Matisse Comes to London, Plus More Great Art Shows for April

The city's galleries spring forth with art, from Matisse's cut-outs to Italian fashion and Jean Paul Gaultier.

From a new exhibition championing cut outs by Henri Matisse, we also take a look at some Italian glamour, contemporary art and striking photography – all new exhibitions in London opening in April.

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs (Tate Modern)

When Matisse was diagnosed with intestinal cancer and confined to a wheelchair in 1941, he found himself unable to paint. Instead, he began creating pieces using cut paper shapes painted in bright colours. He arranged them with meticulous care until he achieved just the right balance, and were sometimes striking in their simplicity. They weren't universally popular at the time; looking back it chould be said to have predated pop art by a decade. Matisse felt he had created a whole new medium. In this major new exhibition at Tate Modern (from 17 April) you can see the famous collection of Blue Nudes, plus The Snail – and many more.

Henri Matisse (1869-1964), photographer Lydia Delectorskaya © Succession Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse late in his career (photo Lydia Delectorskaya ©Succession Henri Matisse)

Henri Matisse's Large Composition with Masks, 1953.
Henri Matisse's Large Composition with Masks, 1953. (©National Gallery of Art, Washington)

The Glamour Of Italian Fashion 1945-2014 (V&A)

Italian designers make up most of the famous fashion brands of all time: Armani, Versace, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana. These are just some of the brands that appear in the exhibition, The Glamour Of Italian Fashion 1945-2014, at the Victoria And Albert Museum (from 5 April). The exhibition looks at Italy’s major contribution to the way we look – and how we aspire to look. Italian fashion shot to public consciousness in the 1950s, not least through a number of Hollywood films shot in Italy at the time, when stars like Elizabeth Taylor (below) and Audrey Hepburn became advocates for the luxurious styles produced by Italian craftsmen and women. 

Elizabeth Taylor, Venice, (photo courtesy V&A)
Elizabeth Taylor wears Bulgari jewellery at the masked ball, Hotel Ca'Rezzonico, Venice, 1967

Deutsche Börse Prize (The Photographers’ Gallery)

This annual exhibition at The Photographer's Gallery, a shortlist of entries to this photojournalistic collection, pays tribute to the best photographers out there in the field whether their work is exhibited or in a publication (from 11 April). Entries include Richard Mosse, nominated for his exhibition The Enclave at Venice Biennale last year. His images of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (below) document war-related tragedies in discontinued military surveillance film, which tranforms the images into something surreal and almost macabre.

Safe From Harm, 2012, photography by Richard Mosse
Safe From Harm, taken in the Democratic Republic of Congo (©Richard Mosse)

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk (Barbican Art Gallery)

Playful, irreverent, kitsch are all words that can be used to describe the creations of Jean Paul Gaultier, and the fashion designer himself. Best known for dressing some of the most famous women of recent times including Madonna, Kylie and Rihanna, Gaultier is happy to poke fun at himself, whether as the face of his best-selling fragrances or TV presenter. This new exhibition at Barbican Art Gallery (from 9 April) covers his career from the early 1970s through to him setting out on his own in 1976. It highlights the designer’s delight in ideas of sexuality: he promoted androgynous looks, and kilt ‘skirts’ for men in the 1980s. Gaultier’s choice of models could also be said to have been ahead of its time

 Jean Paul Gaultier © Jean Paul Gaultier
Jean Paul Gaultier (©Jean Paul Gaultier)