Fabulous Exhibitions in London to Kick Off 2020

Check out these new exhibitions to mark the new year, everything from Dora Maar and Troy to George IV.

The British Museum – Troy: Myth and Reality

This new exhibition is diving into the mystifying realm of Troy with its latest big show. Homer’s classic Greek legend may seem like a fantasy (the capture of a beautiful woman triggers a 10-year war; a major city is destroyed thanks to a wooden horse) but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Troy didn’t exist. That’s the premise for Troy: Myth and Reality (to 8 Mar), a fascinating exploration into archaeological game-changers such as Heinrich Schliemann. Digging in Turkey during the 1870s, this German businessman and archaeologist uncovered precious anitiquities that suggest Troy was a real place. Even if you’ve never believed in the tooth fairy or Santa Claus, this haul of ancient artefacts might make you think twice about Greek legends.

 Charlotte, Princess Royal, Augusta and Elizabeth, 1783–84.
Gainsborough's painting of princesses Charlotte, Augusta and Elizabeth form part of George IV's personal collection. (©Royal Collection Trust © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2019)

The Queen’s Gallery – George IV: Art & Spectacle

The new exhibition at the gallery at Buckingham Palace owes its lavish pieces to a king who seemed happiest when pursuing the finer things in life. George IV: Art & Spectacle (to 3 May) displays the celebrated French and Dutch art that he pursued during the 18th and 19th centuries, including Rembrandt’s "The Shipbuilder and his Wife", which was the most expensive painting that George ever purchased. Elsewhere, look out for the golden "Shield of Achilles", an impressive dining piece that was part of George’s coronation banquet at the Houses of Parliament. George IV never travelled further than Europe once the throne was his in 1870 but, thanks to his appetite for fine possessions, the world’s most beautiful objects came to him.

Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, UK
Dulwich Picture Gallery, opened in 1811, is the world’s first purpose-built public art gallery. (©Adam Scott)

Dulwich Picture Gallery – Rembrandt’s Light

The legendary Dutch painter is the subject of the gallery’s latest exhibition, Rembrandt’s Light (to 2 Feb). It displays 35 of his paintings, etchings and drawings, which have been loaned from the Louvre in Paris and Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Through works such as "Philemon and Baucis", "Christ and St Mary Magdalen at the Tomb" and "A Woman in Bed", this showcase underlines Rembrandt’s skilful use of light in his artworks.

Dora Maar, Model in Swimsuit, 1936, at Tate Modern, London, UK
Dora Maar's Model in Swimsuit, 1936, one of many photographic montages (©The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019)

Tate Modern – Dora Maar

Fans of the late French artist Dora Maar will be thrilled to visit the UK's largest retrospective of her work at Tate Modern (to 15 Mar). Born in Paris in 1907, she used photographic montages to create surreal scenes. From a graceful human hand emerging from inside a sea shell to caress a sandy beach, to a nicely dressed woman with a shiny star instead of a head, Maar’s world is a strange and dreamy place to be. During her relationship with Picasso, he made her the subject of his famous "Weeping Woman" painting and she recorded his "Guernica" progress with her camera. Dora Maar is an opportunity to see her photography and paintings, alongside the work of those artists who shared her influences at the time.

General Motors Firebird, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
Zip through the 130-year history of the car at this new exhibition. (©General Motors Company, LLC)

Victoria and Albert Museum – Cars: Accelerating the Modern World

The V&A’s latest exhibition pays due respect to the automobile. While modern thinking is increasingly stacked against cars – especially in a city as polluted and congested as London – there’s no denying that they have transformed our world beyond recognition. This new exhibition (to 19 Apr) includes the 1888 Patent-Motorwagen No 3 by Karl Benz, as well as insights into how our electric future will look.

Family of Ghulam Ali Khan, Six Recruits, Freer Gallery of art and Arthur M Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Ghulam Ali Khan's Six Recruits (©Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)

The Wallace Collection – Forgotten Masters

If you’ve seen the film "Pirates of the Caribbean", you’re probably familiar with the East India Company: they’re the bad guys. Happily, The Wallace Collection tries redress the balance in favour of colonised communities who worked for the company. Its exhibition, Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company (to 19 Apr), displays a collection of 18th- and 19th-century paintings, each by artists who were commissioned by the East India Company – and then forgotten. These works represent the world of India during that era, as well as the ways in which Indian and British art trends began to merge thanks to these commissions.