London 2014: Major Art

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Ruin Lust

© Jane and Louise Wilson

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Ruin Lust
Isbabella Blow: Fashion Galore!
Turner and the Sea
Behind the Mask & Bailey's Stardust
The Great War in Portraits & Hockney, Printmaker
Martin Creed


From major retrospectives on Paul Klee and Henri Matisse to captivating photography exhibitions Bailey's Stardust and Behind the Mask, Omer Ali looks at the best art exhibitions taking place throughout London 2014.

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Major Art: Colour

Colour - Combing the Hair ('La Coiffure'), (c) The National Gallery, London


Combing the Hair ('La Coiffure'), (c) The National Gallery, London


Colour dominates this season's big shows. Winter's stand-out is a retrospective on Paul Klee at Tate Modern (closes 9th March), making visible traces through the German artist's development from one World War to another, with a special emphasis on the abstract work he produced at the Bauhaus in the 1920s.

The colourful theme continues with the next blockbuster at the same institution. Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs (from 17th April) brings together around 120 of the French artist's bright, late works. Of course, it includes Tate's own, delicious The Snail (1953).

The National Gallery's groundbreaking Colour (from 18th June) sees each room in the Sainsbury Wing dedicated to different shades of the spectrum - plus gold and silver. The exhibition applies the gallery's scientific expertise to works in its collection spanning 700 years, from the early Renaissance to Impressionism.


Major Art: New Works

Martin Creed - Work No. 200 Half the air in a given space, 1998.

Martin Creed

Work No. 200 Half the air in a given space, 1998.


Before that, the new year is a great time to catch up on new art. The ICA has a selection of work by 46 current artists, including sculpture, photography, video and performance, on show in Bloomberg New Contemporaries until 26th January. And the V&A hosts the third instalment of the Jameel Prize, dedicated to new art and design inspired by Islamic tradition, until 21st April. The 10 nominees for the £25,000 award include Faig Ahmed, from Azerbaijan, for his quirky handmade carpets, and Turkish fashion designers Ece and Ayse Ege.

Meanwhile, the champion of contemporary British art Charles Saatchi shows New Order: British Art Today at Chelsea's Saatchi Gallery till 16th January, followed by a second instalment from 24th January to 6 April. Alongside it, Body Language (till 16th March) features the collector's latest acquisitions from around 20 artists, including Chantal Joffe's 10ft-tall portraits in oil of women from fashion spreads and Marianne Vitale's tomb-like 'Markers', made from reclaimed timber.

Over at the new, Zaha Hadid-designed Serpentine Sackler Gallery, those former YBA enfants terribles, Jake and Dinos Chapman, are taking a typically playful look at consumerism, morality and art history in the appropriately titled Come and See (ends 9th February). At the Hayward, Martin Creed (29th January-27th April) promises a major survey of the Turner Prize-winning British artist's work, with more humour and surprises.     


Major Art: Tate

Ruin Lust - © Jane and Louise Wilson

Ruin Lust

© Jane and Louise Wilson


Tate Britain's Painting Now (until 9th February) shows the work of five more contemporary British artists including Gillian Carnegie's monochrome still-lifes and interiors, oil paintings of east London's Old Street roundabout by Simon Ling, and Lucy McKenzie's precise trompe l'oeils of pin boards, including a 'self portrait' referencing her career as a model for photographer Richard Kern.From 5th February-27th April, the same gallery presents a major display of Turner Prize winner Richard Deacon, who made his name in the early 1980s with his 'open sculptures'. Some 40 of his works will go on show, including the giant, woven loop of After (1989).

Ruin Lust, at Tate Britain from 4th March to 18th May promises to be an idiosyncratic review of ruins in art from the 17th century to the present day. More than 100 works by artists including JMW Turner (Tintern Abbey), Rachel Whiteread, John Martin (The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum) and Paul Nash will feature.

Then, from 20th May, the institution explores the impact of art historian and broadcaster Kenneth Clark - notably his support of the Bloomsbury Group, and artists including Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland - followed by a celebration of British Folk Art (from 10th June), the first significant survey of its kind in the UK.

Along the Thames, brasher sibling Tate Modern's celebration of post-war Latin American artist Mira Schendel ends 19th January, to be replaced (from 13th February-26th May) by the first full retrospective of influential British artist Richard Hamilton. One of the founding figures of Pop Art, Hamilton is known for his portrait of Mick Jagger in the series Swingeing London 67, and collage 'Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?', both of which feature.


Major Art: Fashion and Pop Art

Isbabella Blow: Fashion Galore! - © David LaChapelle Studio, Inc.

Isbabella Blow: Fashion Galore!

© David LaChapelle Studio, Inc.


Collage is at the fore in the Whitechapel Gallery's pioneering survey of German Dada artist Hannah Höch (15th January-23th March), while the Barbican offers a look at Pop Art Design in its major winter show (until 9th February), which includes work by Hamilton, Peter Blake, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

The gallery's ever-popular Curve is taken over by United Visual Artists for installation Momentum (13th February-1st June), while the main space hosts The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk from 9th April.

