Sunday, 8 March 2009

Where the art is

It's been a quiet couple of years for London's National Gallery, overtaken in the blockbuster show stakes by the Tates, Britain and Modern. My Tate membership has served me well over the last couple of years, with exciting exhibitions of Cildo Meireles (who can forget the experience of walking on broken glass, or barefoot in a darkened room, shin-high in talcum powder?), Juan Muñoz (reminding you that art can be funny) and even Rothko (OK, the gallery was overly keen to emphasise the canvases' layers but that first, main, room, still served as a sort of minimalist cathedral) – all at T Modern – plus a welcome introduction, for me, to British painter Peter Doig (British meaning Scottish) and Martin Creed's wonderful Work No 850, both at T Britain. Despite Van Dyck at T Britain at the moment, the Tates' forthcoming calendar looks a little dry (Rodchenko & Popova at T Modern anyone? Thought not).

I wonder if my Royal Academy membership may also get a little dusty this year, following recent showings of Lucas Cranach and Vilhelm Hammershøi. It's to be seen if the oddball Hayward Gallery can recreate the success of Psycho Buildings with Walking in My Mind this summer.

Now the National Gallery has reaffirmed its central place, on Trafalgar Square, with Picasso: Challenging the Past, hoping to follow after Rubens, Caravaggio and Rembrandt over the years. Plus, next door, at the National Portrait Gallery, is Gerhard Richter, whose Paintings from Private Collections at the Scottish National Gallery was another of my treats of last year. 

The Courtauld Gallery always delights, and a major venue that has to now be considered on the London art scene is the British Museum, currently celebrating Shah Abbas. But who can be bothered getting out to the Barbican

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