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10 art shows to see in April

Published 1 April 2018

Take a trip through the major artistic movements of the past 100 years in this month’s top picks, from turn-of-the-century Impressionism and Glasgow Style to contemporary photojournalism and abstract painting.

  • The Great British Seaside

    National Maritime Museum, London

    It’s a well-established fact that the British really do like to be beside the seaside, come rain or shine. This exhibition explores that national predilection through the work of four photographers: Tony Ray-Jones, David Hurn, Simon Roberts and Martin Parr. The photographs on show provide glimpses of British beaches and the people on them over the past six decades, from black-and-white shots of Blackpool Pier to full-colour close-ups of Dorset seagulls fighting over chips.

  • Martin Parr, West Bay: 1996, Seagulls eating chips, Dorset, England

    Martin Parr , West Bay: 1996, Seagulls eating chips, Dorset, England .

    © Martin Parr - Magnum Photos.

  • America’s Cool Modernism: O‘Keeffe to Hopper

    Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

    Hardly any people feature in these early 20th-century American artworks. Instead, modern skyscrapers loom over deserted streets, while electric lights gleam from deceptively empty office buildings. The artists of the period were preoccupied with finding a truly American modern art, much of which centred around industrialist, machine-made scenery, abstracting familiar cityscapes through extreme close-ups and unfamiliar perspectives. While O’Keeffe and Hopper are deservedly headline acts, other stars include lesser-known artists like Margaret Bourke-White, hired in 1931 as Fortune magazine’s first staff photographer, and Jacob Lawrence, represented by two compelling panels of his 60-part series on African American migration.

  • Georgia O’Keeffe, East River from the Shelton Hotel

    Georgia O’Keeffe , East River from the Shelton Hotel , 1928 .

    Oil on canvas. 30.5 x 81.3cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

  • Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Making the Glasgow Style

    Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow

    This year marks the 150th anniversary of artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s birth, and the city where it happened plans to celebrate in style. This Glasgow exhibition presents many previously unseen works by Mackintosh and his contemporaries, including the artist Margaret Macdonald, who frequently collaborated with Mackintosh after their marriage in 1900. Together with Macdonald’s sister, Frances, and brother-in-law, James Herbert McNair, they made up a quartet that championed the “Glasgow Style” of arts and crafts that became popular in the late Victorian era – nicknamed the “Spook School” thanks to its fondness for ghoulish, folklore-inspired figures.

  • Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, The May Queen

    Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh , The May Queen , 1900 .

    @ CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collections.

  • The Heart of the Matter

    Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle upon Tyne

    An unlikely collaboration between an artist and a bioengineer sparked this exhibition exploring both the symbolic promise and medical reality of the human heart. Developed over a series of workshops that involved patients with heart conditions, scientists, artists, students and nurses, many of the artworks on show were created through a similar intermingling of art and science. In addition to sound installations, textiles and sculptures, you’ll find several works works developed using cutting-edge artistic and medical technology, including exact replicas of a human heart created using 3D printing.

  • Sofie Layton, Making the Invisible Visible

    Sofie Layton , Making the Invisible Visible , 2016 .

    Photo: Stephen King.

  • Bawden at Home

    Fry Art Gallery, Saffron Walden

    Edward Bawden’s eventful life included serving as a war artist throughout WWII, during which he was evacuated from Dunkirk, survived a shipwreck and was interned in a prisoner-of-war camp in Casablanca before being freed by the Americans. However, outside these daring exploits, before and after the war he favoured a relatively quiet life in Essex, where he helped found an artistic community of figurative painters, printmakers and designers known as the Great Bardfield Artists. This exhibition will show works by Bawden and his contemporaries, alongside previously unseen pieces loaned by friends and family.

  • Edward Bawden RA, Brighton Pier

    Edward Bawden RA , Brighton Pier , 1958 .

    Lithograph. Fry Art Gallery.

