Brilliant Things To Do in March

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Leather Crotch, 1980Robert Mapplethorpe, Via Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Your cultural calendar detailing the art exhibitions, theatre productions, film releases and restaurant openings to know about for the month ahead

Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium at LACMA, Los Angeles: March 20 – July 31, 2016
There’s scarcely a photographer in existence whose work channels sex, death and beauty as fluidly and uncompromisingly as Robert Mapplethorpe’s did. After much anticipation, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art opens its retrospective exhibition of the late photographer’s work this month, under the title The Perfect Medium. The show will explore the duality of high and low which permeated his practice and ensured his name gains more recognition now, almost 30 years after his death, than it did even when he was at the height of his career. Mapplethorpe’s relentless dedication to his artistic division is as inspiring now as it was then, and it is sure to make for an unforgettable show.

ILLUMINATION at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen: Opens March 1 – September 11, 2016
There’s nothing like an exhibition for providing an opportunity for its curators to demonstrate their exceptional taste, and even a modern art museum the size of Copenhagen’s Louisiana is powerless to resist an opportunity to show off. The institution’s newest show, titled ILLUMINATION, presents “a cornucopia of international contemporary and classic works of art acquired over the past three years,” it explains, including “more than 50 works within painting, photography, sculpture and installation.” Scandinavian artists will share space with their international peers in the show, creating an exciting and varied journey through the modern art landscape, from Ana Mendieta and Pia Arke to Cindy Sherman and Alex Da Corte. Louisiana will be hosting an art festival later in the spring in connection with the exhibition, which is sure to bring whole new dimension to the practitioners on display.

Botticelli Reimagined at Victoria & Albert Museum, London: March 5 - July 3, 2016
Botticelli Reimagined, the new Spring offering by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, is astounding visitors even before opening on its sheer size alone – the show will be the largest to take place in Britain since 1930, all of 86 years ago. Size isn’t all it has going for it, however – the exhibition will consider Sandro Botticelli’s immeasurable influence on fashion, film and photography, including over 50 of his own original pieces alongside work by the likes of Warhol, Schiaparelli and Rossetti, to name but a few. Dolce and Gabbana’s S/S93 show crops up in there, as does the Terence Young-directed Dr. No, making this mammoth exposition as much a celebration of the Italian Renaissance’s resonance in popular culture as it is about the artist himself.

The Affordable Art Fair, London: 10 - 13 March, 2016
Battersea’s Affordable Art fair returns to London this spring, offering a delightfully accessible alternative to the capital’s more elevated art fairs, with 110 contemporary galleries and collectors showing. This year’s fair will be showing brand new artworks inspired by David Bowie in a tribute to the cultural icon, some of them created as a dedication to the music legend, making it as much a musical affair as an artistic one.

The Best in Food and Drink
Much-loved Climpson’s Arch pop-up Som Saa opens its very first permanent London spot this month in an old fabric warehouse, with a renewed focus on regional Thai food made with seasonal British produce. There are a host of new dishes to try, not to mention a bar with its own dedicated (and delicious-sounding) menu, plus a line of cocktails inspired by Thai ingredients. Elsewhere in the British capital, Oriole is a new cocktail venture set up by the team behind award-winning older brother venue Nightjar. The spot is set to be as powerfully atmospheric as its predecessor, referencing the drinking habits of ‘the Old World, New World, and the Orient’ founders claim, with live music ranging from Calypso, Cuban Son and Brazilian Jazz every night of the week.


A History of Fashion in 100 Objects at The Fashion Museum, Bath: March 19, 2016 – January 1, 2018
Bath’s Fashion Museum might not be the most established on the UK map, but its new exhibition, which charts the history of fashion through 100 objects, seeks to make it so. Opportunities to admire pieces by Craig Green alongside Dior gowns and Shakespearean silks are few and far between, making March an ideal moment to travel to the suburb.

Barbie at Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Paris: March 10 until September 18, 2016
Paris’ Musée des Arts Decoratifs is a prolific collector of art, design, textile and toys, so it’s the perfect venue to pay tribute to everybody’s favourite doll – Barbie. A grand total of 1,500 square metres are dedicated to more than 700 of the dolls for the new exhibition, which also includes newspapers, photography, video art and collectible items, placing her within the socio-cultural landscape of the 20th and 21st centuries. Not to be missed.

From Kandinsky to Pollock: The Art of the Guggenheim Collections at Palazzo Strozzi, Florence: March 19 – July 24, 2016
Peggy and Solomon Guggenheim may have shared little more than family heritage and a love of contemporary art – she once referred to latter’s New York gallery as "my uncle's garage, that Frank Lloyd Wright thing on Fifth Avenue," – but this spring Florence gallery Palazzo Strozzi is looking to reunite the pair with a new exhibition entitled From Kandinsky to Pollock. Longstanding family disputes aside, the collection spans European and American artists, including Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko and Roy Lichtenstein – making it a distillation of some of the very best work the respective New York and Venice spaces have to offer.

