Concrete Resistance

Constructivist movements of the Global South

Project description

The research and exhibition project “Concrete Resistance by the Museum im Kulturspeicher Würzburg in cooperation with local partners explores concrete art and its key proponents from a global perspective for the first time. What do concrete artworks look like in the Global South, what significance do they hold, and how do the ideas expressed by these concrete artists differ from one another?

The project focuses on concrete art as a means of resistance. It presents examples of how artists in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe apply shapes, colours and geometric compositions to reveal how political and societal structures can be changed. Although art historians in the past have typically neglected concrete art in favour of abstract art, this exhibition aims to highlight and pay tribute to concrete art as an internationally networked, artistically relevant movement of the 20th-century avant-garde. Starting in the 1950s, numerous African, Latin American, Asian and European painters, philosophers, literary scholars and architects developed the fundamental concept of concrete art, originally formulated in 1930, and adapted it to their corresponding circumstances. The exhibition presents these works in the social and political context of their times and illustrates their potential with respect to resistance and utopia. Concrete art of the Global South did much to fuel the discussion about the challenges facing a post-colonial society. The Pakistani artist and activist Rasheed Araeen applies constructivist structural principles to express such values as equality and participation. The works of Ghanaian artist Atta Kwami question the Western-influenced differentiation between “European modernism” and “African tradition”. The etchings by Egyptian artist Menhat Helmy capture the social upheavals in Egypt against the backdrop of political crises. Numerous Latin American positions from Brazil and Argentina present concrete art as a subversive means of expression against the emergent military dictatorships of the past.

An extensive publication will accompany the project. In a research and presentation network, the University of Würzbug, the Instituto Schuch and the ZHdK Zürich wish to stimulate dialogue on the significance of concrete art at the global level and re-contextualise the collection at the Kunstspeicher in Würzburg.


Artistic directors: Luisa Heese, Anke Kempkes

Artists: Rasheed Araeen, Lenora de Barros, Augusto de Campos, Samia Halaby, Menhat Helmy, Diyi Laañ, Lygia Pape, Loló Soldevilla, Jesús Rafael Soto, Rubem Valentim

Decentralised research and presentation network Würzburg / Susch / Zürich / World: Museum im Kulturspeicher Würzburg, Universität Würzburg, Instituto Susch, ZHdK Zürich: 11 Apr. 2022 –15 Jan. 2023; exhibition: Museum im Kulturspeicher Würzburg, Würzburg: 15 Oct. 2022 –15 Jan. 2023




Stadt Würzburg
Rückermainstraße 2
97070 Würzburg (external link, opens in a new window)