19 unmissable London art exhibitions to see this Autumn
Every autumn, London’s arts calendar ramps up a notch. There are art fairs and festivals, events and openings, plus of course it’s traditionally when the capital’s finest galleries and museums put on their blockbuster art exhibitions – and 2022 is no exception. From book-a-ticket-now retrospectives on Lucian Freud and Paul Cezanne to deep-dives into South Korean popular culture and the genre of horror, London excels on the cultural front this season. Here is everything you need to know about the must-see London art exhibitions to see this autumn.
Carolee Schneemann: Body Politics
Barbican Art Gallery
Until 8 January 2023
From sexual expression and the objectification of women to human suffering and the catastrophe of war, American interdisciplinary artist Carolee Schneemann never shied away from addressing the issues of our times. This major exhibition – the first since her death in 2019 – brings together over 300 pieces spanning Schneemann’s extraordinary six-decade career, including early paintings; experimental sculptural assemblages; pioneering performance work in which she used her own body as a medium; as well as her lyrical films and immersive multimedia installations. A true celebration of a boundary-pushing creative.
Until 14 November
Maryland-born, Ghent-based mixed-media artist Nokukhanya Langa brings over 20 new paintings to Saatchi Yates for this solo show. Her large-scale vibrant canvases – all colour, swirls and shapes – shift back and forth between figuration and abstraction as they delve into the world of modern media and internet culture. This new series, says Langa, has popular culture and image collecting at its heart. “I see paintings as a laptop that has a lot of tabs open: one painting can be really quiet, or loud, or eccentric, and still all come together in one collection.”
Zadie Xa: House Gods, Animal Guides And Five Ways 2 Forgiveness
Until 30 April 2023
This is Korean Canadian artist Zadie Xa’s largest solo exhibition in London to date, commissioned by the Whitechapel Gallery. Working across multiple mediums, Xa often draws on her own experience to explore cultural conflation, systems of power, home and belonging. For this show, she has created a site-specific and immersive installation in which a new body of paintings, sculptures, textile works, suspended marionettes and masks are all positioned within a large-scale structure inspired by a traditional Korean home known as a hanok. Immersive lighting and audio complete the effect.
Until 16 April
Tate Modern’s new show brings together the sculptures of Maria Bartuszová (many hitherto rarely seen on these shores). The Prague-born Slovak artist created some 500 sculptures during her lifetime, which is remarkable considering the restrictions on her artistic life in Košice, the second-largest city in Slovakia. This exhibition traces back to the 1960s, when she began to develop her distinct method of casting white plaster by hand and pouring it into rubber balloons, resulting in the abstract, delicate works for which she is so revered.
M.K. Ciurlionis: Between Worlds
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Until 12 March 2023
In its move to introduce lesser-known artists to UK audiences, DPG turns its attention to Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis (1875-1911), who is often cited as Lithuania’s greatest artist. Ciurlionis’s career may have been short, but it was prolific and there are more than 100 of his works in this exhibition. Highlighting the breadth of his interests – particularly his fascination with mankind’s relationship with the universe – this show positions Ciurlionis as a singular figure in the history of modern art whose ethereal works – which sit between mythology and reality – were precursors of abstract painting.
Kaffe Fassett: The Power Of Pattern
Fashion and Textile Museum
Until 12 March 2023
One of the most successful and influential artists working in contemporary craft today, textile designer Kaffe Fassett’s name is synonymous with colour, pattern and texture. In recognition of his extraordinary talent, the Fashion and Textile Museum brings together a wealth of his original pieces, which give an insight into Fassett’s kaleidoscopic world. This is a fascinating tale of Fassett’s five-decade career, in which he has devoted himself to the worlds of knitting, needlepoint, patchwork, painting and drawing, earning an MBE in 2018 in the process.
Rene Matic: Upon This Rock
South London Gallery
Until 27 November
The London-based artist, writer and poet Rene Matíc continues their long-term exploration of ‘Britishness’ with their new solo exhibition upon this rock. Addressing the themes of subculture, faith and family, the exhibition features a number of new pieces including an installation of bronze and wood sculptures focusing on ‘the crucified skinhead’ (Matic’s work often references the Skinhead movement that emerged in the mid-1960s), as well as a new film work centring on the artist’s father and new images from their ongoing photography series entitled flags for countries that don’t exist but bodies that do.
