The exhibitions you must see in 2023
Discover the story of the little black dress, Andy Warhol’s fascination with textiles, the legend of the Knossos minotaur, and fashion house Chanel in a brand new year of exhibitions. Now, what to see first?
A new year is upon us – and you know what that means, don’t you? Museums and galleries across the UK will be kicking off a fresh programme of exhibitions. It’s time to take out your brand new diary and get planning.
From major exhibitions of work by artists such as Andy Warhol, Nalini Malani and Berthe Morisot, to explorations of pottery, fashion and activism, 2023 is jam-packed with fascinating shows from start to finish.
Get inspired to see more art in 2023 with this fantastic selection of unmissable exhibitions. And don’t forget, you’ll get great benefits when you visit with a National Art Pass.
The first months of 2023 are practically bursting at the seams with exhibitions to start your year of art.
The Hepworth Wakefield welcomes The Art of the Potter, a major exhibition of ceramics and sculpture from the 1930s to the present day, while at the V&A in London, it’s the Renaissance sculptor Donatello under the microscope.
In a major exhibition of work by contemporary artist Mike Nelson at London's Hayward Gallery, we’re pulled into a world of scavenged materials, science fiction and politics through his large-scale installations. Meanwhile at The Lightbox in Woking, Nagihan Seymour brings nature to life through a collection of illumination designs, known as ‘Tezhip’.
At the Holburne Museum in Bath, you’ll get a rare opportunity to see a collection of woodcuts made by Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer; and at the Whitechapel Gallery, Action, Gesture, Paint examines the overlooked women artists behind the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 20th century.
If history is your thing, Visions of Ancient Egypt at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne examines the global fascination with ancient Egypt, while the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford welcomes Labyrinth: Knossos, Myth & Reality, the first UK exhibition to focus on the palace of Knossos in Crete, where legend says an elaborate labyrinth was built to contain a ferocious minotaur.
And don't miss Souls Grown Deep Like the Rivers at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, which showcases the unique art tradition created by Black artists in the American South, bringing together a selection of powerful works that reflect America’s turbulent history.
At the National Gallery, don't miss Nalini Malani’s dazzling installation My Reality is Different, which features hand-drawn animations that take inspiration from well-known works of art and provide new perspectives on historic paintings. At Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art in Gateshead, Hew Locke's vibrant installation The Procession explores the cycle of life through moments of celebration, worship, protest and mourning.
Last but not least for winter, two powerful exhibitions open at IWM North and IWM London. At the Salford location, the exhibition Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors reveals the lives of people who lived through the Second World War; and in London, Ukraine: Photographs from the Frontline displays the work of photojournalist Anastasia Taylor-Lind.
Spring and summer
At the very start of spring, the Wallace Collection in London welcomes an adorable exhibition dedicated to dogs. Portrait of Dogs looks at humans' enduring devotion to our canine companions, displaying centuries of doggy art.
Two major London shows explore different sides of the Impressionist movement. At Dulwich Picture Gallery, you can uncover the incredible influence of founding Impressionist Berthe Morisot, whose critical contribution to the movement has often gone overlooked; and at the National Gallery, you can take a look at what happened after Impressionism in an exhibition charting how Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin took modern art to dizzying new heights.
Then, four fabulous fashion and textile exhibitions take centre stage.
At the Fashion & Textile Museum in London, a major retrospective of work by Andy Warhol explores the pop artist’s fascination with textiles. Beyond the Little Black Dress at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh examines the unique power of this wardrobe staple to capture the spirit of a time. At V&A Dundee, it’s tartan in the limelight, with a look at the symbolism of this complex fabric. And at the Design Museum in London, The Offbeat Sari examines the political and cultural history of India through the evolving cultural associations of the sari.
From fashion in front of the lens, to the world behind the camera – two exhibitions at Tate Modern and Baltic focus on photography.
