The best art and architecture shows to visit in 2024 | Art and design

The best art and architecture shows to visit in 2024 | Art and design

Art

Zineb Sedira: Dreams Have No Titles

A hit in the French Pavilion at the last Venice Biennale, this work by the London-based Franco-Algerian artist and film-maker turns the Whitechapel Gallery into a series of movie sets, including a bar, a ballroom and Sedira’s London home. These all reappear in a film in which she narrates scenes from her life and re-enacts movies she has loved. There’s a great sense of the porousness between the real and the imaginary, the present and the remembered. AS
Whitechapel Gallery, London, 15 February–12 May

Barbara Kruger: Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You

Forever by Barbara Kruger.
Immersive … Forever by Barbara Kruger. Photograph: Timo Ohler/Courtesy the artist and Sprüth Magers

Since the 1980s, Kruger has been known for terse phrases, such as “I Shop Therefore I Am” and “Your Body Is a Battleground”, often starkly printed in white over a red background, frequently paired with photographs, and even extending into LED signage, video and immersive installation. The words and images keep on coming, as punchy and vital as ever. AS
Serpentine South, London, 1 February–17 March

Beyond Form: Lines of Abstraction, 1950-1970

Eva Hesse, Agnes Martin, Louise Bourgeois, Lygia Clark and Hannah Wilke are among the 50 female artists from across the globe in this terrific lineup. Abstraction can be full of little sects and cul-de-sacs, but it can also be political, personal, radical and revolutionary. Going beyond the formal, there’s always a wish for something universal and beyond language. Let’s hope. AS
Turner Contemporary, Margate, 3 February–6 May

Frank Auerbach

Early portraits by this phenomenal and unstoppable artist. Auerbach is reported to still be hard at work in his 90s, portraying himself and others. Here you can see how he discovered the deep meanings of the human head, in charcoal drawings he worked on for months at a time, in a 1950s London still scarred by the blitz. Each shadow is true. JJ
Courtauld Gallery, London, 9 February–27 May

Yoko Ono

Fly by Yoko Ono, 1970-71.
Fly by Yoko Ono, 1970-71. Photograph: © Yoko Ono

Her fame in pop culture can easily distract you from Ono’s excellence as an artist. She pioneered performance art and gave it a powerful feminist edge in 1960s actions such as Cut Piece, in which audience members were invited to cut off her clothes in a disturbing, violent though apparently disciplined rite. This retrospective should confirm her huge place in modern art. JJ
Tate Modern, London, 15 February–1 September

Sargent and Fashion

American-born John Singer Sargent was a brilliant artist of modern life in Britain and Paris from the late Victorian age to the 1920s, painting men and women alike with sensuous romance and acid realism. This exhibition takes a sideways route to understanding his brilliance and includes his great portrait Madame X from New York’s Met. JJ
Tate Britain, London, 22 February–7 July

The Time Is Always Now

Portraiture is never a neutral act. What to put in, what to leave out? Taking us from London dub clubs to folkloric Trinidadian dancers, from everyday life on the streets of Harlem to Afrofuturism, this wide-ranging show also looks to the invisibility of the black body in the museum, and stages a kind of correction. Angry, elegiac, critical and celebratory, The Time Is Always Now brings together 22 leading black artists working in the UK and US. AS
National Portrait Gallery, London, 22 February–19 May; travelling to The Box, Plymouth, 29 June-29 September; then touring to the US

William Blake’s Universe

The Ancient of Days by William Blake, c1794-1821.
The Ancient of Days by William Blake, c1794-1821. Photograph: Katie Young/The Fitzwilliam Museum, Image Library

The wild personal cosmos of Blake is a place you can get lost and spend a lifetime decoding. His art is haunting and lyrical, yet only becomes fully lucid when you understand the mythology it illustrates. This exhibition offers a guide through his prophecies and rants and how they reflect the Romantic age. JJ
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 23 February–19 May

