This recreation of the bar at Cabaret Fledermaus - the only place to be if you wanted to exchange ‘boredom’ for ‘ease, art and culture’ in Vienna at the turn of the century - is just one of four immersive rooms in an effervescent new show exploring the history of cabarets and clubs from the 1880s to the 1960s.
Into the Night takes visitors on a thrilling journey back in time through the lens of 12 infamous haunts and the artistic giants that frequented them. We find Expressionist painter Max Beckmann listening to American jazz in the bars of Weimar-era Berlin, Loie Fuller performing her hypnotic ‘Serpentine Dance’ in Paris’ Folies-Bergère, Italian Futurist Giacomo Balla crafting swirling sets for Rome’s Cabaret del Diavolo (Devil’s Cabaret), as well as off-kilter Dadaists Tristan Tzara and Jean (Hans) Arp flaunting the art of the absurd in Zurich’s Cabaret Voltaire.
But the exhibition doesn’t limit its study of radical revelry to Europe; it also shines a light on the reactionary cafes of Mexico City, the experimental private clubs of Tehran and the rhythmic Mbari clubs of Osogbo, wonderfully showing how these artistic communities developed the Western cabaret tradition into something distinctly their own.
The immersive rooms are, without a doubt, the showstoppers, with the shadow theatre of the Chat Noir and Theo van Doesburg's De Stijl design of the Strasbourgian L’Aubette cabaret created to full scale. But it is through the wealth of paintings, posters, archival material and films that one can fathom the incredible synthesis of art forms that took place in these cauldrons of creativity.
This absolute party of an exhibition lives up to the excess of its subject matter. It is a dazzling, frothing survey of modernity and one we must take our hats off to.
|What||Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art, Barbican Centre review|
|Where||Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Barbican (underground)|
04 Oct 19 – 19 Jan 20, Sunday to Tuesday, 10am – 6pm; Wednesday to Saturday, 10am – 8pm
|Website||Click here for more information|