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National Portrait Gallery plans Cézanne show to follow Alberto Giacometti

New director Nicholas Cullinan says expect to see the gallery "trying out a few new things"

A major exhibition of portraits by Paul Cézanne will open at London’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in 2017. Organised by the US curator John Elderfield, the show will span Cézanne’s career, focusing on some of his key sitters and encompassing painting and drawing. 

Nicholas Cullinan, the NPG’s new director, says that it “will be a beautiful and important exhibition. We’ve already secured some fantastic loans—the level of ambition is a really good thing.” St Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Tate are among the major lenders. The show will open at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris in summer 2017, travel to London that autumn, then head to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C..

But uppermost on Cullinan’s mind this week is the first exhibition to focus on portraits by Alberto Giacometti, which opens tomorrow (Giacometti: Pure Presence, until 10 January 2016).

Cullinan, previously a curator at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and Tate Modern is working on a ten-year plan for the institution. He says we can expect to see the institution “trying out a few new things” but it is too early to go into details. The exhibition programme will strike a balance between historic and modern portraiture. “We will have a very strong contemporary programme. We are thinking about people who have been overlooked and about people who address portraiture in different ways,” he says.