The Noteworthy Exhibitions To Book Now

From immersive experiences focused on the works of David Hockney to shows dedicated to Coco Chanel, here are the blockbuster exhibitions to book in 2023.
By Heather Steele /

Hilma Af Klint & Piet Mondrian, Tate Modern

Although they never met, Swedish painter Hilma Af Klint and Dutch painter Piet Mondrian both invented their own languages of abstract art rooted in nature. At the centre of both of their artistic journeys was a shared desire to understand the forces behind life on earth. Best known for his abstract work, Mondrian in fact began his career – like Af Klint – as a landscape painter. Alongside Mondrian’s iconic grids, visitors will see the rarely exhibited paintings of flowers he continued to create throughout his life. Also on display will be enigmatic works by Af Klint in which natural forms become a pathway to abstraction. Af Klint was also a medium, and this exhibition showcases the large-scale, otherworldly masterpieces she believed were commissioned by higher powers. Visitors will be immersed in these ideas through the vibrant signs, shapes and colours in both artists’ beautiful, complex work.

20th April-3rd September

Visit Tate.org.uk

After Impressionism: Inventing Modern Art, National Gallery

The National Gallery’s next major exhibition explores a period of great upheaval when artists broke with established tradition and laid the foundations for the art of the 20th and the 21st centuries. The decades between 1880 and the outbreak of WWI in 1914 were a complex, vibrant period of artistic questioning, searching, risk-taking and innovation. This exhibition celebrates the achievements of three giants of the era: Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin and follows the influences they had on younger generations of French artists, on their peers and on wider circles of artists across Europe in Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels and Vienna. With over 100 works by artists ranging from Klimt and Kokoschka, Matisse and Picasso to Mondrian and Kandinsky complemented by a selection of sculpture by artists including Rodin and Camille Claudel, the exhibition follows the creation of a new, modern art, free of convention, taking in Expressionism, Cubism and Abstraction.

25th March-13th August

Visit NationalGallery.org.uk

Making Modernism, Royal Academy

Making Modernism is the first major UK exhibition devoted to pioneering women working in Germany in the early 1900s: Paula Modersohn-Becker, Kӓthe Kollwitz, Gabriele Münter and Marianne Werefkin. Celebrated in their native homelands, this exhibition will introduce their innovative paintings and works on paper, alongside key pictures by Erma Bossi, Ottilie Reylaender and Jacoba van Heemskerck. The exhibition reframes subjects such as self-portraiture, still-life, the female body, depictions of childhood, landscapes and urban scenes through the experiences and perspectives of these ground-breaking artists who – although less familiar than their male counterparts, such as Wassily Kandinsky – were no less central to the development of radical new approaches to art in Europe.

Until 12th February

Visit RoyalAcademy.org.uk

Hilma af Klint, Tate Modern
Making Modernism, Royal Academy

David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (Not Smaller & Further Away), Lightroom

Using large-scale projection in a remarkable new space, David Hockney will take visitors on a personal journey through 60 years of his art when this exhibition opens at new art venue Lightbox in King’s Cross. Lightroom’s vast walls and revolutionary sound system will enable viewers to experience the world through Hockney’s eyes. His life-long fascination with the possibilities of new media is given vibrant expression in a show that invites us to look more closely, more truly and more joyously. In a cycle of six themed chapters, with a score by Nico Muhly Hockney’s voice will narrate as visitors view his works. From LA to Yorkshire, and up to the present day in Normandy, the show is an unprecedented opportunity to spend time in Hockney’s mind.

22nd February-4th April

Visit Lightroom.uk

Günther Förg, Hauser & Wirth London

German-born Günther Förg was a prolific painter, sculptor, graphic designer and photographer whose works include and critique tropes from the modernist movement. The exhibition will display Förg’s Spot Paintings, the artist’s final series made between 2007 to 2009 before he stopped painting after suffering a stroke. In these works, the brushstrokes are full and considered – influenced by photographs Förg saw of Francis Bacon’s studio, which was covered in colourful blotches of paint created when the artist would wipe his brushes on the walls and door of the studio to remove excess paint.

1st February-29th April

Visit HauserWirth.com

Beyond The Streets, Saatchi Gallery

Next month, Saatchi Gallery will open the UK’s most comprehensive exhibition on street art and graffiti. For the first time in eight years, the exhibition will take over the entirety of the gallery with original art, photography, immersive installations and archival fashion from over 150 artists and rulebreakers. It pays homage to the moments from the worlds of graffiti, street art, hip-hop and punk rock as well as the artists who immortalised them.

