must-see exhibitions in 2019

Must-see exhibitions in 2019

Check out our round-up of some of the most exciting must-see exhibitions in 2019.

From iconic war images to previously unseen retrospectives we can’t wait for another exciting year of photography.

Bill Viola/Michelangelo: Life Death Rebirth

must-see exhibitions in 2019
Bill Viola, Nantes Triptych, 1992. Video/sound installation. Courtesy Bill Viola Studio.
Photo: Kira Perov

The Royal Academy of Arts is bringing together two artists – born centuries apart – who explore the same universal themes.

Bill Viola/Michelangelo: Life Death Rebirth includes works of transcendent beauty and raw emotional power.

In contrast to the scale and grandeur of his frescoes and sculptures, Michelangelo’s drawings take us closer to the emotional core of his work.

Finished works in their own right, they were created as gifts and expressions of love, or as private and meditative reflections on his own mortality.

In 2006, pioneering video artist Bill Viola saw a collection of these drawings at Windsor Castle.

He was astonished by the Renaissance master’s expressive use of the body to convey emotional and spiritual states.

Although created in a radically different medium, Viola’s works also grapple with life’s fundamental questions. He asks us to consider the thresholds between birth, life and death.

Both artists harness the symbolic power of sacred art, and both show us physical extremes and moments of transcendence.

This exhibition explores the affinities between Viola and Michelangelo, conceived as an immersive journey through the cycle of life.

Visitors will see a selection of Michelangelo’s most poignant works, including his drawings of the Crucifixion from Windsor.

The exhibition also includes Michelangelo’s only marble sculpture in the UK, the Virgin and Child with the Infant St John (the ‘Taddei Tondo’).

From Viola, there are 12 major installations spanning his entire career.

They include the extraordinary Tristan’s Ascension (The Sound of a Mountain Under a Waterfall) – a five-metre-high projection depicting the ascent of the soul after death.

Bill Viola/Michelangelo: Life Death Rebirth, Royal Academy of Arts, January 26 to March 31, 2019.

must-see exhibitions in 2019
Local Boys in Bradford 1972 © Don McCullin, courtesy of Tate Britain

Don McCullin

Tate Britain is set to present a comprehensive retrospective of the legendary British photographer Sir Don McCullin in 2019.

The exhibition includes many of his iconic war photographs including images from Vietnam, Northern Ireland and more recently Syria, often captured at great personal risk.

It also focuses on the work he did at home in the UK.

These range from scenes of poverty and working class life in London’s East End and the industrial north to meditative landscapes of his beloved Somerset.

Sir Don McCullin was born in 1935 and grew up in a deprived area of north London.

He got his first break when a newspaper published his photograph of friends in a local gang.

From the 1960s he forged a career as one of the UK’s foremost war photographers, primarily working for the Sunday Times Magazine.

His unforgettable and sometimes harrowing images are accompanied in the show with his brutally honest commentaries.

With more than 250 photographs, all printed by Sir Don McCullin in his darkroom, this exhibition will be a unique opportunity to appreciate the scope and achievements of his career.

Don McCullin, Tate Britain, February 5 to May 6, 2019.

Main image: Protester, Cuban Missile Crisis, Whitehall, London 1962 © Don McCullin, courtesy of Tate Britain

must-see exhibitions in 2019
Jack Dracula at a bar, New London, Conn. 1961. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. © The Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

diane arbus: in the beginning

This exhibition of nearly 100 images redefines the achievement of one of the most prominent and influential artists of the 20th century.

It takes an in-depth look at the formative first half of Diane Arbus’ career, from 1956 to 1962, when she developed the direct, psychologically-acute style for which she later became so widely celebrated.

Highlights include some 50 photographs never before shown in Europe, all vintage prints from the Diane Arbus Archive at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

They include arresting portraits of individuals across the spectrum of American society.

Arbus discovered the majority of her subjects in New York City. Creating some of the most compelling photographs in the history of post-war photography, she depicted a cross-section of urban life.

Organised by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the exhibition is curated by Jeff L. Rosenheim.

It was devised for the The Met Breuer in 2016 and has been adapted for Hayward Gallery.

Each photograph is presented on an individual free-standing wall and visitors are encouraged to navigate their own routes, experiencing one-on-one encounters with these intimate works.

diane arbus: in the beginning, Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, February 13 to May 6, 2019.

must-see exhibitions in 2019
Akram Zaatari, The Script, 2018. Image courtesy the artist.

Akram Zaatari: The Script

Modern Art Oxford presents a solo exhibition of works by renowned artist Akram Zaatari.

Zaatari is co-founder of the Arab Image Foundation.

His work focuses on collecting, studying and archiving the photographic history of the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab diaspora.

The Script (2018), focuses on his interest in people’s attitudes while filming or photographing themselves.

This exploration emerged from his research of vernacular photography.

He identifies recurring attitudes, fashions and forms of behaviour in front of the camera and how individuals choose to associate themselves with a social class, technology, modern values, or sometimes-dominant ideologies.

The exhibition at Modern Art Oxford will include further film and photographic works by Zaatari alongside this new commission.

The Script is a touring exhibition by New Art Exchange in partnership with Turner Contemporary and Modern Art Oxford. It is funded by Arts Council England and supported by Thomas Dane Gallery.

Akram Zaatari: The Script, Modern Art Oxford, March 23 to May 12, 2019.

must-see exhibitions in 2019
Image: Li Yuan Chia, Untitled, c1993. Courtesy the Estate of Li Yuan Chia.

Li Yuan Chia: Unique Photographs

Throughout his life Li Yuan Chia travelled from China, to Taiwan, Bologna and London.

However he found his home in a house in Banks, Cumbria, that he bought in 1972 from Winifred Nicholson.

Now regarded as China’s first conceptual artist, Li Yuan Chia made this house into the LYC Museum and Art Gallery.

It became a place for showing innovative art alongside children’s workshops and his own experimental work.

Li Yuan Chia’s art encompasses sculpture, painting and poetry but the focus of this exhibition is photography.

A group of his lyrical hand-coloured photographs of himself, his sculpture and garden at Banks is shown alongside the artist’s own collection of film cameras.

Mostly set in the quiet of autumn and winter, the photographs convey a melancholy beauty from the last years of the artist’s life.

Li Yuan Chia: Unique Photographs, The Whitworth, Manchester, May 18 to December 15, 2019.

must-see exhibitions in 2019
Cindy Sherman Untitled Film Still #21, 1978, Gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches, 20.3 x 25.4 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

Cindy Sherman: Untitled Film Stills

Cindy Sherman’s complete Untitled Film Stills series is to go on display for the first time in the UK in a major new retrospective.

Opening at the National Portrait Gallery, the exhibition will explore the development of Sherman’s work from the mid-1970s to today.

It will feature around 180 works from international collections, as well as work never before displayed in a public gallery.

Sherman is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading contemporary artists.

She first gained widespread critical recognition for her Untitled Film Stills, started shortly after Sherman moved to New York in 1977.

The work of 70 images was her first major artistic statement and defined her approach.

With Sherman herself as model wearing a range of costumes and hairstyles, her black and white images captured the look of 1950s and 60s Hollywood, film noir, B movies and European art-house films.

The exhibition will also see all five images from Sherman’s Cover Girl series, displayed together for the first time.

Cover Girl was completed when Sherman was a student in 1976.

Cindy Sherman: Untitled Film Stills, National Portrait Gallery, London, June 27 to September 15, 2019.

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