At the Serpentine Gallery in London, an exhibition starting this December will showcase a range of notebook drawings and other early artwork by the late Zaha Hadid. The esteemed British-Iraqi architect passed away earlier this year in March, however, the retrospective exhibition was planned before this.
The gallery’s artistic director, Hans Ulrich Obrist, got the idea to present Hadid’s work when he attended her ceremonial RIBA lecture after her award of the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture (Hadid was also the first woman to claim the prize). During her speech, Hadid showed unseen notebooks that contained sketches that reflected her approach to architectural form-finding. “I was completely transfixed,” said Obrist, speaking in The Guardian. “I had never seen such notebooks. I wanted to see her to discuss what we could do. An exhibition? A book?”
After Obrist’s and Hadid’s subsequent meeting on the matter, Hadid travelled to Miami where, after undergoing treatment for bronchitis, she died unexpectedly. “We had planned that after her return, her office would get all the drawings out and we would start the work,” continued Obrist.
The exhibition will be located in the Serpentine Sackler Gallery. Here, rare paintings done early on in Hadid’s career will be displayed. “They are not known enough, they are not known to a wider audience and we want many people to see them beyond the art and architecture world,” said Obrist. “She is one of the great visionaries of our time, she is a historic figure and this is also why we feel this work has to be seen now and why it is so urgent. There could not be a more wonderful connection, to show it in her own building, the only structure in central London of hers.”
Hadid has a strong relationship with the gallery. Her first work in London was the inaugural Serpentine Pavilion (which went up in 2000) and she has been a trustee since 1996. The exhibition will run through February 12, 2017.
For next year’s Serpentine Pavilion commission, British architects Richard Rogers and David Adjaye will be part of an advisory panel. The winner will be chosen by Obrist and new CEO Yana Peel.