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What direction for modern art exhibitions?

Goeneutte's 'The Boulevard de Clichy under Snow', 1875-6 (National Gallery, London)

The Impressionists and their friends were determined to break new ground in art with their interest in painting images of the expanding modern city outdoors, capturing the fleeting weather conditions and light of the different seasons - sometimes doing so through the newly invented medium of photography.

The National Portrait Gallery this March commemorates this interest in the new art form of photography with a major new exhibition bringing together for the first time the works of four of the most celebrated figures Victorian art photographers in Britain: Lewis Carroll, Julia Margaret Cameron, Oscar Rejlander and Clementina Hawarden. Their experimental approach to picture making and radical attitudes to photography the NPG states 'have informed artistic practice ever since'.

Modern art - from the Fauvists to the Impressionists - has often been decried by the critics of the time and it raises the question of what our art galleries of today should put on as valued exhibitions. Do art galleries please the crowds or academic tastes? Funded by corporate companies and often the tax-payer, in which directions should they go? A topic which will be debated at our Art Investment and Cities Forum on 25th January.

This year the NPG is breaking with tradition and celebrating artists who have not been seen before in the gallery and who have been influenced by the music legend, Michael Jackson. This is a deliberate move to attract new audiences to the NPG.

'Michael Jackson: On the Wall', will exhibit several generations of artists across all media and will open in the summer of 2018 to coincide with what would have been the singer's 60th birthday.

The NPG regards Michael Jackson as one of the most influential cultural figures of the 20th century but feels that his influence on contemporary art is yet an untold story. Over 40 artists including Dara Bimbaum, Candice Breitz and Marvin Gaye, will be brought together from public and private collections around the world as well as new works, commissioned especially for the exhibition. The NPG hopes the exhibition will open up new avenues for thinking about art and identity, breaking down barriers in the process.

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