What’s On – London Art and Design Events March 2017

by | What's On

London art and design events March 2017 heralds the start of the design year with a flurry of exhibitions.

Launching the season is of course London Design Week, at the interior design Mecca of Chelsea Harbour. The relocated Design Museum marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution with an exhilarating exhibition of (largely unrealised) utopian designs for urban living. And at the Barbican is an exhibition of the innovative and influential designs of Japanese post-war domestic architecture. Don’t miss an exhibition surveying the partnership between Michelangelo and Sebastiano – that will lift your soul, and the British Museum’s survey of American printmaking from the 60’s to the present day – that will gently bring you back down to earth again.

MICHELANGELO and SEBASTIANO  London Art and Design Events March 2017


​​Until 25 June at National Gallery, London

This exhibition tells the story of the collaborative relationship between the two great Italian masters – Michelangelo and Sebastiano del Piombo. Having met in Rome in 1511, as Michelangelo was finishing the Sistine Chapel ceiling, they found common ground in the fiercely competitive world of High Renaissance Rome. This fateful meeting led to a remarkable twenty five year friendship and partnership; yielding outstanding works of art that neither could have created without the other – against a backdrop of war and religious conflict, but also of great intellectual energy and artistic innovation.

Central to the exhibition are two of their collaborations: the ‘Pietà’ for S. Francesco in Viterbo (c.1512–16) and The Raising of Lazarus, painted for the Cathedral of Narbonne in France, and one of the key works in the National Gallery Collection. Comprising paintings, drawings, sculpture, and letters documenting correspondence between the artists, this fascinating exhibition presents works of striking force and originality.

IMAGINE MOSCOW London Art and Design Events March 2017


​Until 4 June 2017 at Design Museum, London

To coincide with the centenary of the Russian Revolution this year, is this exhibition that explores Moscow as it was imagined by a bold new generation of architects and designers in the 1920s and early 1930s. Much of the material – that has rarely been seen – presents an idealistic vision of the Soviet capital that was never realised. Full of the optimism and freedoms of a yet unsettled people’s revolution, this period witnessed a flourishing of utopian ideas both in the arts and architecture, before the brutal repressions of Stalinism.

The exhibition brings together large-scale architectural drawings supported by artwork, propaganda and publications. Taken together, these unbuilt projects suggest an alternative reality for the city, offering a unique insight into the culture of the time. Each of the six projects presented in the exhibition introduce a theme relevant to life and ideology in the Soviet Union: collectivisation, urban planning, aviation, communication, industrialisation, communal living and recreation.

THE AMERICAN DREAM POP TO THE PRESENT London Art and Design Events March 2017


​Until 18 June 2017 at the British Museum, London

This exhibition presents the BM’s outstanding collection of modern and contemporary American prints for the first time. These will be shown alongside important works from museums and private collections from around the world. Starting with the explosion of pop art in the 1960s, the exhibition includes works by the most celebrated American artists. From Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg to Ed Ruscha, Kara Walker and Julie Mehretu – all boldly experimented with printmaking.

Taking inspiration from the world around them – billboard advertising, momentous global politics, Hollywood and household objects – American artists unleashed a new creativity in the time-hallowed tradition of printmaking. Printmaking – unprecedented in their scale and ambition – brought their work to a much wider and more diverse audience. From Warhol’s new approach to silkscreening to Rauschenberg’s powerful montages, this exhibition displays the sheer inventiveness and technical ingenuity of these artists. It ambitiously tries to tell not just the story of American art but American society and politics from JFK to Trump.

FORMAT 17 London Art and Design Events March 2017


24 March – 23 April 2017 at various venues, Derby

This year’s Format photo-festival in Derby explores the theme of Habitat, from the environmental to the domestic spanning issues of displacement and the creation of digital worlds. The theme is motivated by the tangible impact on the planet by the rapid changes in recent times; changes that have pushed us into a new cultural geological epoch or era known as the Anthropocene.

The central group show includes Ester Vonplon’s visual requiem for the melting glaciers of Switzerland and Lida Abdul’s What We Have Overlooked, a meditation on individual loss made in her native Afghanistan.

MADONNAS AND MIRACLES  London Art and Design Events March 2017


​Until 4 June 2017 at Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

This exhibition exposes hidden world of religious devotion in the Italian Renaissance home. Inviting us into the spiritually charged domestic sphere, a wealth of objects are brought together, including jewellery, ceramics, books, sculptures and paintings.

