Our hand-curated recommendations of what to see, do and feast upon throughout the festive season
Female Perspectives: From Vivian Maier to Barbara Klemm at The Cube, Eschborn: Until January 21, 2022
At the Deutsche Börse-run space The Cube in Eschborn, Germany, a small but impressive group show spotlights nine female photographers, each active in the second half of the 20th century, and their singular documentation of everyday life and major events. The featured artists range from Diane Arbus and Barbara Klemm to Susan Meiselas and Vivian Maier, the American street photographer whose prolific archive was discovered posthumously, revealing her extraordinary talent for capturing life’s quotidian absurdities.
Kehinde Wiley at the National Gallery: The Prelude: December 10, 2021 – April 18, 2022
This month, American artist Kehinde Wiley will present a new, specially commissioned body of work at London’s National Gallery. Best known for his arresting portraits of Black sitters depicted in the style of Old Master paintings, which “raise questions about power, privilege, identity”, here Wiley takes on the subject of landscape painting. The featured works, which include film as well as painting, look at European Romanticism and “build relationships with [the gallery’s] collection of historical landscapes and seascapes by JMW Turner, Claude-Joseph Vernet and Caspar Friedrich”.
Federico Fellini: From Drawing to Film at Museum Folkwang, Essen: Until February 20, 2022
The inimitable Italian auteur Federico Fellini was a storyteller like no other, plunging his viewers into visually spectacular worlds, filled with idiosyncratic characters, with every new offering. Everybody knows Fellini’s filmmaking, but few know about the importance of drawing within his practice. Now, a new exhibition at Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany, looks to rectify this, showcasing an array of preparatory sketches from across the director’s filmography, as well as some early drawings from his former career as a caricaturist.
Life Between Islands: Caribbean-British Art 1905s – Now at Tate Britain: December 1, 2021 – April 3, 2022
At Tate Britain, a newly opened exhibition brings together some 40 artists – from Aubrey Williams, Sonia Boyce and Vanley Burke to Grace Wales Bonner and Alberta Whittle – in a landmark ode to Caribbean-British art. Including everything from painting and sculpture to photography, fashion and film, the show takes a celebratory dive into “how people from the Caribbean have forged new communities and identities in post-war Britain – and in doing so have transformed what British culture and society looks like today”.
Face Control at Foto Colectania, Barcelona: December 3, 2021 – March 20, 2022
In the digital era, exerting control over imagery of our own faces is both easier (thanks to filters and Photoshop) and harder (courtesy of modern facial recognition technology) than ever before. This month, a new exhibition at Foto Colectania in Barcelona tracks how a number of artists have explored this “bidirectional control” within their work, looking at veteran image-makers like Diane Arbus and Richard Hamilton, and creatives with cutting-edge technological practices like Trevor Paglen and Tommy Kha, for the purpose.
Tunji Adeniyi-Jones: That Which Binds Us at White Cube Bermondsey: November 19, 2021 – January 9, 2022
British artist Tunji Adeniyi-Jones makes wonderfully expressive paintings, centred on “how the transformative nature of the Black experience is nourished by travel, movement and cultural hybridity”. In a new show at White Cube Bermondsey, we witness this study in action in a series of works depicting various figures performing “ritual dance-like movements or classical posturing” – a powerful fusion of West African mythology and iconography, inspired by Adeniyi-Jones’ own Yoruba heritage, and what the gallery terms “the seeming immutability of the western art canon”.
Nobuyoshi Araki: Shi Nikki (Private Diary) for Robert Frank at Bourse de Commerce Pinault Collection, Paris: December 8, 2021 – June 30, 2022
In 1993, three years after the death of his wife, the acclaimed (and ever-provocative) Japanese image-maker Nobuyoshi Araki embarked upon a series of 101 black-and-white photographs, titled Shi Nikki (“private diary”), and dedicated to the American documentary photographer Robert Frank. Fans of Araki can now see the photographs in their entirety at the Pinault Collection in Paris – a combination of typically erotic shots of nude models, captured in the photographer’s studio, and thoughtful meditations on his new existence as a widower (think: melancholy street scenes and poetic depictions of the Tokyo skies).
