Thursday, 17 January 2013

Spoilt for Choice: Modern British Art in 2013

Dora Carringon, Lytton Strachey, 1916 (National Portrait Gallery)
The Lowry show at Tate Britain may be the big news of the year, but there are plenty of other treats in store for lovers of those once-maligned media, painting and sculpture. International stars include Lichtenstein, Klee, George Bellows, Picasso and of course Manet, while on the home front Paul Nash is set to feature prominently.

A thorough preview of the year's entertainment was posted at the beginning of the month by the ever-vigilant people at Culture 24, and it makes mouth-watering reading. In London we have David Inshaw at the Fine Art Society (April), Laura Knight at the National Portrait Gallery (July-Oct) and Whistler (James not Rex) at the Dulwich Portrait Gallery (autumn).

Before that, Dulwich plays host to 'A Crisis of Brilliance', an exhibition based on David Haycock's wonderful group biography of five artists who studied at the Slade shortly before World War One. Alongside Nash (whose solo show at Dulwich was a sensation) the book features CRW Nevinson, Stanley Spencer, Mark Gertler and Dora Carrington; the exhibition also includes work by David Bomberg.

David Inshaw, The Badminton Game - visit David's London show in April
Outside London, Nash features again in a second pithy-remark-related exhibition, namely 'An Outbreak of Talent' at the Fry Art Gallery (March-June). This was Nash's own description of the talented group of students lured to the Royal College of Art in the early 1920s by director William Rothenstein, an intake that included Ravilious and Bawden, Edward Burra, Barnett Freedman and Enid Marx. I'm particularly looking forward to seeing some of Freedman's work...

I don't think the Fry is showing work by Barbara Hepworth or Henry Moore, the two biggest stars of the RCA firmament, but you can see the latter paired with Rodin at the Henry Moore Foundation (March-Oct) and with Francis Bacon at the Ashmolean (Sept-Jan).

Elsewhere we have the centenary exhibition of William Scott at Tate St Ives (Jan-May), continuing on to the Hepworth in Wakefield and the Ulster Museum, Belfast. Other touring shows include a major exhibition of Land Art, which kicks off at Southampton City Art Gallery in May, and 'Turner and Constable: Sketching from Nature', which premiers at Compton Verney in July. Or should that be Turner vs. Constable?

William Scott at Tate St Ives, the Hepworth and Ulster Museum
Group shows include 'Pop and Abstract' at the National Museum, Cardiff (March-Sept), which explores British art in the 1960s, and 'The Ingram Collection: The Colourful Lives of Artists' at the Lightbox in Woking. As Culture 24 put it, 'With a cast list including Dora Carrington, Eric Gill, and Stanley Spencer, it should be quite an eye opener'.

FFI: Culture 24


  1. Good morning James, I've just found your blog (a few clicks from Spitalfields Life blog). It's an excellent read - you are now bookmarked!

    Best wishes from snowy Suffolk.


  2. Thanks Jill - hope you're not too chilly!

  3. The Lowry show at Tate Britain may be the big news of the year.