From Rembrandt to Warhol: 30 exhibitions to catch as galleries reopen

With the art world tentatively returning from hibernation, here is a selection of great art to view safely across the UK

Many of Britain’s galleries and museums are reopening, gradually and carefully, over the summer, providing a cultural activity we can all enjoy even while live performance is stilled and silenced. But art isn’t back to “normal”. Every space has to put firm social distancing rules in place before it can open. Difficulty in doing so is one reason why some institutions, including the Whitworth in Manchester, will not open until the autumn, and others have not yet announced return dates at all.

One universal precaution is that you need to book a timed slot before visiting any gallery, even where entry is free. At large museums, you are likely to have a choice of one-way routes that keep the crowds flowing safely. Smaller venues or particular rooms within museums may ask you to wear a face mask. Hand sanitiser will also be provided. In short, the galleries are responsibly restricting and supervising how we use them. It won’t impede your enjoyment. But it means you can rediscover some of the world’s best art without undue anxiety. Here are 30 exhibitions to catch over the coming months.

Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years

There’s no show without Grayson Perry and, with the Holburne Museum now open, you can see his early ceramics right into the new year. How did he evolve from a radical film-maker and performer into a born-again maker of satirical pots? It’s easy to see that his eye for the absurd and grotesque was there from the start, along with his rage against a bourgeoisie who have since come to love him.
Holburne Museum, Bath, to 3 January

Abel Rodríguez’s Terraza Alta II, 2018.
Abel Rodríguez’s Terraza Alta II, 2018. Photograph: Courtesy of the artist and Hayward Galley

Abel Rodríguez

The Amazon is not an exotic impenetrable rainforest for this captivating artist but a familiar landscape of known and loved species. Abel Rodríguez, who was born Mogaje Guihu in an indigenous Amazonian community close to the Cahuinarí River, learned plant lore from his uncle and has translated that knowledge into art that lets us see into a unique biosphere.
BALTIC, Gateshead, from 13 August

Anish Kapoor

A wizard of light and colour, Kapoor delights in optical illusions that lure the mind into infinity. Sky Mirror, a vertigo-inducing trick that turns the world upside down and brings heaven to Earth, is one of the highlights of his show at Houghton Hall, an 18th-century Palladian house with huge gardens that are the perfect backdrop for his big, bold, beautiful creations.
Houghton Hall, Norfolk, to 1 November

Denzil Forrester

Dance and sex give Forrester’s paintings a sweaty, unabashed energy that is heightened by their exploding, kaleidoscopic shards of futurist colour. Out of that abstract maelstrom emerge chunkily drawn and forcefully painted bodies. “I go drawing at night,” says the artist, “and by day I paint.” That’s exactly the intimate relationship with his subject we see in this retrospective of his pounding pictures of nightlife.
Nottingham Contemporary, from 4 August


The Greek myths become dreamlike painted dramas in Titian’s dazzling and moving masterpieces. In the 16th century, this Venetian genius painted a series of epic canvases for Philip II of Spain that are his answer to the Sistine Chapel. This exhibition reunites them, including Diana and Actaeon, a tragic version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in which a hunter is turned into a stag and killed by his hounds.
The National Gallery, WC2, to 17 January

Evelyn and William De Morgan

The Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli was just being rediscovered when Evelyn De Morgan channelled his mythological art in her Victorian daydreams. She shared her appetite for influences with her husband William, whose ceramics obsessively repeat Islamic and Renaissance styles. Her art has a more contemporary edge as she casts a female eye on the late Victorian cult of beauty.
Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, 10 August to 26 September

Young Rembrandt

You can feel the inwardly laughing presence of the young Rembrandt as he pulls a face in the mirror to create a self-portrait in about 1630 – an etching that sums up the spirit of this show. Rembrandt would become the grizzled old master from his late portraits, but here we see him take shape and try himself on for size.
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, reopening mid August

Aubrey Beardsley’s The Stomach Dance, Illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s Salome, 1893.
Aubrey Beardsley’s The Stomach Dance, Illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s Salome, 1893. Photograph: Marcus Leith/V&A

Aubrey Beardsley

This doomed genius of modern art was born in Brighton in 1872 and diagnosed with TB when he was seven. He became the decadent epitome of fin de siècle style, illustrating Oscar Wilde’s Salome and shaping The Yellow Book. But this sensational gathering of his black-and-white visions demonstrates that he was much more than a quirky Victorian. Prints such as The Climax, with its dark sexual ecstasy dissolving into abstraction, influenced Munch, Klimt and Picasso and make Beardsley the greatest British artist between Turner and Bacon.
Tate Britain, SW1, 27 July to 20 September

Cao Fei: Blueprints

You can travel in time and place in this immersive installation that brings together the Chinese artist Cao Fei’s explorations in film and video. She creates a disconcerting blend of the futuristic and old-fashioned in an exhibit setting her films in an archaic emporium. Her fascination with digital culture embraces its utopian possibilities, from the playful to the perverse.
Serpentine Gallery, W2, 4 August to 13 September

