This month’s list of ten must-see UK exhibitions features major shows on J.M.W. Turner (Margate), Picasso (at the National Portrait Gallery) and the Ditchling circle of artist-craftsmen and -women (Ditchling, West Sussex).
1) The Book Beautiful: William Morris, Hilary Pepler and the private press story
Of all of the crafts being practiced at Ditchling in the first half of the Twentieth Century, printing was arguably the most significant. This is partly due to the number and the calibre of the artists involved; a circle of soon-to-be legendary typographers and wood engravers such as David Jones, Eric Gill and Hilary Pepler carried out work for Pepler’s St Dominic’s Press in these years. It was also partly due to the fact that the achievements of the village’s diverse crafts community were communicated to the public via posters, gallery invitations, maps and prospectuses printed at Pepler’s press. This exhibition links the work of St Dominic’s Press to that of the Kelmscott Press under William Morris in the previous century.
Showing at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft from 12 September 2016 to 11 April 2017.
2) J.M.W. Turner: Adventures in Colour
In the most famous of Turner’s paintings in oils, the ones that hang in the National Gallery, colours reach the viewer in an altered state, having passed through various kinds of atmospheric distortion; smog, smoke, mist or just distance. It comes as a surprise to discover how saturated Turner’s sketchbooks are with vibrant pigment, hastily applied in watercolour, bodycolour, chalk or crayon. This major exhibition explores Turner’s use of various methods of delivering colour, and features more than a hundred of the artist’s works in oils and watercolour.
Showing at Turner Contemporary, Margate from 8 October 2016 to 8 January 2017.
3) Paula Rego : Dancing Ostriches
The series of pastels named ‘Dancing Ostriches’ were originally created in the mid-1990s to mark the centenary of the advent of British cinematography (more specifically, they were inspired by Disney’s Fantasia). This exhibition is a rare opportunity to see the whole series, which has not been publicly exhibited since the Millennium.
Showing at Marlborough Fine Art from 28 September to 12 November 2016.
4) Picasso Portraits
This exhibition of more than eighty works by Pablo Picasso shows the master working in a variety of modes: working up portraits from a sitter in the realist style; painting impulsively or from memory in the cubist style; and penning caricatures for his social circle.
Showing at the National Portrait Gallery from 6 October 2016 to 5 February 2017.
5) Peter Blake: Alphabets, Letters & Numbers
This exhibition of work by the British Pop Artist Sir Peter Blake features three series of prints based on commercial typography, and a series of related artworks chosen by the artist. The artworks use college and mimicry to investigate the relationship of text and image; they make reference to childhood reading, instructive material and commercial sign-writing.
Showing at De La Warr Pavilion Bexhill from 13 August to 27 November 2016.
6) Drawing in Red
What do you think of when you hear the term ‘Old Master Drawing’? This exhibition at the Christ Church Picture Gallery (pictured) centres on the Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-century technique of drawing with red chalk, normally on off-white or coloured paper, occasionally with highlights added in light chalk. Features drawings by Michelangelo and Bernini.
Showing at Christ Church Picture Gallery, Oxford, from 26 October 2016 to 16 January 2017.
7) The Mythic Method: Classicism in British Art 1920-1950
This exhibition at Pallant House investigates the revival of interest in the Classical world as a source of both mythic subject matter and design inspiration in Britain between the wars. This generation of artists were attracted to the idea of a vanished age of tranquillity, order, and leisured discourse. The aesthetic has had a lasting effect on public sculpture in Britain ever since.
Showing at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, from 22 October 2016 to 19 February 2017.
8) Louise Bourgeois: Turning Inwards
This exhibition focuses on ‘Turning Inwards’, a series of large soft-ground etchings created by Louise Bourgeois between 2006 and 2010, the year of her death. These etchings are set within a larger body of Bourgeois’s late work, including one of her gigantic bronze spider statues.
Showing at Hauser & Wirth Somerset from 2 October 2016 to 1 January 2017.
9) Revolutionary Textiles 1910-1939
This exhibition takes as its subject Western textile design from 1910 up to the eve of the Second World War, drawing on the Whitworth’s internationally-important collection of around 20,000 fabrics and items of dress from around the world.
Showing at the Whitworth, Manchester, from 26 March 2016 to 29 January 2017.
10) Wanderlust: the World in Watercolour
This exhibition features works in watercolour spanning three centuries, over which watercolour painting and recreational travel became a feature of genteel life in Western Europe. It features work by Edward Lear, J.M.W. Turner, John Constable, David Roberts, JW Carmichael and John Singer Sargent.
Showing at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, until 8 July 2017.