previews

London

“Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art”

Tate Modern
Bankside
May 2 - October 14

Curated by Simon Baker and Emmanuelle de l’Ecotais

Abstraction, an enduring tendency in modern art, regularly occasions historical overviews. Earlier shows debatably posited the camera’s inbuilt verism as a prompt to painters to abandon figuration, while more recent exhibitions have included scattered works in digital media. This Tate survey encouragingly finds in photographic abstraction neither a specter nor a sideline but a motive force. With more than three hundred works in painting, photography, sculpture, and prints that date from roughly 1915 to the present, this exhibition should bring forth a range of catalysts: from patterning to politics, science to synesthesia. Attention to select mid-twentieth-century European figures—Floris Neusüss and Gottfried Jäger in Germany; Luigi Veronesi in Italy; Guy Bourdin and William Klein in France—will permit a fresh perspective on a postwar history long tilted toward painting and the United States.