The Last Caravaggio

Caravaggio’s painting The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula is an enthralling, unforgettable shocker. In the darkest of shadows, an archer fires at a young woman at point blank range. She mysteriously accepts her fate, in a strange spiritual victory. The artist watches, a stunned witness. Caravaggio was soon to die and in this sublime masterpiece he seems to know it. JJ
National Gallery, London, 18 April–21 July

Expressionists

One of the most radical and experimental art movements before the first world war was The Blue Rider, based in Munich and inspired in its crystalline glittering landscapes by the German Alps. Gabriele Münter and Wassily Kandinsky are seen here as key figures in this group that searched for feeling in colour, and found a mountain road to abstract art. JJ
Tate Modern, London, 25 April–20 October

National Treasures

Great paintings journey to galleries throughout Britain to mark the centenary of the National Gallery. Twelve of the most famous works it has bought since opening in 1824 star in this celebration. Turner’s Fighting Temeraire is going to Newcastle, Caravaggio’s The Supper at Emmaus to Belfast and Artemisia Gentileschi’s Self-Portrait will be in Birmingham. Look out for the masterpiece next door. JJ
Opens at 12 museums across the UK on 10 May

Tavares Strachan: Awakening

“The power of creativity is all about being able to put the audience in the driver’s seat,” the Bahamanian artist once said. “I just want to give them the keys.” Finding lost cultural connections between African diaspora people and traditional African societies, creating new sculptural commissions based on his Arctic expeditions and training as a cosmonaut in Russia, and creating his mammoth Encyclopedia of Invisibility, Strachan’s work is filled with astonishments and surprise. AS
Hayward Gallery, London, 11 June–1 September

Francis Alÿs

He has stuck his head in a tornado and pushed an ice block through Mexico City, but for the last two decades Antwerp-born Alÿs has been filming children’s games around the world. From snail-racing in Belgium to leapfrog in Iraq, wolf and lamb in Afghanistan, and now children’s games in London, for his first major UK show since his 2010 Tate Modern retrospective. AS
Barbican, London, 27 June–1 September

Van Gogh: Poets and Lovers

Olive trees with the Alpilles in the Background, 1889, by Vincent van Gogh.
Olive trees with the Alpilles in the Background, 1889, by Vincent van Gogh. Photograph: Gogh, Vincent van (1853-1890)/© The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence

Hanging out in the park opposite his rooms in Arles, Vincent van Gogh imagined it as a place for poets and lovers. At least, that was his excuse, and hence the title of the National Gallery’s first exhibition on the artist, to celebrate the museum’s 200th birthday. Taking us from euphoria to despair, Van Gogh: Poets and Lovers promises to be spectacular, including works never before shown in the UK. AS
National Gallery, London, 14 September-19 January 2025

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Glenn Ligon: All Over the Place

Ligon writes his neons and paintings, using text from sources as diverse as James Baldwin and Gertrude Stein in his explorations of race, power and sexuality. He presents them here along with works from the museum’s collection, drawing threads between Frank Auerbach’s drypoints, annotated medieval manuscripts and Chinese copies of Wedgewood ceramics, making wry, caustic and surprising connections. AS
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 20 September–2 March 2025

Uncanny Visions: Rego and Goya

The grotesque fantasy scenes and surreal characters of Paula Rego are shown here alongside the nightmares etched and painted by Francisco Goya over 200 years ago. Rego was haunted by Portugal’s postwar dictatorship, Goya by atrocities in the Napoleonic wars. How will their intense depictions of darkness compare? Should be quite a punch in the gut. JJ
Holburne Museum, Bath, 27 September–5 January 2025

Mike Kelley: Ghost and Spirit

Kelley did everything from recreating Superman’s home world to doing awful things with plush toys, playing in bands and filming scary little dramas that always pushed things too far. He revisited his childhood in the long, unfinished series of video and sculptural installations Day is Done (planning an unmanageable 365 interconnected installations), and his art was troubled and troubling, so much oddly magnificent and unfinished business. AS
Tate Modern, London, 2 October–9 March 2025

Francis Bacon Portraits

Study for a Self-Portrait, 1979, by Francis Bacon.
Study for a Self-Portrait, 1979, by Francis Bacon. Photograph: John Berens/© The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2023.