Drawing materials from across the Italian peninsula, and juxtaposing fine art works with everyday artefacts, Madonnas and Miracles offers a vivid encounter with Renaissance spirituality and domesticity. Transforming our understanding of a period that is often represented as intensely worldly and secular, the exhibition will also offer its audiences a new appreciation of the relationship between the material and the divine.

LONDON DESIGN WEEK 2017 London Art and Design Events March 2017


​Until 17 March at Design Centre, London

Whether you’re an interior designer, architect or a style-seeker, you’ll love exploring this interior design event under the famous glass domes of the Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour. Although the centre permanently showcases more than five hundred of the design world’s most famous brands, it truly comes to life during London Design Week. The event prides itself on showcasing collection launches with products ranging from fabric and furniture, to carpet and kitchens.

This year’s theme is the science of design and the aim will be to explore the methods, makers and materials that have shaped the new season. Learn the secrets of design’s DNA with a packed programme of tours, demonstrations and talks, including Christopher Boyle of The Georgian Group as part of ‘Conversations in Design’.

PEOPLE POWER - FIGHTING FOR PEACE  London Art and Design Events March 2017


​23 March – 28 August 2017 at the Imperial War Museum, London

This is the first major exhibition exploring the evolution of anti-war protest from the First World War to the present day. ‘Fighting for Peace’ tells the stories of passionate individuals over the past one hundred years, and the struggles they have endured for the anti-war cause.

A unique combination of banners, posters, personal items, images, artworks, audio, film and documents will be on display showing how the peace movement and creative responses to war have changed and developed over the past century.

DEUTSCHE BÕRSE PHOTOGRAPHY PRIZE London Art and Design Events March 2017


​Until 11 June 2017 at The Photographer’s Gallery, London

The four artists shortlisted this year celebrate established photographic narratives alongside experimental and conceptual approaches to documentary, landscape and portraiture. The common themes between the various photographers are questions of truth and fiction, doubt and certainty, what constitutes the real and ideal and the relationship between the observer and the observed.

The four artists shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2017 are Sophie Calle, Dana Lixenberg, Awoiska van der Molen and Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs. The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize is an annual award established by The Photographers’ Gallery in London in 1996.



​22 March – 1 April at Mall Galleries, London

The Royal Society of British Artists was founded in 1823 as an alternative to the Royal Academy. At its heart, the Society seeks to promote the skills of draughtsmanship and core aesthetic values within the visual arts. Defying the art world’s trends and fashions the Society is now impressively in its 300th year. The much anticipated annual exhibition shows the best of contemporary representational painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing.

Sourced from member artists and through open submission, the exhibition also includes selected work from schools and colleges around the country. The show also includes entries from the four finalists for the Society’s prestigious Rome Scholarship award, as well as work produced by the recipient of the Rome Scholarship from the previous year.

THE JAPANESE HOUSE - ARCHITECTURE AND LIFE AFTER 1945  London Art and Design Events March 2017


​23 March – 25 June 2017 at The Barbican, London

This is the first major UK exhibition to focus on Japanese domestic architecture from the end of the Second World War to now. This field has consistently produced some of the most influential and extraordinary examples of modern and contemporary design. In the wake of the widespread devastation of Tokyo and other cities in Japan after the war, there began an urgent need for new housing. The family house quickly became the foremost focus for architectural experimentation and debate.

Through their designs for domestic architecture, Japanese architects have not only proposed innovative solutions to changing lifestyles, but also radical critiques of society. This exhibition presents some of the most exciting architectural projects of the last 70 years, many of which have never before been exhibited in the UK. As well as architectural projects, the exhibition incorporates cinema, photography and art in order to cast new light on the role of the house in Japanese culture.

BADA 2017 London Art and Design Events March 2017

BADA 2017

​15 – 21 March 2017 at Duke of York Square, Chelsea, London

The British Antique Dealers’ Association is the UK’s trade association for the leading antique dealers. They host one of the largest and most prestigious annual Fine Arts and Antique Fairs in the UK. All disciplines of art and antiques can be found under one roof including fine furniture, paintings, silverware and jewellery, ceramics, clocks and much more.

This year will see 100 of the country’s leading dealers return to King’s Road. But this year the fair is launching an exciting new direction by broadening its remit to include the very best of Modern and Contemporary furniture, art and design, whilst retaining its core membership of antique dealers. This new diversity reflects the growing fashion for eclecticism among both collectors and fairs, with the prominent examples of Masterpiece and PAD.

