Five summer blockbusters

  • 21 May 2015

Spend the summer in the presence of artistic greats: Hepworth, Pollock and Picasso.

1. Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World, Tate Britain

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Despite being one of the most successful modern artists in Britain, Barbara Hepworth hasn't always received the recognition she deserves. This sprawling show – the first in a major London gallery in 50 years – hopes to rectify that. An overarching retrospective, it charts her progress from small carvings to magnificent bronzes, while photographs and film reveal how these works were presented – in the studio, the theatre, the landscape or alongside architecture. (24 June – 25 October)

2. Carsten Höller: Decision, Hayward Gallery

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Originally a doctor of insects’ olfactory communication strategies, Carsten Höller’s art is more often likened to a psychological experiment than an installation. In this show at the Hayward for example, visitors will be expected to make decisions during the course of the show, ‘with those choices leading to quite dramatically different experiences’. Giant psychedelic mushrooms hang from the ceiling, robotic beds roam the floor, and there's a flying machine on the terrace. Those brave enough to try The Pinocchio Effect will have the uncanny sensation that their nose is growing, while 'Pill Clock' spurts out tablets to try with unknown effect. (10 June – 6 September).

3. Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots, Tate Liverpool 

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Art historian Michael Fried wrote that Jackson Pollock was ‘on the verge of an entirely new and different kind of painting … of virtually limitless potential’, when he saw the artist’s Black Pourings. This body of work – created between 1951 and 53 – remains one of Pollock’s lesser-known, yet marks an important period in his practice. In the grips of alcoholism and depression, the artist abandoned his dynamic colour 'drip' in favour of 'poured' treacly black paint; a haunting expression of the psychological turmoil he was experiencing at this time. The macabre series is on display in Liverpool. (30 June – 18 October).

4. Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon, National Portrait Gallery

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Iconic portraits by leading 20th-century photographers are brought together with intimate personal pictures from the family collection in order to chart Audrey Hepburn's life both on and off the screen. The show journeys from her difficult childhood in Belgium and Holland to her first modelling assignments, her breakout role on the West End stage to her glamorous life as a movie star. It also highlights her incredible dedication to humanitarian work – her fulltime occupation from the 1980s – which saw her travel to the poorest and most disadvantaged areas of the world. (2 July – 18 October) 

5. Lee Miller and Picasso, Scottish National Portrait Gallery

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Lee Miller first met Picasso in the summer of 1937 when they were both staying at the Hotel Vaste Horizon in France – a favourite haunt of the surrealists. While she shot pictures of many of the artists and writers who were guests during her stay, it is her image of Picasso – turned to her with a fixing stare – that has become iconic. It marked the beginning of a creative relationship that would last for the rest of their lives. Miller photographed Picasso more than 1,000 times and he in turn, painted her portrait six times. This show contains over 100 of the images they captured of each other. (23 May – 6 September)

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Tags: ExhibitionsWhat to see