Five summer blockbusters

  • 26 May 2017

Go psychedelic with Pink Floyd, see Giacometti as never before, and help yourself to the cream of the contemporary art world – summer’s here and it’s bursting with blockbuster shows.


Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains

If you ever wanted to jump inside the minds of one of the 20th century’s most iconic psychedelic bands, the V&A has opened the doors and is waiting to usher you in. More than 350 objects and artefacts drawn from five decades of experimental staging, design and imagery as well as ground-breaking music and performance, create an experience that is theatrical and multi-sensory. Working with artists at the forefront of their own fields such as surrealist, Storm Thorgerson, and satirical illustrator, Gerald Scarfe, Pink Floyd are responsible for some of the most iconic images in popular culture. Stunning sets from the album covers are on display alongside instruments, designs, handwritten lyrics, prints and posters. A laser light show and previously unseen concert footage further immerse visitors in the world of a band that has been pushing the boundaries since the 1960s.



Best known for his long, thin figures worked out of bronze almost into thin air, Giacometti resists categorisation. Engaging with Cubism and Surrealism during his early career in Paris, he adopted a more realist style after the Second World War. Working from life and often using close family members and friends as models, he discovered the body wouldn’t conform to simple representation. The elongation and heavy texturing of these sculptures have been attributed to post-war existential angst. This is the first major UK retrospective for 20 years and the Tate has taken full advantage of its access to the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti in Paris. While his position as a major sculptor-painter of the 20th century is fully represented, the exhibition also asserts his mastery in different materials, displaying never-before-seen drawings and fragile works in plaster.


Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power

In 1963, as the Civil Rights Movement in America was beginning to question its direction and leadership, the Spiral Group collective formed in New York to examine the role of black artists in relation to society. Over the next 20 turbulent years, the debate over Black Art, what its purpose was and who its audience, exploded across the country. Through 150 artworks, this exhibition explores some of the answers. From photo montages to abstract painting, artists engaged with current events, some taking their work to the streets with posters and murals such as the Wall of Respect in Chicago. Others turned to the leading lights of the movement, inspired by figures such as Malcolm X and Angela Davis. Black Feminism found its voice through the work of this time, and avant-garde artists displayed startling works using black hair and tights. Throwing light on a defining period of American art, this show is not to be missed.


Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction

Gripped by Godzilla? Fan of literary dystopias? Sighing for a cyborg? Or just fascinated by how far technology has already taken us? Into the Unknown at the Barbican breaks new ground in a festival-style exhibition exploring every facet of Science Fiction. Planet earth, outer space, future societies and artificial intelligence are examined through film and TV clips, original manuscripts, models, props, comics, video games, robots, performance and more. You can watch a film in the pop-up outdoor cinema, gawp at a gallery of aliens, see Darth Vader’s helmet and the original spacesuits worn by John Hurt in Alien and Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek, and meet robots visiting from far and wide. Taking over the whole building, the exhibition also includes interactive installations and commissions from contemporary artists.

Installation view of the Summer Exhibition, 2016

Summer Exhibition 2017

Open to all artists, the Summer Exhibition is the largest of its kind in the world and hasn’t missed a year since 1769. Among the 1200 or so works on display, you can see new work by well known names and discover the stars of the future; and if you really like what you see, almost everything is for sale. Artists featured this year include Gilbert & George, Phyllida Barlow, Antony Gormley, Sean Scully, Bob and Roberta Smith and Wolfgang Tillmans. Work comes from all over the world and across all media, from painting, sculpture and printmaking to photography, architecture and film. This year, for the first time, it will also include an element of performance art.

Tags: ExhibitionsGreat days outWhat to see