The exhibitions you must see this July

Published 20 June 2019

Discover what Picasso and Dickens had in common and ponder the meaning of tea in our roundup of the most compelling exhibitions to see this July.

Your must-see exhibitions for July are packed with colour: there’s a survey of 400 years of collage at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, featuring work by masters of the form such as Matisse, Miró and Picasso; Olafur Eliasson's interactive installations at Tate Modern; a globetrotting show telling the story of tea at Compton Verney – and much more.

Identity is also a big theme this month as the Hayward Gallery challenges definitions of gender in a major new show, Cindy Sherman’s shape-shifting photography lights up the National Portrait Gallery, and the National Museum of Scotland investigates why Scotland is so Scottish.

Almost all of our July highlights are 50% off entry with a National Art Pass. For even more inspiration you can also check out our picks of the hottest blockbuster exhibitions to see this summer.

Amrou Al-Kadhi & Holly Falconer, Glamrou, 2016

Kiss My Genders

This exhibition brings together more than 30 international artists whose work explores and engages with gender identity. While photographic portraiture is central to the show, with several artists using the body as a form of sculpture, other media include installation, video, painting and drawing. A series of flags designed by Ad Minoliti, ‘stained glass’ windows by Athi-Patra Ruga and a poem by Tarek Lakhrissi take the exhibition beyond the gallery and across the wider Southbank Centre.

Henri Matisse, Le Clown (The Clown), 1912

Cut and Paste: 400 Years of Collage

Picasso did it; Terry Gilliam did it; even Charles Dickens had a go – collage has been practised by a hugely diverse range of artists for over 400 years. In this first-ever exhibition entirely devoted to the form, over 250 works are on display, from 16th-century anatomical ‘flap prints’ to punk album covers and works by children. Masterpieces by Eileen Aga,Henri Matisse and Joan Miró, among others, represent collage's early 21st-century heyday, while the feminist works of artists such as Linder and Hannah Wilkes and library books doctored by playwright Joe Orton illustrate how collage became a form of protest.

Olafur Eliasson, Your spiral view, 2002

Olafur Eliasson: In real life

Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson returns to Tate Modern after his hugely popular glowing sun installation in 2003 with an exhibition that bursts out beyond the gallery’s walls, and includes work born from collaborations in fields ranging from sustainability to architecture. Featuring paintings, sculptures and installations from the last 30 years, the exhibition showcases the elements of shared experience and participation that characterise Eliasson's work, and also gives visitors an insight into how his work evolves behind the scenes in Studio Olafur Eliasson.

Richard Waitt, Piper to the Laird of Grant, 1714

Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland

Bagpipes, tartan and rugged highland landscapes have come to symbolise Scotland for many people around the world. Spanning the period between the Battle of Culloden in 1746 and the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, this exhibition investigates when and how the country began developing and projecting its image across the globe. Over 300 objects tell the story of the birth of tourism in Scotland and the promotion of Gaelic culture, including an early Gaelic dictionary, the Gaelic version of Queen Victoria’s Highland journal, and an 18th-century pipe banner of the Royal Highland Emigrants in America.

John Akomfrah, Peripeteia, 2012 (still)

John Akomfrah: Ballasts of Memory

A pioneering filmmaker and artist whose work often explores post-colonialism, memory and migrant experiences, John Akomfrah was a founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective which started in London in 1982. This exhibition presents existing works alongside the European premiere of recent work Precarity (2017) – a video installation following the life of forgotten New Orleans cornetist Charles 'Buddy' Bolden, who had a huge influence on the development of jazz.

Johann Zoffany, Fourteenth Lord Willoughby de Broke, and His Family, c1766

A Tea Journey: from the Mountains to the Table

Fancy a cuppa? Compton Verney’s new exhibition explores the origins, ceremonies and cultural significance of the (not so) humble cup of tea. Over 150 works, including paintings, ceramics and poetry, show how tea has crossed oceans, inspired artists and played a role in the customs of every social class. Highlights include Britain’s oldest sample of tea (c1700), tea vessels from the Tang and Song dynasties (7th-13th centuries) and a contemporary tea ceremony house that leaves Japan for the first time. Of course, there’s also the opportunity to indulge in a variety of different brews in The Tea Sensorium.

Cindy Sherman Untitled Film Still #21, 1978

Cindy Sherman

The groundbreaking photography of Cindy Sherman, in which she manipulates her own appearance and images from cultural sources, plays an enthralling game with identity. This major retrospective brings her landmark series Untitled Film Stills (1977-80) to the UK in its entirety for the first time. In more than 70 images, Sherman performs as archetypal characters inspired by 1950s and 1960s films. Among other highlights, her version of Madame Moitessier by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres will be displayed alongside the original portrait of 1856.

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