The best art and design shows to visit in 2023


Spain and the Hispanic World

The Duchess of Alba stands fiercely in black, pointing at the ground as she stares directly at you with challenge in her eyes. This great portrait by Goya is one of the scintillating treasures of Spanish art in a show from New York’s Hispanic Society that also stars Velázquez and the Vespucci world map. JJ

Royal Academy, London, 21 January–10 April

Hockney: Bigger and Closer

David Hockney’s appetite for the new shows no sign of fading. At once a meticulous craftsman and experimenter with everything from fax machines (when they were cool) to iPads, he starts his 86th year with an immersive spectacular that lets you walk inside his brightly coloured world, like an electric chapel. JJ

Lightroom, London, 25 January-23 April

Peter Doig

Return with interest … Peter Doig in 2022. Photograph: Fergus Carmichael/The Courtauld

Following his return to London after two decades living in Trinidad, new and recent paintings by the Edinburgh-born artist. Autobiography, film and theatre, the landscapes and history of the Caribbean and Ontario, where the artist grew up, have informed Doig’s rich and beguiling art. His first major London show since his 2008 Tate Britain survey, the Courtauld’s first exhibition of a living artist puts Doig in the context of his 19th-century forebears. AS

Courtauld Gallery, London, 10 February-29 May


With only 34 universally attributed paintings – or is it 35? – most of them small in scale and demanding to be viewed close up, the art of Johannes Vermeer (1632-75) does not lend itself to the blockbuster approach. The last major show of his art in the Netherlands was marred by a febrile atmosphere, overcrowding and argy-bargy in front of his supremely quiet, contemplative interiors and allegories. Given the fragility of the works and difficulties acquiring loans, this is a rare opportunity to see about 28 of his works. AS

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 10 February-4 June

Donatello: Sculpting the Renaissance

The queer sculptor who stunned 15th-century Florence explodes again after six centuries. Donatello’s homosexuality is attested by Renaissance sources as well as being flaunted in the ways he sees the male nude, yet he was honoured by the Medici. The heft and subtlety of his art blaze in your senses and soul, making this the art event of the year. JJ

V&A, London, 11 February-11 June

Alice Neel: Hot Off the Griddle

Alice Neel, Self Portrait, 1980. Photograph: Terje Östling/The Estate of Alice Neel/David Zwirner

From the 1930s Depression to her death in 1984, New York artist Alice Neel barely changed her style. She painted sympathetic “pictures of people” whose unpretentious, tenderly realist style attempts to convey who they truly are. From fellow artists to underground film-makers and radical activists her Americans are vulnerable souls, laid bare. JJ

Barbican, London, 16 February-21 May

Golden Mummies of Egypt

This revered museum reopens with a spectacular show of some of its finest ancient Egyptian treasures. But it’s not just about the gold. Using non-intrusive science to explore mummified bodies and their elaborate wrappings, the exhibition shows how preserving the dead was part of a passionate belief in the afterlife. JJ

Manchester Museum from 18 February

Mike Nelson: Extinction Beckons

You could call Mike Nelson’s installations real fictions, with their lairs and bunkers, cab-shacks and workshops, their labyrinthine corridors and secret corners of the world. Referencing sci-fi and apocalyptic literature, crime scenes, indoor dope farms and artists’ fantasies, his forensically detailed, multi-layered art presents a vision of a hidden present. Lose yourself but don’t get lost. AS

Hayward Gallery, London, 22 Feb-7 May

Lindsey Mendick

The spontaneous creativity of this artist knows no bounds. She throws bizarre, sensuous and hilarious ceramics by the kiln load at her studio in Margate. This show is guaranteed to be a carnival of satire, outrage and welcome silliness, appropriately opening on April Fool’s day. Welcome to the feast of fools! JJ

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 1 April-3 September


Children’s Swimming Pool, Autumn Afternoon, 1971, Leon Kossoff. Photograph: Leon Kossoff/Tate Images

