Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Major Art Exhibitions in London in 2012

For all those planning to visit London in 2012, this post tells you about the major art exhibitions in the main art galleries and museums.

This is for all those - including me - who have ever missed an exhibition because you didn't realise it's on! 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.

Last year I correctly predicted that the the da Vinci exhibition at the National Gallery would be the blockbuster of the year.  This year I think there are a number of exhibitions which will draw the crowds.  These are:
  • the two exhibitions by the UK's greatest living painter
    • which up until July 2011 was Lucian Freud - see Lucian Freud Portraits
    • and since July 2011 is now David Hockney - see David Hockney - The Bigger Picture
  • Picasso and modern British Art - because it's Picasso!
  • The exhibition to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee at the National Portrait Gallery - just because British people are patriotic and this is only the second time ever we've managed to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee (Another three years, 7 months and 3 days and she's reigned for longer than Queen Victoria and becomes the longest-reigning British monarch EVER!)
CLICK ON THE EXHIBITION TITLE to reach the website page for that exhibition

National Gallery
‘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.
The National Gallery and Tate Britain have collaborated to create an exhibition which examines JMW Turners's work in the context of Claude Lorrain - the Old Master who was very much admired by Turner.  Turner's bequest of two works left to the National Gallery was conditional that they were hung next to two specific works by Claude.  This is the most in-depth examination to date of Turner’s experience of Claude’s art and how this impacted on his oils, watercolours and sketchbooks.  I'm intrigued as to what will be new in this exhibition.  I rather suspect that most of the art will be paintings already on public display - or seen in exhibitions from time to time - and that the novelty of this exhibition will be bringing together the Turner Bequest to the Tate with the paintings left to the National Gallery.
The exhibition, which celebrates British artistic creativity, is a collaboration between the National Gallery and the Royal Opera House as part of the Cultural Olympiad’s London 2012 Festival - but it's no blockbuster.  My own personal feeling is that The National Gallery should have been celebrating a British artist as part of the Olympics.  Swop the Titian and the Turner around and I'd have been happy.
National Portrait Gallery
The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2011 celebrates and promotes the very best in contemporary portrait photography.  You can read my review here Review: Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2011
Man with a Feather (Self-portrait), 1943
Copyright: Private Collection © The Lucian Freud Archive.
Photo: Courtesy Lucian Freud Archive 
  • Lucian Freud Portraits  9 February - 27 May 2012  Wolfson and Ground Floor Lerner Galleries ADVANCE BOOKING STRONGLY RECOMMENDED
Until his death last July, Lucian Freud was widely regarded as the UK's greatest living painter.  This exhibition is the first of its size wholly devoted to the portraits of one of the world’s greatest realist artists.  It features over 100 of his paintings, drawings and etchings from seven decades of his work - which are coming to London from all over the world.  The exhibition was also planned with Lucian Freud prior to his death last July.  This is going to be a popular exhibition - you can book online, by phone and buy tickets in advance in person.  You can also pre-order online a couple of books associated with the exhibition.
Queen Elizabeth II by Dorothy Wilding, 1952
Copyright: William Hustler and Georgina Hustler/
National Portrait Gallery, London
2012 is not just about the Olympics!  It also marks the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen's accession to the throne.  I was invited last year to a preview of the innovative touring exhibition organised by the National Portrait Gallery. This exhibition looks back at the Monarch over the last six decades within the context of an overall theme of 'representation'
Documenting the changing nature of representations of the Monarch, the exhibition will show how images serve as a lens through which to view shifting perceptions of royalty.The images of her reign tell the story of her reign and the story of how life has changed in those 60 years - and the monarchy with it. 
The Queen: Art and Image opened in Edinburgh in June 2011, is about to close in Belfast and will open in Cardiff (4 February – 29 April 2012) before being coming to London in May 2012. Admission charges apply and booking opens early 2012  Catalogue: The Queen: Art & Image (hardcover)
The BP Portrait Award is the UK's premier prize for portraiture.  It aims to encourage artists to focus upon and develop portraiture in their work.  This prestigious prize is now in its 33rd year and regularly attracts international entries (and prizewinners).  Last year's exhibition was seen by nearly 300,000 visitors.  This is my post reviewing last year's exhibition -  Review: BP Portrait Award Exhibition 2011
  • The Lost Prince:  Henry Prince of Wales 18 October 2012 until January 2013 (I'll update this post with more information when I have it)
  • Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012 8 November 2012 until February 2013
The 2011 exhibition was excellent.
Tate Modern
The twelfth commission in The Unilever Series for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern was given to Tacita Dean. She's produced an 11-minute silent 35mm film projected onto a gigantic white monolith standing 13 metres tall at the end of a darkened Turbine Hall. It celebrates analogue film-making.
An exhibition by Japan's most prominent contempoarry artist - now in her 90s - who has obsessive tendencies and has lived voluntarily in a psychiatric institution since 1977.
This is the exhibition which has prompted David Hockney to have the following "All the works here were made by the artist himself, personally" printed on a gallery wall of his exhibition at the RA.  He's making a point about craftsmanship.  Hirst is well known to delegate the making of his works - not unlike a few other contemporary artists. This exhibition is the first substantial survey of Hirst's work in a British museum. It will include iconic work from more than 20 years including The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living 1991 (which was reported to be detriorating in 2006).  There's a great essay by Dr Alison Bracker who works in conservation at the V&A Museum on the matter of conserving the shark - Oh, The Shark Has Pretty Teeth, Dear.  This is bound to be a popular exhibition simply because Hirst is well known.  Whether it deserves to be is another matter.
This is a major exhibition devoted to a reassessment of the works of the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch (1863–1944).  Organised in close cooperation with the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Munch Museum in Oslo, this show will feature around sixty paintings and fifty photographs.
Tate Britain
This major exhibition at Tate Britain will explore how Picasso has influenced British artists and their art and had an impact on people accepting mdern art in the UK.  It also highlights the connections between Picasso and the UK.  It includes over 150 artworks, with over 60 Picassos including sublime paintings from the most remarkable moments in his career, such as Weeping Woman 1937 and The Three Dancers 1925.  Works by seven of Picasso’s British admirers - Duncan Grant, Wyndham Lewis, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland and David Hockney - will be exhibited alongside.
This exhibition brings together over 150 works in different media, including painting, sculpture, photography and the applied arts, revealing the Pre-Raphaelites to be advanced in their approach to every genre.
Royal Academy of Arts
    Following Lucian Freud's death, David Hockney now has the title of the UK's greatest living painter.  This is a major exhibition of Hockney's landscape art - featuring recent paintings and ones which have been especially painted for the very large RA Galleries.  I gather this is the first time that an RA has completely filled every room of the Main Galleries!  As well as paintings, the exhibition will include prints of his iPad paintings and films created from nine cameras.
David Hocney - A Bigger Picture
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.
British Museum

