One of the cultural experiences of living in London that I’m most excited about is visiting the museums and galleries, allowing me to reconnect with my university studies in art history. Here are the current exhibits that top my list once I hit town. Have I missed any must-sees?
The Unilever Series: Tacita Dean – Now in its twelfth year, Unilever continues its tradition of commissioning a piece of art for installation in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. Following in the footstep of two of my favorite artists – Louise Bourgeois (2000) and Anish Kapoor (2002/2003) – Tacita Dean is currently displaying FILM, an 11-minute silent 35mm film. This installation, the first of the Unilever pieces focusing on moving images, is described on the website as ‘a surreal visual poem’. Projecting onto a 13m high white monolith and using black and white, colour and hand-tinted film, it’s an experience I don’t want to miss.
Photography: New Documentary Forms – Also on exhibit at the Tate Modern is a 5-room display of contemporary artists using documentary photography as their medium. The website says that each room has ‘one discrete project, in which the artist calls into question the relationship between the documentary value of photography and the museum as its proper context’. The artists included are Luc Delahaye, Mitch Epstein, Guy Tillim, Akram Zaatari and Boris Mikhailov.
Romantics – One of the art history classes that surprised me most at university was 19th Century Art. Full of emotion and passion, and drawing extensively from nature, Romanticism was exciting and moving to study. This exhibit, showcasing the work of JMW Turner, Henry Fuseli, John Constable and Samuel Palmer, looks at the origins, inspirations and legacies of British Romanticism.
GESAMTKUNSTWERK: New Art From Germany – The Saatchi Gallery is a new venue to me, and one that is quite inspiring. Dedicated to contemporary art by unknown artists, Saatchi seems to have a dual purpose of exposure and education. First, exposure of contemporary art to the general public and of little known artists to the wider art world. Smaller galleries like this have much more flexibility and can take more risks with both artists and content than can mainstream venues that must draw large crowds. Second, education about contemporary art in the form of lectures, classes and debates. Contemporary art can often seem inaccessible and incomprehensible, and I am really looking forward to learning more about it myself.
Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan – This current exhibition is an examination of the court paintings of Leonardo da Vinci during his time in the court of Duke Lodovico Sforza in the 1480s and 1490s. Curator Luke Syson says, ‘What we see here is an extraordinary journey, one that takes Leonardo from an artist who believed that his responsibility was to record nature as precisely as possible to an artist who believed that his creative skills were akin to those of God himself’.