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Five shows not to miss in early 2015

Published 11 December 2014

From the social power of abstract art to Henry Moore in the landscape.

  • 2015 is going to be a big year for exhibitions across the UK. At the RA, we’re firmly focused on the lead-up to our groundbreaking exploration of Rubens and His Legacy, set to be one of the most spectacular shows in the country. But as the year draws to a close, we’re also looking forward to some of the other great-looking shows coming up in the first months of the year ahead.

    From the reopening of the Whitworth in Manchester with a solo show for Cornelia Parker RA to Tate Modern’s celebration of the art and design of Sonia Delaunay, there are dozens of exhibitions to choose from. Below are our picks of the biggest art openings between January and April 2015.

  • Gabriel Orozco, Light Signs #1 (Korea)

    Gabriel Orozco, Light Signs #1 (Korea), 1995.

    Synthetic polymer plastic sheet and light box 100 × 100 × 19.7 cm. Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York © the Artist.

  • Adventures of the Black Square

    Whitechapel Gallery, London, 15 January – 16 April 2015
    Abstract art can sometimes seem like a self-contained art form, existing as a pure engagement only with other modes of artistic abstraction. That is not the view held by the curators of an important 2015 show at the Whitechapel.

    The exhibition’s starting point is the seminal Black and White. Suprematist Composition (1915) by Kazimir Malevich, who was recently the subject of a major exhibition at Tate Modern, and remains a lasting influence on Zaha Hadid RA. The Whitechapel’s central thesis, like Hadid’s, is that abstract art can function as a powerful force in the world: influencing all visual culture and even underpinning social or political change. On show are over 100 works by the likes of Carl Andre, Piet Mondrian, Gabriel Orozco and Aleksander Rodchenko.

  • Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder, Pan and Syrinx

    Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder, Pan and Syrinx, c.1617.

    Oil on panel. 40 x 61 cm. Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel, inv. GK 1229. Photo: Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister/Ute Brunzel. Exhibition organised by the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Royal Academy of Arts, London, and BOZAR (Centre for Fine Arts), Brussels.

  • Rubens and His Legacy: Van Dyck to Cézanne

    Royal Academy, London, 24 January – 10 April 2015
    Rubens may be one of the great names in art history, but how much do we actually know about his work? And why does it matter? This exhibition assembles some of the undisputed masterpieces by this giant of the Baroque period – not only the nudes for which he is best known but also religious works, landscape, and spectacular hunting scenes.

    What makes this exhibition truly groundbreaking, however, is its exploration of Rubens’s legacy. Alongside Rubens’s own paintings are works by a veritable who’s who of art history: from Van Dyck and Rembrandt to Gainsborough and Constable, Delacroix and right up to Picasso in the twentieth century. At the same time, Jenny Saville RA is curating a modern and contemporary response to the exhibition. Saville’s distinctive presentation of the female form is strongly influenced by Rubens, and her work will be on show at the RA alongside paintings by artists such as Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud and Sarah Lucas.

  • Whitworth Art Gallery redevelopment

    Whitworth Art Gallery redevelopment

    Artist’s Impression of Exterior View

    Courtesy Whitworth Art Gallery, MUMA & Hayes Davidson

  • Cornelia Parker

    Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, from 14 February 2015
    Following a £15 million development that has doubled the size of the gallery, Manchester’s Whitworth reopens in February with a major solo show for Royal Academician Cornelia Parker.

    Parker has been working closely with Nobel Prize-winning scientist Kostya Novoselov at the University of Manchester. She has produced new work out of graphene, an incredibly strong sheet of pure carbon just one atom thick that Novoselov has made from samples of graphite in drawings by William Blake RA and JMW Turner RA.

    The exhibition also includes important pieces from across Parker’s career, such as Cold Dark Matter; An Exploded View (1991), and opens with a breathtaking firework display that will send fragments of iron meteorite up into the skies above Manchester.

  • Henry Moore, Large Two Forms

    Henry Moore, Large Two Forms, 1966-69.

    Photo: Jonty Wilde (2013). Reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation.

  • Henry Moore: Back to a Land

    Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 7 March – 6 September 2015
    The undulating sculptures of Henry Moore are immediately recognisable for the artist’s unique vision of the human form. What is perhaps less well known is Moore’s deep interest in the land. This exhibition of more than 120 works seeks to emphasise the fundamental importance of land to his artistic practice: he was one of the first to take sculpture out of the gallery and place it directly in the landscape. Colossal works such as Large Two Forms (1966-69) and Reclining Figure Angles (1979) are presented almost as ancient monuments. This is also something of a homecoming for the Yorkshire-born Moore, a founding patron of YSP.

  • Sonia Delaunay, Prismes electriques

    Sonia Delaunay, Prismes electriques, 1914.

    Centre Pompidou Collection, Mnam / Cci, Paris ?© Pracusa 2013057 ?.

  • Sonia Delaunay

    Tate Modern, 15 April – 9 August 2015
    2015 sees the first UK retrospective for multi-disciplinary artist and designer Sonia Delaunay taking place at Tate Modern. The exhibition seeks to reaffirm Delaunay’s reputation as one of the central figures of the Paris avant-garde.

    Born and trained in Germany, Delaunay’s work ranges from early figurative paintings in the 1900s to the vibrant abstraction of the 1960s. In between, she met and married artist Robert Delaunay, and achieved global prominence as a fashion designer through her progressive Paris-based Atelier Simultané. Her exotic client list included department stores like Metz & Co and Liberty, Hollywood star Gloria Swanson and the architect Erno Goldfinger.

    Tom Jeffreys (@tomjeffreys) is a writer, editor and curator.