advertisement

When it opened in 1901, contemporary art was viewed as a degenerate indulgence. Since then, the Whitechapel has reliably led the development of new artistic movements. There’s no permanent exhibition, freeing it to import whatever will grip audiences, so every new visit is a fresh experience. In 1939, it brought to Britain Picasso’s newly painted Guernica as part of an exhibition protesting the then-current Spanish Civil War. Later it introduced Jackson Pollock’s abstracts (now they’re staples in the Tate museums), and now it gives berth to titillating British sculptors such as Sarah Lucas and Rachel Whiteread. It’s also something of a community center, and there’s always a talk or screening going on.