After a year of staring at the same four walls (and, indeed, the same four screens), visual relief is on its way. Public galleries and museums are reopening on May 17, and with them comes a smorgasbord of delayed exhibitions and new must-see shows. There’s much to look forward to, including Yayoi Kusama’s much-hyped Infinity Mirror Rooms, which were originally due to open at the Tate Modern in 2020. We’ve rounded up the nine best art exhibitions of 2021 in the UK this summer, for your viewing pleasure.
With travel restrictions still hanging over our heads, the upcoming Van Gogh exhibition might be the closest thing we get to escapism this year. The event has been billed as a “multisensory experience” that will immerse visitors in the master painter’s work across a 25,000ft2 purpose-built venue. Not to be confused with Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience – as seen in Emily in Paris – which is coming to a secret London location in October.
Coming June 4th – September 26th, see more info here.
Take a trip to Wonderland, quite literally, with the Victoria and Albert Museum’s deep dive into all things Alice. The museum’s latest blockbuster exhibition features an immersive rabbit hole, a projection-mapped tea party and over 300 objects spanning the worlds of art, fashion and film, all highlighting the Lewis Carrol-created character’s wide ranging cultural impact.
From 22nd May, see more info here.
If you didn’t get to see Lynette Yiadom Boakye’s collection at the Tate Britain before lockdown 2, there’s still time – just. Her enigmatic oil paintings of imaginary Black subjects have secured her status as one of the most intriguing artists of our generation, and the new exhibition is her most extensive to date, featuring around 80 works (including new pieces that were created during the pandemic).
From 2nd December – 31st May, see more info here.
Created for her 2012 retrospective, Yayoi Kusama’s highly-Instagrammable Infinity Mirrors are making a return to the Tate Modern. The otherworldly rooms will be shown alongside the Kusama’s Chandelier of Grief, which is filled with rotating chandeliers, as well as some never-before-seen photographs.
Dates TBC, see more info here.
David Hockney famously created 116 new works on his iPad during the pandemic, and together they are a paean of praise for the natural world. Titled The Arrival of Spring in Normandy: 2020, they diverge from the Yorkshire landscapes he studied for over a decade. All 116 are going on display at the Royal Academy this May. Booking is essential.
Coming on 23rd May - 26th September, see more info here.
A month’s worth of events, exhibitions, talks and shows taking place at 15 venues across the UK. Full details are yet to be announced, but so far we know that Oona Doherty, Sonya Dyer, Adham Faramawy, Guerrilla Girls, Mark Leckey, Isabel Lewis, Imran Perretta & Paul Purgas, Philomène Pirecki, OOMK, and Alberta Whittle have all been commissioned. Watch this space.
From 18th June – 18th July, various venues, see more info here.
The UK’s largest festival of contemporary art returns for 2021. Titled The Stomach and the Port, the festival’s “first phase” opened in March, and included seven outdoor commissions with a few more added in April. The Biennial’s nine free indoor exhibitions open on May 19th. In total, it boasts 150 works of art, including 47 new commissions, with the aim of celebrating and exploring non-western conceptions of the body.
From 20th March, see more info here.
Open since March, Alison Milner’s exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is an extension of her fascination with the relationship between nature and the built environment. It features a giant mosaic and a collection of handmade tiles among other things, all inspired by the landscape of the park itself. If you’re in that neck of the woods, check out Damien Hirst’s giant sculptures too.
From 27th March – 27th June, see more info here.
The V&A Dundee’s upcoming exhibition is like a comfort blanket when sticky floors, overpriced alcohol and line-for-the-bathroom friendships feel like a thing of the past. The first exhibition to explore the relationship between club culture and design, it promises a comprehensive look at spaces like Hacienda in Manchester and New York’s iconic Studio 54.
From May 1st 2021, see more info here.