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The American Dream and the October Revolution

Over the 12 days of Christmas, Apollo contributors and guests select their highlights of 2017. View the series here.

2 January 2017

Aside from trips to Venice and Hull, I’m looking forward to seeing the turbulence of 2016 and the uncertainties of 2017 through the lens of ‘The American Dream: Pop to the Present’ (9 March–18 June) at the British Museum, and two shows marking the centenary of the October Revolution: ‘Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths’ (28 April–29 August) at the British Library, and ‘Red Star Over Russia’ (8 November–18 February 2018) at Tate Modern.

‘Weaving Magic’ at the National Gallery (26 April–28 August) sees Chris Ofili join the growing list of contemporary artists working with tapestry. For his 2012 Metamorphosis project Ofili worked with the Royal Opera House set-painting department and the impact on his work in terms of scale and lyrical, gestural sweep was fascinating. So I’m looking forward to seeing the results of his collaboration with the Dovecot Tapestry Studio.

A detail of the tapestry, (2016), Chris Ofili

A detail of the tapestry (2016), Chris Ofili. © Chris Ofili. Photograph by Gautier Deblonde

The Paolozzi retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery (16 February–14 May) feels perfectly timed as recent building projects at Tottenham Court Road station and the Design Museum have caused us to look afresh at his public work. I have always loved his early collages and this will be a wonderful opportunity to see them alongside sculpture, prints, textiles, and his ground breaking Bunk! performance lecture.

There are some great events coming up in theatre, too. Hard on the heels of Glenda Jackson as King Lear, the brilliantly funny Tamsin Greig will be playing ‘Malvolia’ in Twelfth Night at the National Theatre (from 15 February). While at university I stage-managed a production of Twelfth Night and despite that, it’s still a play I love. I’m also intrigued by a new musical at the Donmar Warehouse The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee takes oral evidence on Whitehall’s relationship with Kids Company (24 June–12 August). It sounds like Jerry Springer meets The Permanent Way and I like the idea of translating big egos and parliamentary ‘business’ into musical theatre. No word yet on who’s singing Alan Yentob.

National Theatre: Twelfth Night

National Theatre: Twelfth Night (2016). Photography: Frederike Helwig

Finally, after her astonishing Betroffenheit with Jonathon Young at Sadler’s Wells this year, Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite is making her first work for the Royal Ballet as part of a triple bill (16–24 March), which will go some way to addressing the dearth of female choreographers on their main stage.

Caro Howell is director of the Foundling Museum, London.
Keep up with Apollo’s 12 Days selection of art highlights here.

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