Victoria’s Top Ten Art Exhibitions, August 2020


Hope you are all keeping safe and well.

Galleries are surely starting to reopen now – and there’s certainly some great shows to tempt you in. All galleries have social distancing measures in place now so, whilst that’s great, that does mean ticket numbers are restricted so do check with the gallery before you travel as many – even the free shows – may require advance booking.

I’m taking my first tentative steps in August too, going to the two Tates to see Andy and Aubrey so maybe see you there??

Andy Warhol, Tate Modern

The Tate has now reopened its four galleries so get down to TM to see this blockbuster retrospective, A shy, gay man from a religious, migrant, low income household, Andy Warhol went on to forge his own distinct path and emerge as the epitome of the pop art movement. This major exhibition offers visitors a rare personal insight into how Andy and his work marked a period of cultural transformation. Drawing upon recent scholarship, it provides a new lens through which to view this American icon. Runs until 6 September. Admission £22 (concessions available).

Bodily Objects, Arusha Gallery

Oh, to live in Edinburgh… And, let’s be frank, any collations of works from the Feminist Avant-Garde is always going to make my list! Enter Bodily Objects, which brings together a selection of work by seven feminist artists- Helena Almeida, Rose English, Renate Bertlmann, Helen Chadwick, Judy Chicago, Alexis Hunter and Carolee Schneemann – exploring ideas of surrealism, sexuality, and subversion. Through performance, photography, collage, and sculpture, each artist developed unique and experimental ways in which to represent embodiment. Whether libidinous, absurd, or menacing, the sustained tone is one of wry humour and satire, situated in resistance to the representation of women typified by the crude male gaze. Runs to 31 August. Admission free.

Titian: Love, Desire, Death, National Gallery

I feel I’ve covered this one a couple of times – first, when it was due to open at the NG back in the Spring, and then again when some curator’s tour went on BBC iPlayer. Well, now it’s back open again for you to see in person – and it’s well worth a visit to as Titian’s sensuous interpretation of Classical myths of love, temptation, and punishment are wondrous. Runs to 17 January 2021. Admission £12 (concessions available).

Portraying Pregnancy, The Foundling Museum

Until the twentieth century, many women spent most of their adult years pregnant. Despite this, pregnancies are seldom apparent in surviving portraits. This exhibition brings together images of women – mainly British – who were depicted at a time when they were pregnant (whether visibly so or not). Through paintings, prints, photographs, objects and clothing from the 15th century to the present day, you can discover the different ways in which pregnancy was, or was not, represented; how shifting social attitudes have impacted on depictions of pregnant women; how the possibility of death in childbirth brought additional tension to such representations; and how more recent images, which often reflect increased female agency and empowerment, still remain highly charged. Runs to 23 August. Admission £9.50 (concessions available).

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography, Barbican Art Gallery

This was the last exhibition I saw before lockdown and it has crossed my mind frequently in the time since. Through the medium of film and photography, this major exhibition considers how masculinity has been coded, performed, and socially constructed from the 1960s to the present day. Genuinely fascinating and insightful and as much a celebration of the broadest definitions of men and masculinity as a criticism of the toxic aspects. Runs to 23 August. Admission from £15 (concessions available).

Gauguin and the Impressionists, Royal Academy of Arts

There’s going to be a lot to enjoy here as, on display, will be masterpieces by Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley. It also features precursors of Impressionism such as Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, Jules Dupré and Charles-François Daubigny, and a number of Post-Impressionist works including an exceptional group of eight paintings by Paul Gauguin. Many of the works in the collection have never been seen in the UK before. The collection of works is from the Ordrupgaard Collection (created by an insurance magnate) and they spend most of their lives in a museum in Copenhagen so grab the opportunity to see them here whilst you can. Runs 7 August to 18 October. Admission from £15.

Aubrey Beardsley, Tate Britain

Aubrey Beardsley shocked and delighted late-Victorian London with his sinuous black and white drawings. He explored the erotic and elegant, the humorous and grotesque, winning admirers around the world with his distinctive style. For the first time in over half a century, this exhibition presents the full sweep of Beardsley’s intense and prolific career, cut short by his untimely death from tuberculosis at the age of 25. Runs until 20 September. Admission £16 (concessions available).

Homeland Under My Nails: Mohammad Omar Khalil, The Mosaic Rooms

The Mosaic Rooms in Earl’s Court focuses on celebrating and platforming contemporary culture from the Arab World and this gem is a display of selected prints by the Sudanese artist, Mohammad Omar Khalil. Though he now lives in America, Sudan continues to be a point of orientation for Khalil who says: “My homeland exists in my nails, it expresses itself whenever I create an artwork.” This exhibition is a long overdue celebration of his life’s work. Runs to 30 August. Admission free.

We Will Walk – Art and Resistance in the American South, Turner Contemporary

The exhibition is the first of its kind in the UK to reveal the little-known art shaped by the American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. We Will Walk brings together sculptures, paintings, quilts, and installations by more than 20 African American artists from Alabama and the Deep South. The exhibition addresses issues of race, class, and resistance through a diverse range of works developed outside of the mainstream. Runs to 6 September. Admission free.

In this space we breathe, Notting Hill

in this space we breathe is an installation of nine large-scale prints by Khadija Saye, the young Gambian-British artist who tragically lost her life in the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, aged just 24. Saye’s most celebrated works are shown across the façade of 236 Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill. Exploring the migration of traditional Gambian spiritual practices, Saye said of the works, ‘The series was created from a personal need for spiritual grounding after experiencing trauma. The search for what gives meaning to our lives and what we hold onto in times of despair and life changing challenges.’ Runs to August 7. Admission free.


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