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Shakespeare: Staging the World

19 July – 25 November 2012

The British Museum is staging a major exhibition on the world of Shakespeare, in collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The exhibition provides a unique insight into the emerging role of London as a world city, seen through the innovative perspective of Shakespeare’s plays. It also explores the pivotal role of the playhouse as a window to the world outside London, and the playwright’s importance in shaping a new sense of national identity.

Tino Sehgal 2012

17 July – 28 October 2012

Tate has announced that Tino Sehgal will undertake the annual commission for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2012. To be unveiled on 17 July that year, Sehgal’s new work will be the thirteenth to be commissioned in The Unilever Series.

Metamorphosis: Titian 2012

11 July – 23 September 2012

Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 brings together a group of specially commissioned works by contemporary artists, choreographers, composers, dancers and poets in response to three of Titian's paintings – Diana and Actaeon, The Death of Actaeon and 'Diana and Callisto' – all of which were inspired by Ovid’s poem 'Metamorphoses'.

Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye

28 June – 14 October 2012

Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye is a major exhibition devoted to a reassessment of the works of the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch (1863–1944). This exhibition proposes a dialogue between the artist’s pictorial work in the twentieth century and his interest in the most modern of representational forms: photography, film and the rebirth of stage production at that time.

Mantegna to Matisse: Master Drawings from the Courtauld Gallery

14 June - 9 September 2012

This exhibition celebrates the art of drawing and offers a unique opportunity to enjoy some of the very greatest works from The Courtauld’s famous collection.

Titian's First Masterpiece: The Flight into Egypt

4th April - 2nd September 2012

Titian's First Masterpiece: The Flight into Egypt examines the talented young artist's creation of an extraordinarily ambitious and innovative work, which is believed to be one of his earliest paintings.

David Hockney, A Bigger Picture

David Hockney's latest exhibition, A Bigger Picture, is the culmination of a life-long obsession with perspective and the art of looking. Hockney has long argued against the “tyranny of a single point of perspective” which has dominated several centuries of Western landscape painting.  In response he has sought to distort perspective, or with his photomontages has sought to keep our gaze moving, adopting the Chinese "moving perspective", where the eye is constantly wandering, unable to settle on a single viewpoint.

In this enormous and varied exhibition, Hockney has used a variety of techniques to loosen our reliance on traditional landscapes, challenging us to really engage with what we can see. One approach is to show us paintings so large they dominate whole walls, making it impossible to absorb in detail in their entirety. You can take-in the whole painting from the end of the room, but ultimately you must move in closely to gain any sense of the detail. When you do approach the painting this closely, it is impossible to take in all the panels of the painting as a whole.

Another method is to take the same views and paint them over and over again. As the light changes significantly during the course of the day, this repetition demonstrates the variation in light and also the gradual change of the seasons. Trees burst into leaf, hedgerows burst into flower, and the scene is fundamentally altered. Each landscape can be viewed in isolation, but true meaning is derived by comparing them to their neighbour, with the transition of winter to spring.


In one particularly effective technique, we watch a video installation of nine cameras strapped to Hockney's car, showing nine video streams of the Woldgate Woods. As the car slowly edges forward, these nine perspectives scramble the brain, each camera “a separate act of seeing...”. Branches don't quite line up between screens, and we are tilted off balance, unable to locate a single point of perspective in the installation as a whole. We are forced to engage with the Woldgate Woods in the way in which Hockney does himself.

This re-discovered love affair with his childhood landscape began in 1997 when Hockney returned to Bradford to see his longstanding friend, Jonathan Silver, who was dying of cancer. Hockney found himself painting watercolour sketches to take to the hospital each day where Jonathan was missing the open spaces terribly. The paintings were based on views of road to the hospital each day, and Hockney became mesmerised by the variety of changing views of the same scene.  In 2002 Hockney began to paint the landscape in watercolour, a medium he'd rarely used before, and by 2004 he'd begun concentrating on documenting his local scenery, embarking on a series of paintings within a 30 mile radius of his home in Bridlington.

In 2007 Hockney was granted an entire wall in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and immediately began working on Bigger Trees near Warter. Completed in just a few weeks, the fifty panel painting allowed Hockney to demonstrate everything he'd learnt about his local environment, the weather patterns and the prevailing light. The panels were generally painted in rows, with Hockney compiling a digital montage of the progress each day, allowing him to keep track of the work as a whole. Hockney himself only saw the completed painting days before it was sent to the RA, when he chose a gigantic space in an industrial estate as his new studio.

The Royal Academy approached Hockney with a request to show any other works undertaken since his return to Yorkshire, and Hockney agreed.  He began compiling sequential views of the landscape, and at the end of 2010 began documenting the arrival of spring in the Woldgate, a small track running between Bridlington and Kilham.  The resulting 51 digital paintings were created on the iPad, allowing Hockney to quickly capture the changes in a variety of scenes every few days for three months. The immediacy of these allows us to see the rapidly changing scenery as spring unfurls.

Placed alongside these paintings in Gallery Three is also a thirty-two canvas painting The Arrival of Spring 2011, the culmination of Hockney's journey into spring.