Two compassionate artists of the human condition go head to head. Chaïm Soutine painted savage cartoons of human frailty in the tormented Europe of the Nazi era, dying after hiding as a Jew in occupied France. Leon Kossoff took up his humanist brush in postwar London, painting the East End unforgettably. JJ

Hastings Contemporary, 1 April-24 September

Isaac Julien

The first thoroughgoing survey of Julien’s film works over the past 40 years. His often ravishing and unsettling multi-screen installations have encompassed the lives of Frantz Fanon and Langston Hughes, black polar explorer Matthew Henson, Lina Bo Bardi’s architecture and the internal life of freed slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Julien’s wide-ranging and often visceral art encompasses queer lives and times, and mixes fantasy, choreography and pulsing beats. Poetic and political, stunning and sexy. AS

Tate Britain, London, 26 April-20 August

Erwin Wurm

Do something daft with a banana, stick your head in a hedge and mangle yourself with a chair: Austrian artist Wurm’s one-minute sculptures are a slapstick, absurdist dialogue between the body and the world of things. These provide but one strand of the artist’s inventive career, in his first major exhibition in a British institution. A buffoonish Viennese waltz of a show that just cries out for selfies. Watch out for the sausages. AS

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 10 June-28 April 2024

Michael Rakowitz

Reimagining the Hanging Gardens of Babylon on the top floor of the Baltic, Rakowitz is creating a sprawling indoor forest of trees, hedges, medicinal plants and herbs among which his ad hoc sculptures replicate the archeological heritage looted and destroyed since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Ideas as well as plants will seed the garden into community and school plots, and the Iraqi-American artist plans workshops, where tinctures and poultices, recipes and food will be prepared as acts of celebration and healing. AS

Baltic Gateshead, 15 July-26 May 2024

Paula Rego: Crivelli’s Garden

Crivelli’s Garden, 1990, by Paula Rego. Photograph: The National Gallery, London/Paula Rego

The late, great figurative painter left a unique legacy at the National Gallery – a playful mural that’s part of the fabric of the place. Appointed its first associate artist, she immersed herself in the National Gallery collection including the fruit-obsessed works of Carlo Crivelli. This exploration of her loving labour reveals Rego’s belief in art. JJ

National Gallery, London, 20 July-29 October

Marina Abramović

Twice postponed but finally unavoidable: whatever you do, do not make eye contact or Marina will get you. That said, Abramović is a force of nature, a phenomenon. The RA’s retrospective of 50 years of confrontational performance works and encounters, many restaged by younger performers, as well as new works made for the exhibition, will be unmissable. AS

Royal Academy, London, 23 Sept-10 Dec 2023

Frans Hals

You can make a good case for this 17th-century Dutch rebel as the peer of Rembrandt and Vermeer – but with an earthier, more comic and common touch. His portraits of cavaliers and paupers, the respectable and outcast add up to one of the most vital galleries of humanity ever assembled. JJ

National Gallery, London, 30 September-21 January 2024

Philip Guston

Painting, Smoking, Eating, 1973, by Philip Guston. Photograph: The Estate of Philip Guston

Montreal-born to a Jewish family that had fled from Odesa, Philip Guston (1913-80) became famous first as the most delicate of abstract expressionists, and almost infamous for his cartoonish later paintings and drawings that frequently depicted hooded Ku Klux Klansmen, a subject he had first approached in the 1930s. Rich, sour, caustic, funny and melancholic, Guston’s art presaged Trumpism and the rise of the “alt-right”, along with a bleak view of his own temperament. A great painter for terrible times. AS

Tate Modern, London, 5 Oct-25 Feb 2024

Women in Revolt! Art, Activism and the Women’s Movement in the UK 1970-90

Featuring more than 100 female artists, Women in Revolt! traces the evolution of art and collectivity during a period of turmoil and resistance. This is a show of unusual suspects and untold stories, often ignored or working outside the mainstream. The Women’s Liberation movement, Greenham Common and the peace movement, punk and Rock Against Racism, the Aids pandemic and Section 28 provide the backdrop. The closest we’ve had to a survey of feminist art in Britain, this long-overdue show includes everything from painting to performance, film and sculpture. AS

