Van Gogh and Britain
Tate Britain, 27th March to 11th August
Van Gogh arrived in London in 1873 as a trainee art dealer. He left in 1876 determined to become a painter, inspired both by British artists—John Constable, John Everett Millais—and British literature, above all Dickens. This exhibition explores the artist’s debt to British culture but also the galvanising impact the showing of his art (in 1910, 1923 and 1947) had, in turn, on British artists from Christopher Wood to Francis Bacon.
The Renaissance Nude
Royal Academy of Arts, 3rd March to 2nd June
It was not licentiousness, the 15th-century humanist scholar Manuel Chrysoloras suggested, but a fascination with the mind of the artist that explained the allure of the nude. According to Jill Burke, one of the curators of this sumptuous RA show, this is why Renaissance art theory placed depiction of the naked human figure at its apex. From the early 1400s, the nude became a central subject in both secular and religious art, with the Bible, as well as classical mythology, providing narrative context. This transformation culminated in Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment, 1541, in the Sistine Chapel.
Hew Locke: Here’s the Thing
Ikon Birmingham, 8th March to 2nd June
Hew Locke, born in Edinburgh in 1959, spent his formative years in Guyana, returning to the UK in 1980. His subjects are the legacy of colonialism and contemporary politics, interwoven in his multi-layered artworks. These use a variety of media—painting, collage, photography, sculpture, installation—to anatomise how power has been wielded through coats of arms and trophies, weaponry, warships and public statuary. This is the most comprehensive show of his work to date.