Hockney has said that 'painting is editing' - when you paint outside there's so much to look at that you need to start asking questions: 'What do I see first? Does the bark of the tree dominate me, does that attract my eye?' In choosing oil paint over his previous love, photography, Hockney wanted to demonstrate that paintings can be more vivid than photography, and that they can capture the essence of the landscape far better than a camera. To prove his point, Hockney allowed himself to be filmed painting these landscapes on occasion, and having seen these, the vivid almost false colours we see in the results can be seen by the naked eye in the landscape. The distant haze in the sky is indeed lilac, and the trees do morph from black, to green, gold and red. It would be impossible for a photograph to trace this hourly progression in the same way that Hockney's landscapes do.

Also in the show are a number of other works of equally varied landscapes, including his photo montages of the Grand Canyon from the 1980's, and several re-workings of the Claude's Sermon on the Mount, with one painting compiled from thirty canvasses, painted in 2010.

Whether or not you are a fan of Hockney I would encourage you to go to the final few days of the exhibition. You will learn so much about the art of looking, and about perspective. Look beyond the seemingly artificial colours and simplistic shapes and 'feel' the landscape Hockney is portraying. This is not meant to be photography, it is representational - you are meant to navigate your own emotional response to the landscape.

A Bigger Picture is on until the 9 April 2012
Royal Academy of Arts
Burlington House

This article also appears at The BespokeRSVP Blog, Culture Section.

Damien Hirst : A Retrospective

4 April – 9 September 2012

Damien Hirst first came to public attention in London in 1988 when he conceived and curated Freeze, an exhibition in a disused warehouse which showed his work and that of his friends and fellow students at Goldsmiths College. In the nearly quarter of a century since that pivotal show, Hirst has become one of the most influential artists of his generation.

Turner Inspired: In the Light of Claude

14th March to 15th June 2012

Of all the Old Masters, Turner admired Claude the most, enthusing about the quality of light in the artist's Italian landscapes.

Alighiero Boetti

28 February – 27 May 2012

Alighiero E Boetti (1940–1994) was one of the most important and influential Italian artists of the twentieth century. He was a key member of the Arte Povera group of young Italian artists in the late 1960s which was working in radically new ways using simple materials.

Armando / Aubertin

28th February - 9th April 2012

The Mayor Gallery
22a Cork Street,
London W1S 3NA

Thomas Zipp: 3 Contributions to the Theory of Mass-Abberations in Modern Religions

For his third solo show at Alison Jacques Gallery, Thomas Zipp has transformed the spaces into atmospheric rooms reminiscent of a place of worship, in which religious imagery and sexual motifs collide. Zipp combines a range of forms - from aluminium paintings to electric candles, oversized conical ear tubes to photographs of life-sized dolls - to transport us into his visionary world. The show and its title are premised on Sigmund Freud's 'Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex' (1920), which fixated on our need for deviations from pure connections between the sexual object and sexual aim, and which Zipp uses to navigate us through his uncanny landscape in search of strange interconnecting reference points and dialogues.

Mondrian || Nicholson: In Parallel

16 February to 20 May 2012

This exhibition explores the largely untold relationship between Piet Mondrian and Ben Nicholson during the 1930's. At this time the two artists were leading forces of abstract art in Europe.

Contemporary Art Sale | Exhibition at Sotheby's London

The Contemporary Art Day sale in London on 16 February includes a range of exciting artworks which span the notable movements and artists from the post war period to the present day.

The morning session is highlighted by an extraordinary selection of works by leading contemporary artists, including Gerhard Richter’s masterful Abstraktes Bild and an extremely rare and early spot painting by Damien Hirst, Amyloglucosidase from 1993.

Hockney on Paper | Sale at Christies

Sale Location
85 Old Brompton Road, London

Auction Times
Feb 17 11:00 AM Lots 1 - 147

Yayoi Kusama

9 February – 5 June 2012

The nine decades of Yayoi Kusama's life have taken her from rural Japan to the New York art scene to contemporary Tokyo, in a career in which she has continuously innovated and re-invented her style. Well-known for her repeating dot patterns, her art encompasses an astonishing variety of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, film, performance and immersive installation. It ranges from works on paper featuring intense semi-abstract imagery, to soft sculpture known as "Accumulations", to her "Infinity Net" paintings, made up of carefully repeated arcs of paint built up into large patterns.

The Curator's Egg. Altera Pars

Back in 1994, a year in which the end of the world was confidently predicted by Jehova’s Witnesses and the first women priests were ordained by the Church of England, a year which also saw the launch of the National Lottery, Anthony Reynolds Gallery organised a large group exhibition in a very small space and called it The Curator’s Egg.

FORM vs FORM: Abbi Torrance and Paul Ridyard

27 January 2012 - 25 February 2012

Private View Friday 27th January, 6.30-9pm (in association with SLAM Fridays)

BEARSPACE is pleased to present Abbi Torrance and Paul Ridyard in FORM vs FORM: an exhibition bringing together their unique practices to investigate the construction of perception through social and romantic ideologies and formations.

Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam

26 January – 15 April 2012

One of the five pillars of Islam central to Muslim belief, Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must make at least once in their lifetime if they are able. This major exhibition charts the history of this deeply personal journey.

David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture

21 January - 9 April 2012

In January 2012 the Royal Academy of Arts will showcase the first major exhibition of new landscape works by David Hockney RA. Featuring vivid paintings inspired by the East Yorkshire landscape, these large-scale works have been created especially for the galleries at the Royal Academy of Arts.