Modern Art Oxford Timeline
In October 1966, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA Oxford) was founded. MoMA on 30 Pembroke Street originally started life as part of the Hanley Brewery.
MoMA Oxford's first curated exhibition was entitled 'Space Place' and opened to the public in November 1966. From the exhibition catalogue:
'This constructed space is our attempt to demonstrate an idea - the idea is a place for the people - a place where you can meet - to look - to feel - to listen - to move - to laugh - to cry - to love - to protest - a place for the people'.
In 1968, Willats presented his Visual Automatics and Visual Transmitters at the Museum of Modern Art Oxford, a project that impacted on viewers’ perceptual senses through kinetic abstract sculptures.
South African sculptor Roelof Louw exhibited his seminal installation 'Location' in our upper gallery. Location consisted of a large thick black rubber band surrounding all four walls of the space. Some visitors said that it was 'terrifying' and 'claustrophobic'.
In 2014 we exhibited a retrospective of Louw, including 'Soul City' (1967) which featured a pyramid of 6,000 oranges which gradually diminished as visitors helped themselves to the fruit.
Renowned British sculptor Richard Long exhibited with us in December of 1971. His sculptures and films are part of the Land Art movement, which seeks to marry landscape and art together.
Sol LeWitt's exhibition opened at the gallery in 1973, curated by Nicholas Serota. This exhibition featured LeWitt's now famous technique of drawing straight onto a gallery wall. American artist Sol Le Witt is best known these drawings and later for his three dimensional structures that were mainly modular and open sided to show the inner working of his cuboid shapes. In 1993 we featured a retrospective of his works which included many of these structures.
In April 1974, MoMA invited Joseph Beuys to Oxford for his exhibition, 'The secret block for a secret person in Ireland'. Beuys is best known for the actions, performances and lectures with which he emerged in the sixties as Europe's most controversial contemporary artist. 'The secret block' was the first opportunity in the UK to see the drawings in which many of Beuys' seminal works were first formulated.
The catalogue that accompanied the exhibition held here at the Museum of Modern Art Oxford contained an essay by Broodthaers in which he declared, ‘I do not believe it is legitimate to seriously define Art other than in the light of one constant factor – namely the transformation of Art into merchandise. In our time this process has accelerated to the point at which artistic and commercial values are superimposed.’
Excerpts from Lucy Bradnock ‘Marcel Broodthaers: Mademoiselle Riviere and Monsieur Bertin’ Catalogue Entry Tate.
Hans Haacke's new solo exhibition at the gallery included 'A Breed Apart', which made a contrast between an advertising campaign for Jaguar (made by British Leyland) and their practices in exporting vehicles for police and military use to apartheid South Africa.
'By the end of the 1970s, Haacke’s work had become more aggressively political – albeit in a more allegorical way – and throughout the 1980s the artist required ever-larger spaces to acommodate his ‘factographic’ installations"
Frieze Magazine, Issue 106 - April 2007
A retrospective of prolific Russian artist Alexsander Rodchenko took place in 1979. One of the founders of Russian design and the constructivism aesthetic, his work takes in painting, sculpture, graphic design and photography and has been extremely influential on later artists and designers.
Mexican artist Jose Clemente Orozco (1883-1949) is best known for his fresco murals depicting scenes from the Mexican revolution. Photographs of the murals together with 300 examples of easel work, graphics and drawings were displayed on the museum’s three levels.
"In this exhibition, we have tried to show the relationship between Kossoff’s drawing and painting and in the catalogue we have been able to include some photographs of the motifs themselves. Kossoff is concerned to make it clear that he has never drawn or painted from photographs - indeed the monocular vanishing point perspective of the camera lens is entirely alien to the complex spaces of Kossoff’s paintings and drawings. Nevertheless their inclusion below does in a strange and uncategorical way indicate better than words how Kossoff transcribes and transmutes his subjects" – Director of The Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, David Elliot.
An exhibition organized by Vladimir Mayakovsky in 1930, reconstructed by the State Museum of Literature, Moscow and the Ministry of Culture USSR. Organised in Great Britain by the Museum of Modern Art Oxford with the financial assistance of the Visiting Arts Unit and the Arts Council of Great Britain
'Reconstructions: Avant Garde in Japan, 1945-1965,' opened at MoMA Oxford in December. A survey exhibition exploring contemporary practice in a post-war era: 'The defeat of Japan in 1945 was followed by a period of rapid social, economic and cultural change; the old militarist Empire could no longer continue. An alternative had to be found...
