Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art at Barbican

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art will open in October at the Barbican Art Gallery in London and it’s one of the most awaited exhibition this year.

The exhibition will centre on creative hubs as incubators of radical ideas including cabarets, cafés and clubs around the world from New York to Tehran, London, Paris, Mexico City, Berlin, Vienna and Ibadan. Spanning the 1880s to the 1960s, the exhibition celebrates ideas of experimentation and creative energy between performers, dancers, writers and artists including Theo van Doesburg and Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Josephine Baker, Jeanne Mammen, Aaron Douglas, Jacob Lawrence, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec etc.

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).

Into the Night begins in Paris, on the eve of the 20th century, with two thrilling and iconic locations of the avant-garde. The theatrical shadow plays of the Chat Noir in the 1880s are brought to life through original silhouettes and works that decorated the interior of the cabaret. The captivating serpentine dances of Loïe Fuller staged at the Folies Bergère in the 1890s were trail-blazing experiments in costume, light and movement. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec captured her performances in his extraordinary series of delicately hand-coloured lithographs, brought together for the exhibition. Visitors will encounter the immersive “Gesamtkunstwerk” (total work of art) design of the Cabaret Fledermaus (1907) in Vienna by the Wiener Werkstätte, where experimental cabaret productions were staged. The exhibition includes original documentation of Oskar Kokoschka’s exuberant puppet theatre and Gertrude Barrison’s expressionist dance.



Image: Into the Night – Aaron Douglas, Dance, c. 1930