Exhibition

  • Serpentine Pavilion 2017 by Francis Kéré
    Serpentine Galleries, London
    Jun 23, 2017 to Oct 08, 2017
  • GRANTEE
    Serpentine Galleries
    GRANT YEAR
    2017

Francis Kéré, Serpentine Pavilion, 2017, London. Photo: Iwan Baan.

The annual Pavilion commission for the Serpentine is the most ambitious architectural project of its type. Internally recognized as a platform for exciting and radical architecture designed to be built quickly and shared widely, the program celebrates its eighteenth anniversary in 2017. The Pavilion—designed by an architect yet to have completed a building in the United Kingdom—sits outside the Gallery on the front lawn and is experienced by up to 300,000 people each summer. In 2017, the Serpentine commissioned the Berlin-based architect from rural Burkina Faso, West Africa, Francis Kéré. The Aga Khan Award–winning architect raised $50,000 as a student to help build a school from the village he was born in and this community-based methodology continues to inform much of this practice, in which he appropriates and makes use of existing materials and traditional techniques in a modernist style.

Francis Kéré was born in the village of Gando in Burkina Faso. He was the first child in the village to be sent to school, as his father, the village chief, wanted his eldest son to learn how to read and translate his letters. Since no school existed in Gando, Kéré had to leave his family when he was seven years old to live with his uncle in the city. After finishing his education, he became a carpenter and received a scholarship from the Carl Duisber Society to do an apprenticeship in Germany as a supervisor in development aid. After completing the apprenticeship, he went on to study architecture at the Technical University of Berlin, graduating in 2004. During his studies he felt it was his duty to contribute to his family and to the community that had supported him, and to give the next generation the opportunity to follow in his footsteps. In 1998, with the help of his friends, Kéré set up the association Schulbausteine fur Gando, which loosely translates as "Building Blocks for Gando," to fund the construction of a primary school for his village. His objective was to combine the knowledge he had gained in Europe, with traditional building methods from his homeland. He completed his studies and built the first school in Gando as his diploma project in 2004, while also opening his own architectural office Kéré Architecture.

Hans Ulrich Obrist is artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries. He was previously the curator of the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Since his first show World Soup (The Kitchen Show) in 1991, he has curated more than 300 shows. He was also voted the “most influential person in the art world” by Art Review in their annual Power 100. In 2009, he was made Honorary Fellow of the RIBA, and in 2015, he received the International Folkwang Prize for his commitment to the arts. Obrist lectures internationally and is widely published.

Yana Peel is CEO of the Serpentine Galleries. She is a long-time supporter of the Galleries, who first joined its board of trustees in March 2015. Peel was CEO of Intelligence Squared Group and cofounded Outset Contemporary Art Fund. She currently serves on the boards of Tate, the V&A Museum, Para/Site Art Space, and other institutions. In addition, she authored a series of best-selling children's books to benefit the NSPCC (Art for Baby), was selected as the recipient of the Mont Blanc Award for Arts Patronage, and is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum (2011).

Lizzie Carey-Thomas is head of programs at the Serpentine Galleries, where she oversees exhibitions, as well as educational and digital projects. Prior to this she was curator of Contemporary British Art at the Tate Britain for 16 years. During her time at Tate, she co-curated the Art Now series of projects for emerging artists (2002–12), and has continued to serve as curator of the Turner Prize (since 2002). In 2012, she was lead curator for the exhibition Migrations: Journeys into British Art, which looked at the impact of migration on over 500 years of British art.

Melissa Blanchflower joined the Serpentine Galleries in 2014. She has organised numerous exhibitions including Marc Camille Chaimowicz (2016) and the group show SPEAK (2017) as well as co-curating painting exhibitions by Alex Katz and the late Hilma af Klint (both 2016). Working with Francis Kéré on the Serpentine Summer Pavilion is her first architectural curatorial project. Prior to the Serpentine, she worked at Tate Britain as an assistant curator. Blanchflower studied art history at St. Andrews University, Edinburgh and holds a master's in contemporary curating from the University of Essex.

The mission of the Serpentine Galleries is to exhibit, commission, and promote understanding of art, architecture, and design, through exhibitions, architecture, design, education, and public programs. Since 1970, the Serpentine has gained an international reputation for excellence, working with almost 3,000 artists, architects, and designers. The Galleries maintain free access, attracting up to 1.2 million visitors a year. The Serpentine is the ninth most visited museum or gallery in London and sixty-sixth worldwide (The Art Newspaper).