Art exhibitions to look forward to in 2016

Celts, comics, surrealists and self-portraits – Moira Jeffrey and Duncan Macmillan look forward to the exhibition highlights of 2016

Alice Neel

Ulla von Brandenburg: Sink Down Mountain, Rise Up Valley

The Paris-based artist Ulla von Brandenburg consistently intrigues with stagey and complex film works that echo psychological or social dilemmas and classics of film and literature. Here, the theatre becomes real in a promenade work “for five actors and chorus” based on the rites and rituals of the French community of Saint-Simonians, who were precursors of idealistic, socialist and anarchist communities the world over. The Common Guild, who showed her work in Glasgow in 2011, present this promenade performance in the Langside Hall in Glasgow’s Southside. MJ

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Langside Hall, Queens Park, Glasgow, 20 and 31 January

Facing The World

British Art Show

Editions of the British Art Show, the five-yearly survey exhibition, can sometimes feel like mixed blessings, but with hindsight they do turn out to be reliable barometers of recent developments in contemporary art. Featuring new voices alongside more established figures, this edition includes Feed Me, a fantastically kitsch and gothically gruesome video from young Scottish star Rachel Maclean, and strong new pieces from Charlotte Prodger, Linder and Patrick Staff. On the second stage of its UK tour, the circus will roll into Inverleith House, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Talbot Rice. MJ

Venues across Edinburgh, 13 February until 8 May


Surreal Encounters

We may think of ourselves as Celts, but one of the big draws of the coming year, Celts at the National Museum, suggests that it may not be so simple. A co-production of the National Museum and British Museum, Celts is a really major show with important loans from all over Europe, ranging in date from the Iron Age to the 19th century. The show will demonstrate that whoever they really were, the people we call Celts at one time occupied much of the continent. They developed a sophisticated culture and a very distinctive style of art. This certainly united them over both time and place, but the show also suggests that maybe we have built more on our sense of a common Celtic identity than the evidence can bear – but you can see for yourself and make up your own mind about that. DM

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, 10 March until 25 September

Comic Invention

Were comics another Scottish first? Certainly through Desperate Dan, Lord Snooty, Oor Wullie and the Broons and many other comic greats, the Scottish contribution to the genre has been a rich one. But Comic Invention at the Hunterian goes further and will present Glasgow Looking Glass as the very first modern comic. Published in 1825, it predates by almost a decade a Swiss publication called the Adventure of Monsieur Jabot which was previously supposed to be the first. Even then, however, the genre had many antecedents and the show will go far beyond such point-scoring to explore the whole history of graphic narrative from Ancient Egypt down to the present day. It will include works by Rembrandt, Picasso, David Hockney, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein alongside a wide range of comic book art. DM

Hunterian Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, 18 March until 17 July

Glasgow International

For her second year in charge of the contemporary art festival, director Sarah McCrory will draw on the strengths of Glasgow’s industrial and artistic heritage, for an edition that focuses on the meaning of making and craft in the post-industrial age. With a cross-generational span from the 81 year-old US textile artist Sheila Hicks to strong mid-career artists like Claire Barclay to recent Glasgow MFA graduate Tessa Lynch, it feels like a healthy line-up. At Tramway, McCrory’s exhibition programme features a fantastically weird film set in the Chinese pearl industry by Mika Rottenberg and exhibition design by Martin Boyce. MJ

Venues across Glasgow, 8-26 April

Surreal Encounters: Collecting the MarvellousThe Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art has a major surrealist collection. It is based largely on elements from the collections of two remarkable individuals, Gabrielle Keiller and Roland Penrose, and this is the cue for Surreal Encounters. It will bring together works from these two collections together with works from two other individual collections, those of Edward James and Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch, who are still collecting today. But these are not simply connoisseur’s collections. Edward James was a patron of Dali and Magritte. Roland Penrose was the leading British champion of the Surrealists. Collectors apart, however, the show will be a unique opportunity to see some of the most interesting and original art of the 20th century. Many of the greatest names will be there including Picasso, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Dalí, Joan Miró, Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Delvaux, Yves Tanguy and Man Ray. A highlight will be Dalí’s astonishing Mae West Lips Sofa, but there will be much else to enjoy. DM

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, 4 June until 11 September

Facing the World: Self-Portraits from Rembrandt to Ai Weiwei

Artist’s self-portraits are almost always fascinating. Indeed, if they are not then maybe the artist is over-rated. So Facing the World: Self-Portraits from Rembrandt to Ai Weiwei looks likely to be a winner. It proposes to offer “a very rich survey of self-portraiture from the 16th century to the present day” and will bring together work from three major collections, those of the Staatliche Kunsthalle in Karlsruhe, Germany, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, France, and the National Galleries of Scotland. There will be more than 140 works on show including drawings, prints, paintings, photographs and video. The list of names includes Rembrandt, Simon Vouet, Allan Ramsay, Hyacinthe Rigaud, David Wilkie, Gustave Courbet, Edvard Munch, Paul Klee, Gino Severini, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Andy Warhol, Marina Abramovic, Douglas Gordon, Sarah Lucas and Annie Lennox. There should be some pretty interesting meetings and confrontations across the centuries. Definitely one to look forward to. DM

Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, 16 July until 16 October

New Galleries Launch

Next year is the 150th anniversary of the opening of the National Museum in Chambers Street and the anniversary will see the completion of the last stage of a major refurbishment of the museum’s magnificent Victorian exhibition spaces. The project began 25 years ago with the competition of the new Museum of Scotland. Now after two periods of major reconstruction we will have a Victorian museum fit for the 21st century. Exhibits drawn from the collections of science and technology, decorative art, design and fashion will fill the new galleries. They will make it possible to bring out treasures that have “not have been seen in public for generations, if at all.” Exhibits will range from Dolly the sheep to a Picasso glass sculpture, and from a 2.5-tonne copper cavity from CERN to shoes by Alexander McQueen. DM

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, summer 2016

Alice Neel

Born in 1900 in Pennsylvania, the painter Alice Neel’s art and life unfolded like the 20th century itself, full of radical intent, conflict, sorrow and denial. From her portraits of the great left-wing figures of the age, feminists and artists, mothers and babies and the activists of her Spanish Harlem neighbourhood, to her late great paintings of the nude and the vulnerable, including Andy Warhol’s scarred and ageing body, Neel was an unflinching pioneer. MJ

Talbot Rice, Gallery, Edinburgh, summer 2016

Katy Dove

Katy Dove’s death in January this year at the age of just 44 was a sad loss for Scotland’s art scene. A musician, animator and artist of great sensitivity and playfulness, Dove used deceptively simple means to evoke big themes like closeness to nature, independence of spirit and truth to the self. After first training in psychology, Dove won a scholarship to Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee and was quietly and steadily influential on the Glasgow scene where she made her home and played with the band Muscles of Joy. This significant survey will go some way to reminding us of her unique voice. MJ

Dundee Contemporary Arts, 17 September until 20 November