The Culture 24/7: Art picks for Christmas 2011

By Mark Sheerin | 21 December 2011
Panoramic oil painting of a feast
John Martin, Belshazzar's Feast (1820)© Courtesy Yale Center for British Art
If you need an excuse to get out of the house over the Christmas period, look no further than these (arguably) festive destinations in art. Any changes to normal opening times have been included for each venue.

The Spanish Line: Drawings from Ribera to Picasso, The Courtauld Gallery, London, until January 15 2012

Those bemoaning the loss of real meaning for this time of year, might enjoy some of the religious themes in this show. But if art is your religion you will certainly take plenty from the many previously unseen works from Spain.

Open 10am-4pm December 24; closed December 25-26.

John Martin: Apocalypse, Tate Britain, London, until January 15 2012

For some reason Martin's panoramic landscapes, full of doom and gloom, also strike a festive note. Maybe it's the flames. Either way this show is accessible, family friendly and the fine art equivalent of an all-action movie.

Closed December 24-26.

Ford Madox Brown: Pre-Raphaelite Pioneer, Manchester Art Gallery, until January 29 2012

Another possible destination at this most Victorian time of year would be the Ford Madox Brown show. Manchester Art Gallery explores his influence on the Pre-Raphaelite movement and his radical break with past traditions. Read our review.

Closed December 24-26 and 31, January 1.

Alice in Wonderland, Tate Liverpool, until January 29 2012

There is plenty in this show which could go over the heads of those young enough not to have heard of surrealism, psychedelia or pop art. A chance to see how artists have been influenced by Lewis Caroll's much loved children's book. See the pictures.

Closed December 24-26.

The Wonders of the Visible World, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland, until February 4 2012

Ghost stories are just one of the Christmassy offers at NGCA. Spectres line up with magnetic bodies, smoke, mirrors, a floating palace and some extreme sleepwalkers. 21 international artists explore the visible and invisible.

Closed December 25-27; January 1-2. Check with venue for further changes.

Alasdair Gray: City Recorder, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, until June 10 2012

In 1977 writer and artist Gray was made City Recorder for his native Glasgow. The optimism here remains fresh. So the paintings, drawings and collages he made in that time could be the perfect way to see out 2011. Read our preview.

Closed December 25-26; January 1-2. Closes 12.30pm on December 31.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, open since December 1

Earlier this month National Galleries Scotland unwrapped a £17.6m revamp on their portrait gallery. With three floors, five shows and more than a dozen galleries, it will make you think twice about the inevitable family snapshots. Read our Review.

Closed December 25-26. Opens 12pm on January 1.

Visit Mark Sheerin's contemporary art blog and follow him on Twitter.

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