Well, I’m not gonna lie – it’s a PACKED month for new art shows in the capital. In fact, all bar one of the shows listed below is a new opening. Which means for those art lovers out there, well, you better get your comfortable trainers on as there is a lot to see!
With it being the centenary of the 1917 October Revolution, it’s no surprise that this has provided a great excuse to platform Russian and Soviet art, but some galleries have gone subversive with Saatchi Gallery taking the opportunity to look at performance art as protest in Russia, and the Tate Modern hosting installations from the Kabakovs that examine the dark and dispiriting side of the Soviet utopian dream.
But for those who don’t like it heavy, there are some bright, fun shows out there, including Dan Colen at Newport Street Gallery and it’s also your last opportunity to catch Matisse in the Studio – one of the shows of the year – at the RA before it closes mid-month. And if you’re there, the joint show of works from Salvador Dali and Marcel Duchamp is a great one to stretch perception!
But, as ever, my focus is on those listed below. I think there’s a terrific range here – from Old Masters to big Modern names, such as Cezanne and Modigliani, to contemporary icons such as Weiwei, Gerhard Richter, Marlene Dumas, and Gilbert and George.
And the variety in tone is there too, from powerful shows examining war and its legacy, to the romantic hues of the Impressionist Masters, and from the energy of Basquiat and Pussy Riot, to the monumental elegance of Henry Moore. And three of the shows listed are also free so it’s all here! Something for everyone, as they say!
Age of Terror: Art since 9/11, Imperial War Museum
This exhibition isn’t just excellent, it’s also very necessary as it is the UK’s first major show to consider artists’ responses to war and conflict since 9/11. Featuring fifty works of art including film, sculpture, painting, installations, photography and prints, (many of which will be exhibited publicly in the UK for the first time), Age of Terror: Art since 9/11 considers artists’ responses to war and conflict since the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 and features more than forty British and international contemporary artists, including Ai Weiwei, Grayson Perry, Gerhard Richter, Jenny Holzer, Mona Hatoum, Alfredo Jaar, Coco Fusco and Jake & Dinos Chapman. Closes May 28th, 2018. Admission £15 (concessions available).
Impressionists in London, Tate Britain
Unusual to have an Impressionist show at Tate Britain but it’s London that’s the focus for these famous artists as this show will bring together over one hundred beautiful works by Monet, Tissot, Pissarro and others in the first large-scale exhibition to chart the stories of French artists who sought refuge in Britain during the Franco-Prussian War and insurrection in Paris. Impressionists in London, French Artists in Exile (1870-1904) will map the artistic networks they built in Britain, consider the aesthetic impact London had on the artists’ work, and present instantly recognisable views of the city as seen through French eyes. Opens November 2nd, 2017. Admission £19.70 (concessions available).
Carved, Cast, Constructed: British Sculpture 1951 – 1991, Marlborough Fine Art
A small show but an interesting survey tracing the developments of post-war British sculpture from 1951-1991, which includes some fantastic names, such as Henry Moore, Eduardo Paolozzi, Allen Jones and Anthony Caro. This exhibition traces the visual arts in Britain as they spawned an increasingly rapid succession of theories and styles, and it’s great to see a show focusing on sculpture. Closes November 25th, 2017. Admission free.
With more than fifty painted objects created over 700 years, Monochrome: Painting in Black and White is a radical new look at what happens when artists cast aside the colour spectrum and focus on the visual power of black, white, and everything in between. Paintings by Old Masters such as Jan van Eyck, Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres appear alongside works by some of the most exciting contemporary artists working today including Gerhard Richter, Marlene Dumas and Bridget Riley. Closes February 18th, 2017. Admission £16 (concessions available).
Cezanne Portraits, National Portrait Gallery
Cezanne Portraits is the NPG’s big Winter blockbuster and it opens this month, bringing together over fifty of Cézanne’s portraits from collections across the world. Cézanne is widely understood to be one of the most influential artists of the nineteenth century. He painted about two hundred portraits in total and, impressively, about a quarter of his output in this particular field of interest will be on display, including this arresting Self Portrait in a Bowler Hat (1885-6) on loan from the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek gallery in Copenhagen, which has not been seen before in the UK. Closes February 11th, 2018. Admission £18 (concessions available).
What more can be said about this show? It simply is the most exciting art show in London right now and the Barbican has gone to great efforts to make this as dynamic and engaging as they can with video footage and personal belongings mixing it with dozens (and dozens) of Basquiat’s original works. Much focus has been on the man – his life and death – so it’s great to see his work take centre stage. His vast paintings mix collage with graffiti, and political commentary with personal battles. Basquiat’s work is electric and this – the first survey of his work in the UK – is long overdue. Closes January 28th, 2018. Admission £16 (concessions available).
Modigliani, Tate Modern
I’ve been looking forward to this all year – the most comprehensive Modigliani exhibition ever held in the UK, bringing together a dazzling range of his iconic portraits, sculptures and the largest ever group of nudes to be shown in this country. Although he died tragically young, Amedeo Modigliani (1884–1920) was a ground-breaking artist who pushed the boundaries of the art of his time. Including almost one hundred works, the exhibition will re-evaluate this familiar figure, looking afresh at the experimentation that shaped his career and made Modigliani one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century. Opens November 23rd. Admission £18.80 (concessions available).
Gilbert and George, White Cube Bermondsey
White Cube celebrates fifty years of the art of Gilbert & George with this new exhibition, The Beard Pictures and their Fuckosophy, which spans all four galleries at White Cube Bermondsey. Writer and novelist Michael Bracewell says: “In the half century that they have lived and worked together as Living Sculptures, embarked on a visionary journey through the modern world, always together and always alone, Gilbert & George have made fiercely singular Anti-Art that is poetic, primal and emotionally driven.” Opens November 22nd. Admission free.
Red Star Over Russia, Tate Modern
To mark the centenary of the October Revolution, the Tate Modern is hosting Red Star over Russia: A Revolution in Visual Culture 1905 – 55. Drawn from the remarkable collection of the late graphic designer David King (1943 – 2016) the exhibition will offer a visual history of Russia and the Soviet Union. From the overthrow of the last Tsar and the revolutionary uprisings of 1917, through to the struggles of the Civil War and Stalin’s campaign of terror, the show will reveal how seismic political events led to the social transformation that inspired a wave of innovation in art and graphic design across the country. Opens November 8th. Admission £11.30 (concessions available).
Art Riot: Post-Soviet Actionism, Saatchi Gallery
I like this. A very subversive take on the centenary of the October Revolution. This new show at Saatchi Gallery is dedicated to Post-Soviet protest art over the past 25 years and explores the challenges to individual freedom of expression in the face of both political ideology and religion, such as persisting government censorship and police intervention. The exhibition will feature work by performance artists including Oleg Kulik, Pussy Riot and Pyotr Pavlensky, and will display various genres and types of protest art, from posters and slogans to video art, staged photography and performances. (Don’t forget, as mentioned in my theatre round-up, Inside Pussy Riot – a ground-breaking immersive theatre experience including performances by founding Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokonnikova – runs alongside this show.) Admission free. Opens November 16th.