A giant blow-up of a young Michael Caine, with his trademark black-rimmed glasses perched on his head, greets the visitor on arrival at the gallery, and sets the theme for the greater part of the exhibition, for David Bailey is most famous for his pictures of the glamorous and famous. In our celebrity-obsessed age, do we really need a large-scale exhibition of portraits of – well – celebrities? Clearly, Bailey and the National Portrait Gallery think so, and, judging by the crowds seething enthusiastically through the rooms, this is set to be London’s most popular museum show of 2014.
‘Hockney, Printmaker’ coincides with the 60th anniversary of David Hockney’s first print and celebrates his long and diverse career as a printmaker. David Hockney is Britain’s best-known and arguably best-loved artist, and one of our most talented and innovative printmakers. Showcasing over 100 works, including rare early lithographs from his time at Bradford College of Art in the 1950s (a Self Portrait redolent of Stanley Spencer) and his recent experiments with the iPad and iPhone (Rain on the Studio Window, 2009), this engaging exhibition offers an insightful and entertaining overview of Hockney’s long career. Read my review here
Tate Britain presents the first major survey in 25 years of pre-eminent British sculptor Richard Deacon’s work. Deacon is best known for his lyrical open forms and works displaying organic fluid movement, a recurring feature notable in serpentine structures such as ‘After’ (1998), which occupies Room 5 of the exhibition like a giant somnolent latticework python.
Biting satirical lithographs and empathetic depictions of people going about their everyday lives are displayed alongside sculptures and paintings in the Royal Academy’s new autumn exhibition of work by French artist Honoré Daumier, the first exhibition of Daumier’s work in the UK for fifty years.
Hot on the heels of the unveiling of the fabulous newly hung British collection, Tate Britain throws open a pair of giant pink hospital doors to showcase the work of two complementary British artists, Patrick Caulfield and Gary Hume. Presented as two parallel exhibitions (a single ticket admits visitors to both), each offers a survey of the work of painters whose names have become indelibly associated with two great movements in modern British art – Pop Art and the Young British Artists (or YBAs). Both movements were an attempt to bring art back into touch with the real and the everyday, in exciting new ways.
When Manet’s picture The Railway (1873) was first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1874, critics were hostile. The painting depicts a young woman seated in front of iron railings overlooking the sidings at the Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris. She raises her head from the book she’s been reading to look up at the viewer with an expression of mild indifference, while a little girl next to her turns her back on us to observe the clouds of steam rising from a passing train. Critics were confused: was this a subject picture or a double portrait?
The Royal Academy’s spring blockbuster exhibition for 2013 focuses on the portraits of Edouard Manet. It explores the artist’s modern approach by suggesting that his narrative genre scenes are in fact portraits, which place his sitters in natural, realistic situations, turning his subjects into “actors” in scenes of modern life, and authenticating his scenes of contemporary life by filling them with real people. Read my full review here
Frances Wilson blogs on pianism, classical music and culture