Unmissable exhibitions to visit in 2020

From a major new Prada retrospective to Picasso and David Hockney, here are the art, fashion and photography exhibitions you won't want to miss in 2020

5 March 2020

Picasso on Paper at Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly (January 2020)

A new exhibition at Royal Academy of Arts showcases more than 300 works on paper from Picasso’s vast oeuvre. The exhibition will offer an insight into the imaginative methods Picasso used to create collages, drawings and sculptures with a variety of papers. Highlights include Self Portrait, a drawing using pencil and charcoal on wove paper; and Femmes à leur toilette, a collage that stretches an impressive 4.5 metres in length. 

 Pablo Picasso drawing in Antibes, summer 1946, Black and white photograph, Photo © Michel Sima / Bridgeman Images © Succession Picasso/DACS 2019

Date: From 25 January to 13 April 2020 Time: 10am-6pm daily, 10am-10pm Fridays Price: from £18 Location: Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J Closest Station: Piccadilly Circus Websiteroyalacademy.org.uk 

Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk at V&A (February 2020)  

Europe’s first major exhibition dedicated to kimono fashion will launch in February at the V&A, exploring the Japanese dress as a dynamic, ever-evolving icon of fashion. Both the sartorial and social significance of the garment globally will be explored through more than 315 works. Rare historic kimonos, dating back to the 17th century, will be displayed alongside cultural references including original Star Wars costumes modelled on a kimono by John Mollo and Trisha Biggar, and the dress designed for Björk by Alexander McQueen. The exhibit demonstrates the impact of the kimono on the catwalk, showcasing designs by designers including Yves Saint Laurent and John Galliano.

 Kimono ensemble for Madonna, Jean Paul Gaultier, Paris, 1998

Date: From 29 February 2020 Time: see website for times to book Price: £16 Location: Gallery 39 and North Court, Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 Closest Station: South Kensington Websitevam.ac.uk

British Baroque: Power and Illusion at Tate Britain (February 2020) 

Typically associated with the pomp and glory of European courts, with the likes of Carvaggio, Rembrandt and Bernini leading the artistic charge, Baroque’s influence on Britain is often overlooked – and yet the most extravagant of art periods didn’t slip past our shores unnoticed. Enter Tate Britain, which this February is opening the first exhibition to focus on baroque culture on home soil. From paintings by leading artists of the day, Sir Peter Lely, Sir Godfrey Kneller and Sir James Thornhill, to extravagant altarpieces that depict the visual differences between Protestant and Catholic worship, the show will include a number of works shown in public for the very first time. 

Benedetto Gennari, The Annunciation 1686

Date: From 4 February to 19 April 2020 Time: see website Price: £16 Location: Tate Britain, Millbank, SW1P Closest Station: Pimlico Websitetate.org.uk 

Steve McQueen at the Tate Modern (February 2020)

Having authored some of the most pivotal moving pictures ever created, screenwriter, sculptor and film-director Steve McQueen is one of Britain’s most important and influential artists. For the first time in 20 years, a major new exhibition at Tate Modern aims to capture the man behind the images. From the Academy-award winning film 12 Years a Slave to his first film shot on a Super 8 camera, Exodus 1992/97, there will be 14 major works spanning film, photography and sculpture. As Clara Kim, exhibition curator, writes in her essay accompanying the show: “his works demand that we look closer and share his keen sense of observation, awareness and attention, whether in his art or his feature films.”

Date: 13 February to 11 May 2020 Time: see website Price: £13 / free for members Location: Tate Modern, Bankside London SE1 Closest Station: Southwark or Blackfriars Websitetate.org.uk

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography at The Barbican (February 2020) 

The latest thought-provoking exhibition from The Barbican explores the ever-changing definition of masculinity and its varying iterations, from the 1960s until today. It brings together more than 50 photographers and filmmakers who explore the polemical nature of the topic. In the wake of the #MeToo movement and the resurgence of feminism and men’s rights activism, traditional notions of masculinity have reached boiling point. From Andrew Moisey’s photo book The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual, which weaves together archival photographs of former US Presidents who all belonged to the fraternity system; to Catherine Opie’s seminal series Being and Having, showing her close friends in the West Coast’s LGBTQ+ community, this exhibition is a timely reflection on what it means to be a man in today’s world. 

Adi Nes, Untitled, from the series Soldiers, 1999

Date: From 20 February to 17 May 2020 Time: see website Price: to be announced Location: Barbican Art Gallery Silk Street, Barbican, London EC2Y Nearest Station: Barbican Websitebarbican.org.uk

David Hockney: Drawing from Life at National Portrait Gallery (February 2020) 

Expect David Hockney to make an even bigger splash than before in 2020, as he becomes the subject of a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. David Hockney: Drawing Life is the first major showcase of the artist’s drawings in more than 20 years. Spanning five decades, the exhibition will feature 150 works drawn from public and private collections, which depict Hockney and sitters close to him – such as his muse Celia Birtwell and the master printer Maurice Payne. Look out for a series of self-portraits produced in the 1980s, when the artist created an image of himself every day during a two-month period of intense self-scrutiny. 

