Victoria’s Top Ten London Art Shows, November 2018


Now, a lot of the big shows this Autumn are already open: Oceania at the RA is glorious, as is the Anni Albers retrospective at the Tate Modern. Tickets are already thin on the ground for Yayoi Kusama at Victoria Miro and the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A so you’ll have to get your skates on if you want to see either of those.

And, last month, we looped at the opening of Modern Couples at the Barbican and the Turner Prize at Tate Britain. Both those shows are still open and, along with the others, is giving us all quite a to-see list to get through. But I thought, hey, why not add more to that with a completely fresh top ten list.

So, look, would the others be included in a comprehensive, best art shows to see in London right now? Yes, they would, But these gems have just opened or about to open too and I think they could be well worth seeing too.


Klimt / Schiele, Royal Academy of Arts

I cannot WAIT to see this. 2018 marks the centenary of the deaths of two of the most celebrated and pioneering figures of early twentieth-century art: Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) and Egon Schiele (1890-1918), and this exhibition will be the first in the UK to focus on the shared fundamental importance both artists placed on drawing. For Klimt and Schiele, two of Austria’s most famous artists, drawing emerged as a highly expressive practice that was ideally suited to their new ideas of modernity, subjectivity and the erotic, and this show follows this focus from the origins of their academic training to their unconventional explorations of the human figure expressed through line. Opens November 4. Admission £16.

Gainsborough’s Family Album, National Portrait Gallery

Now, I’ve listed this because it’s a big show on an artist that many love – though admittedly not myself – so I guess I’m curious as to whether this exhibition might be able to change my mind on this much-respected eighteenth century great. Featuring over fifty works from public and private collections across the world, this promises to provide a unique insight into the private life and motivations of Thomas Gainsborough and includes a number of works that have never been on public display in the UK (as well as bringing together for the first time all twelve surviving portraits of Thomas Gainsborough’s daughters.) We shall see… Opens November 22. Admission £12.50 – £14.00.

Doris Salcedo/Anselm Kiefer, White Cube Bermondsey

There’s some weighty matter being handled in Doris’s works on display where recent works tackle themes of refugees and, separately, sexual violence. Central to Doris’s part of the exhibition is her monumental installation ‘Palimpsest’ which was recently shown at the Palacio de Cristal in Madrid. The work remembers those who have died in Europe’s ongoing migrant crisis and consists of a floor of rectangular stone slabs, spanning the entire South Gallery at Bermondsey, on which the names of hundreds of victims intermittently appear. And of that isn’t enough to tempt you, there’s a new Anselm Kiefer sculpture in the adjacent room. Runs to November 11. Admission free.

All I Know is What’s on the Internet, The Photographers’ Gallery

How art and photography can respond, react and even capture this social media age is one of the (many) challenges that fascinates me about contemporary art, so I am really looking forward to seeing this show at one of my favourite galleries (great shows, great café!). Traditionally, photography has played a unique role in documenting the world. In today’s climate, however – where digital images flow, multiply and accelerate online with such unparalleled speed and force – the cultural responsibility of understanding an individual photograph is being usurped by the industrial challenge of processing millions of images. This display considers the changing status of photography, as well as the role and agency of the photographer within this new context. Runs to February 24, 2019. Admission free.

Edward Burne-Jones, Tate Britain

Now, this’ll be interesting for me as I’m not exactly a Pre-Raphaelite fan, but this show is promising to be a whopper that charts Edward’s rise from an outsider of British art to one of the great artists of the European fin de siècle. Edward Burne-Jones rejected Victorian industrial ideals, offering an enchanted parallel universe inhabited by beautiful and melancholy beings. Is it too saccharine for me? Well, this will be an opportunity to really delve deep as this is the first major Burne-Jones retrospective to be held in London for over 40 years. He was a pioneer of the symbolist movement and the only Pre-Raphaelite to achieve world-wide recognition in his lifetime and this wide-ranging exhibition will bring together over 150 works in different media including painting, stained glass and tapestry. Runs to 24 February 2019. Admission £18.