  • Sadie Benning: Sleep Rock

    Camden Arts Centre, London

    This exhibition of all-new work is the first in the UK for American artist Sadie Benning. In 1993 at the age of 19, Benning became the youngest artist invited to participate in the Whitney Biennale, exhibiting experimental videos that explored ideas of sexuality and identity. Since then, Benning has expanded into more wall-based work, blending elements of photography, painting and relief sculpture.

  • Sadie Benning, Swan

    Sadie Benning , Swan , 2018 .

    Wood, aqua resin, acrylic paint, casein, and digital image. 139.7 x 210.82 x 3.81cm. Courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. Photo: Chris Austin.

  • Surface Work

    Victoria Miro, London

    Celebrating the female artists who have shaped abstract painting over the past 100 years, Surface Work traces a line from the pioneering work of Russian constructivist Lyubov Popova in the 1910s, to Beirut-based artist Dala Nasser, born in 1990. Along the way you’ll find Joan Mitchell, who broke into the boys’ club that was mid-century abstract expressionism; Alma Thomas, the first African-American woman to receive a solo exhibition at the Whitney; and Yayoi Kusama, the iconic Japanese artist whose intricate installations attract sell-out crowds worldwide.

  • Mary Heilman , Idriss

    Mary Heilman , Idriss , 2012 .

    Oil on wood panel. 61 x 76cm. © Mary Heilmann Courtesy the artist, Hauser & Wirth, Zurich and 303 Gallery, New York.

  • Monet and Architecture

    National Gallery, London

    The young Claude Monet may have repeatedly been rejected by the Paris salons, but since his fortunes changed in the 1880s, his work hasn’t been short of attention. However, this is the first exhibition to focus exclusively on the buildings he painted, from the imposing Saint-Lazare train station in Paris to London’s Houses of Parliament. The show’s 75 paintings also include isolated cottages, Dutch windmills and Venetian churches, showcasing the Impressionist master’s eye for composition and unique way of capturing the world around him.

  • Claude Monet, View of Amsterdam

    Claude Monet , View of Amsterdam , 1874 .

    Oil on canvas. 61 × 101.5cm. Remagen, Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck Collection Rau for UNICEF (GR 1.612) © Remagen, Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck / photo: Peter Schälchli, Zürich.

  • Frank Bowling: Mappa Mundi

    Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin

    This exhibition sets out to cement Royal Academician Frank Bowling’s place in the art historical canon, making a compelling case for his huge influence on artists past and present. Highlights include the colourful abstract “map” paintings he began working on in the late ‘60s, playing with ideas of nationhood and migration, which give the exhibition its name. There’s also a room dedicated to Bowling’s personal archive, featuring letters between the artist and his late friend Clement Greenberg, who helped to champion Bowling’s work in New York.

  • Frank Bowling RA, False Start

    Frank Bowling RA , False Start , 1968 .

    Acrylic on canvas. 223 x 705cm. Courtesy of Frank Bowling and Hales London, New York © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017.

  • Raphael Albert: Miss Black and Beautiful

    MAC Birmingham

    Born in Granada in 1935, Raphael Albert arrived in the UK in the ‘50s determined to become a photographer. After carving out a niche photographing dance parties and beauty pageants, he began organising his own events, including Miss Black and Beautiful and Miss West Indies in Great Britain. His photographs preserve the celebratory spirit of the “Black is Beautiful” movement, providing a window into the thriving Afro-Caribbean communities of mid-century Britain. Writing in The Guardian after Albert’s death in 2009, his friend Julianne Henry stated that he had “wanted everyone to see his photographs – his contribution to the social and cultural life of the black community in those early years of UK settlement.”

  • Holley posing at Blythe Road, Hammersmith, London, c. 1974

    Holley posing at Blythe Road, Hammersmith, London, c. 1974

    From the portfolio 'Black Beauty Pageants'. Courtesy of © Raphael Albert/Autograph ABP