Don McCullin

This great photographer of suffering also has an eye for nature. This exhibition in the English countryside surveys his landscapes. In The River Alham That Runs Through My Village in Somerset, he dwells on mist, shadows and reflections. A pale, moist cloudiness engulfs the recesses of the scene and sets off sharply focused tree branches mirrored in still water. It’s Avalon.
Hauser & Wirth Somerset, nr Bruton, to 6 September

Andy Warhol

Not even Andy Warhol saw coronavirus coming but, apart from that, his powers of prophecy amaze. This exhibition finds identity politics in the social experiments he observed at his studio, the Factory. It also shows off the fact that Tate owns his masterpiece Marilyn Diptych, a religious work of art that mourns Monroe in fading grey silkscreened echoes.
Tate Modern, SE1, 27 July to 15 November

Crushed, Cast, Constructed

One of the first new exhibitions since lockdown is a strange but diverting selection of three artists connected only by their penchant for hefty metal sculpture. John Chamberlain won fame for his abstract junk metal art. Charles Ray is renowned for life-sized simulacra of fire trucks but here shows unpainted shiny vehicles. Urs Fischer enlarged little lumps of clay he’d caressed and kneaded to cast sensual giants including Miss Satin.
Gagosian Grosvenor Hill, W1, to 31 July

Johanna Unzueta

There is a tension between abstract freedom and the terrible weight of conscience in this Chilean-born artist’s retrospective. Her drawings create worlds of calm geometry. Her interest in the history of textiles also seems reassuring. But she cannot help looking at the reality of labour with a video that reveals the injustices of the garment industry.
Modern Art Oxford, from 11 August

Textile Panel with Embracing Figures c.1600, part of Portraying Pregnancy.
Textile Panel with Embracing Figures c.1600, part of Portraying Pregnancy. Photograph: © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

Portraying Pregnancy

Chantal Joffe’s Self-Portrait Pregnant is a deliberately rough work by an accomplished painter, communicating vulnerability and unfinishedness. It is just one of the intimate works in a look at pregnancy in art from Holbein to now, and is worth seeing for itself or as part of a visit to this fascinating museum.
Foundling Museum, WC1, to 23 August

Ideas Depot

This may be an exhibition aimed at children but it includes art that is anything but childish. Chris Ofili’s R.I.P. Stephen Lawrence should be seen by everyone, whatever their age. The silhouette of a grieving woman has become starker and more desolate than in his earlier work No Woman No Cry. Spectral green intensifies the unease. See it as you rediscover the fine free displays.
Tate Liverpool, 27 July to 27 September

Radical Figures

Painting is urgent again. It can depict desire, oppression and freedom with unique power. In Michael Armitage’s Kampala Suburb two men tenderly kiss in a shadowy atmosphere that echoes Gauguin. Ryan Mosley is a born again surrealist who invents circuses of the grotesque. Other painters here include Cecily Brown, Dana Schutz, Tala Madani and Ryan Mosley, a born-again surrealist who invents circuses of the grotesque.
Whitechapel Gallery, E1, to 30 August

Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings

Video, drawing and even fresco painting come together to portray LGBTQ+ Britain in this visually seductive exhibition. Quinlan and Hastings create a startling array of figurative art that’s full of imagination and freedom. Energy and danger throb through Republic, a fresco of street life that’s all rearing, lunging and captured bodies. This and other works document contemporary nightlife and the decline of LGBTQ+ spaces.
Focal Point, Southend-on-Sea, to 30 August

Deutsche Börse Prize

Gun-toting kids from Brittany, racism in the suburbs of Paris, found photographs transmitted as code and blue skies above concentration camps are among the images in this prize exhibition. Nominees Mark Neville, Mohamed Bourouissa, Clare Strand and Anton Kusters reveal the state of photography now, living between reportage and art. It is Neville’s human comedy that compels attention.
Photographers’ Gallery, W1, to 20 September

Norman Ackroyd

The forces of nature are towering in the aquatint etchings this veteran artist makes of the northerly limits of the British Isles. The St Kilda archipelago has been deserted since its last people left in 1930. Ackroyd’s latest works capture its desolation and grandeur in spacious masses of shadow and cold light. He also explores Orkney in his quest for the wilderness at our doorstep.
Watts Gallery Artists’ Village, nr Guildford, to 27 September

Summer Exhibition

The Royal Academy show has been postponed to October this year but this lively prints gallery has its own summer show featuring a portrait of a modern woman wearing a surgical mask by Julian Opie as well as Pablo Bronstein’s Dressing Table, Lisbon Earthquake. Bronstein’s fantasia of an exploding boudoir resembles the satires of Gillray. It sees our disaster through the distant mirror of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.
Cristea Roberts, SW1, to 4 September

