The calendar flips over to the final month of the year this weekend, meaning there’s not long left to catch the best art exhibitions around the world before the festive season entirely takes over. The start of December brings with it, alongside jugfuls of mulled wine and piles of mince pies, a whole feast of exciting new shows, from James-Joyce inspired presentations to gigantic marble islands. So, to get your December off to the very best of starts, here’s our top selections for this Saturday and Sunday.
1. Once upon a time and a very good time it was, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh
James Joyce sneaks his way into the Ingleby, inspiring not just the title but the encyclopedic diversity of this brand new show. Pairing together the bold, billboard prints of David Austen with debris works of David Batchelor, selected antiquities from Africa, China and Oceana with challenging contemporary canvases, Once upon a time stretches across generations and continents to uncover curious connections between the most antagonist of pieces. Featuring work from 16 artists who span every conceivable genre, this exhibition offers something of both the unique and the universal.
2. Yutaka Sone: Sculpture, David Zwirner, London
Epic three-dimensional island cities pop up in meticulous, miniaturised form in Yukata Sone’s (b.1965) latest exhibition. Shrinking the dizzying metropolis into a single block of marble, Hong Kong Island (Chinese)(1998), Little Manhattan (2007-2009) and the recently completed Venezia (2013) offer commemorative portraits of the ever-changing urban landscape. Spot the tiny Hong Kong skyscraper, trace the thread-like paths of Central Park or follow the canals of Venice as these three painfully intricate works come together for the very first time, showcasing some of the most momentous works of this ambitious artist.
3. James Welling: Autograph, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland
Sitting somewhere in the grey area between painting, sculpture and traditional photography, James Welling (b.1951) takes to task the possibility of representation and abstraction: a quest that becomes all too clear in this diverse and expansive exhibition of his work at the Fotomuseum Winterthur. From documentary-orientated pieces, following the likes of Paul Strand, to abstract, avant-garde photograms, Welling probes out concepts of originality, authorship and the uniqueness of the photograph. With or without a camera, digital or analogue, in colour or black and white, Autograph emphasises Welling’s restless exploration of and significant role in developing the medium of photography.
4. Akram Zaatari: On Photography, People and Modern Times, Thomas Dane Gallery, London
Lebanese photography and its impact upon communal identity comes into startling focus in Akram Zaatari’s (b.1966) new exhibition, presenting two of his touchstone installations, forensically examining the works of the Arab Image Foundation- an expanding collection of over 6,000 images- Zaatari co-founded in 1997. On Photography, People and Modern Times (2010) presents a 38-minute projection installed in a cinema-like environment, whilst 28 Nights and a Poem (2010) uses iPad videos, LCD screens and wall-based photography to evoke the archive of Studio Sheherazade in South Lebanon. Here cameras, flashbulbs, celluloid reels and negatives show with scientific detail how Lebanese photography has transformed, grown and must be kept in clear view.
5. Room to Live, MOCA, Los Angeles
MOCA celebrate the most outstanding works of their collection in a show concerned with the big and the best. Full-room displays and in-depth single-artist presentations from their renowned permanent store span the years since 1960 and mediums from installation to painting to video. Struck through with themes of place, architecture, life, growth and inhabitation, artists involved include the likes of Nan Goldin, Mark Handforth, Bruce Nauman, Lizzie Fitch, Marnie Weber, Amelie von Wulffen and many more. From Rodeny McMillian’s 45-foot abstract work to Liz Larner’s interlocking steel cubes, this is a unique opportunity to comprehensively explore some of the most impressive pieces held in MOCA’s hands.
1. Ryan Trecartin, Lizzie Fitch/ Ryan Trecartin, The Re’Search (Re’Search Wait’S) from B: Settings, 2010, 40:06 minutes, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Purchase with funds provided by the Acquisition and Collection Committee and a gift of Jeffrey Deitch.