Oxford may seem small, but the city is full enough of well-stocked and intriguing museums to keep any student’s eyes busy this Hilary. January will see the last weeks of the hugely successful exhibition of Islamic art, Power and Protection, at the Ashmolean, leaving its place for a year of events focused on the idea of innovation being brought to thought by artistic production.
January at Modern Art Oxford: Lubaina Himid, Invisible Strategies
After a year dedicated to celebrating the museum’s anniversary through the Kaleidoscope programme, which featured works by Kerry James Marshall, Marcel Broodthaers and Yoko Ono as well as a retrospective of the exhibitions set up in Rose Hill, Oxford’s modern art museum opens 2017 in a playful yet critical mood. From 21 January, Invisible Strategies will show some of the more rarely exposed paintings of the UK’s Black Arts Movement pioneer, artist Lubaina Himid. Himid’s work, covering a wide range of styles and techniques from painting to sculpture, offers a better informed and sometimes cynical view of the landmarks of black history and identities, examining stereotypes and prejudices in her graphically striking creations.
Lubaina Himid, Invisible Strategies will be open from 21 January to 30 April. Free entry.
What else to look out for in January: Desmond Shawe-Taylor’s talk in Merton for the Edgar Wind Society.
February at the Ashmolean: Degas to Picasso
Continuing on its wave of master exhibitions after the remaining four of Rembrandt’s five early Senses paintings were shown together for the first time in its rooms, the Ashmolean shifts to the modern period for three months of French avant-gardist exploration. David, Pissarro, Cezanne and Manet are just a couple of the famous names which will be hanging on the museum’s walls to complete this survey covering over a century of painting in France by artists from all over the world. This ambitious programme intends to reveal step by step the separation of the country’s well-established schools into a myriad of experimental trends and innovative series each developing a new concept of space, colour and texture. Supporting this aim, a chronological path is traced, taking the visitor from the fixed starting point of Delacroix’ Romanticism to abstraction à la Braque, via Duchamp, Dada and Parisian Impressionism.
Degas to Picasso: creating Modernism in France will be open from 10 February to 7 May. Free entry with a Bod card.
What else to look out for in February: the Oxford International Art Fair in the townhall.
March and April in London
No longer tied up in a small room under the dreaming spires by tutorial and essay deadlines, the spring vacation is the perfect time for any student to squeeze in a trip to the capital’s museums on the way home. Make it first into the British Museum for the opening of the American Dream exhibition, presenting the museum’s collection of transatlantic works from the pop 60s to today. Alongside the inevitable portraits by Andy Warhol, prints by Edward Ruscha and Robert Rauschenberg’s Sky Garden will all be on show to form a selection which promises to be eclectic, colourful and, in the British Museum’s fashion, simply quite large. Almost simultaneously in London, the Royal Academy’s America after the Fall will take a closer look at American art within the specific cultural and social context of the 30s. Marked just as much by the contemporary economic situation as the 60s were, this is a decade which saw the likes of Jackson Pollock, Georgia O’Keeffe and Edward Hopper rise to create their most emblematic depictions of a disillusioned society.
The American Dream: pop to the present will be open from 9 March to 18 June. Student ticket: £13. America after the Fall: painting in the 1930s will be open from 25 February to 4 June. Student ticket: £8.
What else to look out for during the vac: David Hockney at Tate Britain, Australia’s Impressionists at the National Gallery, Jo Brocklehurst’s drawings of the punk scene at the House of Illustration.