Seven blockbuster exhibitions to see this winter

Published 12 December 2018

Fill the winter months with music, glamour and a feast of visual art with our pick of the season’s blockbusters.

A smile from the 16th century, a boy stepping off the kerb in New York – our seven winter exhibitions are all about stolen looks, fleeting moments and snatched memories.

Steal a look or seven yourself, and enjoy free or 50% off entry to our pick of the season's blockbuster shows with a National Art Pass.

Kaiser Chiefs

When All Is Quiet: Kaiser Chiefs in Conversation with York Art Gallery

In an exhibition to open your ears as well as your eyes, the band Kaiser Chiefs have brought together works that resonate with their own experience as musicians, while exploring the boundaries between art, music, performance and creation. From a set list of songs inspired by works in York Art Gallery’s collection to a ‘silent gig’ that reconfigures a live music show through light, colour and lyrics, this exhibition promises to be immersive.

Pierre Bonnard, Coffee (Le Café), 1915

Pierre Bonnard: The Colour of Memory

The early 20th-century French artist Pierre Bonnard has long been loved for his intense colours and ability to capture fleeting and otherwise unnoticed moments – his wife dressing after a bath, a room abandoned after a meal. This exhibition – the first major show of Bonnard in the UK for 20 years – emphasises his influence on future artists such as Mark Rothko and Patrick Heron, and explores overlooked aspects of his work, travels around France and response to two world wars.

Écarlate afternoon dress, Autumn-Winter 1955 Haute Couture collection, Y line

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams

Rejoice in seven decades of groundbreaking vision and ravishing fashion from the House of Dior, then look beyond to the personal influences of Christian Dior himself – including his fascination with British culture, from Savile Row suits to British-designed ocean liners. Among the 500 exhibits are haute couture garments worn by princess Margaret, the author Nancy Mitford and dancer Margot Fonteyn, as well as accessories, film and photography, illustrations and Dior’s personal possessions.


Jeff Koons

‘I couldn’t think of a better place to have a dialogue about art today and what it can be,’ says Jeff Koons of the Ashmolean, the world’s oldest public museum, where he is co-curating this exhibition spanning his entire career. Described as important, controversial and subversive, Koons’ work explores the ‘ready-made’ and appropriated image, and interrogates both ancient and modern art – and high and low culture – through sculpture and painting. Of the 17 works featured, 14 are on display in the UK for the first time.

Diane Arbus, Lady on a bus, NYC, 1957

Diane Arbus: In the Beginning

In 1956, Diane Arbus marked a roll of 35mm film as #1, and the career of one of the most influential 20th-century photographers began. Although she had been taking photographs since 1940, this was the year she began developing her style in earnest. Roaming New York City from Fifth Avenue to Coney Island, she captured urban life in all its subtlety and diversity, interacting closely with her chosen subjects. This exhibition focuses on the first seven years of her career, including 50 vintage prints never previously displayed in Europe.

Nicholas Hilliard, Unknown man against a background of flames, c1600

Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver

In the 16th and 17th centuries, miniatures were something of a big deal among royalty and the upper classes, who used the tiny paintings to express loyalty, patronage, friendship and love – clandestine or otherwise. English artists were internationally renowned for their skill, and this exhibition brings together works by masters Nicholas Hilliard and Isaac Oliver. The ‘lovely graces, witty smilings, and… stolen glances which suddenly like lightening pass’, as Hilliard put it, are still vivid after 400 years.

Albert Irvin, Almada, 1985

Albert Irvin and Abstract Expressionism

Escape the wintry gloom and let a riot of bright colour into your life with this major retrospective of abstract expressionist Albert Irvin. Irvin himself was hugely inspired by the 1959 exhibition The New American Painting at Tate, and this show celebrates its 60th anniversary with works by US artists including Jackson Pollock, Grace Hartigan and Adolph Gottlieb. It’s also a chance to immerse yourself in the work of other UK abstract artists such as Gillian Ayres, Peter Lanyon and Sandra Blow.

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