Tag Archives: Royal Academy of Arts

9 must-see contemporary art exhibitions this November

As I pointed out in my last post, the German cultural season has hit London with full force. Two major museums are showing big retrospectives of German artists. But of course there is a good amount of brilliant British and overseas art currently on display too. Bypassing the super blockbusters of Rembrandt, Turner, William Morris and co, I present to you the 9 must-see exhibitions of contemporary art this November.

Sigmar Polke , Untitled (Quetta, Pakistan) 1974–1978 Glenstone © The Estate of Sigmar Polke / DACS, London / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

1. Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010, Tate Modern9 October 20148 February 2015, This promises to be a grand multi-medial retrospective of an artistic career that span 5 decades.

Anselm Kiefer, The Orders of the Night, 1996.

2. Anselm Kiefer, Royal Academy of Arts, 27 September – 14 December 2014, Kiefer’s monumental work as to be seen in person. It is then that the effect of his massive canvases with thickly laid on, relief-like paint truly unfolds.

3. Mirrorcity, Hayward Gallery, 14 October 2014 – 4 January 2015, This exhibition brings together London-based contemporary artists which are united by a common reflection on what it means to live in the digital age. Although this show has had mixed reviews, it is the first major museum exhibition dedicated to this topic.

Steve McQueen, Still from Ashes, 2014

4. Steve McQueen Ashes, Thomas Dane Gallery14 October – 15 November 2014, McQueen’s new video work is visually stunning and meditative, while the story of the film’s protagonist is tragic.

Ryan Trecartin, Still from CENTER JENNY, 2013

5. Lizzie Fitch/Ryan Trecartin, Zabludowicz Collection, 2 October – 21 December 2014, The two artist collaborate again to create a super-modern, hyper-digital immersive nightmare. Trecartin’s schizophrenic films are complimented by Fitch’s grotesque gallery environments.

Exhibition view of Tracey Emin The Last Great Adventure is You

6. Tracy Emin The Last Great Adventure is You, White Cube, 8 October – 16 November 2014, Uber-critic Jonathan Jones of the Guardian loved this tour de force of the female nude. I am curious what the fuss is about.

Shinro Ohtake, ‘Radio Head Surfer’, 1994-95. Courtesy of the artist and Take Ninagawa, Tokyo

7. Shinro Ohtake, Parasol Unit, 12 October – 12 December 2014, The Japanese artist re-appropriates the scraps of our consumer society to intricately detailed laborious works of art.

Zhanna Kadyrova, Latent Forms

8. Premonition Ukrainian Art Now, Saatchi Gallery, 9 October – 3 November, Showcasing art mostly from the period before the recent dramatic political developments , it will be interesting to see if clues and predictions of unrest exist in the works or if this is  only ambitious expectation.

Jane and Louise Wilson. Still from Undead Sun, 2014

9. Jane and Louise Wilson, IWM Contemporary, 15 October 2014 – Sun 11 January 2015, Produced to mark the centenary of the First World War Jane and Louise Wilson’s film explores the construction of narratives of the time.

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The Krauts & the Tommys – A glance at the German/British Relationship

Subconsciously and then consciously I have noticed, over the last few months, more and more articles about Germany, German culture  and German leadership. Identified as a sign of German efficiency her ability to strip herself of unnecessary decision-making, articles regarding the latter often focus on Angela Merkel and her choice of jackets; in my eyes this women has perfected the concept of #normcore.

Decision detox. While her fashion sense remains questionable, Angie choses to focus on the important things.

This is not a completely recent development. More or less frequently, all major English newspapers have had their bit to share on our chancellor, our country, our football. However, it seems that especially in the wake of recent economic developments, the UK has become more interested in exploring their (often ambivalent) relationship with Germany.

Caricature via the Guardian

Now there is a major exhibition, as well as two massive retrospectives of seminal German artists picking up on cultural mouthpieces of German culture. They seem continue where Gerhard Richter and the major exhibition in 2011 at Tate Modern left of.

Gerhard Richter, Erschossener 1 (Man Shot Down 1), 1988 depicting Andreas Baader, co-founder of the terrorist organisation Red Army Faction (RAF) and arrested in June 1972.

Popping up on the cultural landscape are numerous museum shows with a ‘German flavour.’ For instance, there is the British Museum exhibition “The Other Side of the Medal – How Germany saw the first World War,” which examins German history through a selection of medals and their engravings. In this context, both the Observer and the Guardian ran buzzfeed-style lists of things that ‘made modern Germany.’  The weight that is attributed to sausages’ contribution to the development of our country, however, seems rather questionable to me.

With Anselm Kiefer  at the Royal Academy, which just opened this Saturday, and the Sigmar Polke retrospective at Tate Modern, scheduled to open next week on the 9th of October, two major London museums turn their full attention to German artists.

Anselm Kiefer, Wege der Weltweisheit: die Hermanns-Schlacht,1978

What these artists, have in common is that they reflect and are a reflection, if not magnification, of German history and historical developments.  Kiefer, for example, is well-known for his work’s occupation with Hitler and the resulting collective silence in  post-war  German society.

Arguably, these exhibitions then come to surface in a process, wherein the British try to understand and come to grips with Germany’s political, social and economical development after the war. After all Germany, as a country, has made its way out of their (self-inflicted) misery like a well-plucked phoenix ascending from the ashes. In a time of Scottish referendum, terrorist threat and possible economical downfall, it seems the Empire is looking for an example or a backup-plan to follow, when and if they have to struggle to their feet again; Something they never had to do before.