Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

It’s like standing on top of a hill and looking out at a landscape that is constantly dissolving and reforming before your eyes. For almost two years now, we have become accustomed to an art scene that changes form, the misery of sudden cancellations and closures that are neutralized by the vibrant creativity of alternative, often digital, models. And if those creative strings are stress-induced, it does not necessarily mean that they have only temporary relevance: many have already solidified into true progress.

But even though the digital sphere has filled many gaps, what we have learned over these plague years is that it just does not meet every need, in cultural terms. The eagerness to return to live performances, real performances and all kinds of personal occasions, to experience art that is tangible and tangible – none of this has disappeared.

So, while the coming year is certainly unpredictable, let’s forget in the spirit of optimism the looming threat of more closed theaters and concert halls, disregard the real possibility of museums and galleries, and look ahead as if everything is going on. to go right. Since several of my colleagues are competently watching what’s happening in other genres in 2022, I’ll pick a lot of personal top tips in the visual arts, theater, and dance.

‘Second Edition of Triptych 1944’ (1988) by Francis Bacon © The Estate of Francis Bacon; DACS / Artimage

The visual arts, after a slow January, will explode in life in public spaces around the world. In London, the Royal Academy cracks out a major Francis Bacon retrospective for the beginning of the year while the newly opened Courtauld Institute – whose refurbishment was fairly universal praised – exhibitions Van Gogh self-portraits in February.

The Whitechapel Gallery, moving away from big-name solo performances, is launching a show dedicated to artists’ studios – a definite hit. The spring exhibition at the Barbican Center, which has made a powerful comeback over the past few years with excellent performances dedicated to Basquiat, Lee Krasner and Dubuffet, is entitled Post-war Modern, a recording of the two decades after World War II in British art (or at least art made in Britain as it was a time of movement and migration).

‘Self-portrait as a painter’ (1888) by Vincent van Gogh © Vincent van Gogh Foundation

And there is a returning migrant at the National Gallery: Gainsborough’s “Blue Boy” left home in California on January 25, exactly 100 years ago, and is now being loaned back by the Huntington Museum for a few months’ stay. Then, in April, the National Gallery launches its big guns with a full career recording of Raphael, whose short life has packed a tremendous punch.

On a more contemporary note, May sees the long-delayed opening of a full retrospective of Cornelia Parker at Tate Britain – not to be missed – and at Tate St Ives, which also hosts a homecoming show by Barbara Hepworth, the Vietnamese multimedia artist Thao Nguyen Phan has her first museum solo in the UK.

One of the four ‘Door Panels’ by Gustave Caillebotte, appears in the Musée de l’Orangerie’s impressionistic decoration show © Thomas Hennocque

Paris had an amazing series this fall, with an excellent Anselm Keifer performance still going on at the Grand Palais Éphémère, and a powerful Georg Baselitz retrospective until March at the Center Pompidou, among many others. One upcoming exhibition that promises to be original and inventive is the Musée de l’Orangerie’s At the Source of the Water Lilies: The Impressionist Decor opening in March – surely a mouthwatering prospect.

And there are some very enticing performances in the pipeline in Italy: highlights in March include Titian’s Women, at Milan’s Palazzo Reale, and – this one perhaps the most enticing of all, for Renaissance lovers – the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence offers a powerful display of the works of Donatello.

‘Undertow’ (1886) by Winslow Homer © The Clark Institute. The Met Museum

In New York, a good show of Jasper Johns continues its run at Whitney until February, while of the ever-powerful program at the Metropolitan Museum, one spring highlight will be an unusual display of 19th-century American Winslow Homer. Dishes Transverse currents, the show promises to explore the artist’s “fascination with struggle” and preoccupation with race and politics from the Civil War.

Another, more contemporary, exploration of those issues in American life comes from Faith Ringgold, whose solo performance at the New Museum, which opens in February, will certainly be a powerful statement. Uptown in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park, under the auspices of the Studio Museum Harlem, is an equally strong piece of public sculpture, unveiled in October but on display for a full year: Thomas J Price’s 9-foot bronze figure titled “The Distance WithinIs a young black man looking down at his cellphone, quiet in thought, evocative and somehow haunting.

