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Here are the most exciting art exhibitions of 2018

Eddy Frankel

1. The king of pop (art)

It’s a pretty off the wall idea: a whole exhibition of contemporary art inspired by the king of pop. Featuring work from the likes of Andy Warhol and Isa Genzken, it could be a thriller of a show, or it could just be bad. Either way, it’ll make HIStory. That’s a lot of weak Michael Jackson references, there. Sorry about that.

‘Michael Jackson: on the Wall’ at the National Portrait Gallery. Jun 28-Oct 21. £15.50-£22.

2. A year of Pablo

Doing a whole exhibition about a single year of an artist’s life almost reeks of the stuff you scrape off the bottom of the old art exhibition barrel, but when it comes to the great Pablo Picasso, it might just work. 1932 was a year filled with tragedy, drama, passion and lots and lots of painting for Pablo, and the works we’ve seen in advance of this show look stunning.

‘The EY Exhibition: Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy’ at Tate Modern. Mar 8-Sep 9. £20-25.

3. Dean x 3

One-time YBA Tacita Dean is having not one, not two, but a whopping three major institutional exhibitions this summer. There’ll be a show of portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery, one of landscapes at the Royal Academy and another of still lifes at The National Gallery. Looks like London’s museums are pretty keen for Dean.

‘Tacita Dean: Portrait’ at the National Portrait Gallery. Mar 15-May 28. £14. ‘Tacita Dean: Still Life’ at The National Gallery. Mar 15-May 28. Free. ‘Tacita Dean: Landscape’ at the Royal Academy of Arts. May 19-Aug 12. £14.

Jenny Saville, 'Reverse', 2002-3, © Jenny Saville. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian.

4. Life lessons

Life drawing’s not all unctuous flesh and saucy nudes. Most of it is, sure, but this exhibition promises to show just how vital life painting can be. Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, Jenny Saville – it’s all of the last century’s British masters of fleshy, gooey art.

‘All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life’ at Tate Britain. Feb 28-Aug 27. £16-19.

5. Huyghe-ing out

The last time French artist Pierre Huyghe was in town for a major show he filled the Tate Modern with giant swinging doors, puppets, anime and lots of neon. Now he’s coming back, and even though we have no idea what he’s got planned for this show of new work at the Serpentine, we are très excited.

Pierre Huyghe at the Serpentine Gallery. Oct 3-Jan 2019. Free.

6. A daring Italian duo

If you think ‘Mantegna and Bellini’ sound like rogue New York cops finally trying to go straight, you’re wrong. They’re actually two of the Italian Renaissance’s most important artists, and this show – filled with incredible loans from major international museums – gets the two together for one last job, showing that the Renaissance still means business.

‘Mantegna and Bellini’ at The National Gallery. Oct 1-Jan 27 2019. Price TBC.

7. Pioneering performance

American artist Joan Jonas has been pioneering performance, installation and video art since the ’60s – and she’s still  at it. This sweeping, experimental exhibition will be a fitting tribute to a brilliant, influential artist.

Joan Jonas at Tate Modern. Mar 14-Aug 5. £10-£13.

8. Sculpted perfection

The greatest figurative sculptor of the past few hundred years didn’t come up with it all by himself. The French artist Auguste Rodin was walking in the footsteps of Greek giants (with a particular love for the British Museum’s Parthenon Marbles): you could say he was Rodin on their coattails. This show promises to pit his work against that of his Hellenic progenitors.

‘Rodin and the Art of Ancient Greece’ at the British Museum. Apr 26-Jul 29. Price TBC.

Egon Schiele, courtesy the Albertina Museum, Vienna.

9. Two Austrian masters

Early twentieth-century Vienna was bursting with creative energy and at the heart of that little exploding art bomb were two rivals: Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. This show will bring together around 100 gorgeous, sensual and still shockingly sexual drawings from both of these hugely influential artists who were smuttier than a ‘Carry On’ film.

‘Klimt/Schiele’ at the Royal Academy of Arts. Nov 4-Feb 3 2019. Price TBC.


10. Snappy snappers

As part of its ‘The Art of Change’ season, the Barbican is going big on photography this year, and these two concurrent shows – one on the world-famous American snapper Dorothea Lange, the other on British photographer Vanessa Winship – have got us seriously fired up. Sombre, powerful, meditative – what else could you ask for from photography?

‘Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing’ and Vanessa Winship at the Barbican Art Gallery. Jun 22-Sep 2. £9-£13.50.

Andreas Gursky, 'Les Mées', 2016. Copyright Andreas Gursky/DACS 2017. Courtesy Sprüth Magers.

11. The big picture

The Hayward is celebrating its reopening after years of renovation with a major show of major art: trademark ultra-HD and super ginormous images by the German photographer Andreas Gursky. Absorbing, mesmerising, hypnotic and really effing big.

Andreas Gursky at Hayward Gallery. Jan 25-Apr 22. £7.25-£16.

12. Baroque and a hard place

This – somehow – is set to be the first UK show of Spanish Baroque artist Jusepe de Ribera’s work. His art was violent, shocking, dramatic and totally thrilling. Sort of like a proto-Banksy (I’m KIDDING). Even if you don’t have a stomach for violence, this show will be a must-see.

‘Ribera: Art of Violence’ at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Sep 26-Jan 27 2019. Price TBC. 

13. Abstract simplicity

Pure, simple, experimental, but always visually stunning abstraction is what American painter Amy Sillman is going to
be serving up – and who can say no to that? 

Amy Sillman at Camden Arts Centre. Sep 28-Jan 6. Free.

Can't wait? Find art to see right now by clicking right here.

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