Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery steams into 2008 with an art exhibition about the age of steam. Nord Express by Adolphe Mouron Cassandre (1927 – French). Colour lithograph poster. Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Modernism Collection, gift of Norwest Bank Minnesota.
Richard Moss takes a whistlestop tour through some of the major exhibtions of 2008.
Although we usually start the year in the capital we’re turning things on their head this year by beginning in Liverpool – where it’s going to be an exciting year because January sees the city begin its tenure as Liverpool 08 - the European City of Culture.
As you would expect they have organised a strong visual arts programme and perhaps one of the most intriguing shows of the City of Culture Year opens at in February. sk-interfaces (February 1 - March 31) explores the world of skin art with a variety of delights - from designer hymens to a brain infused with glowing moss - all growing in the galleries. Hmmm… I wonder what they will be serving up in the café?
Thankfully there’s more traditional fare at National Museums Liverpool whose Walker Art Gallery hosts Art in the Age of Steam (April 18 – August 10) featuring over 100 drawings, paintings, prints and photographs by the likes of Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Edward Hopper.
Over at World Museum Liverpool, the Beat Goes On (July 12 – November 1) to provide a journey through 40 years of Liverpool music.
At Tate Liverpool they are rising admirably to the 08 occasion by staging the first UK exhibition of the Franco-American painter Niki de Saint Phalle (February 1 – May 5), best known for her Fontaine Stravinsky works on display outside the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
Tate Liverpool: Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Hermine Gallia 1904 © The National Gallery, London
Later in the year the gallery ups the ante courtesy of a blockbuster full of shimmering golden ladies with a first major UK retrospective of the work of the Austrian symbolist, Gustav Klimt (May 30 – August 31).
2008 also sees two new permanent galleries opening in the city with SEIZED: Revenue and Customs Uncovered at Merseyside Maritime Museum in the spring and a new Egypt Gallery at World Museum Liverpool in autumn 2008.
Elswehere in the UK 2007 also saw some impressive openings - not least down in Hampshire, where in November 2007 they opened a rather nice, new exhibition space and arts centre. 2008 sees the swanky new Winchester Discovery Centre host its first major exhibition.
Alfred The Great: Warfare, Wealth and Wisdom (February 2 – April 27) will tell the story of the great English King (final resting place – Winchester) with artefacts from the British Museum, the Ashmolean, the British Library and the V&A amongst others.
At the excellent Compton Verney in Warwickshire the big summer show is The Fabric of Myth (June 21 – September 7), which explores how artists have responded to fabrics. A typically impressive roster includes works by Joseph Beuys, Louise Bourgeois, William Homan Hunt, Henry Moore, Tilleka Schwartz and Michelle Walker.
Winchester Discovery Centre: The Alfred Jewel will be a star exhibit in the Discovery Centre's major Alfred the Great exhibition, opening in February 2008. © The Ashmolean
There’s a welcome dusting off for one of the largest loan collections of modern and contemporary British art in the world, when the Grayson Perry curated, Unpopular Culture offers a unique and personal view of the Arts Council Collection. The tour starts at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill in May.
There are similar outings for the Arts Council film and video collection with Now Showing (tour starts April, details tbc) and photography with No Such Thing As Society – a survey of British photography 1967 – 1987 (begins at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, March 15 – April 27).
The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester has got Dr Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds 4 (February 22 – June 29), which might just pack them in as much as the outgoing Doctor Who exhibition did…
Just up the road, there a bit of a coup for the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston who have secured themselves a nice major exhibition of new work called Paradise (January 26 – April 26) by video artist Kutlug Ataman, whose Artangel show from a couple of years ago had everybody cooing.
Compton Verney: Louise Bourgeois, Spider Woman (2004). Picture courtesy of Harlan & Weaver, New York
Triennials, Biennials Art Festivals in the regions include the ever expanding and improving Liverpool Biennial 08 (September 20 – November 30), which for Liverpool 08 includes a multi venue international exhibition called MADE UP, opening at various venues across the city.
Back in Manchester they are launching a new Triennial. Asia Triennial Manchester 08 (April 5 – June 1) is the first of its kind in the UK and will use most of the city’s art galleries to show fresh and innovative work that represents the best of contemporary visual art and craft practice from Asia.
