Women artists are set to dominate the exhibition schedule in the major museums and galleries in 2023. First up will be the Whitechapel Gallery’s presentation of overlooked women abstract artists, closely followed by the Barbican’s retrospective of Alice Neel. Other exhibitions will feature the Impressionist artist Berthe Morisot and major exhibitions devoted to Marina Abramović and Sarah Lucas.
Action, Gesture, Paint: Women Artists and Global Abstraction 1940–70
9 Feb – 7 May 2023
Whitechapel Gallery presents a major exhibition of 150 paintings from an overlooked generation of 80 international women artists.
Reaching beyond the predominantly white, male painters whose names are synonymous with the Abstract Expressionist movement, this exhibition celebrates the practices of the numerous international women artists working with gestural abstraction in the aftermath of the Second World War.
It is often said that the Abstract Expressionist movement began in the USA, but this exhibition’s geographic breadth demonstrates that artists from all over the world were exploring similar themes of materiality, freedom of expression, perception and gesture, endowing gestural abstraction with their own specific cultural contexts – from the rise of fascism in parts of South America and East Asia to the influence of Communism in Eastern Europe and China.
The exhibition features well-known artists associated with the Abstract Expressionism movement, including American artists Lee Krasner (1908-1984) and Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011), alongside lesser-known figures such as Mozambican-Italian artist Bertina Lopes (1924-2012) and South Korean artist Wook-kyung Choi (1940-1985). More than half of the works have never before been on public display in the UK.
Alice Neel: Hot Off The Griddle
Barbican Art Gallery
16 February – 20 May 2023
The largest exhibition to date in the UK of American artist Alice Neel (1900–1984) whose vivid portraits capture the shifting social and political context of the American twentieth century.
Describing herself as ‘a collector of souls’, Neel worked in New York during a period in which figurative painting was deeply unfashionable. Crowned the ‘court painter of the underground,’ her canvases celebrate those who were too often marginalised in society: labour leaders, Black and Puerto Rican children, pregnant women, Greenwich Village eccentrics, civil rights activists and queer performers. A member of the US Communist Party, Neel and her radical portraits caught the attention of the FBI. In recent years, the politics of her work has given her cult status among a younger generation of artists.
Organised in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou, Paris, this exhibition brings together over 70 of Neel’s most vibrant portraits, shown alongside archival photography and film, bringing to life what she called’ the swirl of the era’.
Dulwich Picture Gallery
31 March – 10 September 2023
In spring 2023, the Dulwich Picture Gallery will present Berthe Morisot: Shaping Impressionism, the first major UK exhibition of the renowned Impressionist since 1950. In partnership with the Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, it will bring together around 30 of Morisot’s most important works from international collections, many never seen before in the UK, to reveal the artist as a trailblazer of the movement as well as uncovering a previously untold connection between her work and 18th century culture, with around 20 works for comparison.
A founding member of the Impressionist group, Berthe Morisot (1841-1895) was known for her swiftly painted glimpses of contemporary life and intimate domestic scenes. She featured prominently in the Impressionist exhibitions and defied social norms to become one of the movement’s most influential figures.
Carrie Mae Weems
Barbican Art Gallery
21 June – 3 September 2023
Explore the work and career of Carrie Mae Weems in this first major UK exhibition dedicated to one of the most influential American artists working today.
Carrie Mae Weems is celebrated for her exploration of identity, power, desire and social justice through work that challenges representations of race, gender, and class. The largest presentation of the artist’s multi-disciplinary work in Europe to date, this exhibition brings together photographs, films, objects and installations spanning over three decades.
Weems came to prominence in the early 1980s through photographic work that questioned how the representation of the Black subject, particularly within America, has historically reproduced systemic racism and inequality. The exhibition captures the performative and cinematic nature of her practice, from the iconic Kitchen Table Series (1990) to the epic film installation The Shape of Things (2021) focusing on the history of violence in the United States.
Paula Rego: Crivelli’s Garden
The National Gallery
20 July – 29 October 2023
More than 30 years after Dame Paula Rego (1935–2022), the National Gallery’s first Associate Artist (1990–92), was commissioned to create a painting for the Sainsbury Wing Dining Room, a new exhibition will explore the relationship of Rego’s work titled ‘Crivelli’s Garden’ to the 15th-century altarpiece that inspired it. The exhibition, which had long been planned to mark this anniversary, will unite the two monumental artworks in the Gallery’s collection for the first time – inviting visitors to draw out direct comparisons – and will also show how members of National Gallery staff found their way into Dame Paula’s work.
Royal Academy of Arts
23 September – 10 December 2023
In September 2023 the Royal Academy of Arts will present a solo exhibition of the internationally acclaimed artist Marina Abramović Hon RA. The exhibition will be Abramović’s first major survey in the UK, bringing together over 50 works spanning her entire career, including performance works within the galleries. It will explore how Abramović has reflected on the temporal nature of performance art by extending its impact through its traces: photographs, videos, objects, installations and re-performances of her works by young performers. This exhibition continues the Royal Academy’s strand of programming that has showcased some of the most important living artists.
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28 September 2023 – 14 January 2024
Career-spanning exhibition devoted to Sarah Lucas, an artist internationally celebrated for her bold and irreverent approach to British experiences of class, sex and gender. The show will cover the full scope of her work in sculpture, installation and photography, which deftly explores what makes us human and how objects are imbued with meaning.
Barbican Art Gallery
5 October 2023 – 14 January 2024
A major group exhibition exploring the relationship between gender and ecology, highlighting the systemic links between the oppression of women and the degradation of the planet.
Featuring around 50 international women and gender non-conforming artists, RE/SISTERS is a new exhibition featuring work from emerging and established artists across the fields of photography and film.
Works in the exhibition explore how women’s understanding of our environment has often resisted the logic of capitalist economies which places the exploitation of the planet at its centre. They are presented alongside works of an activist nature that show how women are regularly at the forefront of advocating and caring for the planet.
Reflecting on a range of themes, from extractive industries to the politics of care, RE/SISTERS explores environmental and gender justice as indivisible parts of a global struggle. It seeks to address existing power structures that threaten our increasingly precarious ecosystem.
Women in Revolt!
2 November 2023 – 7 April 2024
A landmark exhibition of over 100 women artists working in Britain in the 1970s and 80s. Women in Revolt! will foreground a generation of artists who worked largely outside the mainstream. Influenced by the slogan ‘the personal is political, the exhibition will reassess their contribution to art history and their connection to events such as the equal pay act, Greenham Common, Rock Against Racism, Section 28 and the AIDS crisis.
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Lead image: Ana Mendieta, Butterfly, 1975, Super-8mm film transferred to high-definition digital media, © The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co. and Alison Jacques, London. Licensed by the Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY and DACS, London, 2022.