David Hockney, Gregory. Los Angeles. March 31st 1982 © David Hockney. Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

Date: From 27 February to 28 June 2020 Time: see website Price: £22 Location: National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London WC2H Closest Station: Charing Cross Websitenpg.org.uk

Andy Warhol at Tate Modern (March 2020) 

Born to Slovakian parents in 1928, Andy Warhol moved from Pittsburgh to New York in 1949 where he would forever change the landscape of modern art. With a background in commercial illustration, he was a key figure in transforming the imagery of American culture and embraced consumerism, celebrity and counter culture, ironically becoming a part of the cultural fabric that he depicted.  This major retrospective is the first Warhol exhibition at Tate Modern for almost 20 years. As well as his iconic pop images of Marilyn Monroe, Coca-Cola and Campbell’s soup cans, it includes works never seen before in the UK such as his works from his Ladies and Gentlemen series – portraits of black and Latin drag queens and trans women.

Andy Warhol, Marilyn Diptych 1962. Tate. © 2019 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Right Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London

Date: 12 March to 6 September 2020 Time: see website Price: £22 / free for members Location: Tate Modern, Bankside London SE1 Closest Station: Southwark or Blackfriars Websitetate.org.uk

Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things at National Portrait Gallery (March 2020) 

Revel in the glamour of the Roaring Twenties as part of a major new Cecil Beaton exhibition, opening at the National Portrait Gallery in March. Featuring a vibrant cast of ‘Bright Young Things’ including Anna May Wong, Oliver Messel and Stephen Tennant among others, the show charts Beaton’s trajectory from suburban schoolboy to influential society figure. As well as Beaton’s era-defining photography and stylish illustrations, the exhibition features artwork by esteemed painters including Rex Whistler and Henry Lamb.

Cecil Beaton by Paul Tanqueray, 1937. National Portrait Gallery, London. © Estate of Paul Tanqueray.

Date: From 12 March to 7 June 2020 Time: see website Price: from £17 Location: The National Portrait Gallery St. Martin's Place, Charing Cross, London WC2H Nearest Station: Charing Cross Websitenpg.org.uk

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser at The V&A (June 2020) 

Descend down the rabbit hole (quite literally) and enter a fantastical world celebrating Alice in Wonderland. The V&A presents an immersive, otherworldly exhibition in June that explores how Lewis Carroll's influential character has informed art, science and popular culture, and creatives spanning Salvador Dalí to The Beatles. More than 300 objects are set to be displayed, including Carroll’s original handwritten manuscript, illustrations by Disney, and photography from Annie Leibovitz. Award-winning designer Tom Piper is creating an interactive set, which promises to be full of surprises, including an interactive digital art installation inspired by Through the Looking-Glass.

 Alice in Wonderland, The Royal Ballet, Zenaida Yanowsky ©ROH, Johan Persson, 2011. Costumes by Bob Crowley

Date: From Saturday 27 June 2020 Time: see website for times to book Price: tickets are £20, free admission for children under 12 Location: The Sainsbury Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 Closest Station: South Kensington Websitevam.ac.uk

Marina Abramović: After Life at Royal Academy of Arts (September 2020) 

In Rhythm 0 (1974), performance artist Marina Abramović had a loaded gun pointed at her head, and observed that ‘in your own performances you can go very far, but if you leave decisions to the public, you can be killed’. This September, she brings the same intensity to her investigations into human physicality at the Royal Academy, simultaneously asking the audience if performance art can outlive the moment of performance. 

Marina Abramović After Life at Royal Academy of Arts

Date: From Saturday 26 September to 8 December 2020 Time: see website Price: to be announced Location: Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J Nearest Station: Picadilly Circus Websiteroyalacademy.org.uk 

Raymond Briggs at House of Illustration (October 2020)

This October the House of Illustration celebrates the work of British artist and bona fide national treasure Raymond Briggs, who most famously created The Snowman (1980). His graphic moving novel Ethel & Ernest paid tribute to his parents and was also turned into an animated film in 1998. The new exhibition celebrates his signature hand-drawn style, showcasing original works and rare illustrations alongside never-before-seen material from the artist's personal archives, highlighting Briggs as one of the greatest storytellers of our time. 

Detail of illustration for Ethel and Ernest book cover, 1998 © Raymond Briggs, published by Penguin Random House

Date: From 2 October 2020 to 24 January 2021 Time: see website Price: from £8.80 Location: 2 Granary Square, Kings Cross, London N1C Nearest Station: King's Cross Website: houseofillustration.org.uk

Prada. Front and Back at London Design Museum (November 2020)

Already touted as the fashion exhibition of the year, the London Design Museum has announced a major new Prada retrospective this September. It is the first large-scale exhibition of its kind and will explore the history of the Milanese fashion giant and the modern influence of Miuccia Prada. Expect iconic items, from the nylon rucksack – the Milanese brand’s synthetic signature – to the banana motif. It is curator Deyan Sudjic’s final swansong, as he steps down from his role as co-director of the museum this year, and includes contributions from long-term collaborators Rem Koolhaas and Herzog and de Meuron. 

Date: From September 2020 Time: see website for details Price: to be confirmed Location: 224-238 Kensington High Street, Kensington, London W8 Nearest Station: High Street Kensington Website designmuseum.org