Hayward Gallery reopening: reaction and reviews

Monday, January 29, 2018 - 11:31

The scaffolding is gone, the hard-hats are no longer a necessity, yes, Hayward Gallery is open once again. Its two-year refurbishment complete, our iconic contemporary art gallery has reopened its doors with a retrospective of photographer Andreas Gursky. A suitably seismic show for a significant moment, but you needn’t just take our word for it. Here are the reactions and reviews from Hayward Gallery’s first week back.

When the subject of your first exhibition is an artist known for his monumental, often spectacular pictures, then it’s only right you shout about your reopening on a similar scale. This billboard at London’s Broadway Market certainly helped create a buzz around our reopening.

From the outside you might wonder what all the fuss is about, indeed, from many angles our iconic brutalist venue still looks just the same as it always has done.


Quick visit to one of my favourite places in town, the newly-opened Hayward Gallery

A post shared by Tom Hull (@tomhullphoto) on

But you only need to step inside to see just what a difference the restoration of Hayward Gallery’s 66 pyramid roof lights has achieved. The upper galleries are now bathed in natural light for the first time, as those lucky enough to attend our special press view were able to experience.

So, with the press packed in the gallery, and the artwork up on our refurbished walls, all that remained was to hear from the artist himself, as Andreas Gursky joined Hayward Gallery Director Ralph Rugoff to officially launch our reopening exhibition.

Of course you can’t possibly have a launch event without famous faces in attendance, and this was no exception with sculptor Antony Gormley and racing driver Niki Lauda among the attendees.

In the presence of the artist himself, and surrounded by so many of his spectacular works, some of those attending the launch soon found themselves beginning to observe the ‘Gursky’ in the everyday, as our own Ashleigh Toll noted.

Alongside our press and VIP launch events we also hosted a special preview showing for Southbank Centre Members, some of whom were keen to get a very close look at the exhibition.

Whilst those of a more architectural persuasion, like writer Catherine Croft, were finding it hard not to get distracted by the reconditioned concrete of the brutalist building itself.

Embracing the modern has always been key to the ethos of Hayward Gallery, and so it seemed apt to welcome a number of prominent Instagrammers into the exhibition ahead of Thursday’s general opening.

The group captured some fantastic images of people getting a first taste of both the refurbished buildings and the incredible work of Andreas Gursky.

On the first day of the Gallery’s public opening Heathbrook Primary School paid us a visit, showing how Gursky’s incredible visions appeal to art lovers of all ages.  

Heathbrook weren’t the only school to pay us a visit; we also welcomed the children of Lambeth’s Wyvil Primary School. The pupils were getting an early taste of the exhibition before they become our Art Explorers, helping us to guide other children through Gursky’s work.

With such a monumental opening exhibition, it was great to see Hayward Gallery’s return, and Gursky’s showcase, so positively welcomed by art lovers across the board; from the creatives...

...and those on the cusp of all that’s cutting edge in the capital...

...to the critics of the broadsheets...

Andreas Gursky offers a spectacular god's-eye view of humanity
The Telegraph

...and the former-broadsheets.

This is a deftly curated show full of echoes and resonances
Sean O’Hagan in The Guardian

So, a landmark week, at the end of two years hard work from all involved with Hayward Gallery. We’re hugely grateful to all who supported and enabled the gallery’s refurbishment, including those of you who supported our Let The Light In fundraising campaign, and Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Now all you need to do is make sure you visit and take in this glorious reopening exhibition for yourself.

...do not miss the opportunity to encounter so many impressive works by this colossus of contemporary photography
Alastair Sooke, The Telegraph

Gursky at Hayward Gallery runs until Sunday 22 April.

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