Richard Saltoun Gallery Is Dedicating an Entire Year of Exhibitions to Art Related to Hannah Arendt’s Political Writings

Arendt’s 1968 book "Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought" will be the basis for the gallery’s 2021 exhibitions.

Courtesy of Richard Saltoun Gallery.

Hannah Arendt, the German-born, Jewish American writer, had an acute talent for dissecting how politics intersected with human nature, particularly when it came to our darker impulses. 

Her widely influential 1968 book Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought examined the cultural crisis society experienced as traditional concepts from justice to glory lost their meaning. Throughout the book, Arendt explored approaches to rethinking these traditional virtues so that they might be made relevant to contemporary society.

 Vivienne Koorland, Poland is on Pluto A Change Is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke’s Version) (2017). Courtesy of Richard Saltoun Gallery.

Vivienne Koorland, Poland is on Pluto A Change Is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke’s Version) (2017). Courtesy of Richard Saltoun Gallery.

Seeing the lasting relevance of her work in our charged times, London’s Richard Saltoun Gallery recently announced that the entirety of its 2021 programming will center on artists’ engagement with concepts addressed in Between Past and Future. Titled “On Hannah Arendt: Eight Proposals for Exhibition,” the year-long project will include eight exhibitions correlating to the book’s eight chapters, and will include 20 international artists, from both the gallery’s roster and beyond, all of whom are all connected to Arendt through common threads and themes concerning identity and citizenship, justice and equality, displacement and belonging.

Siah Armajani, Gazebo for Two Anarchists. Courtesy of Richard Saltoun Gallery.

Siah Armajani, Gazebo for Two Anarchists. Courtesy of Rossi & Rossi.

“These questions—and Arendt’s responses—are still incredibly powerful, if not more so today, as we still grapple with the issues she confronted over 50 years ago,” said gallery founder Richard Saltoun. 

The first of the exhibitions, “The Modern Age,” opening in January, will address questions of dislocation and alienation. South African artist Vivienne Koorland’s textile “history” paintings on linen and stitched burlap will be on view alongside the sculptures and installations of late Iranian-American artist Siah Armajani, who nurtured critical, cross-cultural engagement through art. 

Peter Kennard, Stop 32 (1968–76). Courtesy of Richard Saltoun Gallery.

Peter Kennard, Stop 32 (1968–76). Courtesy of Richard Saltoun Gallery.

Subsequent exhibitions will include “The Concept of History,” a solo exhibition by Peter Kennard, opening in February, which will highlight the artist’s significant contribution to politically informed art over the past 50 years.

It will focus on three bodies of work: his little-known STOP Paintings from the 1960-70s and informed by events such as the Paris student riots, the Prague Spring, and Vietnam War protests; his series of “Pallets” from the 1990s, with traces of human images and figures barely visible on battered wooden pallets; and a new series of works on paper titled 2020, which confront the numerous challenges of this past year.

 Bracha Ettinger, Eros—Pieta, n.2 (2015–2020). Courtesy of Richard Saltoun Gallery.

Bracha Ettinger, Eros—Pieta, n.2 (2015–2020). Courtesy of the artist.

Other spring exhibitions will include “What is Authority?” with work by Belgian artist Lili Dujourie and Tanzanian artist Everlyn Nicodemus, and “What is Freedom?” which, through the work of Bracha L. Ettinger, will explore the fates of women in periods of war. Other participating artists will include Alice Adams, Eleanor Antin, Alexander Brodsky, Thomas Hirschhorn, Cathy Josefowitz, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Ulay, and Carey Young.

On Hannah Arendt: Eight Proposals for Exhibition” will mark the second time Richard Saltoun Gallery has organized a year’s worth of programming by theme. In 2019, the gallery featured “100% Women” which presented works by women artists for 12 months.

Read more about “On Hannah Arendt: Eight Proposals for Exhibition” here. 


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