In Sheffield they have got Art Sheffield 08 (February 16 – March 30), another multi-venue art explosion that boasts a heady brew of both emerging and established Sheffield-based, nationally and internationally-based artists
Tim Etchells, wait here I have gone to help. A new commission for Art Sheffield 08. © Art Sheffield
Turning our attention to London, one of the biggest hoo-ha’s for some time surrounds the Royal Academy’s first exhibition of 2008.
The snappily titled From Russia: French and Russian master paintings 1870 – 1925 from Moscow and St Petersburg (January 26 – April 18) promises to serve up a fascinating collection of Russian and French Art the like of which hasn’t been seen for an age - if Anglo-Russian relations thaw out in time. At time of writing the powers that be are still wrangling about export licenses.
More Russian themed shenanigans over at the Hayward where the work of the great Russian photographer Alexander Rodchenko (February 7 – April 27) gets an airing. Expect lots of bold and unusual camera positions, severe foreshortenings of perspective, and surprising close-ups.
Before then the Hayward stages Laughing in a Foreign Language, (January 25 – April 13) which explores the role of laughter and humour in international contemporary art through the work of 30 artists from around the world. Jokers include the UK’s Jake and Dinos Chapman, the American Doug Fishbone and China’s Jun Yang.
There will probably be similar mirth at Tate Modern’s Dada-fest Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia in early spring (February 21 – May 26) when they bring together the three twentieth century artists who changed the course of art forever.
Tate is calling it an “unmissable opportunity to see the works that steered the course for contemporary art as we see it today.”
For their autumn show the Bankside monolith is promising an unprecedented exploration of the last series of paintings by Mark Rothko (September 26 – February 1 2008) uniting Tate’s much loved Rothko Room with a selection of murals from the collections of Kawamura Memorial Art Museum, Japan and the National Gallery, Washington.
They will also be doing some re-uniting at the Courtauld too, with Renoir at the Theatre (February 21 – May 25), which unites the gallery’s Renoir masterpiece La Loge (The Theatre Box) with his other treatments of the subject. Other ‘loge’ paintings by contemporaries, including Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas, will also be included.
Over at Tate Britain, a strong 2008 programme features Peter Doig (February 5 to April 27); the Camden Town Painters of the 1910s (February 13 – May 4) and an exploration of British Orientalist Painting between 1780 and 1930 (June 4 – August 25).
It all builds up a nice head of steam for the autumn biggie, Francis Bacon (October 1 – January 4), which will bring together the most important paintings from each period of his life in the first major retrospective in London since 1985.
At the National Gallery they are trumpeting the work of some Italian chappy called Pompeo Batoni, (Feb 20 – May 18). In his day the most celebrated painter in Rome, Batoni was a favourite of the grand tourists of the eighteenth century and today is oft referred to as ‘the last old master’
There’s similar revelatory fair at the National later in the year with Radical Light – an exploration of Italy’s Divisionist painters of the fin siècle (June 18 – September 18), whilst late summer sees a return to their popular themed exhibitions with LOVE (July 24 – October 5). The latter boasts paintings by everyone from Raphael and Chagall to Vermeer and Hockney.
Tate Britain: Charles Ginner, Piccadilly Circus 1912 © Tate
They round the year off with a look at the Renaissance Portrait (Van Eyck to Titian) (October 15 – January 18 2009) and a welcome examination of the British-based work of Anglo-French Impressionist Alfred Sisley (November 12 – February 8).
The V&A’s major Spring Show is China Design Now (March 15 – July 13), which chimes happily with the Beijing Olympics to explore the recent explosion of design in China, whilst the intriguing Blood on Paper: Art of the Book (April 15 – June 29) features works from Matisse, Miró, Picasso, Caro and Anish Kapoor – to name but a few…
The V&A also opens its new bling-tastic gallery, the William and Judith Bollinger Jewellery Gallery, on May 24. After that there’s a Fashion and Sport exhibition (August 5 – November 23) and a major exhibition looking at Cold War Design (September 27 – January 11 2008).
At the Barbican they are going otherworldy with their Martian Museum of Terrestial Art (March 6 - May 18). Featuring over 80 established and emerging artists from the 1960s until now the show packs in some big names including Joesph Beuys, Damien Hirst, Bruce Nauman, Gillian Wearing and Andy Warhol.
