March is upon us and some excellent exhibitions have already been and gone. Here are my top ten museum shows in the UK that you must see this year:
Electronic Superhighway (2016-1966), 29 January – 15 May 2016
Whitechapel Gallery, London
Named after a term coined by South Korean video artist Nam June Paik, this major exhibition is an important survey of the way art and technology have intertwined and influenced each other in the internet age. Featuring over 100 works, if you haven’t seen it already, do.
John Akomfrah: Vertigo Sea, Saturday 16 January 2016 to Sunday 10 April 2016
Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol
Vertigo Sea is a three-screen film, first shown at the 56th Venice Biennale as part of Okwui Enwezor’s All the World’s Futures exhibition. It is vital that talented artists like Akomfrah find ways in their work to confront the refugee crisis, here the British film maker returns to the sea, a subject which haunts many of his films, this time with a voice-over from the survivor of a perilous migration. The artist himself nearly drowned twice as a child; the ocean he shows us is beautiful and terrible.
British Art Show 8, 13th February − 8th May 2016
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
Currently in Edinburgh, the show will next travel to Norwich and then to Southampton. This year the show features the work of over 40 artists including Alexandre da Cunha, Laure Prouvost, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Rachel Maclean and serves as a healthy reminder of the greatness of our contemporary artists.
Imran Qureshi, Where the Shadows are so Deep, 18 February 2016 – 10 July 2016
Barbican Centre, London
The artist was inspired by the exhibition space to create a series of intricate miniatures which are deliberately deceptive in their ostensible beauty. Observing the works closely, they each feature unsettling elements. Qureshi was interested by the capacity of a small act of terrorism to rupture an idyllic scene. Here the perfect harmony of his miniatures is disrupted with violence and his characteristic floral blood marks.
In the Age of Giorgione, 12 March — 5 June 2016
Royal Academy of Arts
This new exhibition aims to bring greater exposure to the Venetian Renaissance, less well understood than its Florentine counterpart. The Venetians painted their skies darker, their clouds more tempestuous, and the RA hopes to draw out this sense of mystery and drama. As well as paintings by Giorgione, Giovanni Bellini, Titian, Sebastiano del Piombo and Lorenzo Lotto there will also be work by Dürer, who visited Venice and influenced this darker Renaissance.
Martin Parr is responsible for capturing some of the most revealing images of modern British life: peeling sunburnt skin, a Kipling cake balanced on an elderly knee, a cricketer thrusting out his gut. So he is well placed to curate an exhibition of works by foreign photographers who observe the British with a similarly bemused, yet fond, eye. The exhibition will include work by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Rineke Dijkstra, Garry Winogrand and Robert Frank among others.
David Hockney RA: 79 Portraits and 2 Still Lifes
2 July — 2 October 2016
After pouring his colours into the landscape of his native Yorkshire, Hockney once again returned to his adopted home of LA where he found himself drawn back to portraiture. In this series of 79 portraits (plus two still lifes) he takes as his subjects friends, family and acquaintances – including fellow artists, curators and gallery owners such as John Baldessari and Larry Gagosian. Every work is the same size and they were each painted within the space of three days. It seems that Hockney does not mean to slow down anytime soon.
Georgia O’Keeffe, 6 July – 30 October 2016
Fittingly O’Keeffe’s arid red mountains and languid tropical flowers will make up Tate Modern’s summer show this year. The artist’s career spanned seven decades and this major retrospective will examine the importance of her work and its influence upon the artists that followed her.
Abstract Expressionism, 24 September 2016 — 2 January 2017
Royal Academy of Arts
In autumn the Royal Academy will capture this electrifying New York moment with an exhibition that will include both the most celebrated proponents of the movement and other less well known members. Amongst the selection will be work by Kline, Pollock, Rothko, Newman, Still, de Kooning, Smith, Reinhardt and Gorky.
Robert Rauschenberg, 1 December 2016 – 2 April 2017
This huge show will be the first posthumous retrospective of Robert Rauschenberg’s work in the UK. The exhibition will feature examples from across a career marked by a refusal to adhere to artistic conventions: Rauschenberg took the canvas, put it on the floor, and then put a goat with a tire round its waist on top. Unlike many other artists of his generation, his work manages to be referential without straying into the vacuous.