REVOLUTION - RUSSIA 1917 - 32 London Art and Design Events February 2017


​​Until 17 April at Royal Academy, London

A century after the Russian Revolution, the RA examines the first 15 years of art under Soviet rule. This momentous period of world history sees a flourishing n Russia of genuinely groundbreaking art and ideas. Amidst the tumult, the arts initially thrived as debates swirled over what form a new “people’s” art should take. Renowned artists including Kandinsky, Malevich, Chagall and Rodchenko were among those to live through the fateful events of 1917, which ended centuries of Tsarist rule and shook Russian society to its foundations.

Taking inspiration from a remarkable exhibition shown in Russia just before Stalin’s clampdown this exhibition explores the revolution’s utopian beginnings with all its optimism, contradictions, and new ways of seeing. All of this effervescence was of course eventually to give way to Stalinist repression that ended creative freedom. This far-ranging exhibition will – for the first time – survey the entire artistic landscape of post-Revolutionary Russia, encompassing Kandinsky’s boldly innovative compositions, the dynamic abstractions of Malevich and the Suprematists, and the emergence of Socialist Realism, which would come to define Communist art as the only style accepted by the regime.

Vanessa Bell London Art and Design Events February 2017


​Until 4 June at Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

“The Bloomsbury Group” according to the famous quip “talked in circles, lived in squares and loved in triangles”. If the implication was that the lives of the Bloomsbury group often eclipsed their works, this was particularly true of Vanessa Bell (1879-1961) – one of its acclaimed central figures. There are of course endless books, film and TV mini series on her loves, friendships and her relationship with her sister Virginia Woolf. Yet how good an artist was she? This survey of Bell’s paintings offers a chance to look seriously at her work.

Arranged thematically, the exhibition will reveal Bell’s pioneering work in the genres of portraiture, still life and landscape and will explore her fluid movement between the fine and applied arts, focusing attention on her most distinctive period of experimentation in the 1910s. Approximately 100 oil paintings as well as fabrics, works on paper, photographs and related archival material will deliver Bell in full force, boldly experimenting with abstraction, colour and form while developing her own distinctive way of seeing the world.

WOLFGANG TILLMANS London Art and Design Events February 2017


​​Until 11 June at Tate Modern, London

Wolfgang Tillmans was both the first photographer and first non-British artist to receive the Turner Prize (2000). Now he will have his first ever exhibition at Tate Modern, bringing together works in an exciting variety of media. The range will include photographs, video, digital slide projections, publications, curatorial projects and recorded music – all staged by the artist in his characteristically innovative style. Alongside portraiture, landscape and still lifes, Tillmans pushes the boundaries of the photographic form in abstract artworks that range from the sculptural to the immersive.

The show is charged with social and political comment and takes the year 2003 as its point of departure. For Tillmans this is the moment the world changed, with the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent anti-war demonstrations, political activism and turbulence. Tillmans will also be presenting his work in film, video and music in the south Tank for 10 days with live events featuring performances and sound systems.

AMERICA AFTER THE FALL - PAINTING IN THE 1930s London Art and Design Events February 2017


​​Until 4 June at the Royal Academy, London

As all eyes are firmly fixed on the U.S. to see how radically the post-war settlement will be altered, this timely exhibition looks at the work of artists responding to an earlier period of crisis. In the devastating wake of the Wall Street Crash, artists sought to capture the changes in urbanisation, industrialisation and immigration that pulsed across the country, resulting in one of the most vital periods for American artists in the 20th century. This was a decade like no other that saw them search for an elusive ‘Americanness’ through realism, populism and abstraction, rural and urban themes, the farm, the new and the traditional.

Bringing together 45 truly iconic works that have rarely been seen together, this electrifying and transformative period is brought to life. The work of artists on show range from Jackson Pollock, Georgia O’Keeffe and Edward Hopper to Thomas Hart Benton, Philip Guston and more. Their responses to this time of struggle and despair ranged from realism and Americana to energetic abstraction. This is a gripping journey through a cowed but unbroken America.

ROBOTS London Art and Design Events February 2017


​​Until 3 September at the Science Museum, London

Within a lifetime science fact has spectacularly caught up with science fiction. From the start of the 20th century, artists and writers who were obsessed with the modern, became fascinated by the post-human: in 1913-15, Jacob Epstein imagined a terrifying droid in his sculpture The Rock Drill, and in 1920 the Czech writer Karel Capek wrote RUR (Rossum’s Universal Robots). The roots of our fascination with mechanised human forms however goes back long before Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Among his great scientific leaps was Leonardo da Vinci’s mechanical monster, created to impress the king of France in the early 1500s.

