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Juniper Tree (c) Joan Jonas

The best exhibitions in London 2018

29 December 2017 Katie Da Cunha Lewin

London is often thought of as one of the art capitals of the world, and 2018 certainly looks like it will prove that reputation right. Whether or not you are into photography, pop culture, or are looking forward to the Tate's much expected Picasso show, there will be definitely something for you this year.

2018 is definitely the year of photography with lots of openings across the capital celebrating the diversity and possibility of photography. As part of the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change, Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins opens in February, exploring the relationship between the personal and political, documenting lives of individuals from disenfranchised communities.  With work that spans the globe, the exhibition covers work from Indian photographer Dayanita Singh, Paz Errázuriz’s documenting of transgender sex-workers Chile in the 1980s, and New York based photographer Mary Ellen Mark’s work with homeless children to name but a few.

At the Photographer’s Gallery, the four artists shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018, Mathieu Asselin, Rafal Milach, Batia Suter and Luke Willis Thompson, show their work in the intimate gallery space. Working across various topics, from interrogating knowledge production to a film exploring grief and authorship, this exhibition shows some of the exciting and innovative work taking place in the world of photography. The winner of the prize will be announced on 17 May 2018, and the exhibition runs until 3 June 2018.  Going back to the very early days of photography, but equally relevant to today, the National Portrait Gallery opens Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography on 1 March until 20 May 2018.  Focussing on the work of four disparate artists, Lewis Carroll, Julia Margaret Cameron, Oscar Rejlander and Clementina Hawarden, this exhibition maps their influence of photography. In May, The Tate Modern put on a new show that explores the relationship between photography and abstract art. In Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art, viewers can explore work from 1910 to the present day, with artists such as George Braque and Bridget Riley, as well as photographers such as Paul Strand, László Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray, illuminating the relationship between different disciplines. This runs until 14 October 2018. For something a little different, that specifically engages with pop culture, head over to the National Portrait Gallery, where they will put on a special exhibition tracing the influence of Michael Jackson. In Michael Jackson: On The Wall, opening at the end of June, expect pieces from private collections that have never been seen in public before charting the pervasiveness influence of the King of Pop.

Several exhibitions explore the work of an individual artist; The Dulwich Picture Gallery holds an excellent collection of Old Masters paintings, but their special exhibitions often highlight the oeuvre of lesser-known artists. In February, the gallery hosts the first UK retrospective of Canadian painter David Milne.  Over at the Tate Modern, Joan Jonas, American visual and performance artist, comes to the exhibition rooms in March, as well as the cinema and the Tank performance space. As well as showing her most famous installations, ‘Organic Honey’ and ‘The Juniper Tree’, the Tate also display her more recent works, as well as hosting a series of live events, some of which will include Jonas herself. They also put on their much awaited Picasso show: focussing on a particularly prolific year in his life, Picasso 1932 - Love, Fame, Tragedy, brings together more than 100 works for the first time.

Tacita Dean, British filmmaker and artist, comes to the Royal Academy’s new Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries from 19 May. This exhibition explores landscape in the many forms it takes in her work, in both Britian and abroad.  Expect films featuring poets such as Anne Carson, and displays of found objects.

There are also exhibitions surveying the achievements of different artists in relation to one another. Tate Britain considers the history of figurative painting in All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life from February.  As well as work by Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon, the exhibition also includes work by Paula Rego and Frank Auberbach, as well as considering early influencers such as David Bomberg, to think about the evolution of how life is represented in art. In October, The Barbican looks directly at artistic relationships in Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde. They problematise what ‘couple’ might mean including work by couples that challenge gender stereotypes and relationship definition, including Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, Man Ray and Lee Miller, and other less-well known couples like Romaine Brooks and Natalie Clifford-Barney. 
 

Image credit: Photographer unknown A. Rodchenko and V. Stepanova descending from the airplane. (for the film The General Line by Sergei Eisenstein), 1926 Courtesy Rodchenko and Stepanova Archives, Moscow

If fashion is more your bag, 2018 offers some interesting options. The V&A, the museum dedicated to clothing, accessories and objects, gives visitors the unique opportunity to view some of the personal clothing and belongings of Frida Kahlo in Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, from 16 June – 4 November. This is the first time these items have left Mexico, so for any fans of Kahlo and her renowned aesthetic this is a must see. The Fashion and Textile Museum also host two interesting shows this year; at the beginning of the year, the museum celebrates that most ubiquitous of garments, the T-shirt in T-SHIRT: CULT – CULTURE – SUBVERSION with examples from Vivienne Westwood to climate change movements. From 25 May, the museum then charts the life and work of British designer Orla Kiely. In A Life in Pattern, the exhibition gives unique access to archives to show the development of Kiely’s patterns and collaborations. 

There are still plenty of offerings that have carried over from 2017. The Modigliani retrospective is at the Tate Modern until 2 April, giving you plenty of opportunity to see some of his nudes and lesser-known sculptures.  The Tate Britain also continues their mammoth show Impressionists in London, French Artists in Exile (1870-1904), including the work of Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro until the beginning of May.  At The Imperial War Museum, their diverse exhibition about art that responds to 9/11 and its effects, Age of Terror, runs until the end of May.  

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