The Europeans are taking over London this week with Dutch master Nicolaes Maes coming to the National Gallery and Belgian symbolist artist Léon Spilliaert over at the Royal Academy. You can also celebrate German-born cum Londoner Handel’s birthday this weekend and enjoy a staging of Verdi’s Luisa Miller at the English National Opera, on until 6 March . I had the pleasure of riding some of Storm Dennis out on Saturday night at the ENO, and you can read my review here.
I’m still not sure what to make of South Korean film Parasite which I saw yesterday at the Curzon Victoria. It’s very, very odd, and I’d love to know if you think it’s Oscar-worthy. The jury is out with me.
Monday 17 February
The British Museum is launching a teen programme this half term. Exploring stories at the museum, your team will need to think quick, hunt for clues, solve cryptic riddles, and decipher codes to collect points and unlock the next level. Free and booking to 22 February.
Wednesday 19 February
Booking opens today at 10am for the always sold-out three-hour Shakespeare walks taking place in April. Run by Shakespeare’s Globe and conceived by Mark Rylance, you’ll visit places that the Bard knew and hear his sonnets along the way. Book here.
Thursday 20 February
A major exhibition at the Barbican considers how masculinity has been coded, performed, and socially constructed from the 1960s to the present day. Masculinities: Liberation through Photography is on until 17 May.
Join Strawberry Hill House’s twilight tours on Thursdays throughout February and March and experience Horace Walpole’s gothic castle. The Gothic Romance tour includes a complimentary glass of bubbly. The Garden Cafe will also be open every Thursday evening, with a pop-up bar serving wine, prosecco and bar snacks.
The Fan Museum is welcoming cultural historian, author and The Arts Society lecturer, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, who will be giving a talk, Heroic Figures. Exploring in rich detail the concept of the hero, the lecture begins before the walls of Troy with Achilles and ends in the 19th century with Garibaldi, one of the first heroes of the age of mass-media (the front-man of the Italian national liberation movement, he liked to relax of an evening by reading about himself in the Illustrated London News).
Friday 21 February
Hear musicians from The Royal College of Music perform in the beautiful setting of the Globe at the heart of the V&A’s Europe Galleries. Concerts occur on the first three Fridays of every month starting at 18.30 and ending at 19.30. Free event.
Saturday 22 February
The National Gallery is staging the first-ever monographic exhibition devoted to Nicolaes Maes (1634 – 1693) in the UK. Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age will chart the career of one of the most successful artists and astute businessmen of the period, and show how a favourite pupil of Rembrandt broke away from his teacher and forged his own way through the ‘Golden Age’, paving the way for the later achievements of Vermeer. Free entry and on until 31 May 2020.
Two exhibitions open today at the William Morris Gallery. The Yellow Wallpaper is an exhibition of new portraits by American artist Kehinde Wiley. This will be the first solo exhibition of new work shown by Wiley at a UK museum and the first to feature exclusively female portraits. Light and Shade highlights the lives led by the women of William Morris’s social circle alongside portrait photographs of them from the William Morris Gallery collection. On until 25 May.
Happy Birthday Mr Handel! Head over to Handel and Hendix Museum for some baroque music performances throughout the day, including some of the composer’s greatest pieces.
Sunday 23 February
There are more Handel celebrations at the Foundling Museum today. Join the fantastic British soprano Rowan Pierce for a birthday concert in a programme of German arias and chamber music. I saw Pierce in concert at the Oxford Lieder last October, and can guarantee you are in for a musical treat.
The Royal Academy of Arts will present the first major exhibition of Belgian artist Léon Spilliaert (1881–1946) to be held in the UK. Bringing together around 80 works drawn from public and private collections across Belgium, France, Great Britain and the USA, the exhibition will offer a rare opportunity to discover this intriguing, singular artist who left an indelible mark on the twentieth century art of Belgium. On until 25 May 2020. Whilst you’re there, don’t forget to pop into the Pace Gallery next door to see the brilliant lightmaster James Turrell (and it’s free).
Closing Today: the Lost Dress of Elizabeth I at Hampton Court Palace. See fragments of a dress thought to belong to Elizabeth I together with the glorious Rainbow Portrait, on loan from Hatfield House.
As International Women’s Day approaches, one of the most inventive walking tour guides is inviting Londoners and London visitors to celebrate the city’s women. From 3-8 March 2020, the week leading up to International Women’s Day, Look Up London will bring people closer to London’s unsung heroines, saints and rebels, crossing London in the footsteps of spies, suffragettes, artists, soldiers, politicians, scientists, lawyers, actresses, dancers and fashionistas.
Yayoi Kusama returns to Tate Modern for the gallery’s 20th birthday celebrations. Infinity Rooms, which opens on May 11, will feature two of her famous mirror rooms.
“The English language is like London: proudly barbaric yet deeply civilised, too, common yet royal, vulgar yet processional, sacred yet profane.” Stephen Fry
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