The Best Exhibitions To Visit As Galleries Reopen

As the first museums and galleries start to prepare for the public, we round up the hotly-anticipated exhibitions marking the post-COVID reopening of art galleries across the UK.

HEADER IMAGE Courtesy of the Tate

Among the many losses suffered in 2020 – lost music venues, lost time, lost loved ones – the loss of art galleries has been especially tough for arts communities around the country. Small galleries died, biennales withered, museums cancelled or postponed momentous blockbusters, from Raphael to David Hockney, and nixed many more throughout the pandemic. Hundreds of staff were furloughed, then axed altogether at the Tate, the National Gallery and the V&A, where “departmental restructuring” will mean the loss of deep curatorial knowledge.

After almost a year of closures, it’s fair to say that art has been unseen for so long. Like the proverbial flower in the desert, it is hard to believe it is all still there waiting for us in warehouses, crates and long-dark museums. But as this week the first museums and galleries start to prepare for the public, we round up the hotly-anticipated exhibitions marking the post-COVID reopening of art galleries across the UK.

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms

Tate Modern, London18th May 2021 – 22th June 2022

Open for Tate Modern members from 18 May (non-members 14 June), the mesmerising Infinity Mirror Rooms is already causing a media frenzy amongst the glitterati — who’ve begun sharing Instagram posts and reels galore.

Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life is one of Kusama’s largest installations to date and was made for her 2012 retrospective at Tate Modern. It is shown alongside Chandelier of Grief, a room which creates the illusion of a boundless universe of rotating crystal chandeliers. A small presentation of photographs and moving image – some on display for the first time – provides historical context for the global phenomenon that Kusama’s mirrored rooms have become today.

Kusama, whose spotty pumpkins basically destroyed Instagram back in 2016, began her ‘Infinity’ or ‘Mirror Room’ series in 1963, disorientating environments that play with notions of space and distance as well as creative possibilities and her own sometimes troubled mental state. Experiencing one of them is unforgettable.

The Art of Banksy

50 Earlham St, LondonFrom 1st April

This globally acclaimed showcase features original and authenticated works associated with, arguably, the most intriguing and talked-about artist in modern history. On display are prints, canvasses, screenprints, unique works and limited-edition pieces mainly dated between the years 1997 to 2008, the period which resulted in Banksy’s most recognisable and well-known works.

The exhibit features iconic works such as ‘Girl and Balloon’, ‘Flower Thrower’ and ‘Rude Copper’ alongside some of Banksy’s lesser known masterpieces. Banksy is most infamous for his outdoor art which can be found in streets all around the world. Banksy’s indoor pieces – original and unique works on canvas, wood and paper – have been less exposed and are also on display at this exhibition.

Charlotte Perriand: The Modern Life

Design Museum, LondonUntil 5th September

Enter the world of Charlotte Perriand, whose pioneering designs shaped the 20th century. Her modern ideas can be found in the way we live today, from the use of materials to her belief that good design is for everyone. 

Step inside recreations of some of her most famous interiors, including the apartment designed for the Salon d’Automne in 1929, and enjoy some of her furniture up close, such as the iconic Chaise Longue Basculante and the Fauteuil Pivotant. Discover sketches, photographs, scrapbooks and prototypes that shed new light on her unique creative process and her rightful place in design history, alongside works by her friends and peers, including  Le Corbusier,  Fernand Léger  and etchings by Pablo Picasso. 

Her life as a fiercely independent woman – a pioneer, a sportswoman and a global traveller – can be traced throughout her work and helped define the modern interior. The exhibition was curated in collaboration with the Perriand family and archive and marks the 25th anniversary of the first Charlotte Perriand exhibition at the Design Museum in 1996.

Van Gogh Alive

Kensington Gardens, London4th June – 26th September

Van Gogh’s works have been exhibited and admired for over a century – but never like this. Created by Grande Experiences, Van Gogh Alive gives visitors the unique opportunity to immerse themselves into Van Gogh’s artistry and truly venture into his world. Traditions of tiptoeing through silent galleries and viewing paintings from afar in quiet contemplation are forgotten as visitors find themselves interacting with art in ways they never imagined.

From start to finish, visitors are surrounded by a vibrant symphony of light, colour, sound and fragrance as they wander around the exhibition and absorb it from every possible angle. Van Gogh’s masterpieces come to life, giving visitors the sensation of walking right into his paintings, a feeling that is simultaneously enchanting, entertaining and educational, viewing artworks from new angles and discovering unique perspectives.

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser

V&A, London 22nd May – 31st December

Delayed by the pandemic by nearly a year, Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser finally opens at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Sure to be one of the summer’s hottest tickets, it examines the strange afterlives of Lewis Carroll’s inimitable creation through art, film, cartoons and video games. Exploring its origins, adaptations and reinventions over 157 years, this immersive and theatrical show charted the evolution of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland from manuscript to a global phenomenon beloved by all ages.

Tickets may be hard to grab for the near-sold out show, however there’s plenty of great content from the exhibition now online, perfect viewing for exhitioning-from-home.

Night Fever: Designing Club Culture

V&A, Dundee1st May – 22nd January 2022

Delving into iconic clubs in New York, Paris, Florence, Manchester, London, Beirut, Berlin – and towns and cities across Scotland – Night Fever: Designing Club Culture uncovered the progressive and subversive history of nightclub design, and its far-reaching influence on popular culture.

As spaces for adventure and escape, nightclubs have always encouraged experimental and radical design – from Studio 54 to the Haçienda. Discover how architecture, art, fashion, graphics, lighting, performance and sound all come together to create an immersive sensory experience where design, music and technology meet on the dancefloor.

The exhibition featured an exclusive section on Scotland’s unique and distinct club scene, revisiting legendary club nights from across the country. Explore how Scottish club culture is built on an ethos of DIY attitude, togetherness, humour, and a tightly knit network of DJs, clubs and promoters – often holding closer ties to the music and influences of Detroit techno and Chicago house, than to neighbouring scenes south of the border.

Degas to Picasso: International Modern Masters

Pallant House Gallery, ChichesterUntil 13 June

From French Impressionism to American Abstract Expressionism, this exhibition spans 100 years of modern art and features over 40 internationally celebrated artists. Discover stunning prints by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Georges Braque and Henri Matisse alongside abstract works by Paul Klee, Hans Hartung and Pierre Soulages. Come face to face with portraits by Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Georges Roualt, Käthe Kollwitz and Marie Laurencin. This will also be the first chance to see Édouard Vuillard’s Modèle assise dans un fauteuil, se coiffant (c.1903) after its recent careful conservation.

The fascinating stories behind Pallant House Gallery’s remarkable collection of international work will be revealed, with the permanent collection developed from a number of individual collections donated over the years. These collectors range from the criminologist Elizabeth Burney to Michael Woodford, a former binman and school caretaker, who amassed a collection including works by Pablo Picasso.

WOW: Women Only Works on Paper

Laing Art Gallery, NewcastleUntil 4th December

Running alongside the exhibition ‘Challenging Convention’, the Laing Art Gallery is also exhibiting WOW: Women Only Works on Paper, a display of over 50 watercolours and pastels complemented by etchings and screenprints. Artists including Vanessa Bell, Winifred Knights, Ithell Colquhoun, Annie French, Lucy Kemp-Welch, Thérèse Lessore, Hilda Carline and Paule Vézelay are all represented, as well as other accomplished but lesser-known female artists working in the first part of the 20th century.

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