Arts: Young guns and old masters

The Tate London splits in two. Chardin takes on Monet's mantle. Tom Lubbock looks forward to the big art shows of the next few months

Looking ahead? In art, we always are. Not just to future art, but to future audiences - posterity, as we call them. It's a funny gambit. I do not have any particular confidence in the views of people 20 years younger than me. Why should the views of people 100 years younger carry so much authority? When we talk about art, we're forever appealing to the judgement of the unborn. But how much do we really care if somebody in, say, 2100 agrees with us or not?

A show early in the new year puts posterity in focus. The Year 1900: Art at the Crossroads opens at the Royal Academy in a couple of weeks. It surveys artistic taste exactly a century ago: 250 exhibits juxtapose the works of established favourites at that time, such as Anders Zorn and Franz von Stuck, with those of fringe figures such as Cezanne and Munch and unknowns such as Picasso and Kandinsky. Well, we know what happened next in terms of honour and oblivion. At least, we know what has happened so far. But posterity's view may change.

Look at the future of the Tate Gallery: 2000 is the year when the Tate in London divides. Next spring, the present Millbank gallery turns into Tate Britain, showing only British art. Then the new gallery at Bankside opens as Tate Modern, showing only art since 1900. British art since 1900 (if you were wondering) may turn up at either premises, and Millbank keeps the Turner Prize. But the re-organisation raises larger questions. For how long will 1900 still count as a great turning point in art? May not 1960 soon come to seem a more decisive break? The Bankside gallery may find it's founded on a historical idea - modern art - that is itself becoming history.

But enough of such timely meditations. Roll the almanac. In February, the National Gallery has two interesting old-master shows. Painted Illusions: the Art of Cornelius Gijsbrechts is a small display of eye-teasing, hand- tempting, super-real images by the 17th-century Dutch painter, including his remarkable paintings of paintings - for example a canvas that represents with perfect deception the back of a canvas. Then there's a Millennium spirituality special, Seeing Salvation: the Image of Christ, a wide-ranging look at Western art's most popular subject. It follows the man-god - newborn, dying, risen, glorified - from the earliest carvings (when he was still shown beardless) to Dali's overhead view of the crucifixion. For a stranger take on the spiritual, look to Dundee. Dream Machines is a thematic show devised by the artist Susan Hiller. Its subject is art with transformative designs on the viewer's consciousness, aiming for altered states, hallucinations and out-of-body experiences. It sounds like it would be a zone in the Dome if the Dome had any sense. It opens at Dundee Contemporary Arts in February (then tours to the Mappin Gallery, Sheffield, and Camden Arts Centre, London). At the Whitechapel Gallery is Live in Your Head: Concept and Experiment in Britain 1965-75, a vindication of the first generation of British conceptual art. Compared with much recent work, I expect it will seem an age of both innocence and peculiar sophistication.

Chardin 1699-1779, at the Royal Academy, is the year's old-master blockbuster. It runs from March to May. The work of this still-life artist is a landmark in the history of subject matter and of paint. His pictures insist that the most modest and minimal subject - a glass of water and three bulbs of garlic - is sufficient to make a picture. They are also works where the visible body of the oil-paint takes the stage. Chardin's alchemy is to make the substance of the paint seem to become the substance of the thing depicted. His pictures are small and can take a lot of contemplation. And any individual viewer may hope that during this show the RA will be - quite unjustly - almost deserted. Monet-sized levels of attendance would make the experience pointless.

The year 2000 brings the British Art Show round again, now for the fifth time. It is a five-yearly overview of the current state of British art. The interval is long enough for one usually to forget that there is such a thing at all. The British Art Show 5 features more than 50 artists and opens in April, in Edinburgh, at seven of the city's main art galleries. It will require a dedicated viewer. And the survey looks partial, not to say whimsical, not to say dodgy. Younger talents, some extremely thin, are mixed with an odd selection of older figures (Paula Rego, Art & Language). Well, it's just what the three selectors like. And if it was an annual show with a less imposing title, who could quibble? It tours - to Southampton in June, Cardiff in September and Birmingham in November.

The French/American sculptor Louise Bourgeois is now nearly 90 and a unique figure. At its best, her work - using every material from marble to wool - stages existential-cum-womanist themes with extraordinary directness and theatricality. She has had several exhibitions in the UK, but never quite had the showing here she deserves. Perhaps she will now. The Bankside Tate Gallery of Modern Art opens in May, with Bourgeois as its first big temporary show, though it is not the retrospective it would be so good to see, but a special project for the gallery.

Meanwhile, at the other Tates this spring... At the Millbank Tate, a show marking the centenary of John Ruskin's death, Ruskin, Turner and the Pre- Raphaelites; at the St Ives Tate, a show of two important modern naives, one Cornish and one Irish, Alfred Wallis and James Dixon; at the Liverpool Tate, recent work by the British sculptor of odd and heavy objects, Tony Cragg.

At the Walker Gallery in Liverpool you can see Constable's Clouds, the artist's high-speed painted snapshots of bits of sky. It opens in April, then goes to the National Gallery of Scotland in August. In June, the Imperial War Museum opens its permanent Holocaust Exhibition.

Forecasts for later months must be hazier. The Iranian artist Shirin Neshat, whose video installation Turbulence caused quite a stir this year, gets two simultaneous and presumably slightly different shows this summer - one at the Serpentine Gallery in London, the other at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh. At the Ikon in Birmingham you can see new revisions of romantic landscape by Mariele Neudecker.

Then there start to be shows that do not finish until the year 2001. It feels a little strange just writing that calmly down, somehow beyond plausible prediction. Still, I suppose there will be an interesting-sounding exhibition in the autumn at the Hayward Gallery, called Know Thyself: the Art & Science of the Human Body, which will be about what it says it will be about, from Leonardo to the present. And I really hope there will be the promised end-of-the-year show at the Millbank Tate, a William Blake retrospective. OK, there's a sense in which he couldn't really draw. But the more you look at it, the more extraordinary Blake's art seems. If there were to be any real Millennium experience in London, Blake would obviously be its presiding genius. Very right to remember him now.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform