V&A Cast Court, Victoria & Albert Museum, from 1st December
For years the Cast Courts at the V&A were regarded as an eccentric curiosity. But in 1873, when the museum first opened, life-size plaster casts and electrotype copies were at the heart of its educational mission. Here, the public could wonder at marvels such as Trajan’s Column, cut in two, or Florence’s Gates of Paradise. Now the V&A unveils the final stage of its restoration, below, reinstating the original green-and-red paint schemes, repairing the lofty glazed barrel vault ceiling and reinvigorating our understanding of these objects.
Albert Irvin and Abstract Expressionism, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, 8th December to 3rd March
In 1959, the Tate Gallery opened the seminal exhibition, The New American Painting, bringing prime examples of abstract expressionism from across the Atlantic. The show had a seismic impact on British audiences and artists, who drew from it a new confidence and energy. Albert Irvin was one of a number of British artists whose art was transformed by those paintings. This show reconstructs that moment and celebrates Irvin’s subsequent career.
Haroon Mirza, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 30th November to 24th February
Renowned for its pioneering solo shows of significant mid-career artists, Ikon offers the most comprehensive exhibition to date of work by British artist Haroon Mirza, who in 2011 won a promising young artist Silver Lion at the Venice Biennale. Mirza combines moving imagery, sound and installation in elaborate ways to create art works with a powerful physical and emotional impact. Their meaning unravels slowly—a complex questioning of dogmas.