Top billing, since it opens in January, goes to ‘Michael Andrews: Earth Air Water’ at Gagosian London (20 January–25 March). Andrews has never had the exposure of his School of London contemporaries such as Lucian Freud and Leon Kossoff: he didn’t create a large body of work and was never very interested in the limelight. There haven’t been many opportunities to see a crop of his works hung together since the Tate Britain retrospective in 2001. This show includes a focus on his Lights series from the early 1970s, enigmatic metaphysical landscapes, in which piers, bridges and shorelines are seen from a balloonist’s perspective – the painter, or his mind, on a quest to find a resting place.
The spring blockbuster at the National Gallery is ‘Michelangelo & Sebastiano’ (15 March–25 June), which will explore the relationship between the two artists as friends and collaborators from 1510 until the 1540s. I was lucky to see one of the exceptional loans, Sebastiano’s Pietà, in the shabby surroundings of its permanent home, the Museo Civico in Viterbo, last year; I can’t wait to see this desperate nocturnal scene of loss and lamentation presented as part of a wider narrative of painting in and around Rome in the early 16th century.
Two more picks for 2017: firstly, ‘Baroque during the Enlightenment: 18th-century Masterpieces in Paris Churches’ (21 March–16 July), at the Petit Palais in Paris, which brings together showy altarpieces that were displayed in the French capital in a period that we usually associate with more secular or frivolous genres of painting. This should be an exhibition that says much about the relationship between art and architecture in pre-Revolutionary France, and makes us think again about the place of art itself.
Finally, I’m very excited about ‘Opera: Passion, Power and Politics’ (30 September–25 February 2018), the opening exhibition in the new Amanda Levete-designed exhibition galleries at the V&A (and part of the Exhibition Road Project, which opens in July). The show will focus on seven opera premieres – from Monterverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea in 17th-century Venice to Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in St Petersburg in 1934 – and aims to cover music, design, performance, politics, economics, society… It all sounds hugely ambitious, and even like a glorious folly – the ideal match for its subject, in other words.
Thomas Marks is editor of Apollo.
Keep up with Apollo’s 12 Days selection of art highlights here.