Dedicated followers of fashion may also want to check out 'Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s' at the V&A till 16th February, and Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!, a celebration of the much-loved British design patron at Somerset House until 2nd March.


Major Art: Seascapes and Renaissance

Turner and the Sea - Image courtesy of the National Maritime Museum

Turner and the Sea

Image courtesy of the National Maritime Museum


The Courtauld Institute, in the same building complex, mounts a display of German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer's youthful investigations into drawing the figure until 12th January. It is followed by another beautiful display of drawings: A Dialogue with Nature (30th January-27th April) is a survey of Romantic landscape art in Britain and Germany from the late 18th to early 19th centuries, and features watercolours and oil sketches by such artists as Caspar David Friedrich and JMW Turner.

Fans of Turner's seascapes should head to the National Maritime Museum, in Greenwich, for Turner and the Sea, which runs until 21st April. The first, full-scale look at the artist's fascination with the sea, it naturally features The Fighting "Temeraire", Snow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth and The Battle of Trafalgar, alongside works by other artists, including Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable.

The Courtauld's Dürer show is a harbinger of a Renaissance spring: the National Gallery has three Renaissance shows, starting with Strange Beauty: Masters of German Renaissance (19th February-11th May), which takes a new look at the gallery's own collection of German Renaissance paintings, including work by Dürer, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Holbein the Younger. Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice (19th March-15th June) assembles around 50 paintings by the Italian painter of the period, Pablo Veronese, while Building the Picture: Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting (opens 30th April) examines depictions of buildings in work by Botticelli, among others.

From 15th March to 8th June, the Royal Academy (RA) examines the development of chiaroscuro woodcuts in the 16th century through the collections of Georg Baselitz and Vienna's Albertina Museum in Renaissance Impressions. It's preceded by Sensing Spaces, a major exhibition in which seven architectural practices from around the world will be invited to transform the main galleries (25th January-6th April), and followed by the traditional Summer Exhibition (from 9th June), which enters its 246th year. For keen buyers, the London Art Fair holds its 26th edition this year, in Islington's Business Design Centre from 15th-19th January.


Major Art: Photography

Behind the Mask & Bailey's Stardust  - (c) Andy Gotts \ (c) David Bailey

Behind the Mask & Bailey's Stardust

(c) Andy Gotts \ (c) David Bailey


A curio in the RA's Burlington Gardens space from 26th June is Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album a collection of more than 400 photographs by the iconic actor and director. The photos were discovered after his death in 2010 and include portraits of actors and artists including Paul Newman and Robert Rauschenberg, as well as Hopper's responses to important historic events and social change.

For more photography, Tate Modern dedicates rooms to three iconic US practitioners this spring - William Eggleston (until 11th May), Harry Callahan (to 31st May) and Robert Mapplethorpe (self-portraits, from 5th May) - while the Photographers' Gallery hosts the annual Deutsche Börse Prize (11th April-22nd June).

The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) is home to the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2013 until 9th February and, from 6th February, Bailey's Stardust (closes 15th June) - over 250 portraits of actors, models, designers, musicians and more shot by East End-born photographer David Bailey. More famous faces can be seen at Somerset House's Behind the Mask, showcasing photos of A-list movie stars Al Pacino, Daniel Day-Lewis, Thandie Newton and Robert De Niro taken by celebrity photographer Andy Gotts.


Major Art: Anniversaries

The Great War in Portraits & Hockney, Printmaker  - © Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio \ (c) David Hockney

The Great War in Portraits & Hockney, Printmaker

© Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio \ (c) David Hockney


The NPG also fires the opening salvo in a year of events to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. The Great War in Portraits (27th February-15th June) promises to be a poignant exhibition featuring powerful work by Max Beckmann, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, William Orpen and Walter Sickert.

Do note that the repository of much of Britain's best war art - the Imperial War Museum - is closed from early January to complete redevelopment, which should mean the institution reopens in fine fettle in July. In the meantime, for those interested in British artists' responses to World War I, Somerset House is home to Stanley Spencer's canvases from the Sandham Memorial Chapel (itself undergoing renovation), depicting his own experiences, until 26th January, while Tate Britain has work by the likes of David Bomberg (The Mud Bath), CRW Nevinson (La Mitrailleuse) and Paul Nash (Dead Sea) on display in its rehung permanent collection.

In another anniversary, the Queen's Gallery marks 300 years since the Georgian era began with a look at royal patronage and taste in The First Georgians: Art & Monarchy 1714-1760 (from 11th April). From 5th February to 11th May, Dulwich Picture Gallery celebrates David Hockney's 60-year career as a printmaker in more than 100 works, before embarking on Art and Life (from 4th June), a look at the work of British painters Ben and Winifred Nicholson in the 1920s, alongside pieces by such contemporaries as Christopher Wood.



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