Edinburgh Art Festival Top Ten Shows to See

1 Andy Warhol: A Celebration of Life… and Death, National Gallery Complex, until October 7, £8/£6

Marking the 20th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s death, the National Galleries have attracted 200 of the artist’s best works to Edinburgh, many of them straight from the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor and Elvis Presley will all feature, as well as Warhol’s famous Brillo Boxes. Part of a record £400,000 sponsorship deal with Bank of Scotland, the show will fill two floors of the gallery’s exhibition space on The Mound.

The most comprehensive Warhol show ever mounted in Scotland, the exhibition will cover a broad range of work from the early 1950s to 1986, revealing the artist’s deep-seated obsession with life and death. Silver Clouds, a roomful of floating helium balloons, will be included in the display, and there will be a special recreation of Warhol's 1983 Zurich exhibition, Paintings for Children, hung at child's eye level.

Elsewhere, Edinburgh College of Art will present a programme of films by and on Warhol (August 4 – September 9, free), and in Glasgow, the Gallery of Modern Art will show a special exhibition of 125 original Warhol posters (until September 2, free).

2 The Naked Portrait, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, until September 2, £6/£4

Looking forward to a sizzling summer, the Portrait Gallery has bared all with a stunning collection of naked portraits from around the world. Taking in 150 works of 20th century art and photography, it’s the gallery’s first ever show to take up two whole floors. Lucian Freud and Egon Schiele rub shoulders with Tracey Emin and David Bailey in this long, hard stare at an overlooked genre. Whether you want to wrap your mind around some meaty issues, or simply gaze with admiration, there’s plenty here to satisfy.

3 Picasso on Paper, Dean Gallery, Until September 23, £6/£4

Never before has there been a major Picasso exhibition in Scotland, and like buses, suddenly two have come along at once. While the National Museum of Scotland hosts the artist’s ceramics, the Dean gallery has landed a cornucopia of the best prints and drawings made by Picasso over a career which spanned 70 years. The Staatsgalerie Stuttgart has lent 100 graphic works from its world-renowned collection, supplemented by 25 more from public and private collections. All of Picasso’s styles are represented, including his Blue Period, Cubism, Surrealism and collage.

4 Hand, Heart and Soul, City Art Centre, until September 23, £5/£3.50

Considering the massive contribution Scotland made to the Arts and Crafts movement a century ago, it’s amazing that this is the first major show devoted to it. Three floors are crammed with 350 precious objects, all hand-made for the sake of beauty, craft, and making the world a better place. Fighting against the spiritual emptiness of the new “mechanical age”, artists devoted their hand, heart and soul to making exquisite textiles, ceramics, furniture and much more. Look out for showstopping examples by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Phoebe Anna Traquair.

5 Richard Long: Walking And Marking, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, until October 21, £6/£4

The first major retrospective in 16 years of one of the world’s best known land artists, this show was selected and arranged by Richard Long himself. He makes the most of the Gallery of Modern Art’s elegant corridors, alternately lining them with neat series of framed photographs, and walloping them with copious quantities of Firth of Forth mud. Dating back to the start of Long’s career in 1967, the show also includes new works both indoors and out, from the man who turned walking into an artform.

6 Eight Days Project, Ingleby Gallery, ongoing, free

To celebrate its 10th birthday, Ingleby kicks off an unusual year of exhibitions during the festival, promising an ambitious 26 shows over the next 12 months. More a series of artistic conversations than exhibitions, each eight-day event will introduce an unexpected pairing. The festival period sees David Batchelor setting his work against that of Russian Suprematist Nikolai Suetin (August 11-18); American minimalist Richard Serra in combination with photographer Francesca Woodman (August 25 to September 1); and perhaps most intriguing of all, this week sculptor Rachel Whiteread will share space with Robert Burns’s breakfast table (until August 4).

7 William Eggleston – Portraits 1974, until October 14, Inverleith House, free

A roll of film taken in 1974 by “the father of colour photography” is to be seen for the very first time this summer at Inverleith House. Born in Memphis, William Eggleston is renowned for his colour photographs of America’s deep South, monumentalising everyday subjects. It was in 1973 that Eggleston started experimenting with commercial colour processes, and this roll of film comes only a year into that crucial period of Eggleston’s career. The photographs have been printed for the very first time, and arranged in the gallery by Eggleston himself.

8 MAGAZINE 07, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, August 4-26, free

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop has come out of its shell for this year’s festival show. Twelve artists have been commissioned to make works for the building’s exterior, its garden, and the surrounding area of Newhaven, and music has been commissioned from artist group FOUND. A host of events will kick off with Anthony Schrag climbing the building on August 4, and a miniature boat race through Leith on August 5. At the Shore, The Lighthouse will be transformed, charging from the sun by day, and emitting a ghostly glow at night.

9 David Batchelor: Unplugged, until September 29, Talbot Rice Gallery, free

Following on from his successful interventions at the old Royal High School last year, David Batchelor returns for a full-scale solo exhibition at the University’s Talbot Rice Gallery. Known for his illuminated sculptures made from cheap urban plastic, this time he’s showing them “unplugged”, basted in light from the gallery’s usually hidden windows. His hoards of garish urban detritus – gathered in London’s East End and from Scottish cities – are united in a forest of unnatural colour, a far cry from the gallery’s usually tasteful hues.

10 William Kentridge Prints, Edinburgh Printmakers, until September 8, free

The celebrated South African artist, known particularly for his work in theatre, drawing and animation, is represented by a host of prints never seen in Scotland before. Working in a wide variety of traditional print-making techniques, Kentridge explores his country’s painful recovery from the wounds of apartheid. The show includes classics such as the Ubu Tells The Truth suite, as well as several brand new series seen here for the first time. It’s all topped off by an award-winning documentary on the artist, including excerpts from his bewitching animations.

Catrìona Black, Sunday Herald 29.07.07