal folded into three dimensions. Her Beasts are comprised of moveable metal elements linked by hinges, which the artist compared to living creatures. Clark originally intended them to be handled and manipulated by the public since, in common with the other Neoconcretist artists whose work is on show, she was interested in stimulating spectator participation. Franz Weissmann described his works as 'drawings in space'. By moving around his sculptures, the viewer can share in Weissmann's process of experimentation and discovery of forms within space. Hélio Oiticica's spatial constructions are assemblages of brightly painted wood, which hang from the gallery ceiling. Oiticica wanted to capture the sensory experience of Latin dance, and studied the samba for ideas on motion through space. Later, he went on to make works created directly through the movement of the spectator.
Bossa Nova Bossa Nova (or New Wave) appeared in the late 1950s as a quiet revolution in Brazilian popular music. Its suave urbanity was achieved through a rigorous but seemingly insouciant combination of elements including cool jazz, be-bop, samba and classical music. This mix demonstrated a sophisticated, non-hierarchical approach to musical styles. Its flexible structure freed musicians from the traditionally fixed roles of soloist or accompaniment, and allowed stretches of improvised lyrics. Among its main protagonists were the composers Antonio Carlos Jobim, João Gilberto and poet/lyricists Vinícius de Moraes and Newton Mendonça. Classics of the genre are Jobim's How Insensitive, along with Girl from Ipanema, Desafinado and Chega de Saudade. In 1967, when Frank Sinatra recorded an album of Jobim's compositions, he commented 'I haven't sung so soft since I had laryngitis'.
Pioneering architecture Architecture was a key element in Rio's confident new vision of itself. In 1936, the Swiss architect Le Corbusier provided a set of initial designs for the Ministry of Education and Health building, which became the first significant modernist building in Latin America. Le Corbusier influenced a generation of Brazilian architects, who developed a singular style combining international modernism with a Brazilian vernacular that was particularly responsive to the natural environment. Oscar Niemeyer's Canoas House of 1953, for example, employs characteristically Brazilian organic shapes, integrating architecture with the surrounding hills and tropical vegetation. In buildings such as his Parque Guinle, completed in 1954, Lúcio Costa was similarly inventive in his employment of traditional Brazilian architectural elements. Other notable projects included Affonso Eduardo Reidy's Pedregulho complex, a social housing apartment block raised on pillars that followed the sinuous contours of a hill; and the Flamengo Landfill by Reidy and the painter and landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx, that transformed a former landfill site into what was then the largest urban park in the world.
Graphic design The Journo do Brasil is a national daily broadsheet newspaper. In the late 1950s it employed two avant-garde artists and members of the neoconcrete movement, Amilcar de Castro and Reynaldo Jardim, to work on the graphic design of its weekend supplement. Their radical typography reflected the content of some of the writing published in the supplement, which included sophisticated art historical surveys and polemical manifestos.
Tokyo 1967 - 1973
Provoking the City 'Here every discovery is intense and fragile' Roland Barthes
Tokyo in the late 1960s was a city on the brink of crisis. Rapid growth since the late 1950s had resulted in housing shortages, environmental pollution and traffic problems. Old buildings, including some major landmarks, were torn down, and the city's first skyscrapers began to appear.
A spirit of discontent led to the election of Marxist economist Minobe Ry_kichi as the city's governor in 1967. Student revolts erupted the following year, converging with a series of protests against the renewal of Anpo, the treaty that allowed the United States to use Japan as a base for military operations in Asia. Radical artists focused their anger on the upcoming 1970 Japan World Exposition, Expo '70. Critics on the left maintained that, with its theme 'Progress and Harmony of Mankind', the Expo was merely an arrogant display of the nation's economic might. Cultural practitioners began to question received values and artistic traditions. Some designers expressed doubts about the morality of working within a mass consumerist society. Architect and theorist Isozaki Arata wrote a series of articles arguing for the 'dismantling of architecture'. Artists who considered modernism to be institutionalised, and tainted by its tendency to glorify technology and progress, sought new ways of making - or, in some cases, of deliberately 'not making' - art. Curated by Reiko Tomii, an art historian, curator and writer based in New York
Tokyo circa 1970 The building boom of the late 1960s and early 1970s was marked by big construction projects executed with little regard for environmental or social consequences. However, some architects were prompted by the mounting problems of overpopulation to focus on residential housing. A slide presentation Constructions: A Pedestrian's View is a survey of that architectural landscape as it stands today, including Azuma Takamitsu's Tower House, designed to accommodate his family of three on a cramped twenty-square-metre lot.
