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The names in the frame for the coming year

From Rembrandt to manga, John Evans looks at what 2019 has in store for art lovers

04 January, 2019 — By John Evans

At the Royal Academy: Raphael, The Three Graces, c1517-18, red chalk on paper, 20.3 x 25.8cm, Royal Collection Trust. Copyright: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Till January 27 there’s time to catch a couple of top 2018 exhibitions; first the National Gallery’s Mantegna and Bellini ( following the careers and artistic links of Renaissance brothers-in-law Andrea and Giovanni respectively; and second Ribera: Art of Violence, at Dulwich ( with seven monumental canvases, drawings and prints by Spanish Baroque artist Jusepe de Ribera, with the focus on his tortured depictions of saints and sinners.

Programmes of some major galleries promise an eclectic mix of quality, new and old, for the new year. And in the London Art Fair 2019, which runs at the Islington’s Business Design Centre from January 16 to 20, the capital hosts what has become a great annual opener, with more than 130 galleries from home and abroad showing contemporary works, accompanied by a range of talks, tours, performances and promotions and guest-curated exhibitions (

After its 250th anniversary celebrations the Royal Academy of Arts ( offers 12 major installations by American video artist Bill Viola (b1951), set alongside rarely seen drawings by Michelangelo. Bill Viola/Michelangelo: Life Death Rebirth opens on January 26.

Also on the RA agenda, in addition to the Summer Exhibition, is a collaboration with the J Paul Getty Museum, The Renaissance Nude, from March, bringing together works by Titian, Raphael, Leonardo, Dürer, and more to examine what was a pivotal time in the development of Western art, with paintings, miniatures, bronzes and anatomical studies.

At the National Gallery: Joaquín Sorolla, Burgos Cathedral under Snow, 1910, oil on canvas, 104.5 x82.5cm, Museo Sorolla, Madrid. Copyright: useo Sorolla, Madrid

In September the RA’s Main Galleries will by taken over with the latest in its series of one-man (so far only men) shows, this time featuring sculptor Sir Antony Gormley, with the promise that: “Early experimental sculptures, objects and drawings – often made using his own body as a primary tool, material and subject – are brought together with large-scale environments made especially for the RA.”

Fellow Academician Phyllida Barlow’s vibrant sculptures get an airing in some of the new galleries at the RA’s revitalised Burlington House “campus” from February. And inOctober, to run into next year, more than 50 compelling works will feature in Lucian Freud: The Self-portraits, a collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

In March ( Tate Britain’s Van Gogh and Britain will present some 45 of Vincent’s paintings, revealing how he was inspired by Britain and how he inspired its artists.

Tate Modern has Pierre Bonnard: The Colour of Memory, opening January 23.
Other highlights will see Tate Britain showcase the abstract paintings of Frank Bowling in May in his first UK museum retrospective. In September, also at Tate Britain, the work of the visionary printmaker, poet and painter will include some 300 works in William Blake: The Artist.
In June the UK’s largest ever Natalia Goncharova exhibition at Tate Modern will highlight her role as trail-blazer of the Russian avant-garde.

At Dulwich Picture Gallery: Rembrandt van Rijn, The Artist’s Studio, 1659. Copyright: Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

At Dulwich, Rembrandt’s Light, from October 4, is among the “Year of Rembrandt” events taking place throughout Europe to mark 350 years since the Dutch Master’s death.

In March the National Gallery will stage the first exhibition in the UK for over a century of the work of the Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863–1923). Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light will include portraits, landscapes, and the seascapes, garden views, and bather scenes for which he is particularly renowned.

Autumn at the National will feature a major show of portraits by Paul Gauguin; and a free exhibition will examine how the Old Masters inspired the work of David Bomberg (1890-1957).

Art Icon: Rachel Whiteread, a special event on January 29 at Whitechapel Gallery, ( will see one of the country’s most celebrated contemporary artists presented with the Art Icon Award.

The gallery’s 2019 programme includes visions of the future from leading architects and artists in February for its Is This Tomorrow? exhibition; Queer Spaces: London, 1980s – Today runs from April; in June Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz’s first major European survey will “tell stories of social ritual, conflict and loss”; and Brazil-based Anna Maria Maiolino (b1942, Italy) has a first major UK solo show, September.

At the British Museum ( the largest exhibition of manga art ever to take place outside of Japan opens May 23.

Manga forms part of the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-20.

At the Wallace Collection, ( Henry Moore: The Helmet Heads, from March 6, will explore the sculptor’s fascination with armour, and the particular inspiration its collection gave him.

And in September its major show will be Forgotten Masterpieces of Indian Painting for the East India Company.


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