Victoria’s Top Ten London Art Exhibitions, March 2020


Right, you better get your comfortable shoes on as there’s a LOT of amazing art to see this month in London town. Not only do we have all the amazing new shows listed below, but it’s also you last chance to catch Dora Maar at Tate Modern (closes 15 March), the Kara Walker Turbine Hall installation (also at the Tate M), Sigmar Polke at Michael Werner (closes 21 March), Dorothea Tanning at Alison Jacques (also closes on 21 March) and the mesmerising Hedda Sterne show at Victoria Miro Mayfair (also 21 March).

See you in an art gallery!

David Hockney: Drawing from Life, National Portrait Gallery

Is David Hockney this country’s best-loved living artist? Quite probably. So, coming quickly off the back of the Tate’s blockbuster show last year, the NPG is showcasing this, the first major exhibition devoted to David’s drawings in over twenty years. David Hockney: Drawing from Life, explores Hockney as a draughtsman from the 1950s to the present by focusing on depictions of, his friends and family. Featuring around 150 works from public and private collections across the world, the exhibition will trace the trajectory of his practice by revisiting these five subjects over a period of five decades. Runs 27 February to 28 June. Admission from £17.

Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk, Victoria & Albert Museum

The V&A always hosts fascinating exhibitions and this one on the iconic kimono promises to be terrific. This show will present the kimono as a dynamic and constantly evolving icon of fashion, revealing the sartorial, aesthetic and social significance of the garment from the 1660s to the present day, both in Japan and the rest of the world. Rare 17th and 18th century kimono will be on display, together with fashions by major designers and iconic film and performance costumes. The kimono’s recent reinvention on the streets of Japan will also be explored through work by an exciting new wave of contemporary designers and stylists. Highlights of the exhibition include a kimono created by Living National Treasure Kunihiko Moriguchi, the dress designed for Björk by Alexander McQueen, and Freddie Mercury’s kimono.  Runs 29 February to 21 June. Admission £16.

Aubrey Beardsley, Tate Britain

Aubrey was one of the enfants terribles of fin-de-siècle London and is perhaps best remembered for his powerful illustrations of Oscar Wilde’s controversial play Salomé. His opulent imagery anticipated the elegance of Art Nouveau yet also touched on the perverse and erotic, shocking audiences with a bizarre sense of humour and fascination with the grotesque. Aubrey was prolific, producing hundreds of illustrations for books, periodicals and posters in a career spanning just under seven years. Yes, just seven years, for Aubrey died tragically young at only 25 years of age (from TB). Yet his subversive, sinuous black-and-white images have continued to shock and delight admirers for over a century. Bringing together 200 spectacular works, this will be the largest display of his original drawings in over 50 years. Runs 4 March to 25 May. Admission £16 (concessions available).

Picasso and Paper, Royal Academy of Arts

This show is electric. Perhaps you might not think that of a show that says it’s going to focus around paper, but it’s that man Picasso that transforms the ordinary to the sublime. Bringing together 300 of the artist’s works, both on and with paper, this exhibition spans his entire prolific career. Relentlessly creative, Picasso used everything from café tablecloths and newspaper cuttings to antique papers with distinctive watermarks. He created sculptures with torn and burnt pieces of paper, assembled collages, worked with pastel, gouache and watercolour, and spent decades investigating an array of printmaking techniques – all on the medium of paper. Phenomenal. Runs to 13 April. Admission £18 (concessions available).

Among the Trees, Hayward Gallery

When this was first announced, I was like, this is a bit leftfield. But the more I hear about this exhibition, the more excited I am. Among the Trees brings together artworks from a myriad of great artists (including Tacita Dean, William Kentridge, and Steve McQueen amongst many others) that invite us to consider trees as symbols and living organisms that have helped to shape human civilisation. Beginning with influential works from the late 1960s – a decade that saw the emergence of the modern environmental movement in Europe and the United States – this show surveys a remarkably expansive terrain, encompassing a wide range of artistic approaches such as painting, drawing, photography, sculpture and video installations that range in scale from the monumental to the intimate. Runs 4 March to 17 May. Admission £16 (concessions available).

Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things, National Portrait Gallery

David Hockney isn’t the only exhibition opening at the NPG this month for, in addition, we have this hugely exciting insight into the extravagant world of the glamorous and stylish ‘Bright Young Things’ of the twenties and thirties. Seen through the eye of renowned British photographer Cecil Beaton, it will bring to life a deliriously eccentric, glamorous and creative era of British cultural life, combining High Society and the avant-garde, artists and writers, socialites and partygoers. Runs 12 March to 7 June 2020. Admission from £17 / £5 tickets are available every Friday to anyone aged under 25.

Andy Warhol, Tate Modern

Andy Warhol’s work rightly continues to fascinate and be interpreted anew so there’s much to look forward to in this retrospective on one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Featuring over 100 works from across his remarkable career, this show will shed light on how his experiences helped shape his unique take on 20th century culture. While he is best known for his iconic paintings of Coca-Cola bottles and Marilyn Monroe that held up a mirror to American culture, the exhibition will emphasise recurring themes around desire, identity and belief that emerge from Andy’s biography and the people he fêted and worked with, and how they shaped his outlook and output; you’ll find me near the 25 works from his Ladies and Gentlemen series – portraits of black and Latinx drag queens and trans women – which will be shown for the first time in 30 years. Runs 12 March to 6 September. Admission £22 (concessions available).

Rineke Dijkstra, Marian Goodman Gallery

The Queen of contemporary portraiture. I adore Rineke’s stark instantly recognisable imagery so expect to find me down at Marian Goodman for the UK premier of Night Watching, a video installation of 14 groups of people responding to Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, which remains out of sight. The film emphasises the value of the masterpiece but also functions as a portrait of those viewing and interpreting it. Other works will also be on display from the photography series ‘Family Portraits’, ‘Parks’ and ‘Emma Lucy Cecile (Three Sisters)’. Opens 13 March. Admission free.

Titian: Love Desire Death, National Gallery

Not a wide-ranging exhibition on Titian’s career but a focused show on a very specific series of paintings. In 1551, Prince Philip of Spain commissioned Titian to produce a group of paintings showing Classical myths primarily taken from the Roman poet Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’. Titian called these works his ‘poesie’ because he considered them to be visual equivalents of poetry and this epic series of large-scale mythological paintings will be brought together in its entirety for the first time since the late 16th century. Combining Titian’s remarkable talent as both artist and storyteller, the mythological scenes capture moments of high drama. We see gods and goddesses, yet their faces show very human, and very relatable, emotions: guilt, surprise, shame, desperation, and regret. Runs 16 March to 14 June. Admission from £10 (concessions available).

Paul Klee: Late Klee, David Zwirner

Paul Klee is forever associated with the Bauhaus but this intriguing new show focuses on the years after he left Germany to escape the rising tide of Nazism. From the early 1930s until his death in 1940, Klee worked with a vigour and inventiveness that at times rivalled even the most productive periods from his youth. His brilliance as a colourist remained but this period saw him experiment with subject matter and style, as well as forms and materials (such as adhesives, grease, oil, chalk, and watercolour) which resulted in highly tactile and original works. Klee’s late period informed the art of subsequent generations of post-war artists, ranging from Anni Albers and Mark Tobey to Richard Tuttle and Bridget Riley. To illustrate this influence, a selection of works by Bridget Riley will also be on display. Runs from 6 March to 18 April. Admission free.

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