12 Days: Highlights of 2016

2 January 2016

Over the 12 days of Christmas, Apollo contributors and guests select their highlights of 2016

View the 12 Days series here

I am really looking forward to the programme of the National Gallery in London and am particularly curious about the show ‘Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art’ (17 February–22 May 2016). Focusing not only on Eugène Delacroix and his contemporaries such as Géricault, but also on the former’s impact on Matisse or Gauguin, it is a show that is long overdue.

Another highlight and crowd pleaser will certainly be the large-scale exhibition on American painter Georgia O’Keeffe at Tate Modern (6 July30 October 2016). While we have seen larger shows on O’Keeffe’s work here and there, this exhibition promises not only to cover her entire oeuvre but will reassess the artist’s position within the history of modern art in general. Given that the perspective on O’Keeffe’s work has often been fairly insular, too simplistic and geared more to the perception of a phenomenon, it seems important to truly connect her with the art of her time and stress the significance of her work (not only the flowers!) for the next generation of artists.

A much smaller show but of great interest is the archival display contextualising the seminal exhibition ‘Art into Society – Society into Art’ at the ICA (19 January6 March 2016). This was a groundbreaking show in 1974 that featured seven German artists, from Joseph Beuys to Gustav Metzger, and addressed art and politics and a more engaged process of democratic exhibition making. The ICA’s ongoing archival explorations of seminal moments of recent art history can only be applauded.

Even more so because I myself am preparing a show on German art from just before that period. Next summer we will reassemble all of the so called hero-paintings by Georg Baselitz at the Städel Museum (30 June–23 October 2016). These extraordinary works, all completed in the years 1965 and 1966, represent not only a core group of this artist’s oeuvre but are radically anachronistic reflections on the artistic, human and social condition in a divided post-war Germany. Painting cannot be more powerful, challenging and disturbing than these works.

(1965), Georg Baselitz. Duisburg, Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst, Sammlung Ströher

Versperrter Maler (1965), Georg Baselitz. Duisburg, Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst, Sammlung Ströher © Georg Baselitz

Max Hollein is director of the Städel Museum, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt and Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung.

View the rest of the 12 Days series here

Event details

‘Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art’ is at the National Gallery, London, from 17 February–22 May 2016.

‘Georgia O’Keeffe’ is at Tate Modern, London from 6 July30 October 2016.

‘Art into Society – Society into Art’ is at the ICA, London, from 19 January6 March 2016.

‘Georg Baselitz: The Heroes’ is at the Städel Museum, Frankfurt, from 30 June–23 October 2016.

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