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The major art anniversaries to look out for in 2022

2 January 2022


‘The Christian Era ended at midnight on Oct. 29-30 of last year,’ wrote Ezra Pound to H.L. Mencken in March 1922, which he regarded as the ‘year 1 p.s.U. [post scriptum Ulysses]’. There are many reasons for 1922 to be considered a milestone in the history of literary modernism, such as the publication of ‘The Waste Land’ by T.S. Eliot and Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf, but the publication of Joyce’s novel is the most compelling. There are a number of exhibitions to mark its centennial. Among them is ‘Mapping Fiction’ (15 January–2 May) at the Huntington, which explores how novelists and their readers have mapped out fictional worlds, paying particular attention to Joyce’s meticulous plotting of Dublin. Elsewhere, ‘Women and the Making of Joyce’s Ulysses’ at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin (29 January–17 July) focuses on the stories of four women who helped to see the book into print in the UK, Europe and the United States.

First edition of Ulysses, printed 1922. Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

First edition of Ulysses, printed 1922. Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

Antonio Canova

The undisputed master of neoclassical sculpture in Italy died in 1822, a bicentenary marked by a programme of exhibitions across the country. The Civic Museum of Bassano del Grappa – a few kilometres from Possagno, the town in the Veneto where Canova was born – has  pieced together the fragments of Canova’s statue of Hebe which, until the bombardment of the city in 1945, stood in the public square; it is on display alongside 40 other works until 30 May. Meanwhile at the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Bologna, a display about the artist’s relationship with the city runs until 20 February.

Lucian Freud

The National Gallery was Lucian Freud’s favourite museum, so it is fitting that it has seen off the competition to stage a survey celebrating the centenary of the painter’s birth. ‘Lucian Freud: New Perspectives’ (1 October–22 January 2023) brings together more than 60 paintings from across Freud’s long career, ranging from famous early canvases such as Girl with Roses (1947–48) to the monumental late nudes.

Reflection with Two Children (Self-portrait)

Reflection with Two Children (Self-portrait) (1965), Lucian Freud. Photo: Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid; © The Lucian Freud Archive/Bridgeman Images

Piet Mondrian

Time for a boogie-woogie – Piet Mondrian was born 150 years ago. The Fondation Beyeler in Basel/Riehen is pulling out the stops for an exhibition devoted to the painter’s long and varied career (5 June–9 October). It extends from early works completed in the late 19th century, when Mondrian was still under the spell of Dutch landscape painting, to his flirtations with Symbolism and Cubism, before homing in on the late geometric abstractions that are Mondrian’s definitive contribution to the story of modern art.

Lozenge Composition with Eight Lines and Red (Picture No. III) (1938), Piet Mondrian.

Lozenge Composition with Eight Lines and Red (Picture No. III) (1938), Piet Mondrian. Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel. Photo: Robert Bayer; © Mondrian / Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International Warrenton, VA USA

The Mauritshuis

In 1820, the home built in the Hague in the mid 17th century by John Maurice, governor of Dutch Brazil, was bought by the Dutch state to house the Royal Cabinet of Paintings. The Mauritshuis opened to the public two years later, and the museum has now packed its calendar with events and exhibitions to mark its bicentenary. Among them are ‘In Full Bloom’ (opening 16 February), a display of still lives which will be accompanied by the facade of the museum being turned into an ‘impossible bouquet’. In a new publication called Pen Meets Paint, 200 writers (including Isabel Allende, Margaret Atwood and Hilary Mantel) describe how they have been inspired by works in the Mauritshuis collection. And to cap off the year, ten Dutch masters from the Frick will make a rare trip for a special loan exhibition (29 September–15 January 2023).

Mauritshuis, The Hague. Photo: Ivo Hoekstra

Rosa Bonheur  

Admired by Eugène Delacroix and Victor Hugo, Rosa Bonheur was far and away the most successful women artist in France of her day, winning prizes at the Parisian Salon for her meticulously realised, large-scale paintings of animals. For the bicentenary of her birth, a major survey at the Musée d’Orsay will introduce Bonheur to a contemporary audience. Her paintings of horses and bulls will be displayed alongside little-known satirical caricatures and documents revealing her love of opera and friendships with composers of the era.

The Horse Fair (1855), Rosa Bonheur.

The Horse Fair (1855), Rosa Bonheur. National Gallery, London


It’s a big year for Egyptologists – 100 years since Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, and 200 years since Jean-François Champollion deciphered the hieroglyphics on the Rosetta Stone. 2022 might just herald the oft-delayed opening of the £1bn Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo – but if not, you can look to Leipzig for a fix of ancient Egypt instead. From April to October, the city’s Egyptian Museum is hosting a display focusing on the early history of Egyptology.