The Shape of Plain

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The Shape of Plain examines the impact of history of art on artistic and architectural practices through the work of American art historian, George Kubler.

In his 1962 book, The Shape of Time, Kubler proposed a radical philosophy of the history of art as the history of all things, which was highly influential to a generation of artists, such as Ad Reinhardt, Robert Morris, Robert Smithson, and John Baldessari, all of whom quoted it in their essays and works.

In his 1972 book, Portuguese Plain Architecture: Between Spices and Diamonds, Kubler established the paradigm of plain architecture, which gradually evolved into a tradition accepted by contemporary architectural practices in Portugal.

The aforementioned American artistic practices of the 1960s share some essential features with post-1970 architectural practices in Portugal, belonging to the same family of ideas: plain arts.

The exhibition features four installations – all sequences of images in the form of lectures – that taken together shed light on a myriad of themes: the relationship between the plain arts over time and in different places, the role of the lecture in artistic production, and the influence of history on artistic and architectural work over the past fifty years.

Curator: Eliana Sousa Santos


Related events:


Compare, Contrast, Conflate and Confound the Wise. Ad Reinhardt’s Subversive Slide Talks

Robert Storr

Thursday, 5 January, 6:00 p.m.
Auditorium 3
Free admission 


Round Table

Plain Arts

Guests: Joana Cunha Leal, João Vieira Caldas, Jorge Figueira, Sérgio Fazenda Rodrigues

Moderator: Eliana Sousa Santos

Wednesday, 14 December, 6:00 p.m.
Auditorium 3
Free admission 


Guided Tours

Wednesday, 16 November, 3:00 p.m.

Saturdays, 26 November and 17 December, 3:00 p.m.


Informations | Booking:

217 823 800 | [email protected]


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