The distorted, punished people in Bacon’s art are often more like images of the human condition (not good, according to Bacon) than portraits. Yet he had a sharp, ultimately loving eye for the people he knew best, from George Dyer to Henrietta Moraes to Lucian Freud. This meaty delve into Bacon’s Soho, so close to this gallery, will send you reeling to its bars. JJ
National Portrait Gallery, London, 10 October–19 January

Barry Le Va: In a State of Flux

Rarely seen in the UK, Barry Le Va was a pioneer of 1970s “scatter art”. Using fan-blown chalk, shattered glass, coloured felt, ball bearings and mahogany beams, Le Va (1941-2021) could both entrance viewers and keep them at bay. His art was delicate and alarming, seemingly chaotic yet meticulously mapped-out in beautiful, precise drawings. He once hacked at the wall with meat cleavers, like a one-man Shining. AS
Fruitmarket, Edinburgh, 26 October–2 February 2025

Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael

Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo? And Raphael? It’s an almost impossible gathering of genius yet this exhibition recreates their real life encounters in Florence around 1504, when Leonardo and Michelangelo competed to paint battle scenes while young Raphael watched and learned. Oh, and Leonardo started the Mona Lisa. And Michelangelo unveiled his marble “giant”, better known as David. Absurdly stupendous. JJ
Royal Academy, London, 9 November–16 February 2025

Architecture

Tropical Modernism: Architecture and Independence

With elegant white walls of perforated concrete blocks, shade-dappled courtyards studded with pools of water, and deep, overhanging canopies providing welcome shade, the architecture of Tropical Modernism is as seductive as it is contested. This show will examine how a style initially imposed on west Africa and India by the British empire after the second world war became adapted by local architects and transformed into a language of optimism and freedom. OW
V&A, London, 2 March-22 September

Crafting Modernity: Design in Latin America, 1940–1980

From Oscar Niemeyer’s undulating black plywood table, to Lina Bo Bardi’s inviting bowl chair, and Clara Porset’s supple wicker recliner, this exhibition will examine the development of modern domestic design in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela. Through 150 objects, including furniture, graphic design, textiles, ceramics and photography, it promises to use design as a lens to examine larger political, social and cultural transformations in the region. OW
Moma, New York, 8 March-2 September

Enzo Mari

16 animals by Enzo Mari, 1959, produced by Danese Milano.
A puzzle … 16 animals by Enzo Mari, 1959, produced by Danese Milano. Photograph: Federico Villa/Enzo Mari

The radical work of the Italian designer, campaigner and irascible iconoclast will come to the Design Museum in a wide-ranging retrospective. Bringing together hundreds of projects – furniture, children’s books and games, product and graphic design, conceptual installations – it will show how Mari championed environmentalism, workers’ rights and the social responsibilities of design, long before such causes became fashionable. OW
Design Museum, London, 29 March–8 September

Grand Egyptian Museum, Giza

Coming soon … Ramesses at the Grand Egyptian Museum.
Coming soon … Ramesses at the Grand Egyptian Museum. Photograph: Mohamed Hossam/EPA

Twenty years in the making, and conceived on a fittingly pharaonic scale, the Grand Egyptian Museum will finally open its gargantuan triangular portals next year (if all goes according to plan). Designed by Irish architects Heneghan Peng as a faceted veil of translucent stone, hunkered in the landscape, the $1bn project provides a sprawling home for innumerable treasures, including 5,000 artefacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb and a 30-foot statue of Ramesses the Great. OW
Giza, Egypt, late spring

IM Pei: Life Is Architecture

From the glass pyramid bursting through the courtyard of the Louvre, to the faceted Bank of China tower on the Hong Kong skyline, to the chiselled stone fortress of Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, the Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei left his distinctive mark on cities the world over. A dazzling trove of sketches, drawings, and models will be brought together for the first time in this major retrospective. OW
M+, Hong Kong, 29 June

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