Preview of 2012. By Andrew Graham-Dixon.
David Hockney: A Bigger Picture, at the Royal Academy, explores Hockney’s lifelong fascination with landscape, through some two hundred works ranging from oil paintings to pencil drawings, films and iPad sketches, spanning more than fifty years – culminating in Hockney’s most recent pictures, a group of monumental, often dizzyingly panoramic views of Bridlington, Yorkshire,
Same degree of fame, same initials, somewhat different approach: Damien Hirst, at Tate Modern, marks a quarter of a century of output by the master taxidermist of modern British art. Distilled to its alchemical essence – the show will contain a distinctly select choice of sculptures and installations, going back to the days of cow’s heads in vitrines and sharks in formaldehyde – Hirst’s work is subtle, anxious, powerfully morbid. This show just might repair some of the damage he has done to his own reputation through self-repetition and self-parody.
According to the advance publicity for Picasso and Modern British Art, at Tate Britain, this will be "the first exhibition to explore Picasso’s lifelong connections with Britain". But while Picasso’s impact on modern British art has been undeniable – Sutherland was fascinated by him, Bacon even more so, while Henry Moore arguably built his entire career on the skeleton of Picasso’s Surrealist-period, so-called "bone drawings" – there is not much evidence of influence running the other way. A one-way-street of an exhibition?
Gillian Wearing, at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, a retrospective of the artist’s photographs, videos and documentary films, should be one of the most enthralling shows of the year. During the past twenty years Wearing has created a rich, piercingly humane and fascinatingly diverse body of work; this mid-career retrospective should confirm her as one of the outstanding artists of an exceptional generation.
Finally, Grey Matters: Graphite, at the...