The 12 Biggest Exhibitions To See In February

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 10 months ago

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The 12 Biggest Exhibitions To See In February

We look ahead to London art and exhibition openings for February 2018 and select our must-see exhibitions to help you plan your cultural diary. You're welcome.

Cruising speed

You can't have an exhibition on Ocean Liners without the Titanic. Here it is in 1911 in dry dock. Copyright Getty Images.

We now think of cruise ships as a nice sedate holiday for when we've reached our golden years. Yet before the age of the jet engine, it was the only way to travel in style. Crossing the Atlantic in a vast ocean liner was pure opulence. These ships weren't just feats of engineering, they were decorated with fantastic art, beautiful interiors and impressive architecture. Put on your (fake) fur coat and glide into the V&A. Ocean Liners: Speed & Style at V&A. 3 February - 10 June, £18.

Walk & listen

Naturally it's all hosted in a giant shoe box.

"Never judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes". So goes the native American proverb — well this art project has taken it quite literally. Swap your shoes for a pair that belonged to someone else, pop on some headphones and listen to their story by walking a mile in their shoes. It's a brilliant concept that we've tried before and learnt all about a man who found peace through art while in prison. This time it's stories about refugees and migrants, and is aptly positioned outside the excellent Migration Museum. Empathy Museum presents: A mile in my shoes - migration project at Migration Museum. 8 - 25 February, free.

Comfortable subversion

What slogan hasn't appeared on a t-shirt? T-shirt design by Katharine Hamnett

T-shirts, they are cheap, comfortable and there's a good chance you're wearing ones as you read this. T-shirts are also used to symbolise your personal tastes, to spread propaganda and as artworks in of themselves — the t-shirt is what proved you'd been somewhere; long before Instagram came along. Discover the twists and turns in the history of this humblest of garments. Go there and get the t-shirt.
T-shirt: Cult, culture, subversion at Fashion & Textile Museum. 9 February - 6 May, £9.90.

Taste the rainbow

Image courtesy National Museums Liverpool.

How does colour affect our mood, our emotions and even our taste? How is it used by animals to hide and to attract members of the opposite sex? Horniman Museum has a family friendly exhibition complete with interactive displays and a chance for little ones to express their inner Jackson Pollock's and create a colourful masterpiece. Colour: The Rainbow Revealed at Horniman Museum. 10 February - 28 October, Adult £7 & Child £4.

Wild in Whitechapel

A taste of what to expect from an immersive artist. Courtesy Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Vienna. Photo © Adolf Bereuter

When an artist is described as an explorer, collector, activist and conjuror of theatrical environments, it's time to sit up and take notice. Artist Mark Dion has travelled the world exploring the fragility of life and has recreated a set of habitats at Whitechapel Gallery using natural and man-made specimens. We have no idea what to expect, but are desperate to see this. Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World at Whitechapel Gallery. 14 February - 13 May, £12.95.

Torture victim

One of Copeland's impasto paintings. Copyright the artist.

Two exhibitions combine at Vauxhall's Newport Street Gallery. John Copeland creates thickly layered portraits that lean on art history. However, it's Rachel Howard that we're most looking forward to — her abstract painting of a hooded Abu Ghraib inmate is a highlight at the excellent Age of Terror exhibitions, which was our top show of 2017 and is still on now. John Copeland: Your Heaven Just Looks Like My Hell & Rachel Howard: Repetition is Truth are both on at Newport Street Gallery. 21 February - 28 May, free.

Cross Dressing

Rafal Milach is on the Deutsche Borse prize shortlist. Image copyright and courtesy the artist.

Given that some people today are still uncomfortable with cross dressing, it's easy to think that it's a newfound lifestyle. The Photographers' Gallery proves that assumption incorrect with a collection of photographs of cross dressers going back to the 1880s. Opening at the same time will be the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize, an exhibition that looks across the wide field of photography, from portraiture to abstract images, to pick a winner from four shortlisted artists. Deutsche Borse Foundation Photography Prize 2018 & Undercover: A Secret History of Cross - Dressers are both on at The Photographers' Gallery. 23 February - 3 June, £4 (free before 12pm).

North Korea gets graphic

A glimpse of North Korea's isolated world. Image courtesy Phaidon.

The sealed off world of North Korea holds a fascination for many, at least when people aren't worried about its nuclear arsenal. House of Illustration puts on a show looking at the world of graphic design in the dystopian state — expect lots of brightly coloured posters expressing how great it is for the average citizen and plenty of references to the Dear Leader. Made in North Korea: Everyday Graphics from the DPRK at House of Illustration. 23 February - 13 May, £8.25.  

Life gets intense

A typically intense Francis Bacon portrait. © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS, London

Painting from life is one of the oldest art genres and when it comes to capturing the emotions and the vulnerability of the sitter, Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud art two of the greats. Throw in the layered paintings of Frank Auerbach and the works of Paula Rego and we're on to a winner filled with painters who spent much of their time in London. All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a century of painting life at Tate Britain. 28 February - 27 August, £16.80.

Fringe photography

From the series Rebel’s Paris 1982 Courtesy of Melanie Rio Fluency, France

What's it like to be an outlaw, a survivalist or a sexual experimenter who isn't accepted by mainstream society. Barbican is celebrating these outsiders with 20 photographers exploring their subjects — from a child on the streets of Seattle to a eunuch from New Delhi. See what life is like on the fringes of society with stories told through a lens. Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins at Barbican Art Gallery. 28 February - 27 May, £13.50.

Last Updated 01 February 2018