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Opening and Closing in October

We'll start this month at the almost brand-new Young V&A in London's East End -- Bethnal Green to be precise. It opened in July, as a museum specifically designed to appeal to children and families. October 14 sees the arrival of the first big exhibition there, called  Japan: Myths to Manga . It explores landscape, history, folklore, culture, technology and design -- with toys, games and cartoons playing a big part as well as superb art like Hokusai's Great Wave . On till August 11. If you missed the magnificent Gwen John exhibition at Pallant House in Chichester this summer (and there's still a week to go!), a version will be coming to the Holburne Museum in Bath from October 21. In the Holburne's somewhat smaller exhibition space, the show, running until April 14, will have an increased focus on the intensity and intimacy of John's late work. There are pictures too by contemporaries including Vuillard, Bonnard and Hammershøi. Also on at the Holburne unti

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Opening and Closing in September

Which exhibition are we most looking forward to this month? It has to be Frans Hals at the National Gallery in London, which starts on September 30. It's the first major retrospective of the great portraitist of the Dutch Golden Age in three decades, and it will assemble around 50 of his works, including a couple of his large-scale group portraits of militiamen from the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. A must-see, particularly if you missed the fantastic show focusing on Hals's male portraits at the Wallace Collection a couple of years back. All that swaggering loose -- or even louche -- brushwork is on display at the National Gallery until January 21, before transferring to the Rijksmuseum in February and then the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin in July.  Hals was originally from Antwerp, and it was in the Flemish port city that his close contemporary Peter Paul Rubens spent much of his life and career. The new exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery i

Opening and Closing in August

With the summer holidays in full swing, August is almost inevitably the quietest month of the year for new art shows, but we do have to highlight one absolutely superb exhibition that's opening, as well as another stunning show that's coming to an end. It's the 250th anniversary in 2024 of the birth of the great German Romantic landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich, and the next in a series of commemorative retrospectives gets under way at the Kunst Museum in the Swiss city of Winterthur on August 26. Caspar David Friedrich and the Harbingers of Romance  features some of the artist's most iconic pictures, including the Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog and Chalk Cliffs on Rügen , as well as taking a look at the landscape painters who went before him, such as Jacob van Ruisdael and Claude Lorrain. We got to see this show in Schweinfurt in northern Bavaria in the spring and absolutely lapped it up. It's on in Winterthur until November 19.   You only have until August

Gwen John: Paris Salon Favourite

When she was alive, Gwen John was a big name in the art world, a really big name. As we learn at the start of  Gwen John: Art and Life in London and Paris  at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, her pictures were so admired in France in the 1920s that "everyone knows of Miss John.... and the Salon takes all she will send them."  But after her death at the start of World War II, John gained a reputation as something of a recluse, an artist who'd worked in isolation, and she was outshone by her flamboyant brother Augustus. This show in Chichester restores Gwen to her rightful position in art history, placing her squarely among a group of groundbreaking turn-of-the-century artists including Edouard Vuillard , Pierre Bonnard and her lover Auguste Rodin, for whom she posed.   This is a captivating exhibition. John's paintings -- largely portraits and interiors -- are not loud or showy; they're incredibly restrained, with their muted tones and soft brushwork conveying

Opening and Closing in July

Newly knighted Grayson Perry has one of the highest profiles in the art world, not just as a creator of pottery and tapestries, but as an author and television presenter, commenting on the big issues of our time. So no wonder the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh is staging the biggest ever exhibition of Perry's work over the summer, looking back at a 40-year career. Grayson Perry: Smash Hits is on from July 22 to November 12.  On a distinctly smaller scale, you can explore Victorian Virtual Reality at the Watts Gallery in Compton, near Guildford. It's a look at the 19th-century craze for stereoscopic photographs that allowed images to be viewed as if in three dimensions, and it contains more than 150 pictures from a collection built up over the decades by the Queen guitarist Brian May. This one runs from July 4 right through to February 25 next year.  Our next couple of shows are all about travels by the Impressionists, and our first stop is at the Musée des impressionisme

Dedicated Followers of Fashion

The mini skirt in the 60s, crinolines and corsets in the Victorian era, Tudor codpieces; fashion, clothing and how we dress has a lot to say about society, its values and the way people lived. In Style & Society: Dressing the Georgians at the Queen's Gallery in London, the curators give us an at times intimate insight into aspects of life under Georges I to IV, from 1714 to 1830. We also discover that fashion victims are nothing new, and who better to poke fun at those 18th-century foolish yet dedicated followers of fashion than the great Georgian caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson. Eagerly pursuing all the latest fads and trends, Rowlandson's somewhat portly gentleman is being manhandled by two tailors into a pair of the new tight-fitting soft-leather breeches that were all the rage among pleasure-seeking individuals in the mid-1780s. A contemporary account of the fitting process on the wall caption tells us that, like all the best satire, Rowlandson's was pretty close to

After the Impressionists: A Crash Course

The pace at which art developed at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century was astonishing.  After Impressionism: Inventing Modern Art at the National Gallery in London provides a crash course in the new paths painters and sculptors across Europe were taking over the three decades from the final Impressionist exhibition in Paris in 1886 to the start of World War I. It's an absolutely absorbing, hugely enjoyable show. Much of what was new and shocking then is now very familiar, but this exhibition also manages to surprise at times; we certainly saw quite a bit of work we hadn't seen before.  If there was a father of modern art, it was perhaps Paul Cezanne. His Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses)  confronts you as you enter the show, its monumental figures flanked by an equally monumental plaster cast by Auguste Rodin for his Monument to Balzac , the great French novelist. But to appreciate just how different Cezanne was from what went before, look at this portrait of his