Unmissable exhibitions 2019

From Dutch Masters to Christian Dior, Brummell delves into London’s most hotly anticipated exhibitions of the new year. Diaries at the ready…

Arts 8 Jan 2019

Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890), Starry Night Over the Rhone, 1888, oil paint on canvas, 725 x 920 mm, Paris, Musée d'Orsay. Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890), Starry Night Over the Rhone, 1888, oil paint on canvas, 725 x 920 mm, Paris, Musée d'Orsay. Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Christian Dior with model Sylvie, circa 1948. Courtesy of Christian Dior
Christian Dior with model Sylvie, circa 1948. Courtesy of Christian Dior

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams

Continuing its run of high-profile fashion retrospectives is the V&A’s major new exhibition on the House of Dior – set to be the biggest since 2015’s record-breaking Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams explores the French couturier’s life and legacy, as well as the six artistic directors who have succeeded him in the coveted role. The exhibition features more than 500 objects – among them haute-couture dresses worn by Jennifer Lawrence, Margot Fonteyn and Princess Margaret on her 21st birthday – as well as a section dedicated to Dior’s love of Britain. ‘There is no other country in the world, besides my own, whose way of life I like so much,’ he once said. ‘I love English traditions, English politeness, English architecture. I even love English cooking.’

V&A, February 2 – July 14; vam.ac.uk

Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890), Self-Portrait, 1889, oil paint on canvas, 572mm x 438mm, National Gallery of Art, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney
Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890), Self-Portrait, 1889, oil paint on canvas, 572mm x 438mm, National Gallery of Art, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney

The EY Exhibition: Van Gogh and Britain

Speaking of Anglophiles; this year Tate Britain is hosting a major exhibition on Van Gogh’s unique relationship with the UK and how he in turn influenced British artists. Opening this spring, Van Gogh and Britain will feature the largest collection of the artist’s work to go on display in the UK for nearly a decade and is Tate’s first Van Gogh retrospective since 1947. The Dutch Master spent three formative years in London between 1873 and 1876, where he discovered the writings of Shakespeare and Dickens and the paintings of Constable and Millais. The exhibition includes over 47 famous works, including Starry Night over the Rhône and the iconic and rarely loaned Sunflowers.

Tate Britain, 27 March – 11 August; tate.org.uk

Image from the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature, Senate House Library, University of London
Image from the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature, Senate House Library, University of London

Smoke and Mirrors: The Psychology of Magic

Another first in Britain is the Wellcome Collection’s upcoming exhibition on the psychology of magic. Smoke and Mirrors aims to ‘seek the truth of deception’ and features various artefacts from famous illusionists such as Tommy Cooper, Derren Brown and Harry Houdini. Not only will the exhibition explore the supernatural world and how magic manipulates the mind, but also why people continue to believe in it.

Wellcome Collection, 11 April – 15 September; wellcomecollection.org

A Clockwork Orange, directed by Stanley Kubrick (1970-71; GB/United States). Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) in the Korova Milkbar. Still image. © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
A Clockwork Orange, directed by Stanley Kubrick (1970-71; GB/United States). Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) in the Korova Milkbar. Still image. © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition

Oregon’s Timberline Lodge may stand in as the exterior of the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 masterpiece The Shining, but the rest of the film was shot at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire. Meanwhile, the Brutalist architecture of London’s Thamesmead estate proved the ideal location for the bleak, dystopian landscape of A Clockwork Orange. The Design Museum invites you to step inside these iconic films and discover the world of Oscar-winning director Kubrick and his affinity for London with a landmark new exhibition. It features an extensive collection of original props, costumes, set models and rare photographs.

The Design Museum, 26 April – 17 September 2019; designmuseum.org

Chi's Sweet Home vol, 03
Chi’s Sweet Home vol, 03

Manga

To celebrate the Rugby World Cup taking place in Japan this autumn, as well as the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the Japanese government has organised a season of cultural events and activities in the UK launching later this year. A key part of this initiative is a major new exhibition on manga at the British Museum, which will be the largest of its kind ever to be held outside of Japan. The exhibition will explore manga’s historic roots and the global appeal and cultural crossover of this billion-dollar industry.

British Museum, 23 May – 26 August 2019; britishmuseum.org

Cindy Sherman at the National Portrait Gallery

Cindy Sherman

This summer, the National Portrait Gallery will host Britain’s first-ever retrospective on American photographer Cindy Sherman. Featuring around 180 works – including the seminal Untitled Film Stills – the exhibition explores Sherman’s work from the mid-1970s until present day. With her trademark subversive, stylised self-portraits, Sherman’s pioneering work holds up a mirror to our current image-obsessed age of social media.

National Portrait Gallery, 27 June – 15 September 2019; npg.org.uk

Rembrandt van Rijn, Philemon and Baucis, 1658, oil on panel transferred to panel, National Gallery of Art, Washington
Rembrandt van Rijn, Philemon and Baucis, 1658, oil on panel transferred to panel, National Gallery of Art, Washington

Rembrandt’s Light

Dulwich Picture Gallery is marking ‘The Year of Rembrandt’ – a global celebration of the 350th anniversary of the Dutch Master’s death – with an innovative exhibition focusing on the artist’s ‘mastery of light and visual storytelling’. Bringing together 35 carefully selected paintings, some on display in the UK for the very first time, the exhibition has also been designed with special lighting effects to create an immersive experience for visitors.

Dulwich Picture Gallery, 4 October 2019 – 2 February 2020; dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

Dora Maar Untitled (Main Shell) Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais/Jacques Faujour
Dora Maar Untitled (Main Shell) Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais/Jacques Faujour

Dora Maar

Artist Dora Maar may forever be immortalised as the ‘weeping woman’ in lover Pablo Picasso’s 1937 masterpiece, but this winter sees her finally step into the spotlight with Tate Modern’s major new retrospective. The beguiling Maar was already a rising star of the Surrealist movement when she met Picasso in 1936. Renowned for her provocative surrealist imagery, Maar also experimented in documentary and commercial photography and painting, but later withdrew from the public eye altogether after her relationship with Picasso ended. It wasn’t until after her death in 1997 that art historians started piecing together the remarkable portfolio of a woman who spent far too long in the shadows.

Tate Modern, 20 November 2019 – 15 March 2020; tate.org.uk