Liz Johnson Artur: Of Life Of Love Of Sex Of Movement Of Hope at FOAM, Amsterdam: Until February 9, 2022
Acclaimed Russian-Ghanaian photographer Liz Johnson Artur has a new solo show at FOAM in Amsterdam, showcasing works from her 30-year-long Black Balloon Archive project, documenting the day-to-day lives of the people of the African diaspora. In a display specially conceived for FOAM, Johnson Artur has created a number of site-specific installations that offer “new ways to see the surfaces and moments represented in a picture” in an attempt to “elevate human emotion” through storytelling.
Maria Lassnig & Cindy Sherman at Hauser & Wirth St. Moritz: December 9, 2021 – February 5, 2022
In Switzerland, a forthcoming display, curated by Peter Pakesch, the chairman of the Maria Lassnig Foundation, will bring together the work of the late, great Austrian artist, known for her psychologically charged, painted self-portraits, and the inimitable American shape-shifter Cindy Sherman. The exhibition, at Hauser & Wirth St Moritz, will consider “the vital role that both artists, although more than a generation apart, played in the development of discussions around identity, gender, and the body in 20th and 21st century art”, the press notes expand, by examining the overlapping themes in both their oeuvres.
Feliza Bursztyn: Welding Madness at Muzeum Susch, Switzerland: December 18, 2021 – June 26, 2022
Also in Switzerland, Muzeum Susch will soon host the first European retrospective of the late Colombian artist Feliza Bursztyn, shedding light on the sculptor’s incredible, and up until now largely under-represented, career. Bursztyn was best known for her deliberately “useless kinetic machines and scrap-metal assemblages”, to quote Leon Tovar Gallery, which offered “Dada-like commentaries on then-current conventions of art, established gender norms, her country’s uneven development, and the curtailment of sexual expression”. Around 50 such works, as well as films, installations and archival material, will feature in the show, which promises to position Bursztyn as one of Latin America’s most important 20th century sculptors.
Drawings & Works on Paper at Ben Hunter London: Until January 27, 2022
At London’s Ben Hunter gallery, don’t miss the chance to see a compelling selection of drawings and works on paper by some of Britain’s most revered artists, spanning the mid-19th century to the present day. Expect to see charcoal studies by Lucian Freud, a work in slate mud by Richard Long, and a sweet seaside scene by Lubaina Himid made during her residency at Tate St Ives in 1998, in what proves a wonderful testament to the endless potential of the blank page.
Kandis Williams: A Line at 52 Walker Street, New York: Until January 8, 2022
New Yorkers, be sure to visit David Zwirner’s new exhibition space programmed by Ebony L. Haynes. Its inaugural exhibition is a solo show by the American artist and writer Kandis Williams, whose multi-faceted practice “interrogates issues of race, nationalism, authority, and eroticism”. For A Line, the artist has created a striking array of collages and sculptures, and a video, which together “move toward a formal dance notation”. This sees Williams “draw upon her background in dramaturgy to envision a space that accommodates the varied biopolitical economies that inform how movement might be read,” the show’s text explains.
For those in search of some compelling new productions, December’s upcoming performances cater to all tastes. At London’s Donmar Warehouse, acclaimed Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund’s award-winning comedy Force Majeure – the funny, and at times tragic, story of a family in crisis during a skiing holiday – has been adapted for the stage by Tim Price. In Berlin, the acclaimed Israeli choreographer Sharon Eyal and her co-creator Gai Behar will present a series of live performances, commissioned by LAS, at former power plant, Kraftwerk. The duo’s work is a stirring “confluence of movement, light, music, fashion and technology”, and This Is Not A Love Show promises to be a joyful survey of their company’s greatest hits from across the past nine years. Opera lovers, meanwhile, be sure to catch the Royal Opera House’s rousing new production of Tosca, Puccini’s beloved tale of an idealistic painter and his sensuous lover, set in Rome in the 1800s.
