Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Major Art Exhibitions in London in 2011

Find out about the major art exhibitions the major art galleries in museums in London  in 2011.

Have you ever missed an exhibition because you didn't realise it's on? I have - and that's the reason why I produce this list each year - so that I don't miss the exhibitions in London that I want to go and see!  This post gets printed out and tacked to my pin board!  It's good to share too.

This list of major art exhibitions in London focuses on painting, drawing and sculpture and is organised according to the names of each of the major art galleries and museums and for each of these the listing is in date order.  The links in the names of the exhibitions are to their microsite pages (where available) on the relevant art gallery or museum's website where you can find out more about the exhibition, how to get tickets and what are the linked events.  The bigger galleries tend to have a number of events associated with each exhibition.

The blockbuster is probably going to be the da Vinci exhibition at the National Gallery since it's a one-off and da Vinci has increased in popularity in recent years for reasons not altogether connected to art!

However I expect the Watercolour exhibition at Tate Britain will prove to be very popular too.  There's an article about it in the current edition of Tate Etc and it looks absolutely fascinating - and I'm sure it will get great reviews.

The big attractions for me will the Watercolour exhibition at Tate Britain, plus the exhibitions about the Watteau Drawings and the Degas Dancers at the RA and the Toulouse Lautrec at the Courtauld.  I also rather suspect I'm going to be taking quite a few trips to south London to see the anniversary exhibitions at the Dulwich Picture Gallery - there's a distinct North American flavour to Dulwich this year!  I'm also going to be interested to see the Gerhard Richter retrospective at Tate Modern.

However I know there will be other exhibitions which will surprise and delight me - it'll be interesting to see which ones they are.