‘Woman on a Bridge # 1 of 5: Tar Beach’ (1988) by Faith Ringgold © Faith Ringgold / ARS, New York and DACS, London, courtesy of ACA Galleries, New York

Of course, this is only a small fraction of what will be seen in the visual arts next year. As well as the public institutions, do not forget to also visit commercial galleries: around the world they are constantly getting better and better – certainly more ambitious – in their exhibitions, which are freely open to all. And, if Covid allows it, the Venice Art Biennale will be back this year, from the end of April almost to the end of the year. With the pent-up energy of last year’s delays, it should be more incredible than ever.

Justin Keyes, left, and David Hess in ‘The Streets of New York’ © Carol Rosegg

One shocking news in the performing arts world in recent weeks, the departure from his homeland of the Belarus Free Theater, a highly inventive, radical group that tells the truth to power in that oppressive regime. A year ago, cold and cruel death threats were issued by the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko against two of the company’s directors, who have been in exile in the UK for many years; now the whole ensemble had to move. At London’s Barbican Theater in March their new play, Dogs of Europe, is proof of the company’s refusal to submit: it contains (no surprises) a dystopian state in which individual rights have made way for authoritarian controls.

It all shows that theater, especially live theater, still matters, and still has power. While many of this year’s offerings are strong on the entertainment side – a recording of the biggest demand for next year’s musicals on Broadway includes favorites such as Chicago, Wicked and The lion king, and magical escape is an understandable urge at the moment – there are many new plays on the way that do not sweeten reality.

Ralph Fiennes plays Robert Moses in ‘Straight Line Crazy’

Aaron Sorkin‘s dramatic adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird gets its British premiere at the Gielgud Theater in May; London’s Donmar Warehouse has a new piece left Mary Seacole, the Jamaican-British nurse during the Crimean War and, in another stage biopic, launches The Bridge Theater David Hare’s latest muscular political statement, Straight line crazy, in which Ralph Fiennes plays the mighty American Robert Moses.

Just opened at The Shed in New York, and through February, Cecily Strong is the solo artist in The search for signs of intelligent life in the universe, the piece originally written for Lily Tomlin by Janet Wagner: the stories of 12 female characters, all played by Strong, form a collage of women’s history and experience over the years.

Another generation story is told in Prayer for the French Republic, a new play by award-winning Joshua Harmon presented by Manhattan Theater Club: explores a French Jewish family’s history of themes of genocide, forced migration, and ongoing anti-Semitism. And for a musical other than the mainstream Broadway food, there is still time until the end of January for the Irish Repertory Theater’s The streets of New York, adapted by Charlotte Moore from Dion Boucicault’s 1857 play about financial crooks in a city that sees dizzyingly rapid rises and falls in fortunes.

Gonzalo Garcia, left, and Sterling Hyltin in ‘Orpheus’, which will be one of the New York City Ballet’s Stravinsky performances this spring © Erin Baiano

For dance fans in New York, spring brings a two-week treat: 50 years after the New York City Ballet’s 1972 Stravinsky Festival, the company presents four programs. There are premieres by Silas Farley and Pam Tanowitz; Harlem Dance Theater artists also perform Tanowitz’s Gustave Le Gray No. 1.

In March, Artists at the Center invites leading dancers to create a program of their choice: Tiler Peck, a principal at New York City Ballet, begins works by William Forsythe, Alonzo King and others. In City Center spring Dance Festival is a showcase for Martha Graham Dance Company, Dance Theater of Harlem, Paul Taylor Dance Company and others – a wonderful welcome return to the stage for many.

Harlem Dance Theater, which can be seen here in collaboration with the Miami City Ballet, will perform on a number of New York stages © Teresa Wood

In London, Sadler’s Wells has such a rich program as ever – once the Christmas prize is out of the way, we’ll see Pina Bausch, the BalletBoyz, Carlos Acosta’s 100% Cuban, and more. The flamencistas appear in March, reliable as migratory birds and much more entertaining to watch. And this year, from February 1, there is a daring surprise addition to the program. Think of “Stayin ‘Alive”, “Night Fever”, “Woman” – yes, it is Saturday night Fever, a remake of the 1977 classic starring John Travolta, now with new choreography, we are promised, though many old-school 70s pop hits. So, how deep is your love. . . ?

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