Upstairs at London’s Royal Court Theatre, A Fight Against …, by Chilean playwright Pablo Manzi, will take audiences on “a darkly comic odyssey across the Americas [to explore] whether violence brings us closer together and what it takes to make a community”. While, for those in the market for some more festive entertainment, British choreographer Matthew Bourne’s fêted take on The Nutcracker, Nutcracker! New Adventures, returns to Sadler’s Wells from December 7, offering fantastical escapism in abundance. Finally, we can’t wait for Hex at the National Theatre, a new musical based on Sleeping Beauty and directed by Rufus Norris, which looks set to delight and beguile in equal measure.
December is overflowing with excellent new fim offerings. There’s Boxing Day by Aml Ameen, a festive rom-com about a British writer (Ameen) living in the US, who heads home for Christmas to introduce his American fiancée (Aja Naomi King) to his eccentric Caribbean-British family. Paolo Sorrentino makes his anticipated return with The Hand of God. Widely hailed as the Italian auteur’s best film yet, it is the story of a young man in 1980s Naples who is inadvertently saved from a near-death experience by the legendary Argentine footballer Diego Maradona. While Maggie Gyllenhaal makes her directorial debut with The Lost Daughter, a dark, masterful adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s novel of the same name, exploring the burden and beauty of motherhood.
American filmmaker Mike Mills is back with C’mon C’mon, the slowly unfurling, black-and-white portrait of a warm-hearted radio journalist (Joaquin Phoenix), who is unexpectedly tasked with caring for his young nephew – with transformative results. Horror fans will delight in Julia Ducournau’s latest offering, Titane, aptly described by Rolling Stone as “a serial-killer-meets-car love story” about a woman with a titanium plate fitted into her skull. Then of course there’s Lamb, the much-talked-about chiller from Icelandic director Valdimar Jóhannsson, tracing “a childless couple in rural Iceland who make an alarming discovery one day in their sheep barn”.
Meanwhile, our top picks from this month’s new documentaries are: Citizen Ashe, Rex Miller and Sam Pollard’s poignant exploration of the life and legacy of tennis-player-turned-human-rights-activist Arthur Ashe; Final Account, Luke Holland’s last documentary, featuring interviews with “the last living generation from Hitler’s Third Reich”; and The Story of Film: A New Generation by Mark Cousins, the latest instalment in Cousins’ brilliant history of cinema, investigating the evolution of film language over the past ten years.
Food & Drink
There are plenty of enticing culinary options to tantalise your tastebuds this December. For those looking to feast in a more conscious manner, there’s Daniel Watkins’ winter residency at St Leonard’s restaurant in Shoreditch. Known for his love of fire-cooking and staunch determination to minimise waste, Watkins will be producing a creative menu, based on seasonal produce, which unites these two passions. Think a hearth vegetable plate with coco beans and seeded rayu, or an aged sirloin of beef with anchovy and chilli butter. While on December 18, at Spring (Somerset House), Australian chef Skye Gyngell will host Scratch, an all-day long, anti-waste takeover, using all of the restaurant’s leftover produce to create a special three-course menu before the holidays.
In Brixton, Three Little Birds founder April Jackson is soon to launch a new venture, Wood & Water, a restaurant and cocktail bar serving “modern British food with Jamaican soul”. Dishes range from pan-seared duck breast with a jerk glaze, roasted sweet potato purée, wilted greens, rum-soaked plums and toasted hazelnuts to goat curry with potato croquettes and plantain ketchup, while cocktails include the delightful-sounding St Elizabeth Martini made with Porters Tropical Old Tom Gin, pineapple liqueur, acid blend and herb oil. Pizza lovers, head down to the launch of Four Corners, a Detroit-style square pizza pop-up concept opening at natural wine bar Rondo La Cave in High Holborn from today.
For the fresh pasta-inclined, London street food sensation La Nonna has secured a permanent location in Brixton, where chef Daniele Pino will be delivering his scrumptious, thoughtfully-refreshed versions of classic Roman pasta dishes on a daily basis. Last but not least, if you’re looking to feast at home, or treat a loved one to something special, be sure to check out Big Night’s Christmas Hampers: a choice of various hampers, ranging in size and price, which bring together tasty fare from the likes of Ottolenghi, Perello Olives, Oranj Wine and much more. While Hackney dessert specialists The Proof are delivering an array of delicious festive puddings this Christmas, including their beloved orange crumble mince pies and a chocolate yule log. Happy holidays!