In February 1988 we held an exhibition of K.G Subramanyan's new series inspired by his stay as a Christensen fellow in Oxford. 'Fairytales of Oxford' featured paintings of fantastical creatures, tropical vegetation and child-like wonder all set against the backdrop of suburban Oxford.
The effect was to create witty, moral tableaus that were a mixture of Indian folklore and Oxfordshire landscapes.
Yayoi Kusama is considered Japan's greatest living artist. Her various forms of expression all share an obsession with repetition, pattern, and accumulation. Her work shows some attributes of feminism, minimalism, surrealism, pop art, and abstract expressionism, and is infused with autobiographical, psychological, and sexual content. "My art originates from hallucinations only I can see. I translate the hallucinations and obsessional images that plague me into sculptures and paintings. All my works are the products of obsessional neurosis and are therefore inextricably connected to my disease."
Excerpts from Sotheby’s Auction Catalogue.
Jac Leirner's multifaceted work is formulated through a process of collecting and ordering; tapping into what the artist has described as the 'infinity of materials'. Since the mid-1980s, Leirner has amassed the ephemeral and incidental products of consumer culture, and reappropriated them into visually compelling sculptures and installations that demand to be both seen and read.
Excerpts from White Cube Gallery.
In June and again in September we held an exhibition of specially commissioned pieces from up and coming Chinese artists.
'New Art from China, Part 1: Silent Energy' and 'New Art from China Part 2, The Chinese Avant-Garde' showed a side of Chinese art which was dissident, controversial and visually arresting.
'The Raw and the Cooked - new work in clay in Britain' featured works by brilliant artists working in ceramics. It was one of the first exhibitions that moved ceramics out of their traditional crafts gallery environment into a contemporary art gallery setting.
In April we held an exhibition of Marina Abramović's sculptures and videos, titled 'Objects, Performance, Video, Sound'. Abramović is one of the best known performance artists, her work explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind.
100 years of cinema has shaped our culture and contemporary artists are among those who consider this powerful force in their work. Many directors have been influential, but it is Alfred Hitchcock whose shadow looms largest over contemporary artists, filmmakers, and the public alike.
The exhibition Notorious: Alfred Hitchcock and Contemporary Art, held in 1999, brought together a number of works dealing both directly and indirectly with the master of suspense, including pieces by John Baldessari, Christian Marclay and Cindy Sherman.
Enclosed and Enchanted presented key works by contemporary artists such as Cristina Iglesias, Jean-Marc Bustamante, Antony Gormley and Takahiko Iimura. The works invited various readings of the garden, both real and imagined – as architecture, as the manifestation of psychological and physical desires and fears, or as a means to frame a conceptual view of the world. Enclosed and Enchanted pursued these issues through contemporary work linked with historical examples.
An exhibition was held in 2001 of American artist and photographer Ed Ruscha, the first of its kind to bring together paintings, drawings and books from his 40-year career.
“One has to remind oneself just how audacious Ruscha’s first deadpan canvases, with their bold words and photorealist renderings of small commonplace objects must have seemed when he launched them on the art public of early 1960s America.” - The Eye Magazine, 2002’
In 2002, we changed our name to Modern Art Oxford, a change that better reflected the gallery’s status as a ‘kunsthalle’, a home for a vibrant, changing programme of international art, rather than a museum.
This new showing (the first British exhibition for Tracey Emin since 1997) marked Modern Art Oxford's name change (previously MOMA, Oxford) and reopening after refurbishment.
It was a mixture of neon wall hangings, drawings, etchings, film and a large sculpture installation titled 'Knowing my Enemy' featuring a large pier made out of reclaimed timber with a wooden shack on top.
Authenticity and the creative act are central themes of this controversial exhibition of work by Jake and Dinos Chapman at Modern Art Oxford.
This 2003 exhibition included 80 of Goya’s 'Disasters of War' etchings, the originals drawn on by the brothers and re-named 'Insult to Injury' and an installation called 'The Rape of Creativity', featuring an old camper van as its centrepiece.
Mike Nelson is known for his large-scale installations made up of sequences of meticulously constructed, interconnecting rooms that suggest real or imagined spaces. To encounter Nelson’s work is to take an active part in a narrative that merges real and fictional experiences. It is a narrative of jump cuts and double takes in which truth and reality are fractured into a multiplicity of perspectives. References to the literary constructions of William Burroughs, Jorg Luis Borges, the Strugatsky Brothers and Stanislav Lem abound in Nelson’s structures, set among more generic tales of piracy, survival, desertion and the covert groupings of the stateless and the subversive.
