Above image: Sunil Gupta, Christopher Street 1976
Today, two of London’s most cherished arts institutions announced their reopening after nearly three months of Covid-induced closure. Tate and Barbican will open their doors to the public on the 27th and 13th of July respectively, following months of arduous health and safety preparation. Both will operate at reduced capacities, with visitors required to book a time-slot online in advance and follow government recommended guidelines once inside.
With all that talk of rules and restrictions, it’s easy to overlook the more simple takeaway that these institutions are returning to our lives. Recent months have highlighted just how much we take their stimulation, sustenance and sense of escape for granted. Online exhibitions have provided a welcome attempt to fill that void, but perhaps they have succeeded best in reminding us that when it comes to seeing art, digital reconstructions don’t touch the sides compared to the real thing.
Given that turning up on the day and seeing whatever takes your fancy is no longer an option, how will you choose to spend your inaugural return to art? The Barbican have announced they will be extending their critically acclaimed exhibition Masculinities: Liberation through Photography until 23rd August. The group show cuts a clinical cross-section through contemporary constructions of masculinity, bringing together over 300 works from 50 artists including Laurie Anderson, Richard Avedon, Rineke Dijkstra, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Peter Hujar, Isaac Julien, Annette Messager, and Catherine Opie. Even for those that saw it pre-lockdown, this exhibition is a must-see.
Opening on 11th August in the Curve Gallery, is A Countervailing Theory, the first-ever UK exhibition by Nigerian-American artist Toyin Ojih Odutola, who will be presenting an immersive soundscape in collaboration with composer and producer, Peter Adjaye (brother of award-winning architect David).
At Tate, where all four sites will open on 27th July, existing exhibitions have been extended to accompany new ones. Tate Modern will reopen with their Andy Warhol exhibition and Kara Walker’s Turbine installation Fons Americanus while Tate Britain will reopen with Aubrey Beardsley and Steve McQueen’s Year 3 installation. Tate Liverpool will unveil a new film by Greek director Mikhail Karikis, created with a group of forty-five children living in Italy’s Devil’s Valley, a volcanically-active region in Tuscany that inspired Dante’s Inferno. Tate St Ives meanwhile will reopen their exhibition of legendary Russian sculptor Naum Gabo.
This Autumn brings a number of hugely exciting exhibitions to Tate, many of which have been modified by the effects of the pandemic, but nonetheless offer platforms to world-renowned artists. At Tate Britain, a mid-career survey of British painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s work will take place in November alongside an exhibition of William Turner’s paintings of the industrial revolution.
Tate Modern will present work from internationally acclaimed South African photographer Zanele Muholi and a bedazzling exhibition of swirling neon sculptures courtesy of US artist Bruce Nauman. Tate Liverpool will welcome the work of legendary British photographer Sir Don McCullin (pictured above), whose black and white photographs provide haunting accounts of conflict in Biafra, Northern Ireland, Vietnam and many others. Lastly, Tate St Ives will present work by Berlin-based South Korean artist Haegue Yang, who repurposes everyday and industrial materials to produce mystical, creature-like sculptures.
For Tate, tickets will be available from next week at tate.org.uk alongside the latest information and guidance on how to visit. For Barbican, tickets can be booked online now at barbican.org.uk in advance of a visit.