The Barbican are promising an ambitious, playful and irreverent show that will transform their art gallery into a fictional museum conceived by and designed for extraterrestials.
The V&A: Wing Shya, The Soft Touch, Pearls of the Orient for Time Magazine Supplement, Spring 2005 (c) Wing Shya-La-La- Production
2008 sees one of London’s best kept secrets, the Estorick Collection, celebrate ten years in the business of bringing Modern Italian Art to the people of Britain with A Decade of Discovery: Ten Years of the Estorick Collection (January 16 – April 6).
In the first collaboration between the Wallace Collection and the Musee du Louvre, Masterpieces from the Louvre: The Collection of Louis La Caze (February 14 – May 18) will see masterpieces by the likes of Watteau, Boucher, Chardin and Fragonar shown in Britain for the first time.
The Horniman Museum is presenting a major overview of music from the Indian Subcontinent. Utsavam: Music from India (February 9 – November 2) features music, film footage, and instruments with an exhibition that draws on three years of curatorial fieldwork in India by Horniman curators… nice work if you can get it I say…
It’s a feast of photography at the National Portrait Gallery when Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990 - 2005 (October 16 – January 25) opens with over 175 photographs by the celebrated - and recently controversial - photographer.
Before then their major spring exhibition is Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs 1913 – 2008 (February 14 – May 26), featuring 150 images from the magazine's first period (1913 - 1936) displayed together with works from the contemporary Vanity Fair (1983 - present).
Vanity Fair Portraits at the NPG: Gloria Swanson by Edward Steichen, 1924 Copyright: Condé Nast Publications Inc. / Image Courtesy George Eastman House
The exhibition then moves on to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (June 14 – September 21).
Scottish fashionistas may also like to know that Jean Muir: A Fashion Icon (November 21 – March 15 2009) is at the National Museum of Scotland. It's the first major exhibition to make use of her entire collection of over 18,000 sketches, patterns and finished garments donated to the museum in 2005.
Back in London – and once the Terracotta Warriors have marched out of their Round Reading Room, staff at the British Museum are looking to the Emperor Hadrian to pack in the summer visitors to its newest exhibition space.
Emperor Hadrian: Empire and Conflict (July 24 – October 26) will feature important new loan material seen together for the first time.
Later in the year Babylon: City of Wonder (November 13 – March 15 2009) will focus on the period of Nebuchadnezzar (reigned 604 – 562 BC) in the ancient city situated in modern day Iraq.
Emperor Hadrian will be moving into the British Museum's Round Library in summer 2008.
Over at the Natural History Museum they are looking forward to the spring when they will be hosting a butterfly exhibition - outside on the East Lawn. Amazing Butterflies (April 5 – August 17) invites people to enter a maze as a caterpillar and emerge as a beautiful butterfly...
The NHM’s contribution to Darwin200, a celebration of the life and legacy of Charles Darwin around the bicentenary of his birth, is a major exhibition about the man and his work called simply Darwin (November 14 2008 – March 31 2009 – tbc).
At the Wellcome Collection, London's new medical museum, a fascinating roster of exhibitions includes Life Before Death (April 8 - May 18) – the result of a year talking with terminally ill patients in hospices across Germany and Atoms to Patterns (April 24 - August 10), which explores the vibrant textile patterns of the 1950s.
A promising Skeleton exhibition (July 22 - September 28), will mine the vast collection of The Museum of London (it has approximately 17,000 skeletons in its care), whilst the Wellcome’s third major exhibition is War & Medicine (November - March 2009), which will assess the impact and influence that warfare and medicine have had on one another.
All of which leads handily to the Imperial War Museum who will be following up a successful 2007 with a James Bond themed exhibition (April 17 – March 2009) to mark the centenary of the birth of Bond creator Ian Fleming.
The year is rounded off with a sobering look at Holocaust Art (September 2008 – July 2009) and a major exhibition commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Armistice that ended the Great War (September 2008 – March 2009).
So there you have it – just a selection of the delights coming up in 2008. Of course there will be much, much more. So make sure you check the 24 Hour Museum to find out what's happening in museums, galleries and heritage in 2008.