We should be so lucky - Kylie: The Exhibition at The V&A and Manchester Art Gallery. Kylie © Darenote Ltd 2004
We say it every year, and this year we are going to have to say it again - it has been an excellent year for exhibitions in our museums and galleries.
Blockbuster exhibitions showcased works by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Velàzquez, Constable, Turner, Rodin, Blake and Fuseli as well as artistic movements such as Modernism, Chinese Art. Moving chomping dinosaurs returned to the Natural History Museum, a British-based Roman Emperor was commemorated in Yorkshire and Tate Modern was turned into an arty theme park.
Once again 2007 is shaping up to be another cracker with a slew of interesting shows by some big names whilst some popular themes emerge across several of our museums and galleries.
A show that may turn out to be one of the most popular opens at the V&A on February 8. KYLIE: The Exhibition will explore the changing image of the antipodean pop princess through displays of costumes, accessories, photographs, sound and video.
Although the exhibition is free, the museum is expecting demand to be high and has instigated an online booking system to cope. See the V&A website for more details.
For those in the north who fancy a bit of camp and glitter but can’t make it down to London, never fear, the exhibtion moves on to Manchester Art Gallery from Saturday June 30.
There’s quite bit of glitz and glamour at the National Portrait Gallery, too, from February 15 when Face of Fashion showcases the work of five top European fashion photographers. Confirming the continued rehabilitation of bad-girl supermodel Kate Moss, the NPG say they will be showcasing several iconic photographs of her.
The Life and Work of Lee Miller at the V&A in September. Picture: Lee Miller © Estate of Lee Miller
Back at the V&A 2007 is also going to be a big year for fashionistas with New York Fashion Now opening on April 17, featuring well-known names like Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and Tommy Hilfiger.
This is followed by the Golden Age of Couture on September 22, which explores Parisian and British couture between 1947-1957. The V&A see out the year with a look at the remarkable life and work of Lee Miller. The Art Of Lee Miller marks the birth centenary of the model-turned journalist-turned war photographer and opens on Septmember 15.
For its now-customary ‘blockbuster’ the V&A have lined up a show that will be the first to explore the influence of surrealism on the world of design – theatre, interiors, fashion, film, architecture and advertising – with a few paintings thrown in for good measure. Surreal Things: Surrealism and Design opens on March 29.
Not to be outdone Tate Modern gets in on the act with the intriguing Dali and Film, opening at the gallery from June 1. Bringing together more than 100 works, including paintings, photographs, drawings and film, the gallery is promising an “unprecedented exploration” of the influence of film on the great old surrealist master.
Surrealism will be at the V&A in March. Salvador Dalí, Téléphone-homard (Lobster Telephone), 1938. © Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation, DACS, London 2006
This year many pundits said 2006 marked the return of painting and in 2007 good old-fashioned painting exhibitions are set to be a hit once again. Already booking at the National Gallery is Renoir Landscapes, which celebrates the French impressionist’s lesser-known… you guessed it… landscape paintings – with over 70 spectacular canvases.
Back at Trafalgar Square the National Gallery hosts Dutch Portraits: The Age of Rembrandt and Frans Hals from June 27 whilst there’s a welcome retrospective of the great British painter Leon Kossoff, which runs from March 14.
Those perennially weird old geezers of the Brit art scene, Gilbert and George, finally get their reward for years of wandering around enigmatically in their brown suits with a massive retrospective at Tate Modern opening on February 15.
The dynamic duo have even created a new body of work entitled Bomb, Bombs, Bombers, Bombing and Terror – about the London bombings – on a series of tombstones. Just part of the snappily titled Gilbert & George: Major Exhibition which features 200 pictures spanning 35 years.
Tate Liverpool will be showing us why Liverpool is the Centre of the Creative Universe in February. Keith Arnatt, Liverpool Beach Burial 1968. © The British Council
Another significant show at Tate Modern in October sees the welcome return of the artist who provided the first pieces for the Turbine Hall. Louise Bourgeois is the first major survey since 1995 of the work of the French-born artist and promises to provide an unprecedented opportunity to reassess her work.
Tate Liverpool are out to prove that Liverpool has always been a hotbed of creativity with Centre of the Creative Universe: Liverpool and the Avant-Garde, which opens on February 20. The exhibition takes its title from a poem by beat poet Allen Ginsberg and features work by everyone from Yoko Ono to Bob and Roberta Smith.
