Our eye on… important museum exhibitions closing soon

As the decade ends we look to important museum exhibitions closing early next year. In New York, Vija Celmin’s widely lauded retrospective at the Met Breuer closes on 12 January 2020. While in London, Pre-Raphaelite Sisters, a seminal presentation of work by twelve women at the heart of British art in the second half of the nineteenth century, concludes on 26 January 2020. In China, the first exhibition born of the pioneering collaboration between the Yuz Museum Shanghai, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Qatar Museums – In Production: Art and the Studio System – closes on 1 March 2020.

Not to be missed in Shanghai…  a landmark collaboration between LACMA and the Yuz Museum

With negotiations underway to merge the Indonesian-Chinese tycoon Budi Tek’s private Yuz Museum with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the two have kick started their collaboration with a group show which opened in November 2019. Jointly presented by the Yuz, LACMA, and the Qatar Museums (QM), In Production: Art and the Studio System features twenty-four contemporary artists such as Douglas Gordon, Alex Prager and Mathias Poledna whose works explore the intertwined histories of visual art and film.

This much-anticipated collaboration not only indicates Shanghai’s remarkable transformation into Asia’s buzzing contemporary art hub but also demonstrates the extent to which non-Asian countries wish to partner with this important new centre. Tek’s Yuz Museum, one of the largest art institutions in the West Bund district in Shanghai, has presented wide-ranging, international exhibitions since opening in 2014, including blockbuster shows of Alberto Giacometti and Andy Warhol. After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, however, Tek decided to team up with LACMA and turn his multi-billion collection into a non-profit, public museum jointly run by both museums. In Tek’s words, this partnership will be ‘a marriage, with no voting and everything unanimous’. A jointly released statement explains that the intention is to ‘jointly develop and share exhibitions and programs across their institutions’. While further details have yet to be unveiled for the LACMA and Yuz arrangement, we do have a chance to see the first fruits of this US-China collaboration before it closes on 1 March 2020.


From left to right: Michael Govan, Lacma’s chief executive and director; Aisha Al-Khater, director of Strategic Museum Relations for Qatar Museums; Budi Tek and Michelle Tek, co-founders of the Yuz Museum in Shanghai
© Yuz Museum

Not to be missed in London… Pre-Raphaelite Sisters at the National Portrait Gallery and, coming soon, Artemesia at the National Gallery

Finishing on 26 January 2020, Pre-Raphaelite Sisters is one to catch before the National Portrait Gallery itself closes for refurbishment until the spring of 2023. Comprised of work by twelve women closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but often seen in secondary roles to their male counterparts, the exhibition reasserts the centrality of these figures within the wider successes of the Pre-Raphaelites and subsequent Aesthetic Movement from the middle and latter decades of the nineteenth century. Featured artists include a veritable who’s who of both movements: Joanna Wells, Fanny Cornforth, Marie Spartali Stillman, Evelyn de Morgan, Christina Rossetti, Georgiana Burne-Jones, Effie Millais, Elizabeth Siddal, Maria Zambaco, Jane Morris, Annie Miller and Fanny Eaton.


Jane Morris is the Model for Proserpine by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1877. Private Collection.
© The National Portrait Gallery

Not to be missed in New York… the Vija Celmins show at the Met Brauer

Not to be missed before it closes on January 12th, is the remarkable Vija Celmins show at the Met Brauer. This retrospective in New York is its last stop on a tour that originated at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  The exhibition has revealed countless works from major private collections as well as the artist’s own collection, that have been in private view for decades. Works coming from private collections include “Eraser”, 1967, from the Edward R. Broida Collection.

Celmins bases her works on the world around us through what she calls “redescription”, a process of translating photographic images from one medium to another.  The works compel the viewer to look closer, so close in fact that one begins to question what they are looking at.  Whether it’s clouds, the ocean or cobwebs, Celmins work stands at a crossroads of technical precision and remarkable simplicity that gives way to a calm quiet serenity.

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