National Portrait Gallery exhibitions announced ahead of June 2023 reopening

The National Portrait Gallery has today announced the lineup of major exhibitions it will host when it reopens on 22 June 2023. 

Yevonde national portrait gallery

The slate showcases work across photography, painting and drawing. New work from David Hockney, paintings by Michael Armitage, unseen portraits of The Beatles and the work of Julia Margaret Cameron and Francesca Woodman are among the highlights going on show. 

When the National Portrait Gallery reopens this summer, it will do so after the largest redevelopment in its history

national portrait gallery david hockney

Self Portrait, 22nd November 2021 by David Hockney, Acrylic on canvas © David Hockney, Photo Credit: Jonathan Wilkinson.

The gallery’s director, Dr Nicholas Cullinan, said: “We can’t wait to open again as we welcome visitors into the new National Portrait Gallery on 22 June. Our programme of exhibitions for our first year presents some of the world’s best known artists in a fresh light, contains extraordinary and never-before-seen images, uncovers the work of remarkable innovators, charts important cultural terrain and showcases the greatest contemporary portraiture. 

“I am delighted to be working with such a range of incredible artists and supportive organisations to deliver our most ambitious and innovative programme to date, as we make sure the new National Portrait Gallery is more alive and exciting than ever.”

michael armitage national portrait gallery reopening exhibition photo 3

Kampala Suburb by Michael Armitage (2014). Oil on Lubugo bark cloth © Michael Armitage. Photo © White Cube (Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd)

Tickets for the Summer 2023 exhibitions are available to book in advance from today at npg.org.uk

The full list of exhibitions confirmed at the National Portrait Gallery over the next 18 months can be found below. 

Yevonde national portrait gallery

Vivien Leigh by Yevonde (1936, printed 2022-3), purchased with the Portrait Fund, 2021 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Yevonde: Life and Colour
22 June – 15 October 2023

The first exhibition to open as part of the Gallery’s 2023 programme will explore the life and career of the twentieth century photographer, Yevonde, who pioneered the use of colour photography in the 1930s. Yevonde: Life and Colour (22 June – 15 October 2023) will survey the portraits and still-life works that the artist produced throughout her sixty year career, positioning Yevonde as a trailblazer in the history of British portrait photography.

Supported by the CHANEL Culture Fund, the exhibition builds on Reframing Narratives: Women in Portraiture, a major three-year project that aims to enhance the representation of women in the Gallery’s Collection. Reflecting the growing independence of women at that time, this exhibition will focus on the freedom photography afforded Yevonde, who became an innovator in new techniques, experimenting with solarisation and the Vivex colour process. Yevonde: Life and Colour will include new prints and present discoveries, made possible through the research, cataloguing and digitisation of Yevonde’s archive, acquired by the Gallery in 2021.

national portrait gallery reopening exhibition photo 3 paul mccartney

Self-portraits in a mirror. Paris, 1964 © 1964 Paul McCartney.

Paul McCartney Photographs 1963-64: Eyes of the Storm
28 June – 1 October 2023

In the week that follows the Gallery’s reopening, the National Portrait Gallery is proud to present the major exhibition, Paul McCartney Photographs 1963-64: Eyes of the Storm (28 June – 1 October 2023). This unprecedented display that will share, for the first time, an extraordinary archive of rediscovered and never-before-seen photographs taken by Paul McCartney. Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, this exhibition will focus on the portraits captured by McCartney using his own camera between December 1963 and February 1964, the period in which John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were propelled from being the most popular band in Britain to an international cultural phenomenon.

Drawn from McCartney’s own archive, this exhibition provides a uniquely personal and never-before-seen perspective on what it was like to be a ‘Beatle’ at the start of ‘Beatlemania’ – from gigs in Liverpool and London to performing on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York to an unparalleled television audience of 73 million people. At a time when so many camera lenses were on the band, these photographs will share fresh insight into their experiences, their fans and the early 1960s, all through eyes of Paul McCartney.

national portrait gallery david hockney

Celia, Carennac, August 1971 by David Hockney, Colored pencil on paper © David Hockney, Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt, Collection The David Hockney Foundation

David Hockney: Drawing from Life
2 November 2023 – 21 January 2024

The Gallery’s autumn programme will see the return of the critically acclaimed exhibition, David Hockney: Drawing from Life (2 November 2023 – 21 January 2024), which was staged for just 20 days before the Gallery’s closure due to Covid in March 2020. Recognised as one of the great draughtsmen of all time and a champion of the practice, drawing has been a constant for Hockney.

