February’s Top Art Exhibitions & Events

We’re now well into 2019, and this year’s programmes and exhibitions are in full swing. As the weather turns chillier than ever, discover a colourful and exciting world of art!

Warhol to Richter

Last chance to see! Until 10th February Albertina, Vienna, Austria
Around 70 works by artists including Anselm Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, Gottfried Helnwein, Andy Warhol, Alex Katz, and Maria Lassnig represent the broad diversity of post-1945 artistic stances. Key works illustrate international trends running from hyper-realism to abstraction and from colour-aesthetic to political themes. The multifaceted artistic output of the past several decades is represented here in its all its stunning forms.

Black Mirror: Art as Social Satire

Last chance to see! Until 17th February Saatchi Gallery, London, UK
Black Mirror is a Netflix anthology drama series that has taken the world by storm. It is also a phrase which indicates a ‘black mirror’ is each and every screen we look at the second it powers down, and is the mirror that we stare into endlessly each day. For this exhibition, the title both implies the black screen but also that a ‘black mirror’ could be interpreted as anything into which we pay interest to learn more about ourselves, which is the form several of the artworks take. In this latest show from Saatchi in London, artworks from contemporary artists across the world look at our society as it stands today and critique it with a variety of mediums and viewpoints.

Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor

Last chance to see! Until 24th February Musee des Beaux-Arts de Montreal (MBAM), Canada
Alexander Calder’s 3D sculptural mobile artworks are perpetually in motion. Simple geometric forms and curved flat shapes float in midair, attached to a central structure, all perfectly balanced to ensure that motion never ends – the pieces were affectionately termed ‘mobiles’ by Marcel Duchamp. The enduringly simple appeal of Calder’s work continues to this day, and there is still nobody quite like him in the history of art. This exhibition presents an excellent selection of his works for Canadian audiences.

Bloomberg New Contemporaries

Last chance to see! Until 24th February South London Gallery, London, UK
Discover some of the most exciting and promising new talent selected by the Bloomberg company in 2019. Sculptural and installation works are proving very popular this year as upcoming artists continue to experiment with what art and media can do in the 21st century.
These works are available to view until the 24th of February so don’t miss it!

Paul Feiler – Works on Paper 1918 – 2013

30th January – 22nd February The Redfern Gallery, 20 Cork Street, London, UK
Through close examination of Feiler’s exhaustive career, a journey is drawn across his entire practice – a journey from forays in Figuration to Feiler’s eventual arrival at geometric abstract inspired territory. A retrospective mix of gouaches, drawings and paintings, the exhibition is both a fascinating glimpse at the personal desires and drives of an artist but also an informative insight into his entire creative oeuvre.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern

30th January – 3rd March Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, USA
This new exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art looks at the much-examined work of O’Keeffe in a new light: it carefully examines how the renowned artist proclaimed her progressive, independent lifestyle not only through her artistic practice but with her self-crafted public persona, including what she wore and how she presented herself in photographs. The exhibiton aims to present a new understanding of O’Keeffe focusing on her wardrobe, shown for the first time alongside key artworks and photographs. It examines how one woman determinedly shaped the public’s perception of her and her practice through her control.
Historically significant, the show also includes works that entered the Brooklyn collection following O’Keeffe’s first-ever museum exhibition—held at the Brooklyn Museum in 1927.

Miriam Escofet at Pontone Gallery

7th February – 10th March Pontone Gallery, 43 Cadogan Gardens, London, UK
Selected highlights from the career of contemporary artist Miriam Escofet will be on display at Pontone Gallery, Chelsea, London. Details are painstakingly recreated in exquisite accuracy, resulting in these portraits each telling its own story and capturing the character of the individual pictured. Escofet was the winner of the 2018 BP Portrait Award.

