Upcoming New Babylon exhibition in Reina Sofia Madrid this fall!

Constant Rode sector, 1958. © Constant, VEGAP, Madrid, 2015

Constant Rode sector, 1958. © Constant, VEGAP, Madrid, 2015

It's with pride that we announce the upcoming New Babylon exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia opening on October 20th 2015! This co-op between Reina Sofia and Gemeentemuseum Den Haag will be the largest overview of Constant's New Babylon project since the New Babylon exhibition in Witte de With in 1999 curated by Roland Groenenboom under director Barthomé Marie! During this exhibition the book New Babylon: The Hyper Architecture of Desire by Mark Wigley was presented, which is still the leading publication on Constant's New Babylon project.

“I am not a designer, just a mere provocateur. I confine myself to making suggestions. What has been defined is the concept of New Babylon, not its physical form.”

For almost twenty years, Constant (Constant Anton Nieuwenhuys, Amsterdam, 1920 – Utrecht, 2005) realised scale models, paintings, drawings and collages displaying his concept of a nomad city of the future – New Babylon – a complex and expansive labyrinth that transformed the whole world into one sole network. The earth would be collective property, work would be completely automated and run by robots and people would have the freedom to devote their time to creative play.

With this exhibition, which will bring together 150 works and large amounts of documentary material, the Museo Reina Sofía and Gemeentemuseum Den Haag aim to bring a wide audience closer to Constant’s project, which has sparked the growing interest of artists, architects and curators in recent years. The cornerstone of the show is New Babylon as a “work of art” inside the social context of its conception, whereby drawings, collages, models, paintings and prints are complemented with a series of reconstructions, fragments of historical films and archive materials.

However, the exhibition is not solely circumscribed by the period between 1956 and 1974, the years New Babylon is usually classified within. It also encompasses other phases as it aims to demonstrate that the ideas expressed in the New Babylon project were already present in Constant’s work. Although they were formulated with less clarity – from a period some time before, when he was a member of the CoBrA group between 1948 and 1951 – they did not disappear altogether after 1974. A section will also be devoted to the influence in Constant’s work of a widespread cultural imaginary (gypsy, flamenco and lumpen aspects), which could be identified with Spanish culture.

October 20, 2015 - February 29, 2016/Sabatini Building, Floor 1

Organized by: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

Curatorship: Laura Stamps and Doede Hardeman

Artists: Constant (Constant Nieuwenhuys)