Ten Must-See Art Exhibitions of 2016

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Three Ballet Dancers (Trois danseuses), c. 1878-80Hilaire‑Germain‑Edgar Degas, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1955.1386

From René Magritte to Robert Mapplethorpe, we chart the major shows you won't want to miss this year

“Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one,” American actor Stella Adler once wittily retorted, and in the midst of January’s annual gloom, her message could not feel more appropriate. As an antidote to the seasonal misery, then, AnOther has curated a selection of the most exciting exhibitions that 2016 has to offer – from O’Keeffe’s sensual flowers to surrealist Magritte’s ‘not-a-pipe’. Without further ado... 

Georgia O’Keeffe at Tate Modern: 6 July – 30 October 2016
The first lady of American Modernism is finally receiving the attention she so rightly deserves from the British art establishment this summer, with a retrospective of her work in all its vibrant and powerfully provocative glory. The pioneering feminist artist made waves with her gendered landscape paintings and her fascinating life – from her marriage to photographer Alfred Stieglitz, to her startling intellect and determined character – is sure to make this an exhibition which will remain in the mind’s eye for years to come.

Robert Rauschenberg at Tate Modern: 1 December 2016 – 9 April 2017
Elsewhere in Tate Modern’s busy schedule, trailblazing artist Robert Rauschenberg’s remarkable six-decade-long career will be compressed in another exciting retrospective, which, as the gallery explains, “will provide a long overdue opportunity to discover a remarkably consistent artistic trajectory which steadfastly refused to be straight-jacketed by rules and conventions.” Many of the works loaned to grace the Tate’s walls for the show are rarely permitted to travel, so be sure to catch this blockbuster while you have the opportunity.

L’Image Volée at Fondazione Prada: 17 March – 28 August 2016
Milan’s Fondazione Prada will add a dose of critical theory to its exceptional exhibition schedule this spring, with a show entitled L’Image Volée, or ‘The Stolen Image.’ Curated by Thomas Demand, the collection of works will centre on the idea that all art is referential, thereby questioning notions of originality, authenticity and exploring copycat culture. On board to aid the curator, artists including John Baldessari, Oliver Laric and Sara Cwynar have been commissioned to create original works for the show, which will also be accompanied by an illustrated publication – all of which goes to prove that there has never been a better time to plan an impromptu trip to Milan.

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones at the Saatchi Gallery: 4 April – 5 September 2016
The Rolling Stones are almost as much a mainstay of British culture as the Royal Court Theatre on neighbouring Sloane Square and the River Thames which flows next to it, so the Saatchi Gallery in West London seems an ideal venue for the band’s fantastic new exhibition, aptly titled Exhibitionism. Two entire floors of the venue will be dedicated to more than 500 original Stones’ artefacts, from paraphernalia and instruments to album artwork and cinematic experiences, celebrating the band and its archive with all necessary bells and whistles. 

Saul Leiter: Retrospective at The Photographers’ Gallery: 22 January – 3 April 2016
There are few photographers in existence who have contributed as much to their medium as Saul Leiter, the pioneering American image-maker who broke convention in documentary and art traditions to form photography as it stands today. Though prolific in his lifetime, Leiter never received the recognition he was due from his contemporaries – an injustice that The Photographers’ Gallery aims to rectify. “I like it when one is not certain what one sees,” Leiter once remarked. “When we do not know why the photographer has taken a picture and when we do not know why we are looking at it, all of a sudden we discover something that we start seeing. I like this confusion.”

Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty at MoMA: 26 March – July 24 2016
Is there anything so captivating as the sight of one of Degas’ ballet dancers, elegantly pirouetting across a gallery wall? New York’s Museum of Modern Art is treating us to a multitude of them this summer, with a major exhibition focusing on the rare monotypes the artist made throughout his career, and the profound impact they had on his wider oeuvre.

Bruce Conner: It’s All True at the Museum of Modern Art: 3 July – 2 October 2016
If you find yourself wandering absentmindedly from Degas’ rooms, it's well worth popping down to Bruce Conner: It’s All True in a nearby spot at MoMA this summer, as the two shows will overlap if you time your visit carefully. The exhibition marks the first large survey of the postwar American photographer’s work for 16 years, and the first complete retrospective of his 50-year career, including film, video, painting, assemblage, drawing and performance.

Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers at Barbican: 16 March – 19 June 2016
Having dedicated his career thus far – all 40 years of it – to photographing the British in their natural habitat, Martin Parr is exceptionally well-placed to curate an exhibition about the numerous diverse ways international photographers have chosen to capture the UK. Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers at the Barbican will place some of the best and least-known examples of such works side by side, from Henri Cartier-Bresson and Rineke Dijkstra to Robert Frank and Garry Winogrand. An excellent guide to the British for both natives and tourists alike.

Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: 5 May – 14 August 2016
How is technology transforming fashion? What new methods will designers create to merge the hand-constructed with the machine-made? Will there come a time when, rather than oppositional, the two are seen as united? These are just some of the questions that the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s summer exhibition, Manus x Machina, will both raise and attempt to answer. Comprising more than 100 ensembles, the show will span the foundation of haute couture in the 19th century through to innovative new solutions in 3D printing, laser-cutting and ultrasonic welding in 2016, making this not only one of the most comprehensive fashion exhibitions you’ll have the pleasure of visiting, but also one of the most forward-facing.

Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium at LACMA at the J Paul Getty Museum: March 20 – July 31, 2016
In the few short years since Patti Smith's award-winning novel Just Kids was published, artist and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe has seen a number of exhibitions and publications celebrating his unmistakeable work. None has been so comphrenhsive, however, as The Perfect Medium, a retrospective exhibition taking place across the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the neighbouring J. Paul Getty Museum in 2016. Exploring his work through his neverending pursuit of perfection, the show gathers the many diverse forms Mapplethorpe worked across – from photography and painting to drawing and sculpture – aligning the artist's presence in New York's seedy sexual underground with his golden reputation in the upper echelons of the art industry.

René Magritte. La Trahison des Images at Centre Pompidou: September 18, 2016 – January 9, 2017
Paris' Pompidou Centre makes no mistake when it comes to selecting the art world treasure who will receive the honour of a retrospective exhibition in its hallowed, Richard Rogers-designed halls, whether it is Jeff Koons or Henri Cartier-Bresson, and this year is no exception. Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte will receive his dues there this autumn in La Trahison des Images, or 'the treachery of images', and it promises to be an enlightening and compelling affair.