This 2005 solo exhibition was the first comprehensive presentation of Angela Bulloch’s work in the UK. Born in Ontario, Canada in 1966, Bulloch studied at Goldsmith’s College, obtaining a BA in Fine Art in 1998. Her work includes all forms of multiple media -including video, installation, sculpture and painting.
A comprehensive exhibition of work by artists from Beirut. Out of Beirut introduced new and recent work by artists such as Lamia Jorege, Walid Sadek, Walid Raad, Joana Hadjithomas, Khalil Joreige, Zaid Abillama, Bernard Khoury and Tony Chakar.
The exhibition featured work especially made for the Oxford show from Jalal Toufic, Akram Zaatari and the anonymous artists’ collective Heartland.
At its heart was a discussion of how the landscape of Beirut has changed following the end of civil war in 1990.
One of the most closely watched American artists of his generation, Kerry James Marshall exhibited an exciting and inspiring show of his paintings.
"Marshall addresses the absence of black people in Western art, with an exhibition that pursues images and ideas of blackness, projecting these into contemporary art by fusing classical and vernacular approaches together with conceptually oriented motifs'. -
Deborah Smith, in the exhibition catalogue.
Modern Art Oxford was the first to present a the major UK exhibition of work by controversial artist Stella Vine. Stella mainly paints pictures that question the essence of being a celebrity, whether it's Princess Diana, Kate Moss or Slyvia Plath.
“Stella’s work is fresh, bold and original and deserves to reach a wider audience. Modern Art Oxford has a long tradition of recognising and supporting new talent. We are delighted to be working with Stella on her first major exhibition.”
Andrew Nairne, former Director of Modern Art Oxford.
One of Europe’s most exciting young artists, Cantor transformed the gallery with an installation that featured, amongst others, a birdcage with live peacocks.
Cantor’s poetic use of materials, images, animals and places offered an eloquent meditation on the contradictions of our contemporary world and the human condition. His work has a beauty and an immediacy that resonates long after the encounter.
Our exhibition spanned seven installations of the revered Canadian duo Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. Their installations go from the very literal, such as The House of Books has No Windows through to eerie immersive mutimedia works like The Killing Machine, The Muriel Lake Incident, The Dark Pool and Opera for a Small Room.
"...accessible, sometimes spooky and disturbing, sometimes enigmatic and strange."
Adrian Searle, The Guardian, 2008
A popular new major exhibition of paintings by Howard Hodgkin explored the acclaimed British artist’s use of abstraction as an expression of subjective experience. Spanning ten years of the artist’s career, the exhibition included paintings not previously seen by a broader public, including a powerful body of new work developing out of his Home, Home on the Range series of 2008. Together, they highlighted the physical as well as emotional charge of Hodgkin’s art through his use of scale, sensitivity to light and his ability to create painterly equivalents of depth and atmosphere using colour and brushstroke.
In his first major solo exhibition in the UK, Thomas Houseago presented his monumental figurative sculptures, that are charged with a remarkable energy and vitality. Houseago works primarily with materials associated with classical and modernist sculpture; carved wood, plaster and bronze.
"His somewhat crude and direct working belies a sophistication that is rich in a layering of cultural, mythological and art historical references. In a time of fast-paced technological change, Houseago’s art takes on the role of an awkward, unresolved reminder of the past."
Modern Art Oxford exhibition catalogue
In her ever first solo show at a British public gallery, Jenny Saville showed the early paintings that first made her famous in the late 90's, alongside paintings that she'd finished in her Oxford studio just a few days before the opening - some canvases were still wet!
Eva Kotátková exhibited in November, with 'A Storyteller's Inadequacy' her works featured performers connecting with objects which created a 'living sculpture' throughout the gallery spaces.
"Kotátková’s works are proposals for living in an awkward age; blueprints for difficulties that must be overcome in order to explore limits of human relationships and behaviour. Objects become mediators which borrow human voices and tell personal stories as well as literary narratives of human isolation and otherness."
In the summer of 2014, the internationally acclaimed artist Barbara Kruger presented a major exhibition of new work at the gallery.
In this exhibition, Kruger produced a site-specific text work which enveloped the entire surface area of the Upper Gallery from lintel to floor.
This major exhibition curated by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller brought together rarely seen works by William Morris and Andy Warhol.
Love is Enough became one of the most popular exhibitions of Modern Art Oxford's recent history.
Modern Art Oxford celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016 with a major year-long programme of rolling exhibitions, titled KALEIDOSCOPE.
Iconic works from the past return to the gallery from across the globe, shown as part of a dynamic programme of new commissions, performances and events by acclaimed artists of the current generation.