Top Ten London Art Shows, September 2017


September upon us so that means there’s a lot of change in galleries as new shows start to open. With that in mind, the vast Alberto Giacometti retrospective at Tate Modern closes September 10th in advance of the Modigliani show that opens in November in its place. It’s highly unlikely we will ever see such a fascinating and comprehensive show on this great painter-sculptor in our lifetimes so please don’t miss it.

Also closing on September 10th is Grayson Perry’s popular show at the Serpentine Gallery so if you’re a fan of the man and his work, much of which has been developed as part of his recent television programmes, then get over to Hyde Park in the next couple of weeks.

But there is much to enjoy in galleries across the city this month, with new shows in the big galleries, such as the National Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern, as well as some cracking smaller – and free! – shows in the independent galleries around town.

So, whatever your budget, there is an art show for you somewhere!

Matisse in the Studio, Royal Academy

What a glorious show this is. You can always rely on Matisse to bring the energy and the colour and all of that is present in the sixty or so artworks that have been brought together for this small exhibition at the RA. But, interestingly, these paintings, sculptures and cut-outs are shown alongside objects from Matisse’s personal collection that either inspired the work, or are directly included in the final painting, whether that be a glass vase or a chair, or even a rug he bought in Morocco or an African mask he shared with Picasso. This is a great show that examines creative inspiration as well as offering the opportunity to see works rarely seen in the UK. Closes November 12th. Admission £14 (without donation). Concessions available.

Dreamers Awake, White Cube Bermondsey

Galleries are beginning to go out of their way now to platform female artists. It’s overdue but the response is welcome and certainly the results are worthwhile as we have been treated to some fantastic shows such as this one at White Cube in Bermondsey. Taking the influence of Surrealism as its anchor, this show examines how this genre has influenced female artists from the 1930s to the present day. With works from such big names as Mona Hatoum, Linder, Cindy Sherman, Francesca Woodman, Leonara Carrington, as well as a rare collaboration between Tracey Emin and Louise Bourgeois, this is a terrific testament to the ideas and innovation of female artists. Closes September 17th. Admission free.

Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines, The Photographers Gallery

Cathedral of the Pines is the most recent body of work by acclaimed American photographer, Gregory Crewdson. With this series, Gregory returns to the uncanny suburban subjects, and explores more natural environments. In images that recall nineteenth-century American and European paintings, Gregory photographs figures posing within the small rural town of Becket, Massachusetts, and its vast surrounding forests, including the actual trail from which the series takes its title. Interior scenes charged with ambiguous narratives probe tensions between human connection and separation, intimacy and isolation. These are haunting images with a real dystopian feel to them. Closes October 8th.  Admission £4 (concessions available)

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, Tate Modern

What did it mean to be a Black artist in America during the Civil Rights movement and the birth of Black Power? That is the big question at the heart of this landmark show at the Tate Modern. Certainly, the shadow of injustice and politics weighed heavy on many Black artists at the time, and there are some profoundly affecting pieces on display from the likes of David Hammons that brim with righteous anger. But this show also includes work from those Black artists who were reluctant to be confined, even burdened, with an expectation to be political, hence there’s a great exploration of those artists who worked with abstraction, such as Frank Bowling, and those such as Roy DeCarava and Lorraine O’Grady who were fascinated with the creation of a Black aesthetic in photography and challenging representation in this medium. A diverse and exciting show. Closes October 22nd. Admission £15 (without donation). Concessions available.

Rachel Whiteread, Tate Britain

I love Rachel Whiteread. I find her works challenging and exciting. The first woman to win the Turner Prize (which she did in 1993), she is one of the finest sculptors working today. And this new show at Tate Britain will examine her work over the previous twenty-five years, and will include some of her more famous pieces, such as Untitled (100 Spaces), 1995, and Untitled (Staircase), 2001, alongside new pieces that have never been previously exhibited. This should be thrilling. Certainly, the Tate has invested a lot of time and effort in reconfiguring the galleries to be able to accommodate her works. Opens September 12th. Admission £15 (without donation). Concessions available.

Basquiat: Boom for Real, Barbican Centre

A much-anticipated show, this one. Basquiat: Boom for Real is the first large-scale exhibition in the UK of the work of American artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat, who came of age in the post-punk underground art scene in Lower Manhattan in the late 1970s with his vibrant, raw imagery. Since his tragically premature death in 1988, Basquiat has had remarkably little exposure in the UK – there is not a single work in a public collection here. Drawing from international museums and private collections, Basquiat: Boom for Real will bring together an outstanding selection of more than a hundred works, many never before seen in Britain. Opens September 21st. Admission £16 (concessions available).

Jasper Johns, Royal Academy of Arts

Well, here we are: the first ever comprehensive survey of Jasper Johns’ work to be held in the UK in forty years, and it promises to be a cracker. The RA is collating over 150 works for this show, including sculpture, drawings and prints, as well as new work from the great man himself. Jasper is widely recognised as one of the most significant and influential artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and this show will span over sixty years from his early career, right up to the present time, bringing together artworks that rarely travel from international private and public collections. Opens September 23rd. Admission £17 (without donation). Concessions available.

Martin Puryear, Parasol Unit

If you enjoyed the more abstract works in Soul of a Nation (and why wouldn’t you?) then you may be interested in this, the first solo show in the UK for Martin Puryear whose works is also included in the Tate exhibition. The Parasol exhibition spans almost forty years of the American artist’s career and will present over thirty works, including large-scale sculpture, woodblock prints and etchings. Martin’s works combine traditional craft with modernist abstraction. His often monumental structures are informed by ordinary objects created from a diverse range of materials including wood, stone, bronze and iron. Over the last thirty years, he has created a body of work embedded with cultural influences that examine identity and history. Opens September 19th. Admission free.

Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell, National Gallery

The Burrell Collection holds one of the greatest collections of Degas’s works in the world. Rarely seen in public, this exhibition marks the first time the group of twenty pastels has been shown outside of Scotland, since they were acquired. One of the greatest artistic innovators of his age, Degas found new ways of depicting modern Parisian life; pursuing a vision distinct from that of his fellow Impressionists. He also relentlessly experimented with materials, particularly pastel that he came to prefer over oil paint. Coinciding with the centenary of Degas’s death, and including complementary works from the National Gallery Collection, the exhibition offers unique insight into the practices and preoccupations of a complex and intensely private artist. Opens September 20th. Admission free.

Eleanor Antin: Romans & Kings, Richard Saltoun Gallery

Romans & Kings is the first exhibition in London of the pioneering American Feminist filmmaker, performance and conceptual artist, Eleanor Antin. A key figure of conceptual art movements of the 1970s, Eleanor’s ground-breaking practice spans five decades and has covered themes surrounding identity, gender, autobiography, class and social structures. Her multi-disciplinary approach includes installation, painting, drawing, writing and most notably photography and performance. Rearticulating historical narratives, both real and fictitious, she explores the tropes of feminist and conceptual art. Today as an octogenarian artist, she remains one of the world’s leading Feminist artists. In addition, Eleanor will present a solo performance at the Serpentine Gallery on Friday 15 September. Opens September 22nd. Admission free.

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