There’s no doubt that there are more than a few blockbuster art exhibitions around town at the moment, what with Van Gogh and Don McCullin at Tate B, Edvard Munch at the British Museum, Sorolla at the National Gallery, and Pierre Bonnard at the Tate M. But there are also some must-see shows at the smaller, independent art galleries too – and those are what I have focused on here.
This month, eight of my top ten have free admission, which comes in pretty useful in a world of crazy admission prices for some of the bigger exhibitions. The two shows with admission charges are the much-anticipated examination of Kubrick’s creative process at the Design Museum, and my favourite exhibition on in London town right now – Dorothea Tanning at the Tate Modern.
Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition, Design Museum
Kubrick; one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th century, hence this eye-catching exhibition that promises to explore the man’s unique vision of the creative design process of film making, from storyteller to director to editor. Through rare objects, projections and interviews exploring Kubrick’s special relationship with England and particularly London, the show will give audiences an insight into his thinking and approach. The display will feature about 700 objects, films and interviews. Expect to see the Centrifuge-set that Kubrick had developed for 2001: A Space Odyssey; film props such as the infamous Born-to-Kill helmet worn by Private Joker in Full Metal Jacket, costumes designed for A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon and much more. Runs to 15 September. Admission £16.
Lili Dujourie: Ballade, Richard Saltoun Gallery
Belgian artist Lili Dujourie was a key force in the 1970s feminist avant-garde movement, and this’ll be her first solo exhibition in London in over 20 years. It promises to focus on her relationship with nature, specifically the poetry and art it evokes. The exhibition features sculptures made from clay, the essence of the earth, as well as a recent series of papier-mâché sculptures that explore Lili’s long-standing interest in plants and their healing qualities Though her work often floats in that area across minimalism and conceptualism, sexuality and Lili’s exploration of it is usually not far away. Runs to 25 May. Admission free.
Sarah Morris, White Cube Bermondsey
The title for this show – Sarah’s first in six years – is, ‘Machines do not Make us into Machines,’ and the exhibition continues her fascination with a wide range of visual references, from American corporate identities and graphics, to GPS technologies, mapping and psychology. Her work explores systems of movement within the city, whether it be production, commuters, pedestrians, vehicles or currencies. If you’ve not heard of Sarah before, this’ll be a great introduction as the exhibition promises to also host her first ever sculpture. Expect plenty around networks, typologies, architecture and the city, especially examined through the use of colour and geometric abstraction. Runs to 30 June. Admission free.
Gerhard Richter: Overpainted Photographs, Gagosian Davies Street
Gerhard Richter has often explored the line between painting and photography and, since the mid-1980s, he has created more than 2,000 overpainted photographs. Gerhard began to produce these at the end of the working day by smearing some of the paint left on his squeegees (the large-scale spatulas with which he drags great volume of paint across the canvas to achieve his signature blur) onto photographs kept in this studio. This connects the photographic images, mostly snapshots taken by Gerhard himself, in a very immediate and physical way with his paintings. It’s only a small display but they bring an interesting insight into one of the more overlooked parts of the great man’s works. Closes 8 June. Admission free.
Cy Twombly, BASTIAN
Remarkably, this display at the newly-opened BASTIAN gallery will be the first Twombly solo exhibition to take place in London since 2015. Now, I know Twombly can divide people, but I can’t really exclude this from the listings two of his most respected portfolios, Natural History I and II, are being shown as a complete set. Considered amongst the most significant and influential series’ in the artist’s trajectory, the works explore the relationship between natural and human history, and our relentless desire to classify, label and categorise the unknown. Runs to 15 June. Admission free.
Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now, Gagosian Grosvenor Hill
Honestly, you wait around for a cracking show to come on at any of the three Gagosian galleries in London then suddenly two come along at once! Rembrandt’s masterpiece, Self-Portrait with Two Circles, is the centerpiece of an exhibition of self-portraits that also includes works by Francis Bacon, Egon Schiele, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lucian Freud, and Pablo Picasso, as well as leading contemporary artists such as Georg Baselitz, Glenn Brown, Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, and Cindy Sherman, among others. A new work created by Jenny Saville in response to Rembrandt’s self-portrait is also on display for the first time. What a stunning line up. Can’t wait. Runs to 18 May. Admission free.
Sixty Years: Women in Art, Tate Britain
Yes, this is a curated display from Tate’s collection, but this is part of the gallery’s ongoing commitment to increasing the representation of women across its galleries and when I see names such as Mona Hatoum, Sarah Lucas, Gillian Wearing, Rose English, Rachel Whiteread, Rose Wylie and Bridget Riley going on display, I’m going to be interested! Sixty Years will tell the story of British art from 1960 to the present day, celebrating its diversity and embracing key movements and debates through women artists. The display will feature a vibrant selection of intergenerational artists working in painting, photography, sculpture, drawing and film, from Mary Martin to Anthea Hamilton, and include many recent acquisitions. Admission free.
Dorothea Tanning, Tate Modern
There’s always a flood of new art exhibitions in London each month and so, sometimes, it’s good to pause and consider gems that are still open but that you might have missed. Enter the Dorothea Tanning show at the Tate Modern. She was a marvel, a stunning and pioneering surrealist artist who explored the known and the unknown in paintings, soft sculptures and even full on installations. And all these forms are captured in this remarkable show that spans the full length of Dorothea’s seventy-year artistic career. Her talent was formidable and her curiosity insatiable, but it is her insight into the subconscious and the sensual that is the hallmark of her work. Runs to 9 June. Admission £13.
Anish Kapoor, Lisson Gallery
The man is back yet again with a new body of work – only this time painting rather than sculpture. Kapoor has been painting for decades, but the works are rarely exhibited yet his works on canvas relate closely to his sculpture, both in their flux between two and three dimensions, as well as their shared exploration of form and formlessness. These new paintings on display bring together two fundamental parts of his practice – his iconic use of geometry blending with his fascination for entropy. Opens 15 May. Admission free.
William Eggleston: 2¼, David Zwirner
God, I love William Eggleston’s work. A pioneer of colour photography, he helped elevate the medium to the art form that it is recognised to be today. This particular show focuses on a series of square-format colour photographs that were taken around 1977 throughout California and the American South following the artist’s groundbreaking exhibition of colour photography at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1976. William shot the images using a two-and-one-quarter-inch square-format camera. The resulting photographs of individuals, cars, parking lots, and local stores and businesses speak to the uniformity of postwar material culture while revealing the distinct character and individualism of the people and places that populate the American landscape. Runs to 1 June. Admission free.
And One That’s Out of Town…
Henry Moore, Houghton Hall
Quite an accolade for Houghton Hall in Norfolk who have collaborated with the Henry Moore Foundation and Gagosian to create this unique exhibition that will feature some of Moore’s instantly familiar huge bronze pieces in the beautiful grounds, as well as a selection of his smaller works, models and etchings, which will be shown in the ground floor gallery spaces. Plus, the Hall will be displaying some of Moore’s sculptures in its internal State Rooms. Runs to 29 September. Admission £18.