Exhibitions To Look Forward To In 2020

Exhibitions To Look Forward To In 2020

As the year begins, we’ve rounded up an essential selection of the best exhibitions to visit in London in 2020. From Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Cecil Beaton retrospectives, to deep-dives into the worlds of Steve McQueen and Alice in Wonderland, here are 10 must-see shows to book this year…

Alice: Curiouser & Curiouser at the V&A

Exploring its origins, adaptations and reinventions over 157 years, this immersive and theatrical show will chart the evolution of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland from manuscript to a global phenomenon beloved by all ages. Through over 300 objects spanning film, performance, fashion, art, music and photography, the V&A will be the first museum to fully explore the cultural impact of Alice and her ongoing inspiration for leading creatives, from Salvador Dalí and The Beatles to Little Simz and Thom Browne. Highlights will include Lewis Carroll’s original handwritten manuscript, illustrations by John Tenniel, Ralph Steadman and Disney, stage costumes and photography from Tim Walker and Annie Leibovitz. 

South Kensington, SW7 2RL; from 27th June 

Visit VAM.ac.uk

Aubrey Beardsley at Tate Britain

Aubrey Beardsley shocked and delighted late-Victorian London with his erotic, grotesque and humorous black-and-white drawings. Spanning seven years, this exhibition will cover Beardsley’s prolific career as a draughtsman and illustrator, cut short by his death from tuberculosis aged 25. This will be the first exhibition dedicated to Beardsley at Tate since 1923, and the largest display of his original drawings in Europe since the seminal 1966 exhibition at the V&A, which triggered a Beardsley revival. Over 200 works will include his celebrated illustrations for Le Morte d’Arthur, Lysistrata and Oscar Wilde’s Salomé. It will also show artworks that were key inspirations for Beardsley, including Japanese scrolls and watercolours by Edward Burne-Jones and Gustave Moreau.

Millbank, SW1P 4RG; from 4th March

Visit Tate.org.uk

Andy Warhol at Tate Modern

Andy Warhol was the son of immigrants who became an American icon, a shy gay man who became the hub of New York’s social scene, and an artist who embraced consumerism, celebrity and counter-culture – and changed the face of modern art in the process. This major retrospective is the first Warhol exhibition at Tate Modern for almost 20 years. As well as his iconic pop images of Marilyn Monroe, Coca-Cola and Campbell’s soup cans, this exhibition will include works never seen before in the UK. Twenty-five works from his Ladies and Gentlemen series – portraits of black and Latin drag queens and trans women – will be shown for the first time in 30 years, and visitors will be able to play with his floating ‘Silver Clouds’ and experience the psychedelic multimedia environment of ‘Exploding Plastic Inevitable’.

Bankside, SE1 9TG; from 12th March

Visit Tate.org.uk

Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things at National Portrait Gallery

This major new exhibition will explore the extravagant world of the glamorous ‘Bright Young Things’ of the 20s and 30s, seen through the eye of renowned British photographer Cecil Beaton. The retrospective will bring to life an eccentric and creative era of British cultural life, combining high society and the avant-garde, artists and writers, socialites and partygoers. This show will chart Beaton’s transformation from suburban schoolboy to glittering society figure and star of Vogue. In addition to Beaton’s own portraits, the exhibition will also feature paintings by friends and artists including Rex Whistler, Henry Lamb and Augustus John. A must for fashion fans.

Trafalgar Square, WC2H 0HE; from 12th March

Visit NPG.org.uk

Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk at the V&A

The V&A is set to open Europe’s first major exhibition on kimono. The ultimate symbol of Japan, the kimono is often perceived as traditional, timeless and unchanging. Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk will counter this conception, presenting the garment as a dynamic and constantly evolving icon of fashion. The exhibition will reveal the sartorial and social significance of the kimono from the 1660s to the present day, both in Japan and in the rest of the world. Highlights of the exhibition include the dress designed for Björk by Alexander McQueen and worn on the album cover Homogenic, original Star Wars costumes, plus designs by Yves Saint Laurent, Rei Kawakubo and John Galliano.

