The Culture24 Crystal Ball: Top Art exhibitions in London for 2013

By Richard Moss | 28 December 2012
a detail of an LS Lowry factory scene with people in the foreground
LS Lowry, Coming out of School (1927)© The Estate of LS Lowry

London's museums and galleries serve up a blend of blockbuster art exhibitions and illuminating displays in 2013. Culture24 editor Richard Moss begins his look at next year's exhibitions by taking a look at some of the best in the capital...


a photo of a carved bull
Bison sculpted from mammoth ivory. Found at Zaraysk, Russia, about 20,000 years old© Zaraysk Museum of Art and History. Dr Sergey Lev.
By way of a change, the logical place to start this round-up of art exhibitions in London for 2013 is the British Museum, whose Ice Age Art: Arrival of the Modern Mind (February 7 – May 26) has been a long time coming (4,000 years in the making according to the BM).

It will be worth the wait. Featuring artworks aged between 10,000 and 40,000-years-old, it's a rare chance to plot the genesis of artistic expression next to some slightly sprightlier, but eerily similar pieces by Henry Moore, Mondrian and Matisse.

The BM stays on the historical art tip with their gentile eyebrow-raiser later in the year Japanese Erotic Art (dates TBC).

Kraftwerk playing Tate Modern's Turbine Hall aside, the big show of 2013 at Tate's two London galleries has to be Tate Britain's Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life (June 25 – October 20). There are many who reckon this is long overdue and, although the clamour for tickets probably won't break the Tate website, this first major public gallery show since Lowry's death will be packed out.

That said, Tate Modern's big Lichtenstein (February 21 – May 27) retrospective will probably give it a good run for its money with a major reassessment via 125 of his most definitive paintings and sculptures.

The big autumn show at Tate Modern is Paul Klee (15 October 2013 – 9 March 2014) with Beirut-born painter and sculptor Saloua Raouda Choucair (April 17 – October 20) and post war Brazilian artist Mira Schendel (17 April – 20 October 2013) introducing some new ideas and art to British audiences in between.

The National Gallery begins the year with 19th century American landscape artist and pioneer of the “oil landscape sketch” Frederick Church (February 6 – April 28).

The Sainsbury Wing then heads into more familiar territory in February with an exhibition of the work of Federico Barroci (February 27 – May 19), including the 16th century Italian painter’s great altar pieces.

For summer, the big exhibition is Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure (June 29 – September 8), which promises a beautiful journey through the many depictions of music by Vermeer and his contemporaries.

The year closes with The Portrait in Vienna 1900 (October 9  –  January 12 2014) which puts three fin de siècle giants, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka, centre stage.

Ziggy Stardust at the V&A, Manet and Mexican Revolutionaries at the RA, 2000 Wasted Years at the ICA...


a photo of David Bowie bare-chested with flash across his face in Ziggy Stardust mode
Album cover shoot for Aladdin Sane, 1973. Photograph by Brian Duffy© Duffy Archive
The V&A really know how to do big, and their big spring show is the much-hyped David Bowie is (March 23 – July 28). The Thin White Duke may have distanced himself from it, but this Glam-fest coincides with his re-emergence and promises to be a belter.

There’s glam of a different sort in companion show Treasures of the Royal Courts (March 9 – July 14), which celebrates 500 years of exchange between Britain and Russia and the majesty of the courts of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I to Ivan the Terrible and the early Romanovs.

A packed programme elsewhere at the V&A includes an intriguing “theatrical installation” based on Walter Sickert’s music hall paintings (March 16 – January 5 2014); From Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 80s (July 10 - February 16 2014); a big jewellery show called Pearls, (September 21 - January 19 2014) and a major site specific installation by "fourth plinthers" Elmgreen and Dragset in the V&A’s former Textile Galleries (October 1 - January 2 2014).

The latter has been transferred to Blythe House in Kensington Olympia, where it will be unveiled as the The Clothworkers' Centre for Textile and Fashion Study and Conservation on October 4.

The year closes with Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700-1900 (October 16 – January 19 2014)

The Guildhall Art Gallery has a couple of interesting shows up its sleeve in 2012 – notably Painted Faces (April 26 – December 9), which mines the gallery’s portrait collection for a display ranging from the 17th century to the present day.

Even more intriguing is Victoriana: The Art of Revival (September 7 to December 9), which promises a curious mix of graphic design, film, ceramics, taxidermy, furniture, textiles and fine art by contemporary artists inspired by the 19th century.

a painting of a young woman and a girl next to a fence
Manet at the RA...© Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington.
The Royal Academy follows up its record-breaking 2012 Hockney show by opening 2013 with Manet: Portraying Life (January 26 – April 14), and the first ever UK retrospective of American realist painter and artist of the modern city, George Bellows (March 16 – June 9).

Summer sees revolution arrive in the hallowed halls of the Sackler Wing with Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910 – 1940 (July 6 – September 29) before the Main Galleries shift continents for the first survey of Australian art in more than 50 years (September 21 – December 8).

The winter show is an in-depth delve into the social and political world of 19th century France via the paintings, drawings and lithographs of Honoré Daumier (October 28 – January 26 2014).

From the RA to the RCA, the Royal College of Art, where the ever-popular Secret Postcard Exhibition (March 14 – 23) moves to a new location. So if you want to try and spot an Emin, Blake or Perry amidst this vast and dizzying arty postcard sale, you need to hotfoot it to Battersea.