17th February-9th May

Visit SaatchiGallery.com

The Ugly Duchess: Beauty & Satire in the Renaissance, National Gallery

Renaissance art is widely regarded as one of the most important artistic periods in European history, but many of the paintings look odd – and sometimes – ugly to a contemporary audience. This exhibition starts with one of the National Gallery’s best-known faces: Quinten Massys’s 16th-century depiction of an old woman, a painting known as ‘The Ugly Duchess’. It will also display works by da Vinci and other renaissance artists who were fascinated by the grotesque and fantastical, as well as artworks that look at how women, old age and facial difference were satirised and demonised during the time.

16th March-11th June 2023

Visit NationalGallery.org.uk

Diva, V&A

Luxury & Power: Persia To Greece, British Museum

The British Museum will explore the relationship between luxury and power in the Middle East and southeast Europe between 550-30BC in this new collection of artefacts and objects. This was a period when the Persian empire of ancient Iran clashed with the cities and kingdoms of Greece before it was conquered by Alexander the Great. With objects from Afghanistan to Italy – many of which are on loan to the museum – audiences can see a stunning display of gold, silver and glass, which tell a story from this fascinating period of history.

4th May-15th August

Visit BritishMuseum.org

Dear Earth: Art & Hope in a Time of Crisis, Hayward Gallery

Inspired by artist Otobong Nkanga’s suggestion that “caring is a form of resistance”, this exhibition will highlight the ways in which artists are helping to reframe and further our understanding of the climate crisis. Artist lke Agnes Denes, Andrea Bowers, Otobong Nkanaga and Jacqueline Imani Brown will explore our dependence on ecosystems, emotional connection with nature and how we can all help the planet and vulnerable communities across the globe. There will also be an illustrated catalogue with essays that look at the history of climate-concerned art for sale too.

21st June-3rd September

Visit SouthbankCentre.co.uk

Diva, V&A

From the opera goddesses of the Victorian era to today’s global megastars, Diva will celebrate the power and creativity of iconic performers, exploring what it means to be a diva and how this has been subverted or embraced over time across opera, stage, popular music, and film. Featuring fashion, photography, design, costumes, music and live performance drawn from the V&A collection and loans from across the world, the exhibition looks at how the performer has flourished – and sometimes vilified – with society and driven change through their voice and art.

From 24th June

Visit VAM.ac.uk

A World in Common: Contemporary African Photography, Tate Modern

Following the V&A’s exhibition on African fashion last year, Tate Modern will open its own exhibition on the African diaspora – this time on photography. Celebrating artists from different generations, the exhibition will explore how photography, film and audio has all been used to reimagine Africa’s diverse cultures and historical narratives. It will feature artists with heritage from across the continent, showcasing the varied landscapes with photographs depicting everything from spirituality to climate change.

6th July-14th January 2024

Visit Tate.org.uk

Beyond The Streets, Saatchi Gallery
MARTHA COOPER
Günther Förg, Hauser & Wirth London

Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto, V&A

This is the first exhibition in the UK dedicated to the work of French couturière Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. It will chart the evolution of her iconic design style and the establishment of the House of Chanel, from the opening of her first millinery boutique in Paris in 1910 to the showing of her final collection in 1971. Featuring over 180 looks, seen together for the first time, as well as jewellery, accessories, make-up and perfume, the exhibition will explore Chanel’s pioneering approach to fashion, which paved the way for a new feminine elegance and continues to influence the way women dress today.

From 16th September

Visit VAM.ac.uk

Philip Guston, Tate Modern

Canadian painter and printmaker Philip Guston was one of the 20th century’s most important abstract artists, known for capturing the turbulent and troubled world around him. His early work included murals and paintings addressing racism in America and wars on both sides of the Atlantic. During the late 1960s, Guston began producing large-scale paintings that feature comic-like figures, some in white hoods representing evil and the everyday perpetrators of racism. These paintings and those that followed established Guston as one of the most influential painters of the last century.

5th October-25th February 2024

Visit Tate.org.uk

Impressionists on Paper: Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec, Royal Academy

As well as the Royal Academy’s annual Summer Exhibition, one of the galley’s most popular recent exhibitions to open is Impressionists on Paper, featuring 70 works on paper by leading impressionist and post-impressionist artists like Degas, Cézanne, Renoir and Van Gogh. Many of the pieces were created with pastels, watercolours, temperas and gouaches. A rare chance to see first sketches from some of the world’s most celebrated artists.

Until 10th March 2023

Visit RoyalAcademy.org.uk

Dan Flavin, David Zwirner Gallery

Dan Flavin is the man who gave us fluorescent tube installations. This new exhibition at the David Zwirner gallery features some of the American artist’s most famous creations, which were first on display in 1970s New York – and considered way ahead of their time. Set across two floors, the exhibition also includes nine of Flavin’s signature colours, showcasing his minimalist approach to light and sculpture. Don’t miss the cool ‘sculpted’ windows.

Until 18th February

Visit DavidZwirner.com

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