Five summer blockbusters

  • 10 May 2016

Come rain or shine, these illuminating shows are set to brighten up your summer.

Enjoy 50% off admission to major exhibitions with a National Art Pass.


Georgia O' Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe is widely credited as the 'mother of American Modernism' and yet not one of her works is held in a public collection in the UK. Tate Modern's sprawling retrospective is therefore a rare opportunity for audiences in Britain; on display are the flower pictures for which she is best known – including Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1, which holds the record for being the most expensive painting by a female artist ever to be sold at auction – as well as less familiar early works that reveal her synaesthetic experiments with music, colour and composition. There is also a selection of the art she created while living in New Mexico, including her capturings of an area that was so remote she called it the 'Black Place'. Camping out there for extended periods, she found the wind so strong at times that she had trouble keeping her canvas on the easel, while at others she had to crawl under her car for shelter from the intense heat of the sun.


Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds

For more than 1,000 years two ancient Egyptian cities – Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus – were lost to the sea. Thriving metropolises in the seventh century AD, their existence was documented in decrees and mythology but attempts to find them had been largely fruitless. In 1996, following four years of research, Franck Goddio and his team at the Institut Européen d’Archéologie Sous-Marine made an incredible breakthrough. Underwater excavations near the coast of Alexandria uncovered a trove of astonishing objects, pristinely preserved thanks to their submersion in the sea. Goddio co-curates this exhibition featuring more than 200 discoveries made at the site of the sunken cities – some excavated as recently as 2012 – as well as further artefacts from Egyptian institutions and the British Museum’s own collection.


Inspiring Impressionism: Daubigny, Monet and Van Gogh

Charles Daubigny's sumptuous landscapes anticipated Impressionism; wishing to capture ‘the active life of the countryside’ he would often work en plein air from his riverboat, creating bold textural paintings using a palette knife and 'dabbed on' colour. These methods would later become characteristic of the movement, with Monet, Sisley, Pissarro and Van Gogh among those who drew influence from his work. Yet while the artists he inspired went on to achieve international recognition, Daubigny's achievements have faded from glory. In fact, he has never before been the subject of a major international exhibition. This show brings together examples of his output with that of the movement's most prominent artists, revealing the incredible parallels between the two. For example, Daubigny’s Sunset on the Oise is shown alongside Monet’s The Seine at Bougival, Evening, both of which are romantically depicted in streaked, hazy colour.

William Eggleston, Untitled (Marcia Hare in Memphis, Tennessee), c1975

William Eggleston: Portraits

Eggleston was a truly innovative portrait photographer: he captured his subjects unawares as they went about ordinary tasks – eating in diners, filling up at petrol stations, shopping in supermarkets. For him there was 'beauty in the everyday', and his pictures are often enchantingly poetic. In this, the first museum exhibition devoted to his portraits, examples span the full breadth of his career, from his early days shooting anonymous individuals to the pictures he took of musicians – including The Clash frontman Joe Strummer – while working the Memphis nightclub scene.


David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life

Four years after his last blockbuster show at the Royal Academy, the artist is back with a brand-new series of work. A far cry from the Yorkshire landscapes that were the focus of 2012, this time Hockney presents portraits of his Californian social circle. None was commissioned and – initially – there was no exhibition in train; the pictures are the produce of his own personal creative experiment. Among those featured are designer Celia Birtwell – also recognisable as the female figure in Hockney’s Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy – comedian Barry Humphries and the artist’s sister, Margaret. Each portrait is the same size, capturing the sitter in the same chair, against the same blue background, and the artist created each piece in the same three-day timeframe. In this way, Hockney says, the series can also be seen as one complete work.

Tags: ExhibitionsWhat to see