Six Edinburgh exhibitions

Published 28 July 2015

To celebrate festival season in Edinburgh, we've found six of the best shows to see while you're in town.

1. Photography: A Victorian Sensation, National Museum of Scotland

50% off with National Art Pass

From treasured family portraits to carte de visites swapped among friends, this exhibition charts the Victorian obsession with photography. Starting with the cross-channel competition between trailblazers Louis Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot who raced to have their inventions patented, it follows the development of photography into a 'usable medium' that enjoyed widespread popularity. As well as providing a rare chance to see some of the earliest prints in the world, the show offers insight into the lives of the Victorians whose images feature (until 22 November).

2. The Amazing World of MC Escher, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

50% off with National Art Pass

This enigmatic artist was so keen to distance himself from the celebrity of surrealists such as Magritte and Dali, he went as far as raising his prices in an attempt to reduce sales, and famously refused to design a Rolling Stones cover. Despite his work being highly recognisable – inspiring homages in Labyrinth and Inception – he has remained relatively unknown in the UK; only one of his prints features in a public collection. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art seeks to right this with a show that brings together over 100 original drawings, mezzotints, prints, woodcuts and lithographs (until 27 September).

3. Bailey’s Stardust, Scottish National Portrait Gallery

50% off with National Art Pass

David Bailey's handpicked career highlights are displayed at this show in Edinburgh. Familiar faces such as Mick Jagger, Grayson Perry and Francis Bacon are shown alongside photographic portraits of the people he encountered on his travels in Australia, India and Papua New Guinea, as well as images of African famine victims which were taken in support of Band Aid. Among the most striking pictures are those from Bailey's Democracy series; a project in which he asked visitors to his studio to be photographed naked (until 19 October).

4. Phyllida Barlow: Set, The Fruitmarket Gallery

Free to all

For this solo exhibition in Edinburgh, the artist was asked to ‘turn The Fruitmarket Gallery upside down’. Created from materials that wouldn't look out of place on a building site or scrap heap – such as plywood, cardboard, fabric, cement and plastic –​ Barlow's monumentally sized sculptures do just that. Spilling from the upper gallery, over the staircase and onto the ground floor, the installations crawl across doorways, beams and struts. This exciting new series of work was commissioned as part of Edinburgh Art Festival (until 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 was her image of Picasso – turned towards the camera with a fixing stare – that stood out. It was 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 (until 6 September).

6. Jean-Étienne Liotard, Scottish National Gallery

50% off with National Art Pass

Liotard painted with such intense realism that his contemporary Horace Walpole wrote that 'truth prevailed in all his works'. But Liotard was not just an artist; he was also a collector, dealer, traveller and innovator who wrote his own treatise on painting. His reputation earned him invitations to the courts of Vienna, Paris and London, where he portrayed the families of Empress Maria Theresa, King Louis XV and Augusta, Princess of Wales, in remarkable style. This exhibition explores themes of travel, Orientalism, court art, fashion and technical experimentation in his work (until 13 September).

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