CLICK ON THE EXHIBITION TITLE to reach the website page for that exhibition

UK - Major Museums

National Gallery
The exhibition focuses upon Bridget Riley’s most recent paintings. Two of Riley’s works will be made directly on to the walls of the exhibition space. Riley and her studio will create a new wall drawing, ‘Composition with Circles 7’, especially for the longest wall of the Sunley Room. In addition a version of the wall-painting, ‘Arcadia’ – last seen at the major 2008 retrospective in Paris – will be recreated on a larger scale.
Jan Gossaert (active 1503; died 1532) was one of the most startling and versatile artists of the Northern Renaissance. A pivotal Old Master, Gossaert changed the course of Flemish art, going beyond the tradition of Jan van Eyck and charting new territory that eventually led to the great age of Rubens – yet this is the first major exhibition dedicated to him in more than 45 years.
With 12 paintings never before seen in the UK, this exhibition introduces visitors to the American artist George Bellows and his artist friends, the Ashcan Painters: William Glackens, George Luks, John Sloan and their teacher Robert Henri.  The Ashcan painters were part of a widespread interest in the quality of life in modern cities during the early 20th century. Along with British artists like Walter Sickert, they represent a strong analysis of their contemporary urban experience while owing much to Old Masters such as Velázquez and Manet.
This landmark exhibition will display what is arguably one of the most complete collections of 19th-century Norwegian and Swiss landscape paintings outside their respective nations.  The exhibition introduces a British audience, familiar with great artists of the tradition of Constable and Turner, to skilled and innovative practitioners of landscape who enjoyed great reputations elsewhere in Europe.
  • Devotion by Design: Italian Altarpieces before 1500 6 July – 2 October 2011 (Sainsbury Wing Exhibition)
    As part of a programme of summer shows focusing on the National Gallery’s collection, ‘Devotion by Design’ explores the function, the original location, and the development of altarpieces in Italy during the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance.  ‘Devotion by Design’ showcases altarpieces by well-known artists such as Piero della Francesca, but includes many which are less familiar.
  • Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan 9 November 2011 – 5 February 2012 (Sainsbury Wing and Sunley Room)
  • ‘Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan’ is the most complete display of Leonardo’s rare surviving paintings ever held. This unprecedented exhibition – the first of its kind anywhere in the world – brings together sensational international loans never before seen in the UK.
National Portrait Gallery
The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2010 celebrates and promotes the very best in contemporary portrait photography. (I expect the 2012 exhibition will start in November 2011 although not yet listed on the website)
The Portrait Award, now in its thirty-second year at the National Portrait Gallery and twenty-second year of sponsorship by BP, is an annual event aimed at encouraging artists to focus upon and develop portraiture in their work.
Tate Modern
Sunflower Seeds is made up of millions of small works, each apparently identical, but actually unique. However realistic they may seem, these life-sized sunflower seed husks are in fact intricately hand-crafted in porcelain.
    This retrospective of the leading Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco (b 1962) will be the largest presentation of his most critically acclaimed works in the UK. A sculptor of global significance, Orozco draws on the histories of western and Latin American art practice with limitless innovation and experimentation. Featuring over 80 works, and a new installation never previously exhibited, the survey will highlight Orozco’s substantial production of sculpture, photography, drawing and painting.  Orozco has become renowned for his boundless experimentation with found objects, both natural and man made, which he subtly and playfully alters. The exhibition will feature major early examples of this practice
  • Miró 14 April – 11 September 2011
Joan Miró's works come to London in the first major retrospective here for nearly 50 years. Renowned as one of the greatest Surrealist painters, filling his paintings with luxuriant colour, Miró worked in a rich variety of styles. This is a rare opportunity to enjoy more than 150 paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints from moments across the six decades of his extraordinary career. 
This will be the first major retrospective of the work of Gerhard Richter (b. 1932) in London for over twenty years. The exhibition will be a chronological display grouping works into important phases of Richter's career.
Tacita Dean will undertake the twelfth commission in The Unilever Series for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. The work will be unveiled on 11 October 2011.
Tate Britain
Norham Castle, Sunrise circa 1845
Joseph Mallord William Turner
Courtesy of Tate Britain
  • Romantics  9 August 2010  –  31 July 2011
Romance is in the air in the Clore Gallery, a major new display presents Romantic art in Britain, its origins, inspirations and legacies. Drawn from Tate's collection, it showcases major works by Henry Fuseli, JMW Turner, John Constable and Samuel Palmer, as well as newly-acquired works by William Blake.
Watercolour at Tate Britain invites you to challenge your preconceptions of what watercolour is. The most ambitious exhibition about watercolour ever to be staged, with works spanning 800 years, this boundary-breaking survey celebrates the full variety of ways watercolour has been used. From manuscripts, miniatures and maps through to works showing the expressive visual splendour of foreign landscapes, watercolour has always played a part in British Art. Watercolour also offers the chance to see rarely displayed works in all their luminous glory, by artists ranging from JMW Turner and Thomas Girtin to Anish Kapoor and Tracey Emin. The exhibition presents a full and fresh assessment on the history and future of watercolour painting. It aims to question our thoughts on what watercolour stands for, presenting famous and lesser-known works side by side and bringing this popular, universal and enduring medium back to the centre of our cultural heritage.
Patrick Heron
January 9: 1983: II  1983
© Estate of Patrick Heron. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002
courtesy Tate Britain
The originality of this exhibition lies in its focus on the only two exhibitions in the lifetime of the Vorticist group: one in London in 1915 and the other in New York in 1917. It also highlights the group's journal BLAST, the design of which still seems shocking and original, and the rarely seen Vortographs of Alvin Langdon Coburn, claimed as the first abstract photographs, which were shown in London in 1917. This exhibition will set the movement in the wider historical and cultural contexts of early twentieth-century London.
John Martin (1789–1854) was a key figure in the nineteenth-century art world, renowned for his dramatic scenes of apocalyptic destruction and biblical disaster.  This major exhibition will be the first show dedicated to his paintings for over 30 years, and the largest display of his works seen in public since his death. The show will also examine how Martin's populism fits into the story of British art, and how his work connects with the culture of today.
Royal Academy of Arts
The Royal Academy of Arts is presenting the first exhibition for 30 years to examine British sculpture of the twentieth century. But who's in and who's not.  How can it be a show about British sculpture when it excludes Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor?  Or is the emphasis on the modern rather than the contemporary?
The show will represent a unique view of the development of British sculpture, exploring what we mean by the terms British and sculpture by bringing the two together in a chronological series of strongly themed galleries, each making its own visual argument.
Dame Barbara Hepworth
Pelagos, 1946
Part painted wood and strings | 43 x 46 x 38.5 cm
London, Tate National
Photo copyright Tate, London 2010 | Copyright Bowness, Hepworth Estate
This is the first major retrospective exhibition of Jean-Antoine Watteau’s (1684 – 1721) drawings to be held in the UK. The display will contain over 80 works on paper produced by the French artist. The exhibition will be organised chronologically and will examine the development and mastery of his drawing methods. Watteau is particularly renowned for his mastery of the ‘three chalks’ or trois crayons technique, the subtle manipulation and expert balancing of red, black and white.  The drawings on display will be presented chronologically to give a sense of the artist’s stylistic development.

