As a year of great art in the Capital comes to a close it’s a good time to look forward to the next four or five months, to see what the culture makers and curators of our City have in store for us. It might be hard to imagine that 2012 could be beaten, either in terms of imagination of scope, as we’ve been spoilt with such a selection of blockbusters and one-man-shows.
At the beginning of the year we had the close of the gorgeous Leonardo Da Vinci at the National Gallery, the fantastic David Hockney at the Royal Academy and the small but well formed Grayson Perry craft spectacular at the British Museum. One of the best shows of the year followed, the Lucian Freud retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery from February through until May (kick yourself if you missed this!). The Tate galleries gave us some intelligent solo shows in the form of Picasso, Hurst and Munch, as well as the delight of exploring the newly opened Tate Modern Tanks in the summer. Other events of note have been the gorgeous and epically proportioned design exhibitions at the V&A, Christian Louboutin at the Design Museum, Bronze at the RA, Shakespeare at the BM and Tracey Emin at the Haywood Gallery. And that’s just some of the larger Nationals, throw into the mix all of the summer events, displays and shows at the time of the Olympics, on top of the usual art shows and commercial exhibitions and it’s hard to argue that it’s been anything but a stunning year for the visual arts in London.
So, what should you make time for in the new year? Mark out your calendar now for Valentino: Master of Couture if you haven’t already seen it, on show at Somerset House until 3rd March. Grab yourself a slice of the “essence of femininity….and glamour”, look at the making of this fashion master and then sample a large array of his work in the form of beautifully exquisite dresses. If you’re more archaeologically than sartorially minded you might want to book your ticket for the BM’s Ice Age art: arrival of the modern mind, which opens on 7th February. This promises to be as studiously meticulous and richly informative as their previous exhibitions.
Also plan to head to the NPG in the first quarter of the year, they will have Man Ray Portraits and the lesser heralded (but bound to be unique and sympathetically framed) George Catlin: American Indian Portraits on offer. Another of the usual suspects, the RA, has the first retrospective of Edouard Manet’s work from 26th January, which you might want to factor in. Straight into the new year you’ll also have opportunity to squeeze in Cecil Beaton: Theatre of War, Seduced by Art and Hollywood Costumes which I’ve reviewed over the past couple of months, soon to close at their respective galleries.
Looking further ahead, British Drawings: 1600 to the Present Day opening on 3rd October at the V&A is my tip for one of the not-to-miss smaller displays this year. I’d also keep an eye on the Wellcome Collection and White Cube websites, to keep track of what they have upcoming as 2013 progresses. Happy gallery visiting, and I’ll see you again next year!