Preview the Blockbuster Museum Shows Opening in March


T he masterful Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh is at the center of two exhibitions this month, while the majestic works of Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui, born out of a rich 50-year career, go on view in Munich. In Hawaii, the Honolulu Biennial returns for it second edition to empower artistic freedom, and in Berlin, the Hamburger Bahnhof traces Jack Whitten’s full range of experimental styles. Watch as Tim Marlow, artistic director of London's Royal Academy of Arts, previews these upcoming shows, or read on to see highlights from each of these must-see exhibitions.

Van Gogh and Britain at Tate Britain, London

27 March–11 August

Vincent van Gogh, Starry Night Over the Rhone, 1888. © RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski.

Van Gogh and Britain, at Tate Britain, will explore both the intriguing impact that British art, literature and culture had upon the masterful Dutch painter, and the reciprocal influence that he has had upon some of Britain’s own most accomplished artists.

Vincent van Gogh, Sunflowers, 1888. © The National Gallery, London/ Bought, Courtauld Fund, 1924.

As a young man, van Gogh lived in London for several, highly formative years, during which time he read Shakespeare and Dickens, admired works by the likes of John Everett Millais and John Constable, and explored the vibrant city.

Vincent van Gogh, Self-portrait, 1887. © RMN.

This exhibition will be the very first to consider this relationship through 45 paintings, alongside works by Jacob Epstein, Frank Brangwyn, and Christopher Wood, which will exemplify the Dutch painter’s own influence on British artists, as will a set of works by Francis Bacon based on a van Gogh self-portrait, destroyed in the Second World War.

Hockney – Van Gogh at Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

1 March­–26 May

David Hockney, The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven). © David Hockney, Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt, Collection Société des Amis du Musée national d'Art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

In a similar vein, and another first, Hockney - Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature, at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam will examine the influence of the masterful Post-Impressionist painter on British artist, David Hockney, focussing on the pair’s depictions of nature.

David Hockney painting May Blossom on the Roman Road
David Hockney painting May Blossom on the Roman Road, 2009. © David Hockney. Photograph by Jean-Pierre Gonçalves de Lima.

Their shared love of the natural world will be visible in 120 works dominated by experimental perspectives, bold lines, and bright colours.The show will illustrate the strong similarities between the artists’ outputs in terms of both style and subject matter.

Honolulu Biennial 2019, To Make Wrong / Right / Now

8 March–5 May

Rosanna Raymond, SaVAge K'lub project, 2010–ongoing.

The Honolulu Biennial will bring together 47 artists and art collectives from Hawaii, the Pacific, Asia and the Americas. It aims to share indigenous perspectives, knowledge, and creative expression from these places, and to incite reassessment and questioning.

Chiharu Shiota, The Locked Room, 2016. © VG Bild Kunst, Bonn, 2018 and the artist.

Visitors will encounter exhibitions, new commissions, and site-specific works located in more than ten ‘storied sites’ across the island of O’ahu, whilst multi-site installations by Bernice Akamine and Abraham Cruzvillegas will take place in various locations to explore issues around ‘houselessness’ and respond to the complex relationship between outdoor and indoor life in the Pacific.

Mata Aho Collective, Kiko Moana, 2017, installed at Oceania, The Royal Academy of Arts, London 2018.
Courtesy of the artists. Photograph by David Parry.

Works such as Akamine’s ‘Kalo’, an installation of eighty-seven taro plants formed from stone and newsprint, and the large-scale fibre works of the Mata Aho Collective indicate the sheer scale of the Biennial’s displays, as well as its great ambition to promote the vibrant, exciting art of the region, and to open up local and global conversations.

El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale at Haus der Kunst

8 March–28 July

El AnatsuiHaus der Kunst, 2019. Photograph by Maximilian Geuter.

Haus der Kunst, Munich will be presenting a comprehensive survey of the work of Ghanaian sculptor, El Anatsui, featuring works from across key stages of his rich 50-year career.

As suggested in its title, Triumphant Scale will focus on the artist’s majestic and large-scale works. It will include sculptures made from wood and ceramic, reliefs, drawings, and prints, and, of course, Anatsui’s bottle-cap pieces, for which he is perhaps best known – fabric-like wall drapings constructed from fragments of aluminium, sewn together with copper wire.

El Anatsuim, Stressed World, 2011. © El Anatsui. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

New site-specific works will respond directly to the museum’s architecture, most visibly with a grand sculptural piece adorning the south facade of the building.

Jack Whitten: Jack’s Jacks Hamburger Bahnhof

29 March–1 September

a blue collage work by jack whitten
Jack Whitten, Apps for Obama, 2011. Photograph by John Berens, courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Conceived with the artist before his death in 2018, and the first solo exhibition of Whitten in a European institution, Jack’s Jacks, will give a comprehensive overview of his 60-year career, tracking his dynamic and ever-changing stylistic development.

Endlessly experimental and inventive, Whitten moved with the times, continually developing his unique way of working and relentlessly exploring the materiality of paint. The exhibition will celebrate this zeal by showing 30 paintings - from early creations influenced by Abstract Expressionism, through to his ‘Slab’ works of the 1970s, and his later, mosaic-like works, created with dried acrylic paint.

black painting with multicolored line in a circular shape
Jack Whitten, Sweet Little Angel, For B.B. King, 2015. Photograph by John Berens. Courtesy the Jack Whitten Estate and Hauser & Wirth.

A number of works dedicated to individuals who influenced Whitten will also be on show, from his mentors, contemporaries, and admired jazz musicians, to political and social figures. Look out for a technicolour ode to Martin Luther King Jr. and a shimmering, digitally-inspired canvas in honour of 44th US President Barack Obama.

Discover More Must-See Exhibitions

Stay informed with Sotheby’s top stories, videos & news.

Receive the best from Sotheby’s delivered to your inbox.

By subscribing you are agreeing to Sotheby’s Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Sotheby’s emails at any time by clicking the “Manage your Subscriptions” link in any of your emails.