Jean-Antoine Watteau
Three Studies of a Young Girl Wearing a Hat, c. 1716
Red and black chalk, graphite on paper
138 x 246 mm
Collection of Ann and Gordon Getty
The Royal Academy’s Annual Summer Exhibition is the world’s largest open submission contemporary art exhibition.  The 243rd Exhibition will showcase work by both emerging and established artists in all media including painting, sculpture, photography, film, printmaking and architecture.
  • Eye Witness: Hungarian Photography in the 20th Century 30 June – 2 October 2011 (Sackler Wing) 
This exhibition will showcase works by Brassaï, Robert Capa, André Kertész, László Moholy-Nagy and Martin Munkácsi, who each left their home country to make their names in the fields of photojournalism, fashion and art photography. Around 200 photographs from 1914 to 1989 will cover diverse subject matter including: ‘Magyar style’ rural scenes; portraits of artists in 1930s Paris; iconic war photography; radical fashion photographs and New York urban life.
This is a landmark exhibition focusing on Edgar Degas’s preoccupation with movement as an artist of the dance. It will trace the development of the artist’s ballet imagery from the documentary mode of the early 1870s to the sensuous expressiveness of his final years.  Degas Dancers will incorporate drawings, pastels, paintings, prints and sculpture by Degas, as well as photography by the artist and his contemporaries and samples of film from the period.
Edgar Degas
The Dance Lesson, c. 1879
Oil on canvas | 38 x 88 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington | Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 1995.47.6
Photo National Gallery of Art, Washington
British Museum
Collected over the past 35 years, this exhibition showcases many of the great artists of the 20th century, starting with Picasso’s study for his masterpiece Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, the painting that shook the art world in 1907. It also features works by E L Kirchner, Otto Dix, Matisse, Magritte, David Smith and Louise Bourgeois and major contemporary artists, including Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter and William Kentridge and Julie Mehretu
Study of a seated nude and head of a woman for the painting 'Les Damoiselles d'Avignon', by Pablo Picasso, 1906-7. Copyright Succession Picasso DACS, London
Saatchi Gallery
Wallace Collection
In two exhibitions of great paintings, the Wallace Collection celebrates Antoine Watteau, the artist who died in his prime yet changed the course of French painting, and Jean de Jullienne, his publisher and one of France’s greatest collectors; a perfect accompaniment to the concurrent exhibition of Watteau drawings at London’s Royal Academy of Arts.  The exhibitions will consist of a redisplay of the great Watteau canvasses in the Wallace Collection and significant masterworks of the 17th and 18th centuries by artists, including Rembrandt, Rubens, Greuze and Vernet, drawn from the collection of Watteau’s publisher and most important dealer, Jean de Jullienne.
Courtauld Gallery
This exhibition presents a rich selection of Victorian drawings and watercolours from The Courtauld Gallery’s world-famous collection. Many of these works will be shown for the first time. They range from exquisite highly finished watercolours to informal sketches and preparatory drawings for paintings and sculpture. Splendid landscapes, intimate portraits and scenes from literature and everyday life reveal the Victorian preoccupation with nature, myth and legend, as well as the living model. Major artists of the Victorian era are featured, from J.M.W. Turner and Edwin Landseer to Whistler and Aubrey Beardsley. Among the highlights are striking works by the Pre-Raphaelites Rossetti, Millais and Burne-Jones.
Jane Avril was not only an emblematic figure in Toulouse-Lautrec’s world of artists, dancers, cabaret actors, musicians and courtesans, she was also one of his closest friends.