The exhibition explores the artist’s work over the last six decades through his intimate portraits of five sitters: his mother, Celia Birtwell, Gregory Evans, Maurice Payne and the artist himself. His familiarity with the sitters enables him to work with a range of mediums and styles, from pencil, pen and ink and crayon, to photographic collage and the iPad. The 2023 exhibition will also debut a selection of new portraits, which depict friends and visitors to the artist’s Normandy studio between 2020 and 2022.

national portrait gallery

Vogue House by Frederic Aranda (October 2021) © Frederic Aranda

Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize
9 November 2023 – 25 February 2024

The Gallery’s annual Photographic Portrait Prize will be renamed the Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize (9 November 2023 – 25 February 2024) to mark the exhibition’s return to the Gallery after two years at Cromwell Place. As one of the leading photography awards in the world, the Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize showcases the work of some of the most exciting and cutting-edge contemporary photographers.

The competition is open to everyone aged 18 and over, whether professional, a talented amateur or an exciting emerging artist. Photographers are encouraged to interpret ‘portrait’ in its widest sense, with ‘photography focused on portraying people with an emphasis on their identity as individuals.’ The winner of the competition will receive £15,000, with second prize receiving £3,000 and third prize £2,000. 

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Untitled (Painter) by Kerry James Marshall, 2009, Acrylic on PVC, Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Katherine S. Schamberg by exchange, 2009.15. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

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

In February 2024, the Gallery will stage a major survey of African diasporic artists working in the UK and America, whose work in painting and drawing foregrounds the Black figure. Curated by Ekow Eshun, former Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Time is Always Now: Artists Reframe the Black Figure (22 February – 19 May 2024) will showcase the work of contemporary artists including Hurvin Anderson, Michael Armitage, Jordan Casteel, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Noah Davis, Lubaina Himid, Claudette Johnson, Titus Kaphar, Kerry James Marshall, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Amy Sherald, Henry Taylor and Barbara Walker.

Celebrating artists who work with figuration as a means of illuminating the richness and complexity of Black life, this exhibition will consider how artists depict the Black form, both against a social backdrop of high cultural visibility and continued social vulnerability, as well as to address the absence of Black presence within Western art history. Within this context, exhibited portraits will examine the aesthetic, psychological and political considerations involved in representing blackness.

Julia Margaret Cameron national portrait gallery reopening exhibition photo 1

L-R: Sadness (Ellen Terry) by Julia Margaret Cameron (DETAIL) (1864) Albumen silver print. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 84.XZ.186.52

national portrait gallery reopening exhibition photo 2 francesca woodman

Polka Dot #5, Providence, Rhode Island by Francesca Woodman (1976) Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Woodman Family Foundation © Woodman Family Foundation / DACS, London.

Francesca Woodman and Julia Margaret Cameron: Portraits to Dream In 
21 March – 30 June 2024 

The final exhibition within the National Portrait Gallery’s year-long programme will be Francesca Woodman and Julia Margaret Cameron: Portraits to Dream In (21 March – 30 June 2024). This new exhibition will juxtapose the lives and work of two of the most important and influential practitioners in the history of photography. Showcasing more than 150 rare vintage prints, the exhibition will span the entire career of both artists – who worked 100 years apart – and include examples of both their best known and less familiar work. In ways that tantalisingly intersect and diverge, portraiture was fundamentally important to the artistic project of both women.

This exhibition will explore the idea that Woodman and Cameron share an engagement with portraiture as a ‘dream space’. The title makes reference to the idea that these photographic portraits are not intended to mimic reality, but conjure notions of imagination, beauty, symbolism, transformation and storytelling. Considering both artists in a different light, Francesca Woodman and Julia Margaret Cameron: Portraits to Dream In will propose new ways of appreciating and thinking about the artists, portraiture and the relationships between 19th and 20th century photographic practices.


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