The exhibition’s title, Faces in the Crowd, is taken from a one-image poem by Ezra Pound: “The apparition of these faces in the crowd; petals on a wet, black bough,” inspired by a journey on the Paris Metro in 1913. It gives a powerful evocation of the individual immersed within the modern metropolis.
Pound’s celebrated haiku powerfully evokes the individual immersed within the crowd, lost in a moment of stillness within the modern metropolis.
Taking Edouard Manet as its starting point and moving through modern masters such as Max Beckmann, Umberto Boccioni, Cindy Sherman, Francis Bacon and Jeff Wall, Faces in the Crowd maps social and individual relationships through a history of avant garde configuration.
Manet’s vividly realist scenarios or Jeff Wall’s cinematic tableaux offer a compelling snapshot of the modern. By contrast, Edvard Munch or Francis Bacon present a tortured or exhilarated inner life. And for Alexander Rodchenko, Joseph Beuys or Chris Ofili, the figure becomes a harbinger of change: symbolic, revolutionary or transgressive.
Artists such as Umberto Boccioni and Andy Warhol have used the figure to express sensations of alienation or celebrity in modern life.
Transformations of the city through architecture and technology created public spaces of leisure and spectacle, which are explored in the works of Eugene Atget, Walter Sickert and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
Structured into broadly themed sections, representations of the human figure are seen as expressions of modernity, becoming ciphers for the experience of modern life; as images of modern life, picturing both the epic and the everyday; or as agents of social change.
Other artists experiment in understanding and furthering a modern self-consciousness in the viewer. Underpinning the whole is the relationship between the individual and society.
The exhibition includes not only masterpieces of painting, but also sculpture, photography and the moving image, with each work pivotal to the story of Modernism. Faces in the Crowd traces a story of modernism through its defining artists.
Artists whose work is represented in this major art historical survey include Eve Arnold, Eugene Atget, Francis Bacon, Stephan Balkenhol, Rene Burri, Umberto Boccioni, Christian Boltanski, David Bomberg, Sophie Calle, Robert Capa, James Ensor, Valie Export, George Grosz, Andreas Gursky, John Heartfield, Seydou Keita, William Kentridge, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Käthe Kollwitz, Fernand Legér, Helen Levitt, Rene Magritte, Edouard Manet, Edvard Munch, Eduardo Paolozzi, Pablo Picasso, Gerhard Richter, Thomas Schütte, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, Andy Warhol and Jack B. Yeats.
Through Jan. 5, 2005
Find it: Whitechapel Art Gallery
80-82 Whitechapel High Street
Get there: Tube to Aldgate East
Get info: +(0)20 7522 7888