Countering the triumphalism of Expo '70, the Tokyo Biennale of the same year brought together examples of post-minimalist and conceptual art from around the world as well as Japan. One of the key works was Matsuzawa Yutaka's My Own Death - an imposing sign that hung across the entrance to a gallery, inviting visitors to reflect on questions of time and mortality.
The Art of Not Making The Mono-ha movement was originated by artist Sekine Nobuo and artist and theorist Lee Ufan. Sceptical of the act of making painting and sculpture, they advocated artistic gestures and ways of engaging with materials to reveal 'the world as it is'. This might be achieved through digging, moving or arranging materials. By the early 1970s, Lee had come under attack from the more politicised Bikyt group, who criticised his theories as a 'mystification of art'. Bikyt had emerged from the student protests, and included artists Hikosaka Naoyoshi, Yamanaka Nobuo and Hori Kosai. Like Mono-ha, the group opposed traditional ideas of 'art-making', giving priority to process rather than the physical production of art objects. However, they believed that art existed only as an integral part of society, and aimed to expose its institutional workings. Another much-contested work was Horikawa Michio's project of gathering stones to send through the post. The Shinano River Plan 11 was conducted at the same time as the gathering of lunar samples during the Apollo 11 mission. Horikawa felt it was more important to gather the stones of the earth, which he posted to eleven luminaries of the art world.
Individual voices Not all artists were affiliated to groups. There were brilliant individuals, like Kusama Yayoi, who had produced public and performance-based art in New York during the 1960s. With the exception of her elongated, crawling sculpture A Snake, Kusama's work in the mid-1970s, when she returned to Tokyo, consisted primarily of poetry and small but intense works on paper. Yamashita Kikuji was another important figure. Using the image of the emperor, he examined the imperial legacy that continued to underpin post-war Japan, and particularly its collusion in the atrocities of the Second World War.
Street-scape The radical spirit of the times brought artists into the streets. The photographers of Provoke magazine took disquieting, often grainy or blurred images of the city as part of their attempt 'to provoke thought'. A growing feminist movement tried to raise awareness. From New York, Yoko Ono added her own contribution to the debate, including writing an article 'Japanese Men Sinking' for a women's magazine. Radical theatre groups eschewed traditional venues in an effort to develop a closer communication with society at large, organising performances in small spaces, tents or even the street. Posters produced by like-minded designers became public manifestos for the theatre company, and were regarded as an integral part of the performance. However, the most subversive attempt to interact with the public came from Akasegawa Genpei. He invited people to send him real money in exchange for his privately printed zero-yen notes with the ultimate aim of putting the state's currency out of circulation.
City in Analysis 'I have an indomitable affection for Vienna but I know her abyss' Sigmund Freud
Vienna, in the years leading up to the First World War, was a city with an identity crisis. It was at the crossroads of Europe and the centre of the Austro-Hungarian empire, which had been disintegrating internally for many years.
Between 1880 and 1910 the population of Vienna trebled to more than two million. Social deprivation and a desperate housing shortage were the result, with working-class unrest soon presenting a serious threat to the prosperous bourgeoisie. Jews, the largest minority, accounted for 10 per cent of the population, and played a leading part in the artistic and intellectual life of the capital. Many were migrants from the empire's distant provinces and anti-semitism was rife - it was here that the young Adolf Hitler spent his formative years.
The decorative extravagance of nineteenth-century Viennese art and architecture seemed increasingly at odds with social reality. The avant-garde culture that developed in Vienna over the first two decades of the twentieth century sought to strip away pretence and to probe beneath society's 'acceptable' surface. Ideas of honesty and naturalness informed the architecture and theories of Adolf Loos, the satirical journalism of Karl Kraus, the atonal music of Arnold Schoenberg, and the paintings and graphic work of Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele and Richard Gerstl. The development of a particularly dissonant form of Expressionism, with its emphasis on uncompromising subject matter, unsuppressed sexuality and psychological introspection, can be traced in the visual arts as well as in music, literature and the theatre, echoing the influential psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud. The catastrophic impact of the First World War and consequent disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian empire mark the end of this section of the exhibition. Curated by Richard Calvocoressi and Keith Hartley, director and senior curator at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
Architecture laid bare The architecture of Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos epitomised the new spirit which rejected decorative excess. The functionalism and simplicity of their buildings contrasted strikingly with the highly ornamented façades of nineteenth century Vienna. Loos's Michaelerplatz Haus was erected opposite Emperor Franz Josef's ornate residence. So unimpressed was the Emperor by the stark rigour of Loos's shop building, that he is said to have closed the curtains in the Hofburg to keep it out of sight. Perhaps the most extreme example of this stripped-down approach was the house designed by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in 1929, but informed by ideas developed before the war.
