National Portrait Gallery 2024

by Alain Chivilò


The NPG has announced the programme for the 2024. Different events from paintings to photographies to awards and prizes. The only main theme is the figure in its various expressions. The Director of the National Portrait Gallery Nicholas Cullinan joyfully pointed out how “after a highly successful first season following our reopening, I am delighted to be presenting another year of innovative and engaging exhibtions. 2024’s programme will span from Tudor Queens to the greatest living artists, with something for everyone to enjoy. I would like to thank our sponsors for all their support in helping us deliver such an innovative and energetic programme of exhibitions”.

In London it will possible to see and learn more about six centuries of portraiture, starting from the six wives of King Henry VIII to Francis Bacon to our contemporary age.

The Time is Always Now: Artists Reframe the Black Figure. 22 February – 19 May 2024

The theme is the black figure through a collective of 22 contemporary artists, who work on it in the UK and USA, in production over the last 24 years. Curated by Ekow Eshun, the exhibition poses questions and investigations on black figuration between visibility, exaltation but also absence oblivion through political, social, psychological and aesthetic canons.

Francesca Woodman and Julia Margaret Cameron: Portraits to Dream In. 21 March – 16 June 2024

Francesca Woodman (Denver, 3/4/1958 – New York, 19/1/1981) – Julia Margaret Cameron (Julia Margaret Pattle) (Calcutta, 11/6/1815 – Ceylon, 26/1/1879) are two photographers of different centuries which are often united in exhibitions dedicated to photography for a common way of feeling the portrait. Photographs tending towards pictorial inspiration for Cameron, in almost surrealist atmospheres for Woodman. In more than 150 rare vintage prints, curated by Magdalene Keaney, the entire career of the two artists is traced in a path that highlights a “dream space”: photographs and portraits do not testify to reality and everyday life but, take on divided effects through poses and long periods of exposure along beauty, representation, pseudo imagination and symbolism.

Six Lives: The Stories of Henry VIIIs Queens. 20 June – 8 September 2024

Today, six wives are too many even for Muslims, excluding those who have economic resources and titles of rank and nobility. Between the end of the fifteenth century and the middle of the sixteenth century, King Henry VIII, in order to pass on to Anne Boleyn, promulgated the Act of Supremacy, through which the Anglican Church separated from Rome, in a schism that was no longer mended. From Catherine of Aragon, passing through Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr in stories of life, culture, lineages, dynasties, religions, will, social phenomena and constrictions. In the exhibition curated by Charlotte Bolland, historical paintings by Hans Holbein and contemporary photography by Hiroshi Sugimoto under the name of portraiture.

Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award. 11 July – 27 October 2024

As announced, the Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award is back to NPG with new sponsorship. This competition showcases the very best in contemporary portraiture. It is open to everyone aged eighteen and over, in recognition of the outstanding and innovative work currently being produced by artists of all ages. Since the beginning, the award attracted over 40,000 entries from more than 100 countries and has been seen by over 6 million people. Submissions for the 2024 edition are open until 16 January 2024.

Francis Bacon Portraits. 10 October 2024 – 19 January 2025
Psychological portraits, visibly dissolved, undone, between memory and memory. No precise identification within a spendnification close to a society that finds connections from yesterday with today. Featuring over 100 works from major public and private collections, curated by Rosie Broadley, self-portraits and portraits of Bacon’s relationships such as lovers George Dyer and Peter Lacy and friends Lucian Freud and Isabel Rawsthorne.
Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize. 14 November 2024 – 23 February 2025
As announced, for the XVII year the Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize is hot to trot for a new edition: gifted amateurs, talented young photographers and established professionals inside contemporary photography. Different themes and subjects for many ways of expression in photography. The 2024 edition will see the unveiling of a new commission for the Gallery’s Collection, created by 2023’s commission prizewinner, Serena Brown. Submissions for the 2024 Prize will open in spring 2024.


©AC, NDSL, AM, Alain Chivilo

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