Jackson Pollocks (1912 1956) monumental masterpiece Summertime 9A is the centerpiece of this exhibition exploring the UK premiere of the revolutionary painters work, held at the Whitechapel Gallery
60 years ago.
Displaying Pollocks works within a radical exhibition layout, the first UK display of the American Abstract Expressionist provoked bewilderment and excitement. Staging Jackson Pollock presents Pollocks 5-meter-wide drip painting, returning to the Whitechapel Gallery after six decades, alongside rare archival material. A new exclusive audio interview with British modernist architect Trevor Dannatt (b. 1920, UK), the original shows designer, provides fresh perspective on this seminal moment in the history of exhibition-making and Pollocks legacy.
Trevor Dannat was invited to design a new environment for Pollocks works by the Whitechapel Gallerys then Director Bryan Robertson (1925 2002) in 1958. The original exhibition consisted of 58 paintings created during Pollocks drip period between 1947 and 1950, during which the painter became internationally famous.
Dannatts constructivist approach to the display transformed the salon style gallery into a theatrical enviornment. His cohesive architectural ensemble included freestanding breezeblock walls, black panels, and an undulating ceiling of suspended fabric. This audacious layout enabled a dynamic encounter with the paintings from numerous angles, immersing visitors in a powerful encounter with painting as environment.
The new interview featured in Staging Jackson Pollock reveals Dannatts architectural approach to creating the display and his collaborative process with Robertson. The pair travelled together to Berlin to the exhibition, which was travelling to Europe from New Yorks Museum of Modern Art after Pollocks untimely death. MoMAs International Programme was rumoured to be sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as part of a raft of cultural initiatives serving as soft power in the Cold War. Abstract Expressionism was used to emblematise freedom of expression, countering the communist ideology of the Soviet Union.