Freud and sexuality Sigmund Freud's investigations into psychology and his studies of sexuality - and infant sexuality in particular - shocked bourgeois Vienna but were highly influential. A frank approach to childhood sexuality is evident in drawings by artists such as Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka, as well as in poet Peter Altenberg's collection of erotic images. Kokoschka and Schiele painted many portraits of nude children and adolescents, which still have the power to disturb. Child prostitution was common in Vienna at the time, and the age of consent was only 14. In 1912 Schiele was imprisoned for a few days on pornography charges, when the authorities of a small town near Vienna, where he was staying, took exception to his drawings.
Portraiture and café society In their portraits, Kokoschka, Schiele and Richard Gerstl seemed intent on pushing beyond the public face of the era to expose raw psychological truths. At the same time the portraits provide an intriguing map of the leading artistic and intellectual circles. Vienna was a café society, in which small groups gathered for discussion at their favourite watering holes.
This led to the rapid circulation of ideas and encouraged an interdisciplinary approach. The circle to which the painter Oskar Kokoschka belonged, for instance, formed around Adolf Loos, and included Peter Altenberg and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Loos was the first to recognise Kokoschka's genius, not only soliciting commissions but paying the artist out of his own pocket when a sitter refused to buy his or her likeness, as was often the case.
The War The outbreak of war brought the old Vienna crashing down, exposing all its delusions and hypocrisies. Though many held an idealistic conception of war, it began to fade as the death toll mounted. Karl Kraus expressed his disgust in the satirical epic The Last Days of Mankind. Artists such as Albin Egger-Lienz, went to the front, determined to record the grim reality of life in the trenches. Wittgenstein joined the army and continued writing what would become his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. As an attack on the false claims of philosophical language and a rigorous insistence on establishing the truth, Wittgenstein's treatise is a fitting coda to this period.
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Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis
Geeta Kapur, Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Okwui Enwezor, Olu Oguibe, Emma Dexter, Lutz Becker [Schnittraum], Donna De Salvo, Hannah Wilke, Lynda Benglis, Adrian Piper, Serge Fauchereau, Paulo Venancio Filho, Reiko Tomii, Richard Calvocoressi, Keith Hartley
Bhupen Khakhar, Atul Dodiya, Jitish Kallat, Navjot Altaf, Vivan Sundaram, Rummana Hussain, Nalini Malani, Raghubir Singh, Dayanita Singh, Sooni Taraporevala, Ketaki Sheth, Mbari Club (Bruce Onobrakpeya, Uche Okeke, Georgina Beier, Jacob Lawrence...), Gillian Wearing, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Gary Hume, Runa Islam, Janette Parris, Wolfgang Tillmans, Rachel Whiteread, Henry Bond, Liam Gillick, Paul Elliman, Tord Boontje, City Racing (Matt Hale, Paul Noble, John Burgess, Keith Coventry, Peter Owen), Tom Dixon, Sarah Lucas, Tracey Emin, Chris Ofili, Jürgen Teller, Michael Landy, Gavin Turk, Johnny Spencer, Dziga Vertov, Wladimir Tatlin, El Lissitzky, Kasimir Malewitsch, Alexandra Exter, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Aleksandr Tairov, Nikolai Foregger, Wladimir Majakowski, Aleksandr Vesnin, Alexander Rodtschenko, Gordon Matta-Clark, Vera Mukhina, Anarchitecture  (Gordon Matta-Clark, Laurie Anderson, Jene Highstein), Vito Acconci, Trisha Brown, Henri Matisse, André Derain, Albert Marquet, Maurice de Vlaminck, Robert Delaunay, Marc Chagall, Frantisek Kupka, Constantin Brancusi, Diego Rivera, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Serge Diaghilev, Igor Stravinsky, Alexander Benois, Leon Bakst, Vaslav Nijinsky, Gino Severini, Henri Laurens, Leopold Survage, Gino Severini, Constantin Brancusi, Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, Le Corbusier, Oscar Niemeyer, Lucio Costa, Affonso Eduardo Reidy, Roberto Burle Marx, Amilcar de Castro, Reynaldo Jardim, Azuma Takamitsu, Matsuzawa Yutaka, Sekine Nobuo, Lee Ufan, Hikosaka Naoyoshi, Yamanaka Nobuo, Hori Kosai, Mono-ha (Lee Ufan, Narita Katsuhiko, Noboru Takayama), Horikawa Michio, Yayoi Kusama, Yamashita Kikuji, Akasegawa Genpei, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, Richard Gerstl, Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Albin Egger-Lienz...