Catherine Opie’s Bo, part of Masculinities at the Barbican Art Gallery.
Catherine Opie’s Bo, part of Masculinities at the Barbican Art Gallery. Photograph: Catherine Opie


This survey of radical and liberating photography reveals how the camera can subvert our assumptions about gender. Catherine Opie’s rock-steady portrait Bo puts us in a tough male America – except that it doesn’t. Bo is an outlaw of identity, making masquerade monumental. Opie stands out in a show that also includes work by Laurie Anderson, Sunil Gupta and Isaac Julien.
Barbican Art Gallery, EC2, to 23 August

We Will Walk

African-American art in civil rights-era Alabama was a resource of memory and resistance. This exhibition looks at a tradition of spontaneous backyard shows of found stuff that gives this protest art a distinctive melancholy power. Bessie Harvey and Emmer Sewell are among the artists. In Thornton Dial’s Green Pastures: The Birds That Didn’t Learn How to Fly, Alabama assemblage mixes with painting to create an eerie meditation on history.
Turner Contemporary, Margate, to 6 September

Picasso and Paper

There was no limiting the creativity of Picasso, and this exhibition doesn’t stop at his use of paper. It includes designs for Guernica alongside a spectacular collage of 1930s women whose hands turn to claws as they await a world war. Picasso invented collage, almost in passing. His cutups, cardboard sculptures and sketches flow into each other in a display of genius by the greatest artist of modern times.
Royal Academy of Arts, W1, to 2 August

Cerith Wyn Evans’s No realm of thought… No field of vision exhibition at White Cube Bermondsey.
Cerith Wyn Evans’s No realm of thought… No field of vision exhibition at White Cube Bermondsey. Photograph: Nils Jorgensen/Rex/Shutterstock

Cerith Wyn Evans

This Welsh conceptual artist who worked with Derek Jarman before becoming part of the YBA scene is a neon romantic. His luminous sculptures are disco anthems of everyday feeling. Sometimes they seem throwaway, sometimes suddenly moving like an overheard song. Here he returns to the original founder of conceptual art, Marcel Duchamp, to create bright, white allegories of longing.
White Cube Bermondsey, SE1, to 2 August

Mary Quant

The designer who helped make London swing in the 1960s gets a retrospective that reveals the range and living influence of her fashion genius. Quant’s miniskirts are arguably Britain’s greatest contribution to pop art, more universal than a painting by Hamilton or Hockney, and still defining our image of the modern.
V&A Dundee, 27 August to 17 January

David Hockney

The living master of drawing and painting takes in Ed Sheeran’s unmistakable looks and character in one of the confident portraits in this sociable show. Hockney is a pop star himself who has been hiding in the limelight since the early 1960s. He is a model for anyone who wants to be both famous and private, pursuing artistic seriousness in spite of all distractions.
Annely Juda Fine Art, W1, to 31 July

Lucas Cranach the Elder

There is no odder Renaissance genius than Cranach, who was best man at Martin Luther’s wedding and a keen witch-hunter. He also found time to paint deliberately provocative nudes that sexualise the body because, according to Luther, we are born in original sin. His Venuses always look depraved; so do his sado-masochist Judiths and Salomes.
Compton Verney, Warwickshire, to 3 January

Shaikh Zain al-Din’s Brahminy starling with two Anteraea moths, Caterpillar and Cocoon in Indian Jujube Tree, Impey Album Calcutta, 1780. Part of Forgotten Masters.
Shaikh Zain al-Din’s Brahminy starling with two Anteraea moths, Caterpillar and Cocoon in Indian Jujube Tree, Impey Album Calcutta, 1780. Part of Forgotten Masters. Photograph: Charles Walbridge/Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Forgotten Masters

This brilliant and important exhibition curated by historian William Dalrymple uncovers a lost history of artistic fusion. In the 18th century, the East India Company was corrupting and despoiling India but its officials valued the Muslim and Hindu artists they encountered. They commissioned these brilliant observers to make nature drawings, social reportage and studies of architecture that reveal a last great flowering of Mughal painting before it was dismissed by Victorian racists.
Wallace Collection, W1, 29 July to 13 September

Modern Art and St Ives

The mean thing to say would be that Tate St Ives has no other subject. It’s here to show modern artists led by Barbara Hepworth who based themselves in this sea-swept corner of Cornwall. This display takes a fresh look by showing the influence of the constructivist Naum Gabo on their abstract art. It includes a poetic carving by Hepworth that makes you feel the smashing of waves, gliding of birds and wild salty Cornish air.
Tate St Ives, from 27 July


Cy Twombly’s absorbing fungal collages inspired by Pliny the Elder’s Natural History and Carsten Holler’s much less respectable narcotic investigations are among the artistic highlights in this very curious exhibition. Fungi are mysterious things, neither animal nor vegetable, that are increasingly seen as central to all ecosystems – but it’s their hallucinogenic properties that dominate the show.
Somerset House, WC2, to 13 September


Jonathan Jones

The GuardianTramp

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