Exhibitions 2014: What to see this year

  • 17 December 2013

National Art Passes at the ready! We bring you our guide to the top shows of 2014.

Gallery-goers, it's time to get planning! From Veronese to Vikings, Gaultier to Grayson Perry, there's a lot to look forward to in the coming 12 months and you can save on entry to exhibitions all year round with a National Art Pass.

Remembering the Great War

The centenary of the First World War, which broke out on 28 July 1914, is a major focus for exhibitions this year, as museums and galleries across the UK reflect on life during the sixth deadliest conflict in history. IWM London will make a timely reopening in July, revealing the brand new First World War galleries that lay at the heart of its year-long refurbishment. Housing the most comprehensive collection of artefacts from the period, the galleries will journey from the home front to the front line in order to explore why the war started, why it continued and how its legacy still affects our lives today.

Meanwhile, the National Portrait Gallery assembles a collection of portraits depicting the key characters of the conflict, from the 19-year-old assassin responsible for the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to the powerful commanders Haig, Blumer, Foch and Hindenburg. (The Great War in Portraits, 27 February to 15 June.)

At Pallant House Gallery, Stanley Spencer's mural cycle honouring the war's 'forgotten dead' will be carefully installed for temporary display while its original home – the Sandham Memorial Chapel in Burghclere –​ undergoes repair. This is the first time the painting has been removed since its completion in 1932. (Stanley Spencer: Heaven in a Hell of War, 15 February to 15 June.)

Follow the trend 

Fashion exhibitions never seem to go out of style, with 2014 proving yet another model year. During spring, the V&A will celebrate the splendour of the wedding dress, with historical examples from the 18th and 19th centuries being shown alongside the purple gown worn by Dita Von Teese when she married Marilyn Manson, and Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale's ​matrimonial outfits. Meanwhile, a second display at the museum pays homage to the glamour of Italian fashion, showcasing pieces by Pucci, Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Versace, among others. (Wedding Dresses 1775-2014, 3 May to 15 March and The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014, 5 April to 27 July.)

Over at the Barbican, 140 designs by Jean Paul Gaultier take us from the sidewalk to the catwalk, via the infamous conical bra and corsets worn by Madonna, and Kylie's stage outfits. (The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, 9 April to 17 August.) Meanwhile, the Design Museum cues up to explore the politics of power dressing, drawing on wardrobes of some of the most successful women in the world. (Women, Fashion, Power, 29 October 29 to May 2015.)

Join the rebellion

Jeremy Deller's English Magic tour kicks off at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, where the artist's biting critique of the wealthy and over-privileged reaches its first audience outside Venice. Deller has chosen items from the gallery's permanent collection that reflect William Morris's advocacy for socialism; these will be displayed alongside his mural, We Sit Starving Amidst our Gold. (English Magic, 18 January to 13 March.)

The V&A tackles similar themes, presenting a collection of posters that have aided activists in times of protest and revolution, from the Votes for Women campaign to the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring uprising. (A World to Win: Posters of Protest and Revolution, 1 May to 2 November.) At the British Library, Neil Gaiman and Mark Millar are among the illustrators whose work is used to demonstrate how comic art has been used as a tool for challenging issues of gender, sexuality, drug-taking and politics. (Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK, 2 May to 19 August.)

Classic with a twist

Organised in collaboration with Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, the National Gallery explores Rembrandt's final years, during which his creativity gathered new energy and his style became more expressive and profound. Similarly, Tate Britain will dissect the later part of Turner's career in a display that concentrates solely on the work that he produced after his 60th birthday. (Rembrandt: The Final Years, 15 October to 18 January and Late Turner: Painting Set Free, 10 September to 25 January.)

V&A draws on the hidden stories behind Constable's greatest known works to examine how the artist developed into a master. Landscape paintings by Ruisdael and Claude will be on show as examples of pieces that inspired him. Look out for Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows, which is on loan from Tate – we helped to buy it last year. (Constable: The Making of a Master, 20 September to 11 January.)

Scottish National Gallery will also be showing off its ArtFunded acquisitions with an exhibition devoted to Titian and the golden age of Venetian painting, while its London counterpart, the National Gallery, focuses on the artist's former protégé and supposed rival, Veronese. (Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting, 22 March to 14 September and Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice, 19 March to 15 June.)