The Best of Film
Oscar season may be over for this year but March has plenty of cinematic gems to get excited about. First the return of two greats: the Coen brothers with Hail, Caesar!, a “mystery comedy” set in 1950s Hollywood with a suitably stellar cast (think: George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton) and Charlie Kaufman with Anomalisa – the witty, stop-motion tale of self-help writer (David Thewlis) who sees everyone as being identical (Tom Noonan) until he meets Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in a Cincinnati hotel.

There are some excellent international offerings in the form of Chilean drama The Club – following four disgraced priests and a nun living quietly in exile until their past returns to haunt them – and Indian director Chaitanya Tamhane’s impressive debut Court, a poignant exploration of the Indian legal system. Finally for movie and documentary fans, Hitchcock/Truffaut is a must-see. Film historian Kent Jones revisits the French filmmaker’s legendary eight-day interview with the Master of Suspense (which resulted in the famed book Hitchcock/Truffaut) while speaking to modern-day icons (Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson et al) about Hitchcock’s enduring legacy.

Louise Bourgeois, Structure of Existence: The Cells at The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao: March 18 - September 4, 2016
Spanning as it does no less than seven decades, Louise Bourgeois’ practice was famously and unsurprisingly diverse, but the Guggenheim Bilbao’s decision to steer clear of some of her more popular pieces in favour of the installation series Cells (Eyes and Mirrors) is nonetheless an exciting one. The majority of the installations are made with recycled materials and architectural pieces, such as windows and doors, but there is also a collection of the artist’s own background; perfume bottles, lamps and mirrors to name a few. At this exhibition, there will be 28 different emotionally charged architectural figures to appreciate and admire.

L’Image Volée at Fondazione Prada, Milan: March 17 – August 28, 2016
Milan’s exceptional Fondazione Prada introduces a new Thomas Demand-curated exhibition based around the culture of copying this month, presenting compelling new ideas about originality and authenticity. “The exhibition has been conceived as an eccentric, unconventional exploration of such topics through empirical inquiry,” the foundation explains. “Rather than an encyclopedic analysis, it offers visitors an unorthodox insight into a voyage of artistic discovery and research.” If you find yourself in Milan it’s worth a visit if only to admire John Baldessari’s bright, primary coloured posters and its impressive layout; the show spreads across both levels of the institutions Nord gallery, with architecture designed by sculptor Manfred Pernice.

Shakespeare in Art: Tempests, Tyrants and Tragedy, at Compton Verney, Warwickshire: Runs from March 19 – June 19, 2016
2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, making this an ideal moment for Warwickshire’s Compton Verney to stage an exhibition celebrating his influence on the art world. Including over 70 works, the exhibition takes those pieces which were inspired by his most essential plays as its focus, but also intertwines sound and light in the experience, bringing it to life in an interactive and immersive experience.

Maria Hassabi: PLASTIC at MoMA, New York: February 21 - March 20, 2016
The halls and stairwells of New York’s esteemed Museum of Modern Art are playing host to an experimental installation from February 21 until March 20 this spring, in which dancers will perform continuously during the museum’s opening hours. The piece, entitled PLASTIC, is the work of choreographer Maria Hassabi, and looks to reformat the duration of theatrical performance into a month-long museum exhibition – it has no set beginning or send. “[The dancers] move between poses at a barely perceptible pace across the museum’s floors and down its staircases. At moments, their positions recall images of bodies in repose, collapse, or transition.”

Vigée Le Brun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Until May 15, 2016
A professional female painter in a male-dominated sphere and a close confidante of Marie Antoinette – Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun is not as well known as her fascinating life suggests she should be, but that looks set to change with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s brilliant exhibition of her work. The show spans self-portraits and portraits made for a series of prestigious sitters – for many years she was a court artist for Marie Antoinette, a position which exposed her to the rumours of sexual promiscuity which would force her into exile to avoid execution during the French Revolution – and documents her fascinating and uncommonly long life of travel and work. A truly inspiring woman, and a brilliant spread of artwork to boot.

Great Performances
There are lots of exciting productions launching this month. If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me at the Young Vic will see Jane Horrocks take to the stage for an innovative show that is “part dance piece, part gig,” whereby the Little Voice star will sing a series of new wave covers from Joy Division, The Human League and more. While for something more traditional, but no less groundbreaking, the Old Vic is putting on Harold Pinter’s classic The Caretaker, starring Timothy Spall, Daniel Mays and George MacKay. Dance fans, don't miss the revival of Akram Khan's Kaash, the lauded Indian dancer's first full-length piece, made in collaboration with Anish Kapoor and Nitin Sawhney, and at Sadler's Well for three nights only. Finally, on International Women’s Day, the Royal Opera House will be hosting a one-off event dedicated to women in contemporary opera, hosted by Penny Smith, and punctuated by a series of live performances from special guests.