Tate Modern traces the development of photography and abstract art

Tate Modern’s show Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art includes over 300 works by more than 100 artists, making it the first exhibition of this scale to trace abstract art and photography’s parallel development.

On show from 2 May to 15 October, the exhibition spans from early experiments of the 1900s to digital innovations of the present day, examining how photographers through the years have responded to the emerging field of abstract art. It places pioneering work such as Alvin Langdon Coburn’s Vortographs (1917) and Imogen Cunningham’s Triangles (1928) alongside iconic paintings and sculptures by the likes of George Braque and Jackson Pollock.

Proun in Material (Proun 83), 1924 by El Lissitzky © Imogen Cunningham Trust. All rights reserved
, 1922 by László Moholy-Nagy

Rooms dedicated to Op Art and Kinetic Art of the 1960s study the connection between innovations in photography and new techniques in fine-art, displaying Bridget Riley’s paintings alongside photographs by contemporaries Floris Neussus and Gottfried Jaeger. Pieces from the minimal and conceptual art of the 1970s and 80s are followed by the contemporary work of Antony Cairns, Maya Rochat, and Daisuke Yokota, exploring photography and abstraction today.

Shape of Light also acknowledges MoMA’s 1960 exhibition, The Sense of Abstraction, with installation photographs of the landmark show plus pieces from the original exhibition. And it includes work by Edward Weston, Aaron Siskind, and a series by Man Ray which has not been exhibited since the MoMA show 58 years ago.

Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art is on show at Tate Modern from 02 May-15 October www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern

Photogram c.1925 by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Jack Kirkland Collection, Nottingham
Triangles, 1928, printed 1947-60 © Imogen Cunningham
Luminogram II, 1952 by Otto Steinert © Estate Otto Steinert, Museum Folkwang, Essen
Untitled, 1952 by Guy Bourdin © The Guy Bourdin Estate
ZEPES, 1986 © James Welling. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York/London/Hong Kong and Maureen Paley, London
Workshop c.1914-5 by Wyndham Lewis © Wyndham Lewis and the estate of Mrs G A Wyndham Lewis by kind permission of the Wyndham Lewis Memorial Trust (a registered charity)
, 1922 by László Moholy-Nagy
Number 23, 1948 by Jackson Pollock © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2017
Jazzmen, 1961 by Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé © Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé
Marigold Warner

Deputy Editor

Marigold Warner worked as an editor at BJP between 2018 and 2023. She studied English Literature and History of Art at the University of Leeds, followed by an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London. Her work has been published by titles including the Telegraph Magazine, Huck, Elephant, Gal-dem, The Face, Disegno, and the Architects Journal.