There’s so much to see out there right now that it feels a little bit overwhelming. And expensive too. I’ve spoken about my concern on rising admission prices to major art exhibitions before and it seems that those fears are not exaggerated with them now seen as a factor behind falling numbers visiting our museums and galleries.
So it’s always with this in mind that I make sure there are some cracking shows with no admission fees in my monthly lists, and there is no exception this month with opportunities to see stunning works from Wim Wenders and Rose Wylie for free, as well as a beautiful photography exhibition of vintage ‘found’ images, and an entire gallery dedicated to platforming new artists making waves in the industry.
But if it’s the REALLY big guns you’re after, well, London will always have that for in addition to the already-opened blockbuster shows at the RA and the Tates, get ready to welcome in exhibitions on Monet and Rodin.
Monet and Architecture, National Gallery
We typically think of Claude Monet as a painter of landscape, of the sea, and in his later years, of gardens but, until now, there has never been an exhibition considering his work in terms of architecture. Add to that, this show, remarkably, will be the first purely Monet exhibition to be staged in London for more than twenty years. Featuring more than seventy-five paintings by Monet, this innovative exhibition spans his long career from its beginnings in the mid-1860s to the public display of his Venice paintings in 1912. Runs 9 April to 29 July. Admission from £20 (concessions available).
No, it’s not a comprehensive look at British artists and painting life over the past 100 years and, sure, there’s some notable absentees but, frankly, hell with it as this is a wonderful, wonderful show that not only showcases some fantastic works from greats such as Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon and Frank Auerbach, but also makes a deliberate and much-appreciated effort to platform more diverse artists such as Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and F.N. Souza. And it’s great to see such a strong showing from women artists such as Paula Rego, Jenny Saville and Cecily Brown too. LOVED. THIS. Runs to August 27. Admission £17, without donation (concessions available)
Rodin and the Art of Ancient Greece, British Museum
Auguste Rodin was one of the greatest and most innovative sculptors of the modern era. However, it is little known that he took his inspiration, in large part, from the works of the fifth-century BC sculptor Pheidias, who conceived the Parthenon sculptures. In this exhibition, the British Museum will present works by Rodin in a new light and explore how he admired the art of antiquity, particularly that of ancient Greece, by showing his work alongside the very Parthenon sculptures that inspired him. Which, ahem, as we all know, are still in the BM. Runs 26 April to 29 July. Admission £17 (concessions available).
Wim Wenders, Blain Southern
If you, like me, enjoyed the recent collection of many of Wim’s Polaroids at The Photographers’ Gallery then I’ve good news as we’ve got more from where that came from! This new show at Blain Southern titled Early Works 1964-1984 features more Polaroids as well as black-and-white photographs from his archive, many of which have never been shown before. What connects these images is Wim’s belief and fascination in the authenticity of photographs that have not been altered, and the spontaneity of scenes that have not been staged or directed. A beautiful show with images that have the touch of Ed Hopper in them in their sense of alienation and isolation. Runs 23 March – 5 May. Admission free.
Amongst all the big hitters and blockbuster shows that’ve been opening this year, you’ve probably forgotten all about this gem that I told you about last November when it opened. Well, it’s still open and it is STILL one of the best contemporary art shows in town. It’s certainly on the most political of subject matters and its diversity is superb. With works from household names such as Weiwei, Grayson Perry and Gerhard Richter on display alongside superb pieces from less familiar names, this exhibition considers artists’ responses to 9/11 and the subsequent ‘War on Terror’, and the way it has impacted and shaped our everyday lives. Runs to 28 May. Admission £15 (concessions available).
So, here it is… No doubt London’s art blockbuster exhibition of 2018. It has a pricey admission fee, but the Tate Modern has looked to justify that with one of their finest shows to date. Picasso 1932 looks at a pivotal year in the great man’s career, when having just turned fifty (and considered ‘yesterday’s man’ by some), he found a new enthusiasm which resulted in experimentation with surrealism and potent sensuality to create a heaving multitude of works – some of which went down as his greatest ever – and started him off on a new road that would lead him on to even greater heights as the shadow of fascism descended across Europe. Runs to 9 September. Admission from £22 (concessions available).
Rose Wylie, David Zwirner
The woman is in demand… Following on from her first ever solo show at the Serpentine Gallery we have this show on Rose’s new paintings and works on paper. Titled Lolita’s House (referencing a house that was constructed across the street from Rose’s place in Kent and the neighbor’s teenage daughter who would often wash their car in the driveway), the exhibition will continue Rose’s ongoing fascination with the shifting nature of memory and the multilayered external associations that become attached to it over time. Rose’s works are always bright and beautiful, and more thought-provoking than you might think at first glance. Runs April 20 to May 26. Admission free.
This is a truly mesmeric and beautiful display of vintage ‘found’ photography, from across Europe and the US, that focuses on men and women – almost all of whom are unknown – who explored gender non-conformity in their appearance, and cross dressing. Brought together, these images show their respective subjects as both defiant and proud, as well as shy and understated, and are of men and women from different classes, professions, genders and nationalities. Their commonality? They dared to play with dress codes in front of a camera, even if unable to do so in public. Runs to 3 June. Admission £4 (free before 12 noon).
Your last chance, everyone. And this isn’t just a once-in-a-generation show, no. This exhibition will never happen again; I’m willing to bet my life on it. For this exhibition is a remarkable achievement by the RA who have managed to recreate one of the most influential art collections in history – that of Charles I, whose stupendous collection of masterpieces was broken up and sold after his execution. To see works from greats such Van Dyck, Titian, Correggio, Rembrandt, Mantegna, Bassano, Tintoretto, Albrecht Durer, Veronese, Hans Holbein the Younger and more is a privilege. Closes 15 April. Admission £18 without donation (concessions available).
Known Unknowns, Saatchi Gallery
Well, this was a surprise. I’ve been underwhelmed with many of the recent exhibitions at Saatchi Gallery, including one show that managed to omit women artists entirely. But this has been very much turned around by Known Unknowns which not only has on display some quite excellent works from international artists, who are largely unknown in the mainstream art world, but sees women artists very much at the forefront with superb women-centric paintings from Tamuna Sirbiladze (who tragically died a couple of years ago) and fascinating dense collages from Kirstine Roepstorff (pictured) leading the way. Runs to 24 June. Admission free.
And One That’s Out of Town…
Pop! Art in a Changing Britain at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester
Drawn from the Gallery’s significant collection of British Pop Art, this exhibition explores how artists in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s responded to rapid social change, as Pop Art emerged as a means of addressing the rise of mass media, the cult of celebrity, questions of identity and prevalent political concerns, issues that still resonate today. This is the largest exhibition ever staged at Pallant House, and it’s supported by a smaller display of six important works by Peter Blake, Michael Craig-Martin, Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Gavin Turk and Rachel Whiteread to demonstrate how the YBAs adopted and expanded the 1960s Pop Art aesthetic. Runs to 7 May. Admission £11 (concessions available)