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12 Days

27 December 2013

For each of the 12 days of Christmas we have asked Apollo staff and contributors to select the artistic highlights that they are most eagerly anticipating in 2014. The Muse Room will return with its regular daily blogs on 7 January 2014. From all of us at Apollo, happy new year!

(1987), Thomas Akilak

Drum Dancer (1987), Thomas Akilak © Scott Polar Research Institute. Photo: Martin Hartley

Two Temple Place reopens its doors in January for an exhibition of ‘Discoveries’ from the University of Cambridge Museums. The themes of ‘Art, Science and Exploration’ are ambitiously broad, but instead of a sweeping historical narrative, visitors will be treated to a series of bizarre anecdotes and curious objects, such as the Tinamou Egg from the HMS Beagle, which Darwin accidentally cracked. In its fittingly eclectic late-Victorian venue, it should be an enjoyable wunderkammer of a show.

(c. 1610–1614) El Greco,

Laoconte (c. 1610–1614) El Greco, Washington DC, National Gallery of Art. Samuel H. Kress Collection

In Spain, the Prado’s major summer exhibition ‘El Greco and Modern Painting’ marks 400 years since the artist’s death, and examines how various artists of the 19th and 20th centuries adopted him as a proto-modernist. The strength of the Prado’s collection of El Greco paintings alone suggests it will be an excellent show, but its prelude, opening at the end of March, will perhaps offer a more interesting perspective on the artist. ‘El Greco’s Library’ examines his literary and theoretical sources, presenting him as a product of his own time rather than a prophet of another, in an unusual inversion of the familiar narrative.

(c. 1929), Alan Beeton

Reposing (c. 1929), Alan Beeton © The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge

Finally, the Fitzwilliam Museum’s ‘Silent Partners’ exhibition has a fascinating premise for a major historical show. It traces the changing use of the artist’s mannequin, from a simple studio tool, to an object of fetish, to a subversive art object. Packed with unusual exhibits from the edges of art history, it could elevate the man-made human doppelganger from an interesting art-historical footnote to a subject in its own right.

‘Discoveries: Art, Science and Exploration from the University of Cambridge Museums’ is at Two Temple Place, London, from 31 January–27 April 2014.

‘El Greco’s Library’ is at the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, from 31 March–29 June 2014, and ‘El Greco and Modern Painting’ is open from 24 June–5 October 2014.

‘Silent Partners: Artist and Mannequin from Function to Fetish’ opens at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, in October 2014.