We may be halfway through the year already, but there’s plenty of great exhibitions still to catch in 2016, from Robert Rauschenberg at Tate Modern to Jeff Koons at the Newport Street Gallery
National Portrait Gallery
Topping the list is the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery (23 June – 14 September 2016). Founded in 1990, this award features over 2,557 entries by artists from 80 countries around the world. The judging panel includes the contemporary figure artist, Jenny Saville as well as the Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Nicholas Cullinan. Of the 2,557 portraits, three have been shortlisted for first prize: Cambridgeshire-based Clara Drummond for Girl in a Liberty Dress; Benjamin Sullivan, who lives in Suffolk, for Hugo, his portrait of the poet Hugo Williams; and from China Bo Wang for Silence, a portrait of his dying grandmother (below).
Liverpool’s Tate is holding the largest Francis Bacon exhibition ever staged in the north of England until 18 September, with more than 30 paintings alongside a group of rarely seen drawings and documents. Francis Bacon: Invisible Rooms looks at some of the artist’s most iconic and powerful paintings, with a special focus on the reoccurring motif of Bacon’s portrayal of emotion in his paintings.
Tate Modern’s London counterpart, Tate Britain, also takes on the world of contemporary art this year. Currently running until 29 August is Conceptual Art in Britain 1964-1979, which explores the rejection of traditional approaches to art in the 1960s and the development of ideas as the central aim of artists’ work. Themes and issues raised range from feminism to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. This show reveals conceptual art’s lasting legacy and features artists such as Keith Arnatt, Art & Language, Conrad Atkinson, Victor Burgin and Michael Craig-Martin
Yorkshire Sculture Park
Outside of London, the current show at Yorkshire Sculpture Park by artist Not Vital runs until 2 January 2017. Internationally renowned as a leading sculpture, this will be Not Vital’s first major exhibition in the UK and will reflect his nomadic and diverse practice, including indoor pieces made from plaster, silver, gold, marble, glass and coal, and outdoor sculptures in stainless steel and bronze.
Newport Street Gallery
Fitting into the contemporary theme of this year’s exhibitions, an exhibition of work by the late pop artist Jeff Koons runs at Newport Street Gallery in Lambeth until 16 October. ‘Now’ is the first major UK exhibition to be devoted to the artist since ‘Jeff Koons: Popeye Series’, at the Serpentine Gallery in 2009. Spanning 35 years of the artist’s extraordinary career, ‘Now’ features more than 30 paintings, works on paper and sculptures dating from 1979 to 2014. Drawn from Damien Hirst’s collection, a number of these works have never before been shown in the UK.
Victoria Miro Galleries
If you haven’t already, head over to Wharf Road and Mayfair to experience the spellbinding works of the Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama. This ambitious new exhibition of paintings, sculptures and installations across two sites – Victoria Miro Galleries on Wharf Road in Old Street and on St George Street in Mayfair – is full of Kusama’s continuing art style: pattern, repetition, mirrored ‘infinity rooms’ and huge, distended pumpkins. Both mesmerising and hugely aesthetically pleasing, the two exhibitions run until July 30 2016.
Described by its coordinator, Richard Wilson RA, as “unpredictable, stimulating and startling”, this year’s summer exhibition at the Royal Academy promises to be just that. Famous as the world’s largest open submission show, the exhibition delivers a panorama of art in all mediums, a remarkable mixture of emerging artists and household names, and a larger collection of artists than any other show. Currently on, the exhibition runs until 21 August and features a new monumental kinetic sculpture by Israeli designer and sculptor Ron Arad titled Spyre.
Tate Modern, which has just thrown the doors open to its new £260 million extension, The Switch House, will stage a major exhibition of works from the artist Robert Rauschenberg from 1 December 2016 – 2 April 2017. Previous pop exhibitions at Tate Modern include Roy Lichtenstein in 2013, Richard Hamilton in 2014 and The World Goes Pop in 2015. This new exhibition will once more place the pop art movement on a world stage and is predicted to be fully booked for a large proportion of its showing. An advanced reminder will ensure you don’t miss out on this highly anticipated show.
Main image: All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins 2016 Yayoi Kusama