This exhibition is the first to celebrate their important creative collaboration. It examines Avril as a private individual, looks at the staging of her public identity and reveals the range of Lautrec’s responses to his muse: Their remarkable creative partnership captured the excitement and spectacle of bohemian Paris.
This is the first substantial exhibition on the tradition of Spanish drawings to take place in London.  It highlights Spanish drawings from The Courtauld Gallery's collection, one of the most important in Britain. Comprising some 120 works, the collection ranges from the 16th to the 20th centuries and features examples by many of Spain’s greatest artists, including Ribera, Murillo, Goya and Picasso.

Dulwich Gallery
Norman Rockwell’s heart warming depictions of everyday life made him the best-known and most beloved American artist of the 20th century. He lived and worked through one of the most eventful periods in the nation’s history and his paintings vividly chronicled those times. Norman Rockwell’s America exhibits a remarkable collection of selected original art spanning his six decade career including all 323 Saturday Evening Post covers created between 1916 and 1963.  This exhibition comprehensively reviews his career and is the first of his original works in this country.
The Gallery celebrates its 200th year with an astonishing international loan exhibition. Masterpiece A Month: Presiding Genius will feature a loan masterpiece every month in star position at the end of the Gallery’s enfilade.
This unique exhibition will look at these two figures side by side for the first time.  Separated by three centuries the two artists nonetheless share remarkable similarities. The connections are highlighted through the key themes of Arcadia and the pastoral, passion and love, violence and war and mythological figures that are central to both artists’ work
In the early twentieth century in Toronto, Canada, the first stirrings of a new movement of painting were being felt. A group of artists started to engage with the awesome Canadian wilderness, a landscape previously considered too wild and untamed to inspire ‘true’ art. Tom Thomson paved the way for this artistic collective, the Group of Seven, and their works have become revered in Canada. This exhibition will reintroduce their stunning impressions of the Canadian landscape to the British public for the first time since the 1920s
Isn't it amazing how many good art exhibitions London has?  It's partly to do with the number of top notch museums and art galleries it.  No wonder it's considered the top capital city for art in the world. To find out more about the top art galleries and museums in London you can consult my resource sites for art lovers:
Other Links:


  1. wow, what a lot to see, hopefully I will get to see the Tate watercolour exhibition.

  2. What a feast! I look forward to reading your reviews on those you get to see. Great idea to do the list.

  3. Oh my god, I hope I can make it to at least some of them. I guess I will see how many exhibitions and walks through permanent collections I can squeeze into one weekend in may. London is such a great art city, I never want to leave when I'm there!

  4. Thank you for compiling this list. I must get get back to Europe, as I see there are so many exhibitions I want to see.

  5. How I envy those who get to see all of this! I can recommend the Jan Gossart show, having recently seen it at the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in NYC. I was very impacted by seeing some of Gossart's masterpieces which can't be fully appreciated in books or photos; the most entrancing one for me was "The Malvagna Tryptich", painted in miniature detail. Here is a preview pic of it in the NY Gossart show:

  6. Today, Matthew Innis has a good post about the Norman Rockwell exhibit.

    Your post is amazing - I am impressed with the number and caliber of exhibitions in London this year.

  7. It's usually very good Casey - art is one of a number of very good reasons for visiting London.

    Plus I've only focused on the major galleries and the major exhibitions and haven't even included all the smaller galleries in London which also have good shows! :)

  8. Thank you so much for collecting all this information - now I just have to get myself to at least a few of them!

  9. London's museums and galleries have certainly excelled themselves again this year despite the cruel cuts in the arts grant. I have now seen most, but in particular I enjoyed the Miro at Tate Modern, Watteau drawings and Brisish Sculpture at the RA and Watercolour at Tate Britain. This in an invaluable and essential listing- do keep it going.
    Vin Harrop-artist
    Chairman, The Foundation for Essex Art
    Billericay, Essex


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