Having established their avant credentials the Gallery follows up with The Real Thing: Contemporary Art from China, which promises to be a hotbed of creativity and general out there weirdness. Opening on March 30 you can expect, films, installations, more films and all manner of art – from performance to painting.
Tate Liverpool’s big summer crowd-puller will be a retrospective of the kindly old godfather of Britpop Peter Blake, which runs from June 29 until September 23.
There will be some refreshingly populist fare across the city at the Walker Art Gallery when they give a welcome airing to the work of sci-fi artist Josh Kirby. Kirby has worked on everything from the artwork for Monty Python’s Life of Brian to the book covers for Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Not everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s good to know that the pony tail, long leather jacket and fedora look might make a brief revival in Liverpool this summer. From June 16.
Citizens and Kings: Portraits in the Age of Revolution 1760 – 1830 at the Royal Academy. Marat assassiné Atelier de David. Louvre Museum © RMN/Blot and Jean, Paris
Back in the capital Tate Britain delves deeper into the eighteenth century with a look at the era defining work of William Hogarth. Opening on February 7, the exhibition will be the most comprehensive showing of the artist’s work in living memory, and will hopefully reveal the full range of this witty and subversive genius. Tate Britain February 7 until April 29.
Anyone interested in the period that Hogarth was satirising will also need to go Citizens and Kings: Portraits in the Age of Revolution 1760 – 1830 which is showing at the Royal Academy of Arts from February 3.
Further on into the art year calendar Tate Britain moves further into the nineteenth century for a retrospective of a Victorian master, John Everett Millais, who, according to Tate, was the “greatest painter of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood.”
Given that his statue stands to the rear of the museum and the postcard of his Ophelia has been keeping the cash tills ringing in the Tate shop for the past fifty-odd years, they might just be a bit biased. You can judge for yourself from September 26 when the gallery mounts the first exhibition since 1898 to examine his entire career.
The Turner Prize this year will be staged at Tate Liverpool (for one year only) so in its traditional October slot Tate Britain will be staging a Turner Prize Retrospective. This should be lots of fun and give the critics another chance to sharpen the knives and flex their writing muscles once again. But will the restrospective include Chinese performance artists jumping on an unmade bed and grappling with burly security men?
The science of spying investigated at the Science Museum from February 10. Picture courtesy: Science Museum
Tate’s furthest western outpost, Tate St Ives will be showing the work of Francis Bacon in Cornwall for its spring season of exhibitions, which opens on February 3 and runs until May 13. Accompanying Mr Bacon’s work will be a lively array of works by Bernard Leach (and his circle), Heklen Feiler, Bryan Pearce and a timely look at the burgeoning contemporary Cornish art scene, with Cornish Art Now.
Later in the summer, as the sun begins to warm the surf of Porthmeor Beach, the Cornish gallery goes all Californian with an intriguing exhibition of art that takes as its muse, former Beach Boy Brian Wilson – his life and his music.
Opening on May 26 Brian Wilson: An Art Exhibition is a loosely chronological collection of paintings, sculptures, installations and films that promises to evoke the trajectory of Wilson's life and music at various moments, as well as parallel developments in the social and artistic history of Los Angeles.
To welcome the Scottish summer, National Gallery of Scotland and will be bringing Picasso to Edinburgh with two in-depth exhibitions showcasing the different aspects of this world-renowned artist.Picasso on Paper runs at the from July 14 and will feature nearly 100 works, including 65 prints, 15 drawings and 10 illustrated books lent from the The Staatsgalerie collection in Stuttgart together with works from the Scottish National Gallery collection.
Picasso: Fired with Passion, runs at the National Museum of Scotland, from July 6 until October 28 and draws upon the artist’s work from 1947-1955, during a significant period of his life when he was working at Vallauris in southern France.
At Compton Verney in March - John Constable, R.A (1776 – 1837), Seascape Study: Boat and Stormy Sky. © Royal Academy of Arts, London
Art in the Midlands has been thriving thanks in part to, Compton Verney which hosted some quality exhibitions in 2006 - and they are set to do the same in 2007.
Opulence & Anxiety: Landscape Paintings from the Royal Academy of Arts, opens on March 24 and features some beautiful paintings, whilst the intriguingly titled, The Shadow, is the first group show of its kind to focus on the psychological and symbolic meaning attached to the shadow.
The latter opens on June 30 and includes artists such as Doug Aitken, Laurie Anderson, Mona Hatoum, Cornelia Parker and Andy Warhol.
