The best art exhibitions to see in Scotland during 2014

By Richard Moss | 30 December 2013

From Edinburgh and Glasgow to Dundee and Thurso, here are the best art exhibitions in Scottish galleries to look out for during 2014

A photo of a sculpture of a head on a wooden plinth inside a contemporary art gallery
Christine Borland's L’Homme double (1997) is part of the cultural programme accompanying the Commonwealth Games, appearing at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Scottish National Gallery© Courtesy Christine Borland
It’s going to be one hell of a year for art in Scotland. The Glasgow International (April 4-21) is followed by the arrival of the Commonwealth Games, and with it an ambitious programme called Generation which will celebrate the past 25 years of contemporary art in the country.

More than 100 Scottish artists will be showing as part of the latter in more than 60 galleries, exhibition spaces and venues the length and breadth of Scotland between March and November 2014, with the majority of exhibitions  happening during the summer of 2014.

Highlights include a two-part group exhibition across the Scottish National Gallery and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which will bring together historically significant works from the past 25 years and show them in parallel with new work by both established and emerging artists.

Beyond this artistic outpouring of national pride and creativity, the Scottish National Gallery also celebrates the recent acquisition, with the National Gallery in London, of two outstanding mythological paintings by Titian (circa 1485/90–1576) with Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting (March 22 – September 14), featuring a supporting cast that includes Lorenzo Lotto, Palma Vecchio, Jacopo Bassano, Jacopo Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese.

Another great (and long overdue) painting show is The Two Roberts: Robert MacBryde and Robert Colquhoun (November 1 – May 25), the first major exhibition of two major players in the neo-Romantic art movement of the post war years.

Over at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, American Impressionism: A New Vision (July 19 – October 19) traces the discovery of Impressionism by American artists during the late 19th-century. It includes works by Singer Sargent, Whistler and Mary Cassat.

At the National Museum of Scotland they steal a march on the British Museum's autumn Ming exhibition with Ming: The Golden Empire (June 27 - October 19), which sees Edinburgh become the only UK location for an international touring exhibition of glittering artefacts from the Nanjing Museum.

The peculiar talent of Scottish portraitist John Byrne (June 14 – September 14) is celebrated at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, whose John Ruskin: Artist and Observer (July 4 – September 28) puts the Victorian sage and arts patron’s paintings and drawings under the spotlight.

Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery follows up its popular 2013 Louise Bourgeois show with Tania Kovats: Oceans (March 15 – May 25), which features a new project called All the Seas; a sculptural presentation of water from all the world’s seas. The Generation programme then brings Jim Lambie (June 28 – October 19) to the gallery for a retrospective of the multi-faceted artist’s career.

Dundee Contemporary Arts welcomes Thomson and Craighead’s Maps DNA and Spam (January 18 – March 16), which opens the 2014 exhibition programme with a parade of imagery and films plundered from social and digital networks and surveillance. The mixed media approach continues into the spring with the arrival of acclaimed Dutch Iranian artist Navid Nuur (March 29 – June 15).

The summer sees the Generation programme throw the spotlight on Rob Churm, Raydale Dower and Tony Swain in Continue Without Losing Consciousness (June 28 – August 24).

At Glasgow's CCA, an intriguing group show arrives in Speaking in Tongues: Sonia Boyce, Pavel Büchler, Susan Hiller (February 8 — March 23), which brings together three major voices in contemporary art. Glasgow’s Tramway sees the first substantial exhibition of Sarah Lucas’ work in Scotland (January 31 – March 16).

Also worth a mention – for its sheer scope and noble ambition – is the Artist Rooms tour, which will be sending great art to far-flung places such as Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre, North Uist, who will host the work of Vija Celmins (March 29 – June 28) and Caithness Horizons Museum, in Thurso, who display the work of Douglas Gordon (May 10 – October 11).

At the Dick Institute, in Kilmarnock, the paintings of Gerhard Richter (September 6 – December 6) arrive for the autumn. And at Shetland’s Bonhoga Gallery, the winter brings with it the photographs of Don McCullin (November 29 – February 22 2015).

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