The Barbican Centre is one of the largest arts venues in Europe. With a stunning programme of plays, concerts and exhibitions, it’s a major destination for the culturally-inclined staying in hotels in London. Those interested in modern art and pop art are advised that the Barbican’s groundbreaking ‘The Bride and the Bachelors’ exhibition will conclude in just over a month on June 9th, making this May the perfect time to plan a last-minute visit.
Using Marcel Duchamp’s work as a starting point, the exhibition looks at how four major American artists of the mid-20th century were inspired by the playful, subversive elder master.
Alongside Duchamp pieces like Fountain, which appears here as a 1950 replica of the infamous 1917 original, visitors can see works by Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg – two vital American visual artists who were at the forefront of the pop art movement. Some of the paintings, prints and drawings by Johns and Rauschenberg have never been seen in the UK before, making this an unmissable opportunity for fans of their innovative, intelligent art.
The Bride and the Bachelors is rounded out with examples of work by composer John Cage and dance choreographer Merce Cunningham, bringing an enthralling multidisciplinary aspect to the exhibition. Hoping to do justice to these artists’ integration of art and life, a “dynamic experiential staging” has been devised by contemporary artist Philippe Parreno. This incorporates the “ghosts” of Cunningham’s dancers, which can be “heard pounding on the floor” while Cage compositions are performed on two Yamaha Disklavier pianos.
Meanwhile, exhibition-goers can also enjoy live dance events on Thursday evenings and weekends. Based on major Cunningham works like Rainforest, these breathtaking displays draw on the talent of graduates from the London Contemporary Dance School and the Robert Alston Dance Company.
The Barbican Centre is located on Silk Street, a short trip from central London and served by the Barbican tube stop. Tickets for The Bride and the Bachelors cost £12 on the door but can be purchased from the Barbican website for a discounted price of £10.