Bruegel: Unseen Masterpieces

Until 16th March Centre for Fine Arts (Bozar), Brussels, Belgium
Pieter Bruegel’s masterpieces, typically large scale works containing a whole ecosystem of creatures, characters and humanoid figures, are known worldwide. Some depict scenes from Christian religion – others are not so easy to decipher. Many of the works contain innumerable small details which have to be seen to be believed, each with its own mystery and meaning. This groundbreaking new project aims to examine these details and present them to audiences both online and in the gallery space. It is possible to experience the works in 3D online, with individual segments and figures individually animated as they may have been seen in the mind of Breugel himself.
As we approach the 450th anniversary of the painter’s death in 1569, a number of international museums have collaborated on this innovative approach.

Fernand Leger: New Times, New Pleasures

Until 17th March Tate Liverpool, Liverpool Docks, UK
This exhibition brings together more than forty works by renowned artist Fernand Léger (1881–1955). Léger was enthralled by the vibrancy of modern life. His paintings, murals, film and textiles were infused with the bustle and rhythm of the metropolis. He drew on photography and new forms of communication that boomed during the ‘mechanical age’ of the twentieth-century such as typography, advertising and graphic design. Leger’s experimental film, Ballet Mecanique, is also on show at the exhibition.

Alexander Calder and Jeff Koons: Heaven and Earth

Until 24th March Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, USA
Heaven and Earth combines the practices of two entirely disparate artists in a unique approach wherein the artworks are presented in a joint context. Alexander Calder’s sculptures nominally represent ‘heaven’ and Jeff Koons’s celebrations of the mundane and concrete as ‘earth’. The pairing highlights the influence of balance and gravity in terms of the physicality of both artists’ work. The contrasts between high art aspirations and mundane material choices represent just one of the ways these works function in the same space.

The National Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery

23rd February – 7th April The National Portrait Gallery, London, UK
This prestigious prize is awarded every year. For 2019, the deadline for entries has now closed. After 30 years of sponsorship the BP Portrait Award still remains the most prestigious portrait painting competition in the world and represents the very best in contemporary practice. With a first prize of £35,000, and a total prize fund of £74,000, the Award is aimed at encouraging artists to focus upon and develop portraiture in their work. In June, the winning entries will be available to view.

Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art: Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei

2nd February – 5th May Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Celebrating the rich heritage of Chinese civilisation inspired by the ancient concept of tian ren he yi – unity or harmony between heaven, nature and humanity – this exhibition present a historic selection of 87 artworks including paintings, calligraphy, illustrated books, bronzes, ceramics, jade and wood carvings, dating from the Neolithic period to the 19th century. This collection has been accumulated by Chinese emperors over the centuries and has been accessible for hundreds of years only to the imperial elite. Now rarely seen outside of Taipei, the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney is the exclusive venue.
This is the first time the collection has travelled to the southern hemisphere and it is unlikely to be seen in Australia again.

Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera

23rd February – 5th May Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, USA
Laurie Simmons takes a strongly critical eye on the tropes that dominated postwar culture in America – the era of her own upbringing – creating fictional scenes using dolls and props as proxies for real people and places. Simmons explores archetypes and gender roles with her work, unsettling the concept of an American dream with its elements of female domesticity. In addition to her feminist stance, Simmons also toys with traditional ideas of photography as a medium. Manipulating scale in her pictures is apparently a metaphor for the concept of real life versus fiction. Indeed, there are things that are both discomfortingly familiar yet feel strangely alien about her work.

Leonardo Da Vinci: A Life In Drawing

3rd February – 6th May Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds, UK
This display of Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings is a must-see. Drawings and sketches made up a large portion of Da Vinci’s output, and sometimes represented drafts of final works, but more often than not existed as gifts – portraits of friends or colleagues – or schematics for his many inventions and anatomical drawings which, had they have been made more common knowledge, may have accelerated our understanding of the human body. 144 of Leonardo da Vinci’s greatest drawings in the Royal Collection will go on display in 12 simultaneous exhibitions across the UK in February to mark the 500th anniversary of his death.