South Kensington, SW7 2RL; from 29th February

Visit VAM.ac.uk

Masculinities: Liberations Through Photography at Barbican

Through the medium of film and photography, this major exhibition considers how masculinity has been coded, performed and socially constructed from the 1960s to the present day. Examining depictions of masculinity from behind the lens, the Barbican brings together the work of over 50 international artists, photographers and filmmakers including Laurie Anderson, Sunil Gupta, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Isaac Julien and Catherine Opie. Touching on themes including power, patriarchy, queer identity, female perceptions of men, hypermasculine stereotypes, tenderness and the family, the exhibition shows how central photography and film have been to the way masculinities are imagined and understood in contemporary culture.

Clerkenwell, EC2Y 8DS; from 12th February

Visit Barbican.org.uk

Mushrooms: The Art, Design & Future of Fungi at Somerset House

Bringing together the work of over 40 leading artists, designers and musicians, Mushrooms looks at fungi’s colourful cultural legacy, as well as the promise it offers to reimagine our relationship with the planet. Highlights in this new exhibition from writer and curator Francesca Gavin include seminal American artist Cy Twombly’s collage portfolio paralleling natural world and human history, watercolours from author Beatrix Potter, plus composer John Cage’s limited-edition Mushroom Book of recipes, observations and illustrations. Visitors will also be able to explore ground-breaking experiments in design, textiles and architecture that utilise mushrooms in exciting new ways – from upcycled agro-waste to sustainable shoes made with mycelium.

Strand, WC2R 1LA; from 31st January 

Visit SomersetHouse.org.uk

Picasso And Paper at the Royal Academy of Arts

Pablo Picasso didn’t just draw on paper – he tore it, burnt it, and made it three-dimensional. From studies for ‘Guernica’ to a 4.8-metre-wide collage, this exhibition brings together more than 300 works on paper spanning the artist’s 80-year career. When it opens at the RA on 25th January, visitors will be able to see Picasso’s creative process first-hand in remarkable documentary footage of the artist at work sketchbooks where the seeds of revolutionary masterpieces first took shape. Letters, illustrated poems and photographic collaborations with Dora Maar will also offer glimpses into the artist’s life.

Piccadilly, W1J 0BD; from 25th January 

Visit RoyalAcademy.org.uk

Radical Figures: Painting In The New Millennium at Whitechapel Gallery

At this forthcoming exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, the paintings of Daniel Richter draw from current events – the migrant crisis or Taliban mythology – as do Michael Armitage’s narratives of politics and violence in East Africa, conveyed in the style of Gauguin. The surfaces of Cecily Brown’s canvases congeal into figures, whose sources range from pornography to art history. Nicole Eisenman’s subjects occupy a brightly lit universe that is both a dream and a nightmare, while Dana Schutz’s contorted figures give form to the unconscious. Elsewhere, Sanya Kantarovsky and Ryan Mosley look to art history, literature and children’s stories in their darkly humorous scenes.

Whitechapel, E1 7QX; from 6th February 

Visit WhitechapelGallery.org

Steve McQueen at Tate Modern

Over the last 25 years Steve McQueen has created some of the most innovative works of moving image, alongside directing four critically acclaimed films, including the Academy Award-winning 12 Years a Slave. London is McQueen’s hometown and a place that continues to inspire him. This forthcoming self-titled show the first major exhibition of his work here since he won the Turner Prize in 1999. It features 14 major works spanning film, photography and sculpture, including his first film shot on a Super 8 camera, Exodus, and the recent End Credits – McQueen’s homage to the African-American singer, actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson, which is on show for the first time in the UK. Spanning two decades of his career, the exhibition will reveal how McQueen’s pioneering approaches to filmmaking have expanded the ways in which artists work with the medium, creating poignant portraits of time and place.

Bankside, SE1 9TG; from 13th February

Visit Tate.org.uk

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