Tate Britain, London, 8 Nov-7 April 2024


Farrell Centre, Newcastle

Billed as “an experiment in civic activism”, the Farrell Centre will provide a new public forum for Newcastle, where the future of the city can be exhibited, debated and shaped. The transformation of the handsome, Grade II-listed Claremont buildings will open with More With Less, an exhibition on how architecture can address the climate emergency and adapt to a world of dwindling resources.

11 February

Sculpted like a rocky canyon, with swooping caves and soaring bridges that look as though they have been carved by millennia of weathering, this new addition to the American Museum of Natural History will provide a suitably spectacular setting for a place in the business of inspiring awe. Designed by Chicago-based Studio Gang, it’s sure to leave the daily crowds of schoolchildren gawping.

New York, 17 February

Children With Mehndi on Their Hands (Rajasthan), 1972, by Jyoti Bhatt at MAP Bengaluru. Photograph: Jyoti Bhatt

A shimmering metallic treasure chest of south Asian visual culture will open in India’s tech capital, making a collection of 60,000 works available to the public for the first time. Spanning photography, painting, sculpture, textiles, tribal art and Bollywood memorabilia, the museum says it will “blur the boundaries between what is regarded as high art and the everyday creativity of the region’s communities”.


Them’s the Breaks: Resolve Collective

Museums are usually in the business of patching over their cracks rather than showing them off, but the young architecture group, Resolve Collective, plan to put the vagaries of the Barbican’s creaky concrete infrastructure in the spotlight this spring. Taking over the Curve gallery, they will create an installation of collaboratively built structures that promise to explore alternative strategies for managing the “structural decline of our systems, institutions and buildings”.

Barbican, London, 30 March-16 July


Cheddar Gorgeous in a suit designed by Liquorice Black, 2017. Photograph: V&A Dundee

Do you know your Royal Stewart from your Mackenzie Modern? The first major exhibition curated by V&A Dundee will unpick the global story of the woven woollen cloth, peeking under the kilt and looking beyond Scottish Highlands to explore how tartan has influenced art, architecture, product design, fashion, film and performance around the world. Did you know that tartan leggings were found on a 3,000-year-old mummy in the deserts of China’s Xinjiang?

V&A Dundee, 1 April-14 January 2024

Museum of Homelessness

Billed as “a museum space like no other”, this new venue will be a hub for advice on housing and legal rights, with an open-access arts studio for people experiencing homelessness. Based in a former gatekeeper’s house in Finsbury Park, it will also house the national archive and collection for homelessness, poverty and social action, drawing on the park’s radical roots.

Finsbury Park, London

Ai Weiwei: Making Sense

The first exhibition to present the provocative Chinese artist’s work as a commentary on design and what it reveals about our changing values, this show promises to explore the tensions between hand and machine, precious and worthless, construction and destruction, placing traditional craftsmanship in dialogue with the recent history of demolition and urban development in China. New commissions will be presented alongside some of Ai’s most important works.

Design Museum, London, 7 April-30 July

Titled The Laboratory of the Future, this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale will place Africa centre stage for the first time in its 42-year history. Curated by Ghanaian Scottish architect and academic, Lesley Lokko, the exhibitions will explore how the world’s youngest and fastest urbanising continent is proving to be a laboratory for innovation at the coal face of issues of climate, equity and resources that affect us all.

Factory International, Manchester. Photograph: OMA/PA

Costing almost twice the original budget and running four years late, Manchester’s big new music venue will finally open this year. Designed by the Rotterdam-based Office for Metropolitan Architecture in the form of a gigantic hangar, with a faceted lump attached, the architects say it will “preserve the city’s rough edge, as a sort of resistance to the pervasive beautification of inner cities”. We will see.

Manchester, June

Herzog & de Meuron