Art lovers are in for a treat in 2018 as London revs its arty engines for what promises to be a triumphant year. Masters of the old and masters of the new are out in full swing this year, with painting, photography, sculpture and design making an appearance in museums and galleries across the capital. Without further ado, here is a selection of London art exhibitions you won’t want to miss in 2018.
The Big Reveal at the Royal Academy
2018 belongs to the Royal Academy, and Saturday 19 May is the day when its new campus is unveiled. The spaces, designed by David Chipperfield, include a new gallery showcasing the first 60 years of the RA with works by Michelangelo, Turner and Constable; an Architecture Studio; and a contemporary art space by Royal Academicians. And the best bit? Grayson Perry is chairing the Summer Exhibition. Yes, I know May 19 is another important date in the royal calendar, but make sure you stick this one in the diary!
Charles I: King and Collector at the Royal Academy
Charles I was quite the art hoarder, amassing a whopping collection of paintings and sculptures before his head was chopped off. Whilst most of this loot was dispersed during the Commonwealth years, Charles II managed to retrieve some of his dad’s works when he took over the royal throne. The Royal Academy exhibition will reunite 100 works of art for the first time, including sculpture, miniatures, tapestries and Baroque paintings. Charles I – 27 January 2018 to 15 April 2018.
The Great Spectacle at the Royal Academy
Opening in conjunction with the Summer Exhibition of 2018, The Great Spectacle will tell the story of the world’s longest annual display of contemporary art. (I could stare at this painting for hours. Can you guess which one of these characters is Oscar Wilde?)
Monet and Architecture at the National Gallery
This is the first exhibition which focuses on Monet’s relationship with architecture. More than 70 paintings will be on show, with a selection of village paintings, an exploration of the modern city and his series of works portraying Rouen Cathedral. Monet and Architecture – 9 April to 29 July 2018.
Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy at the Tate Modern
Tipped to be one of the most significant shows the Tate has ever shown, visitors will be navigated month-by-month through 1932, a pivotal year for Picasso and one which has been called his “year of wonders.” The exhibition will include 100 paintings, sculptures and works on paper, including three spectacular paintings of his lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter. Picasso – 8 March to 9 September 2018
All Too Human. Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life at Tate Britain.
Not to be outdone by its modern counterpart on Bankside, Tate Britain also has what’s sure to be a blockbuster in 2018, an exhibition exploring painters and human figures. Three important works by Francis Bacon will be on show for the first time in three decades. All Too Human – 28 February to 27 August 2018.
Rhythm and Reaction: The Age of Jazz in Britain at Two Temple Place
Marking 100 years since Jazz reached Britain, Two Temple Place will reopen to the public on 27th January 2018, with Rhythm & Reaction: The Age of Jazz in Britain. This major exhibition will bring together painting, prints, cartoons, textiles and ceramics, moving film, instruments and the all-important jazz sound, examining the influence of jazz on British art, design and wider society. 27 January to 22 April 2018.
Ocean Liners: Speed and Style at the Victoria and Albert Museum
A major new exhibition celebrating the golden age of ocean travel opens at the V & A in February and is the first ever exhibition to explore the design and cultural impact of the ocean liner on an international scale. It will explore all aspects of ship design from ground-breaking engineering, architecture and interiors to the fashion and lifestyle aboard. It will display objects never-before-seen in Europe, and reunite objects not seen together since on-board these spectacular vessels, which revolutionised ocean travel from the mid-19th century to the late 20th century. Ocean Liners – 3 February to 17 June 2018
Frida Kahlo’s Wardrobe at the Victoria and Albert Museum
In 1954, following Frida Kahlo’s death at the age of 47, Diego Rivera, Kahlo’s husband, the renowned Mexican muralist, sealed her possessions in the Blue House in Mexico City, where Kahlo was born, lived and died. Fifty years later, in 2004, these cupboards were opened and found to contain an extraordinary collection, including her distinctive, colourful Tehuana outfits. The V&A’s exhibition will include key self-portraits that show her wearing many of the costumes discovered in the Blue House along with medical corsets, jewellery, accessories, photographs and letters. 16 June to 4 November 2018.
Michael Jackson On the Wall at the National Portrait Gallery
Michael Jackson: On the Wall will be a landmark exhibition exploring how Michael Jackson has inspired some of the leading names in contemporary art. It coincides with what would have been his 60th birthday. The exhibition will bring together the works of over 40 of these artists, drawn from public and private collections around the world, including new works made especially for the exhibition. Michael Jackson – 28 June to 21 October 2018
Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour of India 1875–6, Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace
In October 1875, the Prince of Wales set off on a four-month tour of the Indian Subcontinent, visiting over 21 localities that today encompass India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal. The exhibition tells the story of this grand tour through the jewellery, gold and silverware and ceremonial arms presented to the future King Edward VII by local rulers as part of the traditional exchange of gifts. Splendours – 8 June to 14 October 2018.
Russia: Royalty and the Romanovs at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace
The exhibition tells the story of the familial, political, diplomatic and artistic associations between Britain and Russia and their royal families from the mid-16th century to two World Wars. The unique relationship between the two countries is explored through portraits, sculpture, photographs and archival documents. Many of the works of art were commissioned as diplomatic gifts, others as intimate personal mementos, including miniature masterpieces by Fabergé. Royalty and Romanovs – 9 November 2018 to Sunday 28 April 2019.
Rodin and the art of ancient Greece at the British Museum
The British Museum will present works by Auguste Rodin and explore how he admired the art of antiquity – particularly ancient Greece – above all others. On from 26 April to 29 July 2018
Ribera: Art of Violence at the Dulwich Picture Gallery
In autumn 2018, Dulwich Picture Gallery will present Ribera: Art of Violence, the first UK show dedicated to the Spanish Baroque painter, draughtsman and printmaker Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652), bringing together his most sensational and shocking works. A selection of eight monumental canvases will be displayed alongside exceptional drawings and prints exploring the powerful theme of violence in Ribera’s art. Many of the works will be loaned from major European and North American institutions, on view in the UK for the first time. Ribera – 26 September 2018 to 27 January 2019
Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier at the Design Museum
Azzedine Alaïa was recognised throughout his life as a master couturier who expressed the timeless beauty of the female form in the most refined degree of haute couture. For the past year, the Design Museum has been working closely with Azzedine Alaïa in planning an exhibition that explores his career and creative process. Following his untimely passing on 18 November 2017, the Design Museum will now present this unique exhibition planned by Alaïa himself exploring his passion and energy for fashion as he himself intended it to be seen. The exhibition will present more than 60 outstanding examples of Alaïa’s craft from the past thirty-five years.
The Great British Seaside: photography from the 1960s to the present at the National Maritime Museum
The nation’s love affair with the seaside will be celebrated in the National Maritime Museum’s special exhibition for 2018. The Great British Seaside will showcase beach photography by some of Britain’s best photographers. The exhibition will explore our changing relationship with the seaside over the last six decades and will hold up a critical and affectionate mirror to a much-loved and quintessentially British experience, captured by photographers who share a mutual love of the seaside. Great British Seaside – 23 March to 30 September 2018.