Grayson Perry, The Frivolous Now, 2011
Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, London.
Copyright Grayson Perry. Photo: Stephen White
  • Grayson Perry - The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman extended to 26 February 2012

    I'm a big fan of Grayson Perry who is an incredibly articulate and thoughtful artist - who won the Turner Prize in 2003.  He did a wonderful film last year with Alan Yentob for Arena - about this exhibition.  Grayson Perry has curated an exhibition which places his own work alongside objects from the permanent collection of the British Museum where the name of the craftsman is unknown.  There's a great short video which explains what the exhibition is about. 

    This is a memorial to all the anonymous craftsmen that over the centuries have fashioned the manmade wonders of the world…  The craftsman’s anonymity I find especially resonant in an age of the celebrity artist.
    Grayson Perry RA, Turner Prize winner
Over 100 fabulous 18th–19th-century prints and drawings from this extraordinarily creative period of German art history. Artists featured in the exhibition include Caspar David Friedrich, Philipp Otto Runge, Wilhelm Tischbein, Carl Wilhelm Kolbe, Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Friedrich Overbeck, Peter Cornelius, Karl-Friedrich Schinkel and Johann Christian Reinhart.
If you know someone who is mad about Manga, do tell them about this exhibition. It's an opportunity to see the original drawings from the manga series Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure - drawn by the creator of Professor Munakata, one of Japan’s most famous contemporary manga characters.
British Library 
This exhibition displays the British Library's unique collection of medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts which have been collected by the kings and queens of England over 800 years.  The Illuminations are outstanding examples of the decorative and figurative painting of the era.You can download the app for the iPhone and Android phones.  This includes 500 high-resolution manuscript images of some of the best surviving examples of medieval painting in England, including many pages not on display in the exhibition.  You can also watch the video.

Saatchi Gallery

I'm afraid this is one of the most uninformative art galleries online - hence the lack of informaiton below.

Wallace Collection
  • No details of major art exhibitions available at the present time.

    Courtauld Gallery
    • Mondrian || Nicholson: In Parallel 16 February – 20 May 2012

      This exhibition explores the largely untold relationship between Piet Mondrian and Ben Nicholson during the 1930's when these two artists were leading forces of abstract art in Europe. The exhibition brings together an extraordinary group of major paintings and reliefs to explore the parallel paths Mondrian and Nicholson charted during this exciting decade.
    One of the very nice things about the Courtauld Gallery is that the permanent collection is home to some excellent drawings.  Artists who will be represented by their drawings in this exhibition will include Mantegna, Dürer, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Van Gogh and Matisse.  
    • Ragamala 25 January - 27 May 2012

      A ragamala is a set of miniature paintings depicting various musical modes, ragas, of Indian music. Each painting is accompanied by a brief caption or poem that describes the mood of the raga.
    This is the first UK showing of a large-scale exhibition of the artist’s portfolio prints featuring some of his most iconic imagery.  Portfolios on display will include the the Muhammad Ali Portfolio and the Myths Portfolio produced six years before the artist’s death in 1987.

    Chirk Aquaduct by John Sell Cotman
    • Cotman in Normandy
    • This will be a major exhibition of more than 100 works by celebrated English watercolourist John Sell Cotman.  (This is a BBC slideshow of 50 paintings by John Sell Cotman).  This is certainly an exhibition which I shall be looking forward to.
    The London 2012 Festival

    This is being organised as part of the Cultural Olympiad. There are 58 art events around the UK between January and December 2012.  Some of the exhibitions highlighted form part of this.  Others in London are:
    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:
    UPDATE: This Guardian article also provides good coverage of four of the exhibitions - Hockney, Freud, Turner and Hirst: art blockbusters of 2012

    Other Links:

    1 comment:

    1. Great list of upcoming exhibitions, how many are you planning to go to?


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