The Bauhaus at 100

27th February – 12th May Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Boston, USA
The Bauhaus art and design school was founded by Walter Gropius during April 1919 in the experimental and progressive social climate of Germany’s Weimar era after WW1. This was a fantastic period for German culture – films, music, theatre and art were all blossoming, inspired by a machine aesthetic and avant-garde attitudes. Sadly the lifetime of the bauhaus and Weimar culture was cut short when the Nazis took control of Germany, but the influence of the Bauhaus has lived on. This exhibition in Boston, USA casts its eyes back on 100 years of design history.

Botticelli: Heroines and Heroes

14th February – 19th May Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Hostetter Gallery), Boston, USA
Legendary painter Sandro Botticelli transformed ancient stories of lust, betrayal, and violence into Renaissance parables. In 1894, Isabella Stewart Gardner bought the Story of Lucretia, bringing the first Botticelli to America. Heroines + Heroes reunites her iconic Lucretia with its companion Virginia from the Accademia Carrara, Bergamo, a pair of paintings conceived for the Vespucci family palace in Florence. Together with additional extraordinary loans from Europe and the United States, this exhibition invites you to explore Botticelli’s revolutionary narratives, as he reinvented ancient Roman and early Christian heroines and heroes as Renaissance role models.

Monsters and Myths: Surrealism and War in the 1930s and 1940s

24th February – 26th May Baltimore Museum of Art, Brunswick, USA
Surrealism is sometimes seen as a refined form of the attitudes that birthed Dada and Futurism in the early 1900s. Both Dada and Futurism were birthed by postwar attitudes, a dissatisfaction with the world as it stood following WW1, and Surrealism was in many ways a natural progression from the boundless Dada attitude. Feeling lost in the rapidly changing and turbulent world around them, several artists crafted some truly otherworldly artworks and predicted futures that would never come. Masters of their craft, such as Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Max Ernst, and André Masson are all represented in the show.

Printmaking in the age of Bruegel (1500 – 85)

20th February – 26th May Centre for Fine Arts (Bozar), Brussels, Belgium
The exhibition, presented jointly by BOZAR and the Royal Library of Belgium, paints a picture of print production in the Southern Netherlands in the age of Bruegel. The famous painter’s own production is only the tip of the iceberg: in the shadow of this giant there are many gems of printmaking to be discovered. The medium was both varied and flexible, used for several forms of visual communication ranging from newsprints to political propaganda. Brilliant craftsmanship and a bold spirit of enterprise played a major role in the construction of these works, which Bozar believes is why this work deserves a spotlight.

The Young Picasso: Blue and Rose Periods

3rd February – 26th May Fondation Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland
This show has been called the ‘most expensive and ambitious’ ever staged at Switzerland’s Fondation Beyeler. It has a huge challenge: to take on the towering aspirations of a young Pablo Picasso, and attempts to chronicle his progression through these creative periods in his early career. The pieces are presented in chronological order, with all focus on the very essence of the work itself from those periods – a wise move which lets the work speak for itself. This show has been made possible with the collaboration of Musee Picasso and Musee d’Orsay in Paris, and features a staggering array of over 80 works.

Magic Realism: Art in Weimar Germany 1919-33

Until 14th July Tate Modern, London, UK
The Weimar culture era of post WW1 Germany was a rich environment of experimentation and achievement, albeit one troubled by the Nazis rise to power in later years. One of the most prominent elements of Weimar’s visual culture in Germany was the Bauhaus school, which celebrates 100 years since its formulation in April 1919. However, art stretched into film and performance in the Weimar era, well outside of the bauhaus’ influence. This exhibition spotlights elements of Weimar culture from across German society in the years before the Nazis came to power.

Tom Hammick: Dreams and Voyages

28th Janury – 30th July Brighton Royal Pavilion and Museums, North Balcony, Brighton, UK
This exhibition comprises a display of prints by artist Tom Hammick which were recently acquired for the Royal Pavilion and Museums’ collections. These works each offer a personal interpretation of several different operas, inspired by Hammick’s 2015-16 visual arts residency at the English National Opera in London.

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