Whitechapel Gallery
The Whitechapel Gallery is a public art gallery on the north side of Whitechapel High Street, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Designed by Charles Harrison Townsend, it was founded in 1901 as one of the first publicly-funded galleries for temporary exhibitions in London, and it has a long track record for education and outreach projects, now focused on the Whitechapel area's deprived populations. It exhibits the work of contemporary artists, as well as organising retrospective exhibitions and shows that are of interest to the local community. The Gallery exhibited Pablo Picasso's Guernica in 1938 as part of a touring exhibition organised by Roland Penrose to protest the Spanish Civil War. For the history of post-war British art, the most important exhibition to have been held at the Whitechapel Gallery was This is Tomorrow in 1956. Initiated by members of the Independent Group, the exhibition brought Pop Art to the general public as well as introducing some of the artists, concepts, designers and photographers that would define the Swinging Sixties. Throughout its history, the Whitechapel Gallery had a series of open exhibitions that were a strong feature for the area's artist community, but by the early 1990s these open shows became less relevant as emerging artists moved to other areas. In the later 1960s and through the 1970s, the critical importance of the Whitechapel Gallery was displaced by newer venues such as the Hayward Gallery, but in the 1980s the Gallery enjoyed a resurgence under the Directorship of Nicholas Serota. The Whitechapel Gallery had a major refurbishment in 1986 and has recently completed (April 2009) a two year programme of work to incorporate the former Passmore Edwards Library building next door, vacated when Whitechapel Idea Store opened, which has doubled the physical size of the Gallery and nearly tripled available exhibition space, and which will now allow the Whitechapel Gallery to remain open to the public year round.

The Whitechapel has premiered international artists such as Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Nan Goldin, and provided a showcase for Britain’s most significant artists from Gilbert & George to Lucian Freud, Peter Doig, Ian McKeever, to Mark Wallinger. The Gallery plays a unique role in London's cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of east London as one of the world’s most vibrant contemporary art quarters.

Notable exhibitions
1939 - Guernica , Picasso’s iconic depiction of the horrors of the Spanish civil war, is displayed at the Whitechapel on its first and only visit to Britain 1956 - This is Tomorrow exhibit 1958 - The first major show in Britain of seminal American abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock 1961 - British premiere of Mark Rothko. The installation of his work at the Whitechapel becomes his template for all subsequent shows 1970 and 1971 - First major David Hockney retrospective, first major shows of Gilbert & George and Richard Long 1982 - The Whitechapel Gallery introduces little-known Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo to London audiences 1993 - The Whitechapel Gallery showcases Lucian Freud, one of Britain’s greatest living figurative painters 2001 and 2002 - Liam Gillick and Nan Goldin stage their first major solo shows in the UK 2008 - Cornelia Parker's film Chomskian Abstract, featuring Noam Chomsky 2009 ”“ First Major retrospective of Isa Genzken's work and solo shows for Sophie Calle and Elizabeth Peyton 2010 ”“ First survey of Alice Neel's portraits in Britain

Since 1923 art has been presented alongside education. A not-for-profit educational charity, the Whitechapel has pioneered artists’ residencies in schools and other education innovations that have been adopted as models across the UK and internationally.

The Whitechapel was reopened on 4 April 2009 after an two-year project which approximately doubled the size of the Gallery by incorporating the former neighbouring library building. The work cost approximately £13.5m and was partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. A tapestry based on Pablo Picasso's Guernica , loaned by the United Nations, is to be included in the inaugural exhibition by Goshka Macuga. and Isa Genzken. As part of the expansion, a new Archive Gallery, a reading room and an archive repository (where the Whitechapel’s historic records will be held) have been created. These developments are in keeping with the Whitechapel's standing as an educational charity, as a great deal more of the Gallery's historical archive and book collection will be available to the public for research purposes. Previously the archives were so small that they were only able to hold two readers at a time, and were only available by appointment once a week. The archives catalogue the very conception of the gallery, as well as the complete directors' files of correspondence which reveal the reasons behind key decisions in the Gallery's history.

  • Charles Aitken (1901”“1911)
  • Bryan Robertson (1952”“1968)
  • Jasia Reichardt (1974”“1976)
  • Nicholas Serota (1976”“1988)
  • Catherine Lampert (1988”“2002)
  • Iwona Blazwick (2002”“ )

The nearest tube stations are Aldgate East and Aldgate tube station


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