Modern masters

Henri Matisse takes centre stage at Tate Modern, where a display of his most famous cut-outs, including the Blue Nudes series and The Snail, chronicle the glorious final chapter of his career. The artist turned to cut-outs when ill health prevented him from painting, and this large body of work has rarely been brought together, owing not only to its dispersion into galleries and private collections, but also to the fragility of the pieces. (Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs,17 April to 7 September.)

Early modern painter Paul Cézanne is the focus of the Ashmolean Museum's spring show, where the artist's watercolours are shown alongside other works from an important US collection originally formed by Henry and Rose Pearlman. Making its debut appearance in Europe, this impressive archive features other prominent modernists, such as Van Gogh and Cocteau. (Cézanne and the Modern: Masterpieces of European Art from the Pearlman Collection, 13 March to 22 June.)

Tate Liverpool and Turner Contemporary in Margate will run concurrent Mondrian exhibitions; the former investigating how the studio space influenced his work, the latter looking similarly at colour. (Mondrian and his Studios: Abstraction into the World, 6 June to 5 October and Mondrian and Colour, 24 May to 21 September.) Other highlights this year include an exploration of how modern art infiltrated fabric, clothing and furniture at The Fashion and Textile Museum and the first-ever UK show devoted entirely to the radical Austrian painter Egon Schiele, at the Courtauld Gallery. (Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol, 31 January to 17 May and Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude, 23 October to 18 January 2015.)

Class of 2014

Kicking off the contemporary offering in January, Hayward Gallery celebrates the sequentially-ordered work of Martin Creed. Ranging from a room half-filled with balloons to a series of prints made using broccoli, there is bound to be plenty of surprises in this entertaining examination of his career over the past 25 years. (Martin Creed, 29 January to 27 April.)

In honour of the 60th anniversary of Hockney's first ever print, Dulwich Picture Gallery brings together a collection of etchings and lithographs that trace the artist's graphic development, from portraits of his famous friends to the computer drawings that preluded his iPad works. (Hockney: Printmaker, 5 February to 11 May.)

Meanwhile Grayson Perry's Hogarth-inspired tapestries continue on their ArtFunded UK tour, Julian Opie reveals how his private art collection has influenced his own practice at The Holburne and Gavin Turk's neons light up the inner and outer spaces of The Bowes Museum in County Durham. (Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences, various dates, Opie: Collected Works, 22 May to 14 September and Gavin Turk: 7,201,964,238, 25 January to 21 April 2014.)

Back to the beginning

The British Museum's highly anticipated Vikings exhibition promises to reevaluate the bloodthirsty Scandinavian warriors, who will be shown to have enjoyed vibrant cultural lives. As well as a series of archaeological discoveries never seen before in the UK, the exhibition will feature the surviving timbers of a 37-metre-long Viking warship, on display in its new Sainsbury Gallery. (Vikings, 6 March to 22 June.)

Also in 2014, Natural History Museum recounts one million years of the human story through important artefacts such as the skull of the earliest known Neanderthal in Britain and the oldest wooden spear in the world. (Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story, 13 February to 28 September.)

Best of the rest

Kate Moss, Mick Jagger and Francis Bacon are among the stars of the National Portrait Gallery's David Bailey exhibition, for which he has chosen and reprinted the images himself. Elsewhere in the capital the Museum of London gets set to investigate the story of Sherlock Holmes through rare editions, memorabilia and illustrations. (Bailey's Stardust, 6 February to 1 June and Sherlock Holmes, 17 October to 12 April 2015.)

Meanwhile, Tate Britain and Compton Verney will be showing examples of painting, sculpture and textile that belong to the Folk genre in an exhibition that will visit both venues, the Scottish National Galleries will combine efforts to celebrate 25 years of contemporary art in Scotland and Renoirs from museum collections across Britain will go on show at The Lightbox in Woking. (British Folk Art, 10 June to 7 September at the Tate, 27 September to 14 December at Compton Verney; 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland, 28 June to 26 October; Renoir in Britain, 8 February to 20 April).

Please note, dates subject to change – always check with the venue before visiting.

Tags: ExhibitionsMuseums and galleriesWhat to see