How Ms Zaha Hadid Made Abstract Art Into Buildings
“Metropolis”, 1988. Copyright Zaha Hadid Architects. Photograph courtesy of Serpentine Galleries
A new exhibition of the late architect’s preliminary works at London’s Serpentine Gallery prove that she was a master of more than one artform.
On encountering a building by the late, great, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Ms Zaha Hadid, you would be forgiven for thinking that its undulating curves and gravity-defying geometry are derived from some kind of digital wizardry or 3D-modelling software. Of course, it’s true that Ms Hadid, widely acclaimed for designs including the Pringle-shaped Aquatics Centre for the London 2012 Olympics and the neo-Brutalist MAXXI art museum in Rome, made the most of innovations in technology and computing in realising her daring, futuristic designs. But, as a new exhibition at London’s Serpentine Gallery reveals this month, her ideas themselves often came from more analogue sources, namely the abstract, calligraphic artworks that she created as the starting point for all of her architectural ideas.
“Vision for Madrid”, Spain, 1992. Copyright Zaha Hadid Architects. Photograph courtesy of Serpentine Galleries
Opening 8 December and entitled Zaha Hadid: Early Paintings And Drawings, the Serpentine exhibition is a showcase of Ms Hadid’s detailed drawings and private notebooks from the 1970s to the 1990s. Conceived in collaboration with Ms Hadid before her death in March of this year (the gallery and architect frequently collaborated, most notably on the former’s Sackler Gallery extension in 2013), the exhibition explores Ms Hadid’s preoccupation with artistic abstraction – a somewhat surprising method of expressing ideas that would, ultimately, have to be built in bricks and mortar. In fact, an early influence for her was the early Russian avant-garde painter Mr Kasimir Malevich. “Malevich discovered abstraction as an experimental principle that can propel creative work to previously unheard levels of invention,” said Ms Hadid, in 2007. It’s clear to see from these early works – explosive bursts of creativity that only partially resemble buildings – that Ms Hadid followed in her mentor’s footsteps, in a most spectacular way.
Zaha Hadid: Early Paintings and Drawings runs from 8 December 2016 to 12 February 2017 at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery