It’s only March and there are already some of the year’s biggies in the last-chance saloon. The fantastic Viola Michelangelo exhibition at the RA closes at the end of the month so please don’t miss that if you want to witness a mightily affecting exhibition on life, death and rebirth. And if there’s the opportunity to combine a visit with The Renaissance Nude (see no.1 below) then even better!
Plus, it seems it has only just opened but the Tracey Emin exhibition at White Cube Bermondsey closes at the beginning of April so don’t hang around if you want to visit that.
But if you want more, well, below are my top tips for art exhibitions opening this month…
The Renaissance Nude, Royal Academy of Arts
So, here we are, one of the most anticipated shows of the year: an exhibition exploring the nude and how it inspired some of the most renowned masterpieces of the western canon. Arranged thematically, the show will bring together around 90 works in a variety of media and from different regions of Europe, examining the emergence of a dynamic visual tradition that permanently altered the character and values of European art. The exhibition will feature works by artists including Lucas Cranach the Elder, Albrecht Dürer, and Jan Gossaert. Plus, this being the Renaissance and all, there will be Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci too, obvs. Opens 3 March. Admission £14.
Boilly: Scenes of Parisian Life, National Gallery
Not an artist many of us are that familiar with but Louis Léopold Boilly (1761–1845), was one of the most important artists of revolutionary France. The 20 works gathered together for this display represent the highlights of Boilly’s long career in Paris, from 1785 to the 1830s, where he witnessed the French Revolution, the rise and fall of Napoleon, and the Restoration of the French Monarchy. The exhibition will show, through Boilly’s meticulously executed, detail-rich paintings and drawings, the man’s daring responses to the changing political environment and art market and his acute powers of observation. Runs to 19 May. Admission free.
Only Human: Photographs by Martin Parr, National Portrait Gallery
I love Martin’s photography and this show brings together some of his best-known work with new images never exhibited before. It’s all about people and national identity in this one, with a special focus on Martin’s wry observations of Britishness – which is pretty pertinent right now, wouldn’t you say? The exhibition will also focus on the British Abroad, including photographs made in British Army camps overseas, and Martin’s long-term study of the British ‘Establishment’ including recent photographs taken at Christ’s Hospital school in Sussex, Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the City of London, revealing the obscure rituals and ceremonies of British life. Opens 7 March. Admission £18.
How Chicago! Imagists 60s and 70s, Goldsmiths CCA
Well, this is exciting – the first significant UK exhibition in almost 40 years of work by the group of artists known as the Chicago Imagists. The exhibition focuses on 14 artists highlighting their individual styles as well as their shared references and moments of connection through painting, objects, drawings, prints and ephemera. These artists, who worked largely in the 1960s and 1970s, were united by humour and fondness for wordplay, bringing to the surface all that is funny, popular, ridiculous as well as grotesque, vulgar and serious. This exhibition gives UK audiences the chance to see an incredible and hugely influential body of work which has been rarely seen outside the USA. Opens 15 March. Admission free.
David Bailey: The Sixties, Gagosian Davies Street
Four big photography shows in London right now. Don McCullin at the Tate and Dave Heath at The Photographers Gallery (see below) look at post-war reality whereas Warhol at BASTIAN and this David Bailey show are right at the other end of the spectrum with focus on glamour and celebrity. Bailey’s bold and iconoclastic style – and his sitters – have made his photos instantly familiar but this was also an artist who discarding the rigid rules of a previous generation of portrait photographers, instead channelling and immortalising the energies of London in the Sixties and beyond. This exhibition includes some of the man’s signature images: Jane Birkin, Michael Caine, David Hockney, Man Ray, Jean Shrimpton, and Andy Warhol. Closes 30 March. Admission free.
Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light, National Gallery
Known as Spain’s Impressionist, this exhibition on the work of Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863–1923) will include portraits, landscapes, and genre scenes of Spanish life, as well as the landscapes, garden views, and beach scenes for which he is most renowned. While it was his sun-drenched depictions of the life, landscapes and traditions of Spain, as well as his gifts as a portraitist, which sealed his fame, Sorolla was also an artist who tackled political and social subjects in his work, including the realities and hardships of Spanish life. Expect this show to be revelatory on this artist who has flown under the radar for many for so long. Opens 18 March. Admission £16.
Christian Marclay, White Cube Mason’s Yard
His iconic, The Clock, has been drawing in the crowds at Tate Modern but there is more to this artist than that particular iconic video montage – and frankly the man himself would be thrilled to hear us taking an interest in his other artwork as he is open about how bored he is of discussing The Clock. Enter this new show at White Cube that presents two new video works. What are they about? Well, the first sees Christian return to cinematic images, only this time focusing on film subtitles to create a vertical poem. Whilst, in the second, he combines street photography, conceptual art and serial production to create a kinetic portrait of the urban environment. Opens 15 March. Admission free.
House of the Sleeping Beauties, S/2 Gallery
This is an intriguing exhibition in the Sotheby’s offshoot that touches upon concepts of the erotic, the body, surrealism, performance and theatricality in art from the 19th century to present day. Artists such as Francis Picabia, Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp are exhibited alongside artists of the sixties and seventies such as Renate Bertlmann, ULAY, Natalia LL to artists such as Keith Vaughan, Wally Hedrick, John Tweddle, and Kurt Seligmann who have remained on the edges of mainstream art history to contemporary artists such as Issy Wood, Lili Dujourie and Diane Kotila that are re-interpreting these themes today. It’s a broad range of artists on some intriguing subject matter. Runs to 28 March. Admission free. (Note – this gallery is only open Tue-Fri 10am -6pm)
Dave Heath: Dialogues with Solitudes, The Photographers Gallery
Mark this in your diaries for this is the first major UK exhibition dedicated to the work of this hugely influential American photographer. Dave’s psychologically charged images both reflect and respond to the alienation particularly prevalent in post war North American society. He was one of the first of a new generation of artists seeking new ways to try and make sense of the increasing sense of isolation and vulnerability that typified the age. Although he photographed in mostly public spaces, on the streets of Chicago and New York (where he moved to in 1957), his subjects seem detached from their physical context, shot in close-up, articulated by their isolation. Opens 7 March. Admission £5 (free before 12 noon).
Rose English: Form, Feminisms, Femininities, Richard Saltoun Gallery
Richard Saltoun have admirably committed to platforming only women artists for the next twelve months and they are kicking off with this exhibition from Rose English. Rose emerged from the conceptual art, dance and feminist scenes of 1970s Britain to become one of the most influential performance artists working today. This show will focus on two moments from the early stages of her career, beginning with her experimentation with emergent processes and materials as a young artist in the early 1970s and culminating with a focus on her 1983 performance Plato’s Chair, a work that marked an important turning point in Rose’s extensive interdisciplinary practice. Closes 13 April. Admission free.
And One That’s Out of Town…
Anna Boghiguian, Tate St. Ives
This is the first major retrospective exhibition in the UK of Anna Boghiguian (born Cairo 1946) and it brings together an extraordinary body of notebooks, drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures as well as spectacular large-scale installations and elements of Anna’s own studio. Informed by her continuous travels around the world and a deep interest in history and philosophy, Anna is an acute observer of the human condition and her works explore topics such as global trade, mass migration, colonialism and conflict, and she often brings together references from different times and geographies, drawing parallels between past and present. Runs to 6 May. Admission £9.50.