Magazine article The Spectator

Dates for Your Diary

Magazine article The Spectator

Dates for Your Diary

Article excerpt

There's a very full year's viewing ahead to cheer the eye and gladden the heart however bleak the financial prospects. For a start, the National Gallery is mounting a major exhibition focusing on the fascinating relationship that Picasso had with the art of the past. His reworkings of Goya, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Chardin and Delacroix, together with responses to more contemporary masters such as van Gogh and Gauguin, provide a riveting dialogue of minds. Picasso: Challenging the Past (25 February to 7 June) will offer new ways to look at the Old Masters as well as a different take on Picasso. The autumn blockbuster is The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600-1700 (21 October to 24 January 2010). Featuring such artists as Velázquez, Zurbarán, Alonso Cano and Pedro de Mena, and juxtaposing paintings with polychrome sculptures, this should be something of an intensely focused revelation.

At the National Portrait Gallery, two exhibitions stand out: Gerhard Richter Portraits (26 February to 31 May) and Constable Portraits: The Painter and His Circle (5 March to 14 June). I think Richter is overrated, but some of his best and most memorable work may well be in portraiture, much of it consisting of paintings based on photographs.

Constable's portraits are often overlooked in the excitement over his landscapes, but anyone who can paint with the directness and psychological acuity of the famous study of a Suffolk child (in the V&A) deserves to be celebrated as a portraitist. Eagerly anticipated.

The Tate and its various regional outposts always have plenty to offer, and the following is merely a selection. Van Dyck and Britain at Tate Britain (18 February to 17 May) is a welcome re-appraisal of a 17th-century artist much thought-of in the past but somewhat out of-fashion today. At Tate Liverpool (20 February to 10 May) is a retrospective of Glenn Brown (born 1966), who paints distorted copies of other people's pictures, old and new, and is considered to be important for doing so. In the summer, two shows at Tate Modern look promising: Futurism and Per Kirkeby, both June to September. Kirkeby (born 1938) is a Danish artist best-known for his large semi-abstract paintings. Meanwhile, Richard Long (born 1945), the man who walks for art, gets the retrospective treatment at Tate Britain (3 June to 6 September). Sold Out (1 October to 17 January 2010) at Tate Modern is yet another show about the legacy of Pop Art, as witnessed in the work of Warhol, Koons, Kippenberger et alia. Tate Britain looks at Turner and the Masters (23 September to January 2010), rather as the National Gallery looked at Picasso earlier in the year.

Will the Tate's show be as revealing? And, finally, at Tate St Ives, The Dark Monarch (3 October to 10 January 2010) examines the haunted land of Cornwall through the arcane extremes of modernism.

The Whitechapel reopens in April with a whole new suite of galleries and an ambitious programme featuring simultaneous exhibitions. The first clutch of shows (April to June) include a retrospective of the German sculptor Isa Genszken (born 1948), widely regarded as a seminal figure by contemporaries but little-known here, changing displays from the British Council Collection -- a very good idea to give that extensive and prestigious collection a public airing -- and a show of the Whitechapel Boys. The latter include Bomberg, Epstein and Gertler along with lesser lights such as Bernard Meninsky, Alfred Wolmark and Isaac Rosenberg. Definitely time to put the Whitechapel back on your personal maps. …

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