A selection of 10 exhibitions taking place in the UK in February 2017, including major shows on such overlooked figures as Vanessa Bell and ‘Mancester’s Monet’, Wynford Dewhurst.
1) Wynford Dewhurst: Manchester’s Monet
The most peculiar of our ten recommended exhibitions for this month, ‘Manchester’s Monet’ focuses on the life and art of the Manchester-born painter and art-historian Wynford Dewhurst. Dewhurst was a man of many contradictions. Born Thomas William Smith and trained as a lawyer, he gave up his legal career to become ‘Wynford Dewhurst’, Parisian artist; despite his Francophile tastes, he asserted that the precursors of the French Impressionists were the British painters of the mid-Nineteenth Century (‘the French artists simply developed a style which was British in its conception’). Nevertheless, there’s no doubting Dewhurst’s talent, and visitors to this high-profile exhibition will have to decide for themselves whether he was an eccentric or a figure of real significance.
Showing at Manchester Art Gallery from 9 December to 23 April 2017.
2) Places of the mind: British watercolour landscapes 1850–1950
The artists featured in this eclectic exhibition include Edward Burne-Jones, John Singer Sargent, Paul Nash, Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland. Over half of the watercolours on show have never been on public display.
Showing at The British Museum from 23 February to 27 August 2017.
2) Vanessa Bell (1879-1961)
The promotional matter for this major exhibition on Vanessa Bell states that her reputation as an artist ‘has long been overshadowed by her family life and romantic entanglements.’ While Bell is far from an obscure figure, there is certainly a good deal of truth in this. When her portraits are displayed, the emphasis is more often on the eminent sitter than the artist. Many members of her family and her personal acquaintance now have their own entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, the reference-work on notable figures from British history which was first edited by her father, Sir Leslie Stephen. Featuring paintings, drawings, ceramics, fabrics and photographs, this major exhibition places Bell firmly centre-stage.
Showing at Dulwich Picture Gallery from 8 February to 4 June 2017.
4. The Pastel Society Annual Exhibition 2017
This exhibition at Mall Galleries features work in soft pastel, pencil, chalk and charcoal, chosen by The Pastel Society from an open submission. Expect a wide variety of approaches, some daringly abstract and some representational.
Showing at Mall Galleries from 21 February to 4 March 2017.
5. America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s
This show at the Royal Academy features art made in the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash, the Great Depression and the Dust-Bowl years. It features a range of household names, but is especially notable for being the first show outside North America to feature Grant Wood’s iconic painting ‘American Gothic’.
Showing at the RA from 25 February to 4 June 2017.
6. Australia’s Impressionists
The second of this month’s picks to focus on the Impressionist movement’s international ramifications, this exhibition focuses on the diverging careers of four Australian artists – Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder and John Russell – all of whom were profoundly influenced by the French painters of the second half of the Nineteenth Century.
Showing at the National Gallery from 7 December 2016 to 26 March 2017.
7. David Hockney
This exhibition provides a fitting way to celebrate the 80th birthday of the artist David Hockney. It features drawings, paintings, prints and photographs spanning the six decades of his career.
Showing at Tate Britain from 9 February to 29 May 2017.
8. Anthony Green RA: The Life and Death of Miss Dupont
This exhibition of work by Anthony Green centres on a three-metre tall painting of the artist’s mother which he has been working on for more than twelve years. Artworks, documents and photographs tell the story of the artist’s response to his mother’s second marriage.
Showing at the RA from 18 January to 30 April 2017.
9. Transferences: Sidney Nolan in Britain
This exhibition marks the centenary of the birth of the artist Sidney Nolan, who was born in Melbourne in 1917. It will feature paintings from the 1950s and 60s which feature mythical figures from Australian and Colonial history amongst haunted landscapes.
Showing at Pallant House Gallery from 18 February to 4 June 2017.
10. Disappearance at Sea – Mare Nostrum
This exhibition focuses on the dangerous, expensive and arduous journey to Europe which hundreds of thousands of refugees and immigrants from the Middle East have made since the Arab Spring in early 2011.
Showing at the Baltic Art Gallery, Newcastle, from 27 January to 14 May 2017.