Every new year, a plethora of new and exciting exhibitions arrive around the world. So, our in-house expert Bojana Popovic has selected the very best shows to see in 2024 – from Venice to London.
David Hockney: Drawing from Life
National Portrait Gallery, until 21st January
Initially scheduled for early 2020, this exhibition was postponed due to the pandemic and has finally reopened after the National Portrait Gallery's three-year refurbishment. But the silver lining is that, since then, 30 additional portraits have been added to the selection. Don't forget to catch this show before it closes on 21st January.
Rubens & Women
Dulwich Picture Gallery Earl's Court, until 28th January
Voluptuous female forms and striking poses can be found in almost every painting at this exhibition in Dulwich Picture Gallery. With over 40 paintings presented by the Old Master, it gives a fantastic overview of the painter's career by focusing on his key subject matter – the nude.
Women in Revolt!
Tate Britain, then touring Edinburgh and Manchester, until 7th April
The first of its kind, this exhibition shines a spotlight on feminist art by over a hundred UK-based women artists. There are over 700 pieces on display spanning 1970–1990, each containing rebellious ideas that fueled the women's liberation movement and helped drive change – not just for female artists, but for women in general.
Frank Auerbach: The Charcoal Heads
The Courtauld Gallery, 9th February–27th May
This exhibition brings together a series of compelling, large-scale works on paper by Frank Auerbach, created in post-war London in the 1950s and 1960s. Using charcoal and chalk, Auerbach spent months reworking the large heads over several sittings with his subjects. In addition to the monochrome drawings, the show will also create a dialogue with the paintings linked to the same subjects, illustrating his mastery of different methods and techniques depending on the mediums employed.
Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind
Tate Modern, 15th February–1st September
Yoko Ono is a world-famous Japanese artist and musician who became internationally recognised for her role in conceptual and performance art in the 1960s and her resounding and active support for world peace. Presented through over 200 works of art, Tate Modern will showcase her almost seven-decade-long career where the unwavering message of peace can be found like a leitmotif. Visitors will have the chance to interact with some of the exhibits, such as playing with her all-white chess set, leaving a mark on a long wall dedicated to mothers, or placing a wish on her 'wish tree'.
The Time is Always Now: Artists Reframe the Black Figure
National Portrait Gallery, 22nd February–19th May
Curated by Ekow Eshun, who brought us In the Black at Hayward Gallery in 2022, this is a critical reinterpretation of the tradition of portrait painting, this time seen through the lens of the African diaspora across the UK and USA. Uniting 22 contemporary artists, we see how they question the exclusion of the Black body in the artistic canon and create a new ground for its representation, interrogating the aesthetic, psychological, and political concerns related to portraying Blackness.
Turner Prize 2023
Towner Gallery, East Sussex, until 14th April
Eastbourne's Towner Gallery is hosting a multi-room exhibition for the handful of shortlisted artists who competed for the £25,000 prize. This year's nominees are installation artists Ghislaine Leung and Jesse Darling; painter, filmmaker and musician Rory Pilgrim; and Barbara Walker, known for her portraits on paper of Black Britons. Without revealing my personal favourite, the art historian Eddie Chambers called Walker 'one of the most talented, productive and committed artists of her generation.'
Multiple locations across Venice, April–November
Taking place once every two years, the Venice Biennale is an unmissable experience that dominates the city on water for almost six months. Nearly every little passageway and piazza is commandeered by unexpected sculptures during this time, while two central locations (The Giardini and Arsenale) are home to the pavilions – each showcasing contemporary art from one country. With countries now announcing their artists in the leadup to spring, we will see a rise in the number of indigenous artists represented at the Biennale: a reflection of the collecting habits of many top museums and institutions worldwide.
Women Artists in Britain: 1520–1920
Tate Britain, 16th May–13th October
Tate Britain is really promoting girl power in their exhibitions this year. Leading on from the Sarah Lucas and Women in Revolt shows, we will now have the chance to see an eclectic range of works by leading female artists in Britain before the rise of feminism. Looking back 400 years, this exhibition traces the artistic journeys of women from the Tudor times to the First World War. Challenging social expectations, they laid the groundwork for their feminist successors by making careers as artists when women were typically confined to duties around the home. This exhibition is a fantastic ode to these pioneering women.
Henry Moore: Shadows on the Wall
The Gilbert and Ildiko Butler Drawings Gallery, 8th June–22nd September
Henry Moore is best known for his sinuously curving sculptures of the human form, but his Shelter drawings are some of his most historically significant pieces of art from World War II. While civilians fled to the London Underground to shelter from the bombings, Moore drew them huddled between the arching walls of these dark-lit spaces. These small-scale works capture the collective fear and the overwhelming darkness of the time but equally convey a sense of unity and compassion when all else seemed bleak.
V&A, 22nd June 2023–6th April 2025
Even if you don't follow fashion magazines, you probably know who Naomi Campbell is. Of all the supermodels, she is undoubtedly one of the most iconic. This summer, the V&A is celebrating her 40-year career, from the moment she was scouted in London at age 15 and became the first black model on the cover of Paris Vogue to her later charity work promoting social change. And, of course, for all the fashionistas out there, there's a sumptuous array of outfits presented in the exhibition, along with photography by some of fashion's greatest photographers to chart the development of her prolific career.
Van Gogh: Poets and Lovers
National Gallery, London, 14th September 2024–19th January 2025
What better way to celebrate the National Gallery's 200th anniversary than with an exhibition of the paintings of one of the 20th century's most important artists: Vincent van Gogh. Van Gogh: Poets and Lovers will also mark the centenary of the acquisition of his famous Sunflowers (1887) and Van Gogh's Chair (1888). Characterised by frenetic brushwork and a luminous palette, examples of his best-loved paintings from his time in the South of France will undoubtedly draw in the crowds. Make sure to book your ticket in advance for this one!
Monet and London: Views of the Thames
The Courtauld Gallery, London, opening 27th September
Described as the father of Modernism, Claude Monet is probably the best-known of the French Impressionists. Now, for the first time in over a century, the Courtauld will reunite an astonishing group of his masterpieces depicting London. What makes this all the more special is that the gallery's location is just down the road from The Savoy Hotel and the Thames, where most of them were created. Painted between 1899 and 1901, the series – depicting Charing Cross Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, and the Houses of Parliament – was first presented at a breakthrough show in Paris in 1904 but has never been the focus of a UK exhibition.
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