Visiting London this summer? 8 Exhibitions you shouldn’t miss!

David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life at the Royal Academy

2 July — 2 October 2016

Not on the grand scale of Hockney’s landscapes at the Royal Academy in 2012, this exhibition is a return to his portrait painting.  Returning to Los Angeles, the exhibition offers an intimate portrayal of the LA art world, and the friends and family of the artist.

There are 77 portraits in total, each work the same size and showing the sitter in the same chair, against the same blue background.  The sitters include Celia Birtwell, who was also the subject of one of Hockney’s most famous paintings: Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy painted in 1970, and owned by Tate. Other paintings include Barry Humphries, the Californian artist John Baldessari and Hockney’s older sister Margaret.

Dutch Flowers at the National Gallery

6 April – 29 August 2016

Showing now to much acclaim, and timed to coincide with the flower shows at Chelsea and Hampton Court, this exhibition explores Dutch flower painting from its beginnings in the early 17th century to its peak in the late 18th century, and is the first display of its kind in 20 years.

‘Dutch Flowers’ presents an overview of Dutch paintings of the 17th and 18th centuries and the leading artists in the field, such as Jan Brueghel the Elder, Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, Jan van Huysum, and Rachel Ruysch, demonstrating the interest in botany, horticulture, and the phenomenon of ‘tulip mania’ in the Dutch Golden Age.  The paintings are inspirational with their extraordinary attention to detail, and well worth a visit.

The Rolling Stones:  Exhibitionism at the Saatchi Gallery

5 April – 4 September 2016

The  entire Saatchi Gallery is the venue for this comprehensive exhibition, which is a ‘must see’ for all fans of 1960’s London culture.  With over 500 original artefacts, and including cinematic and interactive technology, the exhibition offers an immersive experience into the band’s history.

The exhibition starts in 1962 with a recreation of the band’s first shared house, living in squalor in Chelsea, then moves on to the Stone’s studio world, where it is possible to engage with the music by remixing certain songs on iPads and headphones.  A great addition to the exhibition is the display of the unique costumes worn by the Stones on stage.  Collaborations by various artists, designers, musicians and writers are also featured, including Andy Warhol, Ossie Clark, Alexander McQueen and Martin Scorsese.

Painting with Light:  Art and Photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Modern Age at the Tate Britain

Until 25 September 2016

This fascinating exhibition is about the relationship between British painting and early photography in the early 19th century, and demonstrates how painters were inspired by photographs, and photographers by paintings.

You will be able to admire exquisite paintings by famous painters such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Singer Sargent, John Everett Millais and John William Waterhouse, shown alongside stunning photographs by early photographers. The exhibition opens with the experimental beginnings of photography in dialogue with painters such as J.M.W. Turner and concludes with its flowering as an independent international art form.

Curtain Up: Celebrating 40 Years of Theatre in London and New York at the V & A Museum

Until 31 August 2016

As part of the 40th anniversary of the Olivier Awards, Curtain Up is an entertaining exploration of world’s two greatest theatrical cities, London’s West End and New York’s Broadway.  The exhibition has been designed by Tom Piper, who was behind the stunning ceramic poppy installation at the Tower of London, which marked the centenary of World War One.

Exhibits include the original costume designs from The Phantom of the Opera, the Lion King, models used to create the puppet for War Horse, as well as costumes from Broadway shows, including A Chorus Line.  From the V & A, the exhibition will be moving to New York in the autumn, and shown at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Georgia O’Keefe at the Tate Modern

6 July – 30 October 2016

Georgia O’Keeffe is an American icon, best known for her large-scale studies of flowers, seen as if looking at them through a magnifying glass. This retrospective explores her reputation as a major artist on many other levels too, and explores in particular her relationship to photography, music and the landscape of New Mexico, where she lived and worked in the 1930s and 40s,  engrossing herself into the spirit and traditions of the area.

Opening with the charcoals that the artist first exhibited in 1915 , and ending with the more abstract river paintings from the early 1960s, the exhibition brings together over 100 of her most important works from the six decades of her career.  The paintings include Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 1932, the most expensive painting by a female artist ever sold at auction. With no works by O’Keeffe in UK public collections, this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for audiences outside the US to view the artist’s  remarkable paintings.

Serpentine Summer Houses in Hyde Park

10 June – 9 October 2016

Designed by Danish architecture firm BIG  the Serpentine’s 2016 pavilion is comprised of fibreglass frames stacked up on top of one another in a curved shape to leave an opening at the bottom, described as an “unzipped wall”.

Four new “Summer Houses” have also been commissioned from four designers, to be on display alongside the main pavilion.  The theme  is the nearby Queen Caroline’s Temple, a classical style summer house, built in 1734 and just a short walk from the Serpentine Gallery. Kunlé Adeyemi has designed an “inverse replica” of Queen Caroline’s Temple, rotating the interior space of the building to expose the plan of the historic structure, while Barkow Leibinger’s design, rather than reflect the original Queen Caroline’s Temple itself, is more a tribute to an accompanying 18th century structure which sat atop an artificial hill and mechanically rotated to offer 360-degree views of Hyde Park.

Yona Friedman’s design envisions a large, mobile modular grid which offers space for citizens to construct their own homes in an elevated city, while Asif Khan’s design is inspired by the fact that original architect, William Kent, appears to have aligned Queen Caroline’s Temple to perfectly face the rising sun on March 3rd, the day of Queen Caroline’s birthday.

Day Dreaming with Stanley Kubrick at Somerset House

30 June – 29 August 2016

Any fans of cinema won’t want to miss this very informative exhibition based on the life of Stanley Kubrick.  Participating artists have been invited to respond to a film, scene, character or theme from the Kubrick archives, giving new perspectives to Kubrick’s work.  These will include soundtracks and texts from his films, while Britain’s foremost political artist, Peter Kennard, will juxtapose images of characters set in the War Room of Dr Strangelove with present day leaders of nuclear states, in a statement about the renewal of Trident, and Sarah Lucas will lend ‘Priapus’, a phallic sculpture suggestive of the iconic murder weapon in A Clockwork Orange.

The exhibition is supported by artist Christiane Kubrick, the director’s wife of 41 years, who will be painting a new piece especially for the show, and Jan Harlan, Kubrick’s Executive Producer for 28 years.  It is also endorsed by Warner Bros. Pictures, who collaborated with Kubrick on all his films since 1971. Coinciding with the exhibition, the BFI will re-release Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece Barry Lyndon at cinemas across the UK on Friday 29th July 2016.

And more at Somerset House … Open Air Cinema

August 2016

This popular annual open-air cinema will be offering a programme of films for two weeks in August.  The programme will feature comedy, romance, thrillers and much loved classics, all shown within the magnificent 18th century courtyard on a giant screen with full surround sound.  Bring your picnic!

To view the programme, sign up to the Somerset House newsletter and select ‘Film’