1 A Perfect Chemistry
David Octavius Hill was already well established as a Scottish painter when he met the chemist Robert Adamson in Edinburgh in 1843. Adamson had started experimenting with the new science of photography and he and Hill started using the camera to make serious portraits. They started with Edinburgh dignitaries but soon went on to photograph the fishing community of Newhaven. Their haunting images are the first masterpieces of social reportage.
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, 27 May to 1 October
2 Marc Quinn
Flayed figures that are half-Greek statue, half-anatomical diagram are scattered like a serial killer’s victims through the shadowy spaces of Sir John Soane’s house. They fit well into the morbid atmosphere of this marvellous Georgian collection, among such permanent exhibits as an Egyptian sarcophagus, Hogarth’s painting of Bedlam and a gothic parlour in which to sit and tell ghost stories. Quinn’s macabre imagination has found its home.
Sir John Soane’s Museum, WC2, 27 May to 23 September
3 Canaletto and the Art of Venice
The paintings of Canaletto are time capsules that preserve the sights of 18th-century Venice. Gondolas on the Grand Canal, bewigged people promenading in St Mark’s Square: the life of the city is surveyed with observant elegance in his precise vision. There is plenty of humanity in his art, yet its real star is the city, its architecture suspended so magically between water and sky.
The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, SW1, to 12 November
4 Judy Chicago
The artist renowned for her installation The Dinner Party (1974-79), the first explicitly feminist artwork to win mass fame, celebrates an earlier pop icon, the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. She marks the 50th anniversary of the album with a mural called Fixing a Hole, playing with the psychedelic hues of the 60s to turn a grain silo at Stanley Dock into a colossal work of art. Will there be tangerine skies?
Grain Silo, Stanley Dock, Liverpool, 29 May to 30 June
5 Artists’ Film International
From the plight of Mediterranean migrants to the story of a block of marble from a Chinese quarry, this is a survey of the state of artists’ film across the planet, featuring Adrian Paci, Cengiz Tekin, Laura Horelli, Nina Lassila, Agnese Luse, Eléonore de Montesquiou and more. The mood is more documentary than poetic, surely reflecting the sobriety of our strange days.
Whitechapel Art Gallery, E1, 30 May to 30 July