From the RCA to the ICA – where the major show for the spring is the first UK overview of the New York art collective Bernadette Corporation. 2000 Wasted Years (March 26 - June 9) charts their massive influence on conceptual art.

Man Ray and Native Americans at the NPG, Duchamp at the Barbican, Japanese Outsider Art at the Wellcome...


a painted portrait of an American Indian
Stu-mick-o-súcks, Buffalo Bulls Back Fat, Head Chief, Blood Tribe Blackfoot/Kainai, by George Catlin, 1832© Smithsonian American Art Museum
Man Ray arrives at the National Portrait Gallery in late winter (February 7 – May 27) with 150 portraits capturing a cast of characters including Picasso and Lee Miller.

Taking up the American theme emerging in the capital’s art galleries, George Catlin: American Indian Portraits (March 7 – June 23), opens with what are reckoned to be the most extensive, evocative and important records of indigenous peoples ever made.

The autumn show is a welcome retrospective of the portraiture of Laura Knight (July 11 – October 20 2013) whose wartime factory worker Ruby Loftus is perhaps the most famous portrait of the British home front in World War Two.

The Big News at The Barbican is their Dancing around Duchamp season, which stretches across music, dance, theatre, film and art.

Gallery-wise, the contribution is The Bride and the Bachelors: Duchamp with Cage, Cunningham, Rauschenberg and Johns, (February 14 - June 9) which explores Marcel Duchamp’s influence on this crop of major American artists.

At The Serpentine Art Gallery, Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos (February 13 – April 7) explores the multimedia work and ideas of the German artist.

Outside, in the park, a striking new public sculpture appears in Kensington Gardens courtesy of Fischli/Weiss whose the appositely titled Rock on Top of Another Rock is an impressive 5.5 metres high (March 7 – March 6 2014).

The Whitechapel Art Gallery welcomes in the year with an interesting retrospective from Irish film artist Gerard Byrne, including the UK debut of the titillating A man and a Woman make Love (2012), which is apparently based on the saucy conversations of the Surrealist group of artists and writers, including André Breton, Jacques Prévert and Yves Tanguy.

Ahead of its major summer revamp, The Wellcome Collection turns its attention towards Outsider Art from Japan (March 28 – June 30), which will bring together more than 300 works from 46 artists who are residents and day patients at social welfare institutions across the main island of Honshu.

A crisis of brilliance in Dulwich, Mass Observation at the Photographers' Gallery, Picasso at the Courtauld...

a painting of a large crowd at a memorial ceremony
Stanley Spencer, Unveiling a War Memorial at Cookham, 1921© Private Collection / The Bridgeman Art Library
Hands up who knew Dulwich Picture Gallery was the first purpose-built art gallery in the UK? Their 2013 roster lives up to this proud two-century tradition with Murillo & Justino de Neve: The Art of Friendship (Feb 6 – May 19), a unique presentation (including an ambitious reconfiguring of the gallery into a church interior) of masterpieces by the 17th century Spanish Baroque painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.  

Summer puts the original, early 20th century YBAs under the spotlight with Nash, Nevinson, Spencer, Gertler, Carrington, Bomberg: A Crisis of Brilliance (June 12 – Sept 22), the first group exhibition dedicated to six of the Slade School of Fine Art’s most notorious graduates.

Another American-themed exhibition – of sorts – rounds off the year with Whistler in London: Battersea Bridge and the Thames (October 16 – January 12 2014), dedicated to the American-born artist’s time in London.

Re-opened and reconfigured in 2102, The De Morgan Centre's major exhibition for 2013 is Evelyn De Morgan: The Lost Paintings (February 1 – April 20), a significant show revisiting 15 Evelyn De Morgan paintings lost in a fire in 1991 via colour prints, and beautiful drawings and studies she made for them.

A bustling programme of exhibitions at The Photographers' Gallery begins with Brazilian modernist pioneer Geraldo de Barros (January 18 -April 7) and ends with a poignant exploration of motherhood, Mother and Child (October 11 – January 5 2014).

In between, there's the Deutsche Borse Prize (April 19 – June 30) and Mass Observation: This is Your Photo (August 2 – September 29), which promises the first, extensive display of the archive’s visual legacy, locating photography at its centre.

The Courtauld Gallery's Becoming Picasso: Paris 1901 (February 14 – May 26) revisits young Pablo's breakthrough year in 1901, and Collecting Gaugin: Samuel Courtauld in the 1920s (June 20 – September 8) focuses on Samuel Courtauld’s collection of Gauguin’s paintings, works on paper and sculpture, brought together for the first time.

An interesting show at Bloomberg Space Charles Atlas: Glacier sees the American video artist and film director create a 360 degree installation of found footage (January 25 – March 15). The show has been curated by South London Gallery.

Finally, anyone dreading the winter and the effects of the "winter blues" may be interested in the illuminating group exhibition at The Hayward Gallery. Light Show (January 30 – April 28) will include works by David Bachelor, Olafur Eliasson, Dan Flavin and Jenny Holzer.

That should see you through to the summer when An Alternative Guide to the Universe (June 11 – August 26) will present “maverick creations” by outsider artists, self-taught architects and artists, photographers and filmmakers, futurists and choreographers, healers and scientists who will “conjure a parallel universe”.


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