2019 at the National Galleries of Scotland

From the vivid abstraction of Bridget Riley to the political art of Paula Rego; from world-renowned photographers Francesca Woodman, Diane Arbus and Robert Mapplethorpe to the wide-ranging creativity of Cut and Paste: 400 Years of Collage, our 2019 Programme will energise, inspire and encourage us all to look at the world a little differently. 

Bridget Riley, Blaze 1, 1962 © Bridget Riley 2018. All rights reserved.

Bridget Riley

15 June - 22 September at the Royal Scottish Academy

This is the first major survey of Bridget Riley’s work to be held in the UK for 16 years, and the first of its scale to be staged in Scotland. Over the course of a remarkable career, which has spanned seven decades, Bridget Riley has developed a unique visual language, creating compelling abstract paintings which explore the fundamental nature of perception.  Through her observations of the natural world, her experience of looking at the work of other artists, and through her own experimentation, Riley has made a deep, personal investigation into the act of painting, and of how we see. At its heart, her work explores the ways in which we learn through looking, using a purely abstract language of simple shapes, forms and colour to create sensations of light, space, volume, rhythm and movement.  The exhibition will trace developments throughout Riley’s career, right up to her latest works.

Natalia Goncharova, Costume Design for One of the Three Kings in 'La Liturgie', 1915, © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2018.

Cut and Paste: 400 Years of Collage

29 June - 27 October at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Occupying the whole of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Modern Two during the summer, Cut and Paste is, remarkably, the first survey exhibition of collage ever to take place anywhere in the world.

Collage is often described as a twentieth-century invention, but this show spans a period of more than 400 years and includes more than 250 works.  

A huge range of styles, techniques and approaches is on show, from sixteenth-century anatomical ‘flap prints’, to computer-based images; work by amateur, professional and unknown artists; including works by Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Kurt Schwitters, Joan Miró, Hannah Höch, Max Ernst, Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Nevelson, Andy Warhol, Peter Blake, Carollee Schneemann, Linder, Hannah Wilke, Jamie Reid and Terry Gilliam.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Self Portrait, 1988, ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.

ARTIST ROOMS: Woodman, Arbus and Mapplethorpe

6 April - 20 October at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

With a particular focus on self-portraiture and representation, this show presents three of the twentieth century’s most influential photographers and explores the connections and similarities between these three Americans, each of whom produced bodies of work that were revolutionary, ground-breaking and at times controversial.

Francesca Woodman began exploring self-identity through photography at 13 years old and continued to experiment and develop her practice in the following decade, until her tragically early death in 1981. Her photographs speak to her agency in being both the subject and creator of the work. Drawing from the significant holding of Diane Arbus within ARTIST ROOMS, the exhibition will include the limited-edition portfolio, A Box of Ten Photographs (1969-1971), which was selected by Arbus herself and as such, can be seen as representing her creative expression and how she wished to be seen as a photographer. Finally, a series of portraits of Robert Mapplethorpe explores the photographer’s varying personas, as expressed for the camera, and poignantly document his declining health as a result of having contracted AIDS. The exhibition will occur during the 30-year anniversary of his death.

John D. Stephen, Dawn of Light and Liberty..

The MacKinnon Collection

15 November 2019 - 16 February 2020 at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

An unparalleled collection of Scottish photography recently acquired jointly by the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Library of Scotland and amassed by collector Murray MacKinnon, The MacKinnon Collection documents Scottish life and identity from the 1840s through to the 1940s.

It brilliantly transports us back to a century of changing rural communities, growing cities and enduring historic sites, but also illuminates the faces and places that continue to affect our lives today.

Roger Hiorns, Untitled, 2012, © the artist.


1 June - 22 September 2019 at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

The fifth instalment in our contemporary art series is centred on a major survey of work by Anya Gallaccio. The Paisley-born artist, who was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2003 and was a prominent figure in the Young British Artists generation, is renowned for her spectacular installations and sculptures. Using all kinds of organic materials, including trees, flowers, candles, sand and ice, she creates temporary works that change over time as they are subjected to natural processes of transformation and decay. Gallaccio also makes more permanent artworks in bronze, ceramics, stainless steel and stone that attempt to capture or arrest these processes. Exploring themes of change, growth and decay, some of the other artists appearing in NOW are Turner Prize nominee Roger Hiorns, the French artist Aurélien Froment and Scottish artist Charles Avery.

Paula Rego, Angel, 1998, Ostrich Arts Limited © Paula Rego, Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

Paula Rego

23 November 2019 - April 2020

This is an ambitious retrospective of the Portuguese artist’s work that brings politics to the fore. Spanning Rego’s career from the 1950s through to 2012, the works in this exhibition address António de Oliveira Salazar’s fascist regime, the 1997 referendum on legalising abortion in Portugal, the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the United States and its allies and, from 2009, female genital mutilation – all of which resonate strongly with contemporary feminist and political issues.

Norman McBeath, Audrey's Hands, 2017. © Norman McBeath and Audrey Grant

The Long Look

25 May - 27 October at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The Long Look is a collaboration between the painter Audrey Grant and the photographer and printmaker Norman McBeath. It explores the art of portraiture beyond the conventional artist and sitter relationship, revealing what became a unique creative exchange between the two artists.

By Mark Robertson, 28 November 2018