This October, Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at London’s Barbican will explore the social and artistic role of cabarets, cafés and clubs around the world.
Spanning the 1880s to the 1960s, the exhibition offers an alternative history of modern art that highlights the spirit of experimentation and collaboration between artists, performers, designers, musicians and writers such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Loïe Fuller, Josef Hoffmann, Giacomo Balla, Theo van Doesburg and Sophie Taeuber-Arp, as well as Josephine Baker, Jeanne Mammen, Aaron Douglas, Jacob Lawrence, Ramón Alva de la Canal and Ibrahim El-Salahi.
From New York to Tehran, London, Paris, Mexico City, Berlin, Vienna and Ibadan, the show brings together over 350 works rarely seen in the UK, including paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, films and archival material.
Bertold Löffler Poster for the Cabaret Fledermaus, 1907 Lithograph The Albertina Museum, Vienna © The Albertina Museum, Vienna
Colette Omogbai Agony, c. 1963 Oil on hardboard Iwalewahaus|DEVA, University of Bayreuth © Colette Omogbai
Erna Schmidt-Caroll Chansonette (Singer), c. 1928 Pastel crayon on paper Private collection © Estate Erna Schmidt-Caroll
Liberated from the confines of social and political norms, many of the sites provided immersive, often visceral experiences, manifesting the ideals of the artists and audiences who founded and frequented them. The exhibition features full-scale recreations of specific spaces, such as the multi-coloured ceramic tiled bar of the Cabaret Fledermaus in Vienna (1907), designed by Josef Hoffmann for the Wiener Werkstätte, and the striking abstract composition of the Ciné-Dancing designed by Theo van Doesburg for L’Aubette in Strasbourg (1926–28).
Jane Alison, head of visual arts at Barbican, said: “Into the Night casts a spotlight on some of the most electrifying cabarets and clubs of the modern era. Whether a creative haven, intoxicating stage or liberal hangout, all were magnets for artists, designers and performers to come together, collaborate and express themselves freely. Capturing the essence of these global incubators of experimentation and cross-disciplinarity, immersive 1:1 scale interiors will take the visitor on a captivating journey of discovery.”
Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen Réouverture du Cabaret du Chat Noir (Reopening of the Chat Noir Cabaret), 1896 Lithograph Victoria and Albert Museum, London © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Josef Hoffmann Kabarett Fledermaus Postkarte (Cabaret Fledermaus Postcard), Wiener Werkstätte, Nr. 74., 1907 Lithograph Theatermuseum, Vienna
Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at London’s Barbican launches on 4 October 2019 and runs until 19 January 2020.