This exhibition has everything from Renaissance automata to the latest attempts to replace ourselves. From the dawn of mechanised human forms to cutting-edge technology fresh from the lab, Robots reveals the astonishing 500-year quest to make machines human. Focusing on why they exist rather than on how they work, this blockbuster exhibition explores the ways robots mirror humanity and the insights they offer into our ambitions, desires and position in a rapidly changing world.

DAVID HOCKNEY London Art and Design Events February 2017


​​Until 29 May at Tate Britain, London

A Hockney exhibition is always hotly anticipated but this one will be the largest and most comprehensive of his long and varied career. Even now at 80, the Yorkshireman remains one of the most popular and influential of British artists.

Nearing 80, the Bradford-born one-time symbol of Swinging London has been a painter of swimmers and California pools, heat-struck canyons and damp Yorkshire wolds. A terrific graphic artist and etcher, portraitist, photographer, opera designer and sometime video artist, Hockney is celebrated in the largest exhibition of his long and varied career.

Hockney continues to change his style and ways of working, embracing new technologies as he goes. From his portraits and images of Los Angeles swimming pools, through to his drawings and photography, Yorkshire landscapes and most recent paintings – some of which have never been seen before in public – this exhibition shows how the roots of each new direction lay in the work that came before. This exhibition gathers together an extensive selection of David Hockney’s most famous works celebrating his achievements in painting, drawing, print, photography and video across six decades. A once-in-a-lifetime chance to see these unforgettable works together.

SUSSEX MODERNISM - RETREAT AND REBELLION London Art and Design Events February 2017


​Until 23rd April 2017 at Two Temple Place, London

Over 120 drawings, paintings, sculpture and furniture are displayed in this exhibition that examines why radical artists and writers were drawn to the rolling hills, seaside resorts, and quaint villages of Sussex in the first half of the 20th century. It also attempts to show how, in the communities they created, artistic innovation ran hand in-hand with political, sexual and domestic experimentation.

Sussex Modernism is created by the Bulldog Trust in partnership with 9 Sussex museums and galleries. The exhibition draws on the richness of collections in the region as well as featuring major loans from across the country. Within the county are the homes of major artists and collectors namely Charleston, Farleys House and Gallery, and West Dean as well as the iconic modernist building De La Warr Pavilion, now a contemporary art gallery and performance venue.

VOLCANOES London Art and Design Events February 2017


​​Until 21 May at the Bodleian Library, Oxford

Volcanoes have long captivated not just scientists, but also artists, writers, poets and even garden designers. This fascinating exhibition focuses more on the cultural response to volcanoes. It includes a spectacular selection of eye witness accounts, scientific observations and artwork charting how our understanding of volcanoes has evolved over the past two millennia.

The first volcanologist was the ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles, who is said to have dived into Mount Etna in a fatal experiment. The modern study of volcanoes started in the 18th century, when artists including Joseph Wright of Derby painted spectacular images of Vesuvius spewing fire and William Hamilton published his sumptuously illustrated scientific work Campi Flegrei. William Hamilton was the British Ambassador to the decadent court of Naples and husband to Emma Hamilton. The two would entertain Grand Tourists. Hamilton walking scions of the nobility to the peak of Vesuvius as it erupted by day and Emma performing her erotic ‘attitudes’ by night. A red hot exhibition!

MAKING NATURE London Art and Design Events January 2017


Until 21 May 2017 at Wellcome Collection, London

See how humans have related to other animals through time with Making Nature: How We See Animals at the Wellcome Collection. The exhibition takes a journey back in time to discover how artists, philosophers and scientists have built different hierarchies in their view of the natural world. Bringing together more than 100 objects, photographs and films, the display reveals how humans have tried to classify the animal kingdom in order to control it, from the 18th century to the present day.

Don’t miss some of the exhibition’s interesting highlights, including artists Allora and Calzadilla’s film The Great Silence, and Roger Fenton’s and Hiroshi Sugimoto’s stunning photographs.

JOSEF FRANK - PATTERNS - FURNITURE - PAINTING London Art and Design Events January 2017


Until May 7​, 2017​ at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London

Not to be missed is the first ever textile exhibition in the U.K. of the prolific designer and architect Josef Frank (1885-1967). Of the 160 textiles that he designed for Swedish brand Svenskt Tenn, 40 are still in production. The Austrian-born architect moved to Sweden in 1933, where he developed his colourful brand of modernism, working with Estrid Ericson on furniture, glassware, lighting and interior design ideas. Together they redefined what is regarded as Swedish Modern.