Another major art venue, this time blazing a trail for the North is Newcastle’s Baltic, which will be seeing in the New Year with a suitably street-wise show, The G Word, about graffiti art from January 9 – 21 before clearing the way for Brian Eno: The constellation (77 Million Paintings).
Actually it doesn’t feature quite that many paintings, but it probably comes as no surprise to some to discover the king of ambient music is also quite a prolific painter. Judge for yourself from January 31.
Brian Eno at Baltic. © the artist
In Manchester a lively programme of exhibitions will sweep across 16 art galleries in the spring as part of Look 07 a year-long programme of photographic activities and exhibitions.
Shows include This Is Where I Live/This Is How I Feel by eight different photography groups working in the city and showing at Manchester Art Gallery from April 14 and a fascinating glimpse into the world of communist-era East Germany with Do Not Refreeze: German Photography Behind the Iron Curtain running at Cornerhouse from April 13.
There are further cold war/spying themes running through various exhibitions during 2007 with the Royal Airforce Museum at Cosford exploring life beyond the Iron Curtain from a cultural, military, political and national/international perspective with their National Cold War Exhibition, which runs at the Museum from February 8.
Not far behind, the Science of Spying exhibition at the Science Museum opens on February 10 and promises to reveal the secrets of modern espionage with a big family friendly, fully interactive exhibition, which runs until September 2007.
Imperial War Museum North follows up last year’s impressive Witness – an exhibition of First World War paintings with a similar selection of World War Two artwork that opens on February 3. Witness 2 features some extraordinary art from IWM’s internationally-acclaimed Second World War collections displayed alongside gripping first hand accounts of life at the front line and at home.
Art of World War Two at IWM North in February. A House Collapsing On Two Firemen, Shoe Lane, London EC4, Leonard Rosoman OBE RA. © Imperial War Museum
At the Imperial War Museum in London it’s shaping up to be a busy year with three major exhibitions beginning with an exploration of Camouflage from the First World War to the present day (opening in March) and a major exhibition (opening in May) to mark the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War.
The latter will be told through the experiences and personal memorabilia of those involved – from politicians and Service personnel to Falklands Islanders and war widows. An accompanying online exhibition will also be created for the website.
The last major exhibition at the museum is Posters of Conflict, which opens in October 2007 and features over 300 of the most eye-catching and iconic posters from the Museum’s international collection.
Finally one of the biggest cultural events for the whole heritage sector during 2007 is the commemoration of the bicentenary year of the act to abolish slavery. In Liverpool are creating a new International Slavery Museum in the city, which will build on the groundbreaking Transatlantic Slavery Gallery in the Merseyside Maritime Museum.
The galleries of the museum will open on Slavery Remembrance Day 2007 (23 August) a day that commemorates an uprising of the enslaved Africans on the island of St Domingo (modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic) in 1791. Designated by UNESCO, the date was chosen as a reminder that enslaved Africans were the main agents of their own liberation.
Uncomfortable Truths at the V&A is just one of the many exhibitions that will commemorate the bicentenary of the act to abolish the slave trade. Anissa-Jane, 'Lucy' from the larger work 'The Spirit of Lucy Negro', 2004. © Anissa-Jane
The museum galleries will feature new dynamic and thought-provoking displays about the story of the transatlantic slave trade. Crucially, it will include new displays about the legacy of transatlantic slavery and will address issues such as freedom, identity, human rights, reparation claims, racial discrimination and cultural change.
Elsewhere a partnership of national and regional museums are involved an Understanding Slavery initiative including National Maritime Museum , the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, Bristol City Museums, Galleries and Archives, and Hull Museums and Art Gallery.
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery launches its Equiano exhibition in its Gas Hall on September 29. Part of its larger Equiano Project the exhibition looks at the life and work of the 18th Century writer and campaigner Olaudah Equiano.
English Heritage projects will reveal slavery and abolitionist links to English Heritage sites to help mark the bicentenary throughout 2007 whilst the V&A will be hosting Uncomfortable Truths – which deals with the shadow of slave trading on contemporary art & design.
Running from February 20, the exhibition will address the ways in which the legacy of slavery informs contemporary art and design with a series of works throughout the museum’s public spaces.
24 Hour Museum will of course be covering all of these exhibitions and more and 2007 will doubtless yield even more than the usual crop of surprises, blockbusters and fascinating events and exhibitions so make sure you check the 24 Hour Museum to find out what's hot in museums, galleries and heritage in 2007.