Art exhibitions to see in 2022

If your New Year’s resolution is to see more art, Margaret Hussey has rounded up some of the best exhibitions for your 2022 cultural diary.

A slice of Bacon 

Kicking off the art year with a bang is Francis Bacon: Man and Beast at the Royal Academy. The exhibition looks at the artist’s sometimes unnerving work through his fascination with animals. Running from January 29 it will include around 45 paintings spanning his career from his earliest works of the 1930s and 40s through to the last painting he ever made, Study of a Bull, before his death in 1992.

(left) Francis Bacon, Study for Chimpanzee, 1957, Oil and pastel on canvas, 152.4 x 117 cm, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice , Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York Photo: David Heald (NYC),  © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. DACS 2021 

(middle) Francis Bacon, Second Version of Triptych 1944, 1988, Oil paint and acrylic paint on 3 canvases, 198 x 147.5 cm (each), Tate: Presented by the artist 1991, © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved, DACS/Artimage 2021. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

(Right) Francis Bacon, Study for Bullfight No. 1, 1969, Oil on canvas, 198 x 147.5cm, Private collection, © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved, DACS/Artimage 2021. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd

Francis Bacon: Man and Beast is at the Royal Academy from January 29 to April 17. For more visit

All a bit surreal

Surrealism Beyond Borders at Tate Modern in February looks at how the art form has evolved over the years. Not just confined to Paris in the 20s, it will show how surrealism has a much wider reach across the world. Centres as diverse as Buenos Aires, Cairo, Lisbon, Prague, Seoul and Tokyo will be included and artists like Kaveh Golestan, Toshiko Okanoue, Leonora Carrington, and, of course, Salvador Dali.

Surrealism Beyond Borders: Credit: Leonora Carrington Self-portrait c.1937–38. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection, 2002 © 2021 Estate of Leonora Carrington / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image © Metropolitan Museum of Art

Surrealism Beyond Borders is at Tate Modern from February 24 to August 29. For more visit

Pottering about 

In a major partnership between the V&A and the National Trust, Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature celebrates the life and work of one of our best loved children’s authors. It will showcase original watercolours, drawings and manuscripts as well as personal artefacts including letters, photographs and decorative art. Looking at Potter’s extraordinary life as a natural scientist and conservationist in the Lake District, it will bring to life the places, people and animals that inspired some of her most beloved characters from Jemima Puddle-duck to Peter Rabbit.

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature runs at the V&A from February 12 to September 25. For more visit

He’s in fashion 

Fashioning Masculinities is the first major V&A exhibition to celebrate the power and diversity of masculine dressing and appearance. Looking at everything from the extravagance of the European courts to the subtle elegance of bespoke tailoring, the exhibition will trace how menswear has been fashioned and refashioned over the centuries. It will bring together contemporary looks by big names like Gucci and rising stars like Harris Reed, alongside historical treasures from the V&A’s collections and landmark loans. 

Gucci Pre-Fall 2019 Men’s Tailoring Campaign. Courtesy of Gucci | In picture – Harry Styles

Fashioning Masculinities runs at the V&A from March 19 to November 12. For more visit

New beginnings

Postwar Modern: New Art in Britain 1945-1965 at the Barbican brings together around 200 works of painting, sculpture and photography by 48 artists. Divided into fourteen sections, it looks at subjects that preoccupied artists in the postwar period from the atomic bomb to the aftermath of The Blitz. Works by Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Eduardo Paolozzi and David Hockney will be shown alongside those who fled Nazism for Britain, such as Frank Auerbach, Franciszka Themerson and Gustav Metzger. It also showcases the work of marginalised women artists like Eva Frankfurther, Gillian Ayres and Magda Cordell.

Eva Frankfurther, West Indian Waitresses, c.1955 Ben Uri Collection, presented by the artist’s sister, Beate Planskoy, 2015, © The Estate of Eva Frankfurther, photograph by Justin Piperger, courtesy Barbican Centre

Postwar Modern: New Art in Britain 1945-1965 runs from March 3 to June 26 at the Barbican. For more visit

Freudian trip 

One to put in your diary for much later this year is Lucian Freud: New Perspectives at The National Gallery. The landmark exhibition, which runs from October 1, will bring together a large selection of his most important works across seven decades – from early works such as Girl with Roses from the 1940s to Reflection with Two Children (Self-Portrait) in the 1960s.

Reflection with two children (Self-Portrait), Lucian Freud 1965. © The Lucian Freud Archive/Bridgeman Images / photo Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

Lucian Freud: New Perspectives runs from 1 October to 22 January 2023 at The National Gallery. For more visit

Stone love

Seahenge 1999 Seahenge at the time of excavation. © Wendy GeorgeWendy George’s photo of Seahenge which was discovered on Holme Beach.

The first ever major exhibition on Stonehenge kicks off at the British Museum in February. It’s incredible to think that it was built 4,500 years ago, around the same time as the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. With more than 430 objects brought together from across Europe, the exhibition will include elaborate ancient gold hats depicting the cosmos and the astonishing wooden monument – dubbed Seahenge – that recently emerged from the shiftings sands of a Norfolk beach.

Stonehenge © English Heritage

The World of Stonehenge is at the British Museum from February 17 to July 17. For more visit

French polish

Another big hitter later this year is The EY Exhibition: Cezanne at Tate Modern. Leaving Aix-en-Provence for Paris in his 20s, Cezanne’s aim was to change the rules of art. And he certainly did that. His still lifes, landscapes and paintings of bathers tore up the rule book and inspired a host of artists that followed. The exhibition in October, will feature many works shown for the first time in the UK.

Credit: Paul Cezanne. The Basket of Apples, c. 1893. The Art Institute of Chicago, Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection.

The EY Exhibition: Cezanne is at Tate Modern from October 22 to 12 March 2023. For more visit

All images: Courtesy of credited sources above | Feature image: Stonehenge © English Heritage