Sound & Vision
International Exhibitions on Art and Music

“We are living in the jazz age,” proclaimed the American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald at the beginning of the 1920s. Rhythm, improvisation, tempo – a new kind of urban music provides the soundtrack for Modernism. Thus begins the liaison between pop culture and art, which has reached its zenith so far with Lady Gaga, Jay Z, and Björk. Le Corbusier, Mondrian, and Beckmann were jazz fans, as were Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, who was particularly enthusiastic about Swing. The extent to which the energy and rousing panache of this music inspired his art can now be experienced at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, where the exhibition Jackson Pollock’s 'Mural': Energy Made Visible presents one of his most impressive paintings. The pioneer of Abstract Expressionism is also being honored in New York: At MoMA, a selection of around 50 his works is on view. And at the Whitney, a chronicler of the jazz age can be discovered. The museum is devoting a comprehensive retrospective to Archibald John Motley Jr. (1891–1981). His portraits and nightlife scenes show a confident black community. Paintings such as Blues and Hot Rhythm transport the vital atmosphere of the clubs and dance venues in Chicago. In his works, Motley develops an unmistakable visual language, relying on dizzying spatial distortion and jarring hues.

That jazz continues to influence art up to the present day is illustrated by an exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart titled I Got Rhythm. The show begins with classic Modernist artists. Paintings by Otto Dix and Henri Matisse refer to stars such as Josephine Baker and certain songs. Later, Andy Warhol designed record covers for the legendary label Blue Note Records, K.R.H. Sonderborg’s painting actions were accompanied live by jazz musicians. K.O. Götz was not only a member of the Hot Club in Frankfurt, but also saw parallels between Bebop and his own abstract painting. Artists such as Stan Douglas, Kara Walker, and Jutta Koether represent current jazz reception in art.  

Christian Marclay was influenced by Musique Concrète and the do-it-yourself strategies of Punk. The sound artist, who is represented in the Deutsche Bank Collection, has two shows in Stuttgart. The Kunstmuseum is presenting his Video Quartet. Marclay put together more than 700 film excerpts in which music is played or sounds produced into an acoustic-visual composition. In the Staatsgalerie, he has Fluxus collide with Punk in the exhibition Shake Rattle and Roll. The result is a contemporary view of a past avant-garde – and a brilliant cacophony.

Marclay is also represented in This is Not a Love Song, an exhibition in which Istanbul’s Pera Museum investigates links between video art and pop music. Since its opening in 2005, the private museum, situated in the middle of the Turkish metropolis, has shown historical exhibitions as well as 20th and 21st century art, and was recently one of the venues for the Istanbul BiennialThis is Not a Love Song presents videos and experimental films by artists such as Nam June Paik, Andy Warhol, Yayoi KusamaVito Acconci and John Baldessari. One of the highlights is Adel Abidin’s Three Love Songs. The Iraqi artist has three American pop divas who resemble Nancy Sinatra or Britney Spears sing emotional Arab ballads. But the subtitles quickly make it clear that the songs are not about love or heartsickness, but glorify Saddam Hussein. The dictator personally commissioned these songs. Due to the discrepancy between the lascivious moments of the platinum blond singers and the powerful texts, Abidin’s video adeptly undermines the audience’s expectations.

Next fall, visitors can embark on a multimedia journey into the late 1960s at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. You Say You Want a Revolution: Records & Rebels 1966-70 will document the optimism and revolutionary spirit of this period, from the Paris protests of May 1968, hippie counterculture to the African-American civil rights movement, which was inspired not least by music. The exhibition is grouped around monitors on which iconic stars of this era can be experienced. The Who play My Generation, Sam Cooke sings A Change is Gonna Come, and Jimy Hendrix’ legendary performance at Woodstock is shown. Film excerpts, photographs, design objects, fashion, and music revive a time that has had a lasting impact on the way we live.

Jackson Pollock’s “Mural”: Energy Made Visible
Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Berlin
11/25/2015 – 4/10/2016

Jackson Pollock: A Survey
Museum of Modern Art, New York
11/22/2015 – 3/13/2016

Archibald Motley – Jazz Age Modernist
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Until 1/17/2016

I Got Rhythm – Art and Jazz since 1920
Until 3/6/2016,
Christian Marclay – Video Quartet
Until 1/17/2016
Kunstmuseum Stuttgart

Christian Marclay – Shake Rattle and Roll

Until 3/20/2016
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

This is Not a Love Song - Video Art and Pop Music Crossovers   

11/25/2015 – 2/7/2016
Pera Museum, Istanbul

You Say You Want a Revolution: Records & Rebels 1966-70
9/10/2016 – 2/26/2017
Victoria & Albert Museum, London