Kerry James Marshall: History of Painting, David Zwirner Gallery

Kerry James Marshall is an artist in demand. Famous fans and collectors of his work include Beyoncé & Jay-Z, Diddy, Drake, Dre, the Obamas, and Kanye recently tweeted about his appreciation for Marshall’s work – though, ah, it’s hard to put too much faith in Kanye at the moment. But hey, if Diddy can fork out US$21 million for one of Kerry’s paintings – the highest figure paid for a work of art by a living African-American artist – then the man is doing something right. This show consists of brand new works, which have never been seen before, for which Marshall has taken inspiration from the global history and practice of painting, as well as his own personal history with the medium, dating back to when he was a child. Runs to November 11. Admission free.

Georg Baselitz: A Focus on the 1980s, Galerie Thaddeus Ropac

This gallery really does put on some cracking shows, and this is no different for, as Georg Baselitz celebrates his 80th birthday, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac presents the first exhibition to focus solely on his work from the 1980s – the decade that saw the artist propelled to international fame, garner widespread critical acclaim and, at times, scandalise the art world. Through paintings, sculptures and works on paper, this show will trace Georg’s shift towards a freer, more expressionist application of paint and use of colour, resulting in works of astonishing vigour and formal power. Runs to 21 November. Admission free.

Mantegna and Bellini, National Gallery

We all love a bit of Renaissance art yet, remarkably, this is the first exhibition ever devoted to the relationship between two of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance: Giovanni Bellini (active about 1459–1516) and Andrea Mantegna (1430/1–1506). Through exceptionally rare loans of paintings, drawings, and sculpture, travelling to London from across the world, this show offers an opportunity to compare the work of these two important artists who also happened to be brothers-in-law. Neither’s career or artistic development would have existed without the other, and without these works imbued with their creativity and innovation, Renaissance art, by the likes of Titian, Correggio, and Veronese, would not exist as it does today. Runs to 27 January 2019. Admission from £14.

Maggi Hambling: New Portraits, Marlborough Fine Art

I love Maggi – I love her art, her refusal to bend to the industry and her willingness to speak out. And this autumn sees a new collection of her instantly-recognisable portraits go on display at Marlborough. The works in this new series are small in scale but big in impact. Their source is Maggi’s observation and imagination coupled with her relish of the sensuality and unending adventure of oil paint. Rare in contemporary art, these compassionate and incisive depictions are both economic and visceral, serious and witty, cutting to the quick of the human condition. Runs to 30 November. Admission free.

Ribera: Art of Violence, Dulwich Picture Gallery

If you love a bit of violence and melodrama then Spanish Baroque is for you so why not head for the elegance and tranquility of Dulwich for this, the first UK show dedicated to the painter, draughtsman and printmaker Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652), bringing together his most arresting and provocative works. Ribera (also known as lo Spagnoletto or ‘the little Spaniard’) has long been celebrated for his images of human suffering, a popular subject for artists during the Catholic Counter-Reformation and, here, a selection of eight monumental canvases are on display alongside significant drawings and prints to explore the powerful theme of violence in Ribera’s art, as well as examining Ribera’s striking depictions of saintly martyrdom and mythological violence, skin and the five senses, crime and punishment, and the bound male figure. Upbeat, maybe not; but powerful, oh my, yes. Runs to 27 January 2019. Admission £15.

And One That’s Out of Town…

The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture, Hepworth Wakefield

The Turner Prize isn’t the only art show in town; there’s the Hepworth Prize for Sculpture too. And what a shortlist it has this year – Michael Dean, Mona Hatoum, Magali Reus, Phillip Lai and Cerith Wyn Evans. I mean, wow. The Prize recognises a British or UK-based artist of any age, at any stage in their career, who has made a significant contribution to the development of contemporary sculpture and, frankly, you could make a water-tight case for any of these artists. The winner is announced on November 17 but this exhibition is worth a trip in its own right, irrelevant of there being a prize at stake. Runs to 20 January 2019. Admission free.

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