Not to be missed: exhibitions in 2017

ANNIVERSARIES PLAY AN important part in structuring the art-historical calendar. Their observance can also serve as a way to organise the past and draw it closer, as in the programme of First World War commemorations:1 the United States’ entry into the conflict in 1917 will be marked by an exhibition examining the impact of the War on American art at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (to 9th April; later in New York and Nashville). In 2017 the War will recede somewhat to make way for two colossal anniversaries: the centenary of the Russian Revolution and the quincentenary of Martin Luther’s ninety-five theses.

An exhibition reuniting Sergei Shchukin’s collection of European Modernism at Paris’s Fondation Louis Vuitton (to 20th February) rebuilds one of many wells from which the Russian avant-garde drew; the art it gave rise to will be subjected to more scholarly attention in surveys at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (to 12th March), at the Royal Academy of Arts in London (February to April) and at Tate Modern (from November). The importance of design and propaganda in post-Revolutionary Russia opens up any number of approaches for curators, one of the most promising being the exhibition of Soviet-era design at the new Kensington home of the Design Museum (March to June). The Revolution will also be viewed through the longer lens of Russian history at the Hermitage, Amsterdam, which hosts a study of Tsar Nicholas II’s St Petersburg and the cultural flourish that, it transpired, was its swansong (February to  September). A letter written to this Magazine in 1919 by Alexander Polovtsov (1867–1944), Director of the Pavlovsk Palace Museum, gives a vivid account of the heroic efforts he and his colleagues made to save the artistic treasures in St Petersburg as the Revolution raged throughout the city.2

The Reformation will be commemorated at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (to 26th March) with masterpieces from the State Museums of Berlin, Munich and Dresden. Some hundred works by Lucas Cranach the Elder have been lent to an exhibition in Japan (at the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, to 15th January; then in Osaka), and three vast exhibitions on view in Germany from April to November will examine the impact of Protestantism worldwide (Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin), the Reformation’s relationship to German culture (Wartburg Castle, Eisenach) and study Luther himself (Augusteum, Wittenburg). Northern European art is otherwise well served in 2017, with exhibitions focusing on Vermeer and Dutch genre painting at the Musée du Louvre (February to May), then in Dublin and Washington, Rubens at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, and Van Eyck’s influence on the Pre-Raphaelites at the National Gallery, London (both from October).

Old-master exhibitions survey the art of Artemisia Gentileschi at Palazzo Braschi, Rome (to 8th May), while Michelangelo’s and Sebastiano del Piombo’s collaborations in painting and sculpture will be examined in the main galleries of the National Gallery, London (15th March to June). Some 140 Raphael drawings will adorn the walls of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (May to September; later in Vienna); and the oeuvre of Ambrogio Lorenzetti will be on view in Siena. Bouchardon’s sculpture will travel from Paris to the Getty (January to April) while Valentin de Boulogne’s paintings, currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, make the return trip to the Louvre (February to May). Non-Western traditions are explored through exhibitions of Chinese portraits of the Ming and Qing dynasties at the Kulturforum, Berlin (from October), and African culture from the fifth century BC to the present day will be presented at the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris (January to November).

The centenary of the death of August Rodin is to be commemorated at London’s Courtauld Gallery and the Musée Rodin, Paris (both to 22nd January), to be followed by a blockbuster at the Grand Palais (March to July) and performances at the Musée Rodin led by Marina Abramović (April to July). Further early modernist sculpture shows turn to Medardo Rosso at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St Louis (to 13th May); Giacometti (May to September) and Modigliani (from November), both at Tate Modern; and the neglected figure of Germaine Richier at Mont-Saint-Michel (in the summer).

Exhibitions devoted to later generations of sculptors include Tony Cragg at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (March to September), and Rachel Whiteread at Tate Britain (from September). Tate Britain continues its thematic surveys of art history with Queer British Art (April to October), while there are monographic shows of Turner at the Frick Collection, New York (February to May), and Vanessa Bell at Dulwich Picture Gallery (February to June).

The eightieth anniversary of Picasso’s Guernica will be celebrated at its home, the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid (April to September), while Matisse drawings will be studied at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon (to 6th March) and his studio at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (from April; then in London). There are exhibitions on Cézanne at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe (from October), Pissarro at the Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris (from February), and Sisley at the Hôtel de Caumont, Aix-en-Provence (from June).

Following the trend of exhibiting artists in pairs, Bruce Nauman joins Francis Bacon at Musée Fabre, Montpellier (July to November), ahead of Nauman’s 2018 retrospective at MoMA and Basel’s Schaulager. The spectacular showing of American Modernism in London this winter will continue into 2017 with Robert Rauschenberg at Tate Modern (to 2nd April; then in New York and San Francisco), painting from the 1930s and Jasper Johns, both at the Royal Academy (from February and September respectively), post-War prints at the British Museum (March to June) and Jean-Michel Basquiat at Barbican Art Gallery (from September). Another luminary of Black Mountain College, Merce Cunningham, enjoys his largest survey to date at Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (February to September).

One further benefit of an anniversary is that it allows institutions to reflect on their own history. The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, celebrating its bicentenary, has done so in style, as the Supplement in this issue illustrates (pp.1017–29), and the current exhibition of the Goodison Gift of recent British decorative art underlines its commitment to moving forwards as well as looking back.


1 The centenary commemorations were marked by a special issue of this Magazine in September 2014.

2 THE BURLINGTON MAGAZINE 34 (1919), pp.160–61. See also the Editorial ‘Works of Art in Russia’, ibid., 39 (1921), p.3.