Well, we did it. We survived the year that promised us a worldwide exodus of sport-loving tourists to our fair city, an apocalypse and another year of loosely-based-on-reality TV. But the truth is, London 2012 spoilt us rotten when it came to culture. With all eyes on us, the arts called in favours and delved into their little black books to present a programme of cultural delights that was envied worldwide.
So, short of resurrection or time travel, 2013 is admittedly going to struggle to chase the dragon that was 2012. But London is going to give it a good go…
(Platform) highkicking into a year set to be filled with glitz and gyrations for our favourite fashion meets art gallery, the V&A open the art world’s season of blockbuster exhibitions with their much anticipated international retrospective David Bowie Is (23 March to 28 July).
Featuring more than 300 objects including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork and rare performance material spanning five decades, this is going to be spectacular. Keep hold of those sequins, later in the year the V&A continue their marriage between fashion, art and music with Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s (10 July to 16 February 2014). Exploring how underground club culture burst out of the club doors onto our streets and catwalks, expect outlandish outfits from John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood and Patrick Cox.
Tate Modern have got another retrospective for 2013 – only with less animal carcasses. Lichenstein: A Retrospective (21 February to 27 May) is the first full-scale retrospective of the iconic American pop artist in over 20 years, bringing together 125 of his instantly recognisable paintings and sculptures. Brad, if you’re reading this – who’s laughing now?
Celebrating one of the most important chapters and creative cohorts in contemporary art, the Barbican Centre presents The Bride and the Bachelors (14 February to 9 June). While some of his most famous work might have you thinking he spent the best part of the ’50s and ’60s in public toilets, French surrealist Duchamp occupied himself throughout this pivotal era working with four great modern masters – composer John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham and fellow artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. In a major cross arts season, the Barbican Centre presents a host of specially programmed events, exhibitions and performances that are guaranteed to spread the influence of these great minds even further.
A little closer to home (for me personally at least), Tate Britain bring a slice of the North to London with the first show of LS Lowry by a public institution in the capital since the artist’s death with Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life (25 June to 20 October). Painter of matchstick men and matchstick cats and dogs, Lowry captured the grit and grime but also the unique personalities and politics of the industrial north and frankly, it is about time more people got to see it.
London are pulling out the big guns on the boards this year with a programme of fantastic theatre starring Britain’s finest actors of stage and screen. Rowan Atkinson returns to the stage for the first time in 25 years in Simon Gray’s play, Quartermaine’s Terms at Wyndhams Theatre (from 23 January). Set in the 1960s, Atkinson stars as a well-meaning but hopeless teacher in this quintessentially British tragicomedy about the lives of seven teachers.
Taking over the hidden corridors and passages of Kings College and Somerset House, immersive experts dreamthinkspeak invite you to join them for In the Beginning Was the End (28 January to 30 March). A large-scale site specific promenade performance inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci, The Book of Revelation and the evolving world of Mechatronics, this exciting show blends film, installation with live performance in the hazy labyrinths beneath Somerset House.
Putting Shakespeare’s infamous play back in the hands of the Scots, Macbeth arrives at Trafalgar Studios (9 February to 27 April) with James Macavoy at the helm as the troubled Scottish lord drawn in to a world of witchcraft, prophecy and tyranny, under a toxic fog that has engulfed war torn Scotland. It goes without saying that this is destined to sell out almost immediately, so grab your tickets quick.
Donning the crown once again, Helen Mirren takes to the stage as The Queen in The Audience at Gielgud Theatre (15 February to 15 June), granting us access to the Queen’s weekly audience with her 12 prime ministers.
In John Logan’s charming new play, Peter and Alice at Noel Coward Theatre (9 March to 1 June), Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw star as the real life inspirations of Alice and Wonderland and Peter Pan as they meet in a wonderful twist of fate at the opening of a Lewis Carroll exhibition in 1932. A promising testament to British talent both on the stage and the magical and extraordinary characters they play.
Opening the year with the usual celebration of emerging dance, The Place present their annual season of new contemporary dance talent in Resolution! (8 January to 15 February) with nightly triple bills of pick-n-mix dance. Expect the breathtaking, the challenging, the downright bonkers – expect the unexpected. After all, everyone has to start somewhere – just ask Wayne McGregor| Random Dance, born at Resolution! 20 years ago…
Tattooed and bearded wonders Ballet Boyz return with a major UK tour, bringing their protégés The Talent for a week of performances at Sadler’s Wells (8 to 13 March) including new works by Liam Scarlett and Russell Maliphant. Sweaty, breathless and pulsating – and we’re not just talking about the dancers.
Not content with the ten performances we were given as part of World Cities 2012 last year, Tanztheater Wuppertal: Pina Bausch return to Sadler’s (14 to 25 February) to celebrate their 40th anniversary with two works never seen in the UK, Two Cigarettes in the Dark which sees the dancers trapped in a glaringly white room and Vollmund, the stunning water drenched performance featured in Wim Wender’s film Pina.
Image: Roy Lichtenstein, Whaam! 1963 Tate. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2012