This exhibition in association with Millesgården, Stockholm highlights Frank’s vibrant fabric designs for Svenskt Tenn alongside a number of his previously unknown watercolours. The watercolours were produced all through his life and have much the same subject matter as his textiles: flowers, fruit trees, landscapes and birds.

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG London Art and Design Events January 2017


Until 2 April 2017 at Tate Modern, London

This is the first major exhibition of the work of this highly influential American artist in the UK for 35 years and the first retrospective since his death in 2008. Rauschenberg created pop art alongside Andy Warhol and made an artwork out of his bed – half a century before Tracey Emin.

Rauschenberg – a Texan artist with a passion for the world – refused to accept conventional categories of what was and wasn’t art. His quest for innovation was fired by his boundless curiosity and enthusiasm for new ways of making, from painting to performance art. He worked with mass, popular and trash imagery and materials – paint, silk-screen printing, found objects, newspapers, politicians, sportsmen, and pop stars. Iconic works from his six decade career include large-scale pop art screen prints picturing the likes of JF Kennedy; Monogram, a paint splattered taxidermy goat in a car tyre surrounded by street signs; and Bed, soiled sheets spattered with brushmarks.

Original, thought-provoking, witty and at times wild, this retrospective is a rare opportunity to discover the work of an artist whose influence is still felt today.

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY OF THE YEAR London Art and Design Events October 2016


Until 20 September 2017 at Natural History Museum, London

It’s a bittersweet pleasure to admire these ingenious photographs of the amazing creatures who co-habit this planet with us. That is because this year’s exhibition rather poignantly comes moments after a rather sobering CITES meeting. CITES has announced that we are facing a global “extinction crisis” facing many species that is the most critical in its history.

So I wonder if when we look at clever photographs of foxes or monkeys in urban environments, we stop to think that they are here because we are squeezing them out of their habitats? When we look at stunning photographs of shoals of fish – do we realise that we are emptying the oceans of life?

The legitimate global imports of wildlife products are now worth more than $300bn (£200bn) a year; and when you add that to that the ruinous black market trade that has collapsed elephant and rhino numbers – then we see the scale of the problem. The question is who will stand up for animals? Meanwhile we can be entertained by this well-intentioned show.



Until 16 April 2017 at Whitechapel Gallery, London

An intriguing group show culled from the archives of the National Museum of Women in Washington that looks at the female body as a medium for visual storytelling and personal revelation. Artists such as Marina Abramović, Nan Goldin, Justine Kurland, Hellen van Meene and Shirin Neshat turn the camera on themselves to explore female identity and experience in the contemporary world though still images, video and installation.



Until 30 April 2017 at V&A, London

This beautiful and fascinating display – organised in partnership with the National Trust – explores the history of the garniture; a set of vases unified by their design. Derived from the French word ‘garnir’ meaning to garnish, ‘garniture’ has been applied to many decorative items from the kitchen to clothing. The term was eventually commonly applied to porcelain sets – the first of which were imported early in the 17th century from China.

These sets were used for display above cupboards, chimney mantels, bookshelves, or in the transom of a door in a library or study. Garniture was typically produced in odd-numbered sets, as it was believed that was most pleasing to the eye. These sets most commonly included three items, but there were sets of five, and in some cases even seven vessels.

As the fashion spread around Europe, British and European potters made their own versions, rivalling Chinese and Japanese imports. Surviving complete sets are very rare and this display brings together sets from 13 different National Trust houses.

THE RADICAL EYE - MODERNIST PHOTOGRAPHY London Art and Design Events January 2017


Until 7 May 2017 at Tate Modern, London

This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Elton John’s unrivalled modernist photography collection, drawn from the classic Modernist period of the 1920s–50s. An incredible group of Man Ray portraits are exhibited together for the first time, having been brought together by Sir Elton John over the past twenty-five years, including portraits of Matisse, Picasso, and Breton.

There are over 70 artists and nearly 150 rare vintage prints on show from seminal figures including Brassai, Imogen Cunningham, André Kertész, Dorothea Lange, Tina Modotti, and Aleksandr Rodchenko. This is an opportunity to peek inside The pop star’s home and delight in seeing such masterpieces of photography.

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