Black Album / White Cube
A Journey into Art and Music

June 20, 2020 – Jan. 17, 2021 This exhibition has ended
The worlds of visual art and pop music come together at the Kunsthal Rotterdam. From A$AP Rocky, Lady Gaga, and Britney Spears to Joy Division, Euromasters and The Beatles: this is the music that inspired the art in the exhibition ‘Black Album / White Cube’. Thirty five internationally renowned artists show works that have been significantly influenced by music. Over two hundred contemporary artworks have been brought together in the exhibition, including photographs by Wolfgang Tillmans and Anton Corbijn, video installations by Cyprien Gaillard and Arthur Jafa, and paintings by Albert Oehlen and Emil Schult. Divided into chapters such as ‘remixing and sampling’ or ‘original and copy’, the exhibition features countless exciting cross-overs.

Contemporary classics

Standing in front of Emil Schult’s original ‘Autobahn’ painting, one can almost hear the synthesizer riffs of Kraftwerk’s track of the same title. The vividly coloured motorway reaches towards the horizon. As the cover to the world-famous album the painting has reached an iconic status. The exhibition is also presenting an original copy of the most sought-after vinyl album in music history, the ‘Black Album’ by Prince. And exclusively for the exhibition, the British art director Peter Saville edited a video assembling hundreds of style derivatives to the legendary original cover design Saville had made for Joy Division’s seminal album ‘Unknown Pleasures’. The monumental installation ‘We Buy White Albums’ by Rutherford Chang – presenting more than 2,600 used copies of The Beatles’ ‘White Album’ in the re-enactment of a record store – is one of the highlights of the exhibition. It is a meditation on the relationship between an original and its copies and how the terms have different meanings in the music industry and in the art world.

Nightlife and synaesthesia

Nightlife and clubbing are featured in life-sized, penetrating photo portraits of bouncers working at the Berlin nightlife temple Berghain, shot by the photographer and Berghain doorman Sven Marquardt. The Rotterdam gabber techno scene is represented in the Exactitudes series about ‘Gabbers’ by Ari Versluis and Ellie Uyttenbroek. Yet another narrative strand of the exhibition deals with the phenomenon of synesthesia where one sensory experience can unconsciously lead to another. The German painter Bettina Scholz says: “When I hear music, I see colors.” Melodies, chord changes and lyrics can trigger memories as well as the collective unconscious. While a musician can easily turn up the volume to amplify the experience of listening to music, a painter or sculptor has to find other ways to ‘amplify’ his or her art.


The exhibition is realised in collaboration with the Deichtorhallen Hamburg. Guest curator is the author and curator Max Dax, who became known for being editor-in-chief to both ‘Spex’ and ‘Electronic Beats’ — two German magazines for pop culture that changed the way we look at music and art.


In 'Black Album / White Cube' you will find works by Daniel Blumberg, Rutherford Chang, Phil Collins, Anton Corbijn, Cyprien Gaillard, Kim Gordon, Juro Grau, Arthur Jafa, K Foundation, Scott King, Peter Knoch, Mark Leckey, Julien Lescoeur, Luci Lux, Sven Marquardt, Michaela Melián, Radenko Milak, Olaf Nicolai, Albert Oehlen, Richard Prince, Thomas Ruff, Peter Saville, Thomas Scheibitz, Michael Schirner, Bettina Scholz, Emil Schult, Andrea Stappert, Henning Strassburger, Wolfgang Tillmans, Philip Topolovac, Rosemarie Trockel / Thea Djordjadze, Ari Versluis & Ellie Uyttenbroek, Wolfgang Voigt, Cosima von Bonin and Mason  Williams.


Friday open until 22:00
On 21 June - during Friday Night LIVE - the Kunsthal will be open in the evening.
Book your tickets
Kunsthal & Cookies
For an optimal website visit, we use functional and analytical cookies. To show videos and advertisements based on your interests, your consent is required for the use of marketing cookies. You can change this at any time. View our cookie statement and privacy statement.
These cookies enables the website to work like it should. These cookies are not optional.
These cookies are set by third parties, like YouTube or Vimeo.
These cookies allow us to measure the usage of the website and improve it accordingly.
These cookies allow our advertising partners to offer content tailormade for you.
When you disable categories, some functionality in the website might not work correctly. It's possible to change your preferences at any time. More information.