At Tate the exhibition A World in Common demonstrates how contemporary photography has captured the unique histories and cultures of the African continent. Meanwhile, Baltic welcomes the haunting black and white photography of Chris Killip, with a focus on his depictions of Northern England during the politically turbulent 1970s and 80s.
Dürer is back again, this time at the Whitworth in Manchester, which hosts a look at his entire career in Material World. And at the Holburne Museum there’s more enigmatic pottery to enjoy, with a retrospective of the celebrated 20th-century potter Lucie Rie.
Diva’s the word at the V&A in London, as an exhibition spanning the worlds of opera, stage, pop music and film reveals how the role of the 'diva' has been both embraced and transformed over time. Icons of another kind are in the spotlight at Tate Britain, as The Rossettis looks at the myths surrounding these revolutionary Pre-Raphaelite artists.
If you fancy a walk on the wild side, the Animals exhibition at the British Library examines how science, art and sound have developed our understanding of the animal kingdom. And at Compton Verney in Warwickshire, interactive exhibition Sensing Naples plunges you into the heart of the Italian city, where the volcano Vesuvius rumbles ominously in the background and the scent of orange blossoms fills the air.
And things are getting mythical again in Liverpool, where the World Museum welcomes Return of the Gods: Zeus, Athena, Hercules, an exhibition dedicated to the gods, goddesses and mortals of ancient Greek and Roman mythology.
Discover the evocative work of two painters from vastly different time periods in London in autumn, as the National Gallery opens a huge exhibition of work by 17th-century Baroque painter Frans Hals, famed for his cheeky and lively portraits, and Tate Modern displays work by modern artist Philip Guston. Painting in the 1950s and 60s during a time of social and political upheaval, Guston's work was a response to the turmoil he was witnessing at the time.
We’re back in the 17th century again at The Box in Plymouth, with the exhibition Dutch Flowers. Here you can see how flower painting became immensely popular in the Dutch Golden Age, blossoming well into the late 18th century.
Two recurring exhibitions are back: the Artes Mundi exhibition, which displays the work of artists shortlisted for the major art prize of the same name, heads to multiple galleries across Wales, including MOSTYN in Llandudno; and Towner Eastbourne welcomes the coveted Turner Prize exhibition.
It’s all about minimalism at the Hepworth Wakefield, as 60 works in marble and stone by the abstract sculptor Kim Lim reflect themes of nature, light, space and architecture. And at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, moving-image artist Ayo Akingbade brings together two atmospheric films shot on location in Nigeria in a commission entitled Show Me The World Mister, exploring the complex notions of history and place.
At Tate Britain, Women in Revolt! is the first exhibition of its kind, surveying the work of over 100 women artists working in the UK between 1970 and 1990. The exhibition has a particular focus on activism, exploring how creative practice was a catalyst for change during the British women’s liberation movement. And at the Barbican Art Gallery, the group exhibition RE/SISTERS explores connections between the oppression of women and the degradation of the planet.
A beloved storyteller is the focus of the British Library's autumn exhibition – Malorie Blackman is best known as the author of the seminal young-adult fiction series Noughts and Crosses, providing an alternative history of race and prejudice in the 21st century through the story of star-crossed teenage lovers Sephy and Callum.
David Hockney's Love Life exhibition comes to Charleston in Lewes, bringing together a beautiful collection of drawings by the popular Yorkshire-born artist and demonstrating his mantra to find beauty and joy in the simple things.
And finally, you can dive into the life and work of French couturière Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel in a major exhibition at the V&A, charting her astronomical influence on fashion which continues to inspire how women dress today.
How’s that for starters? Remember, you can add exhibitions to your wishlist by clicking the star icon. You can also take our fun Art Profile quiz for recommendations of venues and exhibitions you'll enjoy.
And don't forget, you can enjoy fantastic benefits at hundreds of museums, galleries and historic houses, plus 50% off major exhibitions, with a National Art Pass.
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