Royal Academy of Arts
Until 11 December
Specifically curated for the RA, this major exhibition celebrates the forty-year career of South Africa’s most famous living artist and Honorary Royal Academician William Kentridge. Expect to see Kentridge’s finest pieces from the 1980s to the present day displayed across the Main Galleries, including rarely seen drawings, animated films, a mechanical theatre, sculptures, tapestries and performance pieces. Some are semi-autobiographical, others highlight the “inequities, barbarity and absurdities of the modern world” with a particular focus on the post-colonial legacy across the African continent. One not to miss.
Hallyu! The Korean Wave
Victoria & Albert Museum
Until 25 June 2023
When you think of the impact of South Korean popular culture, it’s hard to believe there hasn’t been a major exhibition about it before. The V&A’s autumn blockbuster delves into the phenomenon of “hallyu” aka the “Korean Wave”, which rose to prominence in the 1990s and has since touched every corner of the world. There’ll be K-Pop costumes, K-drama props and posters, photography, sculpture, fashion and video, including outfits from the hit Netflix series Squid Game and the original pink tux worn by PSY (who can ever forget his viral 2012 hit single Gangnam Style?), art works by Nam June Paik, fashion by Tchai Kim and Miss Sohee and an original poster from the Seoul Olympics.
30 September - 19 February 2023
A thought-provoking exhibition that traces the stories of more than a dozen children from the African and Asian diasporas who were in the care of the 18th-century Foundling Hospital in London (the hospital was a place that cared for abandoned children). Personal items, artefacts, works of art and archival documents provide an insight into London life from 1739-1820, not only telling the story of these young children and why they were admitted to the hospital but also building a bigger picture of colonial Britain at this time.
Lucian Freud: New Perspectives
The National Gallery
1 October - 22 January 2023
In what is Lucian Freud’s centenary year (he was born in December 1922), this major Credit Suisse exhibition sheds new light on arguably one of the most storied figurative painters of the 20th century. The show – the first major presentation of Freud’s oeuvre in over a decade – spans a lifetime of work, from his early, more intimate works of friends and family to his celebrated large-scale canvases of powerful public figures and, of course, those monumental naked portraits. This promises to be an unforgettable show about one of art’s true greats.
The Ey Exhibition: Cezanne
5 October - 12 March 2023
In what is being billed as a once-in-a-generation exhibition, over 80 paintings, watercolours and drawings by Paul Cezanne have been brought together under one roof at Tate Modern (including 20 works never before seen in the UK). They tell the story of the French Post-Impressionist artist from his early life in Aix-en-Provence, through to his unsuccessful attempt to break into the Paris art scene, before returning to his native Provence, where he pursued his own radical style. One of the most influential artists in the history of modern painting, it’s little wonder both Matisse and Picasso are said to have remarked that Cezanne is “the father to us all.” Book now, tickets will go fast.
Kamala Ibrahim Ishag
7 October - 29 January 2023
The Sudanese artist Kamala Ibrahim Ishag comes to Serpentine South this Autumn with her first London solo exhibition. A leading figure of the Crystalist movement – a conceptual art group founded in Khartoum – she is credited with being one of the most important female visual artists on the African continent. As well as celebrating Sudanese culture, she also addresses subjects including women, spiritualism, Zar ceremonies and heritage. A captivating study into Ishag’s work from the 1960s to today, with her expressive large-scale canvases and works on paper displayed alongside calabashes, screens and leather drums, on which she also paints.
5 November - 12 February 2023
Cinzia Ruggeri wore many hats. A seminal, but often overlooked, figure within Italian postmodern art and design, she was a fashion and furniture designer, an artist and interior architect, a sculptor and teacher. This is a fascinating deepdive into her life and practice, celebrating the imaginative, provocative, elegant and unpredictable worlds she created. A major highlight of the show is the reconstruction of la règle du jeu? – Ruggeri’s last show which she staged just a few months before her death in 2019, with the sculptural installation inspired by Jean Renoir’s 1939 comedy-drama satire of the same title (The Rules of the Game) described as a “cabinet of curiosities”.
Amy Sherald: The World We Make
Hauser & Wirth
12 October - 23 December
New York-based artist Amy Sherald has built up a huge following for her portraiture, in which she documents contemporary African American experiences in the United States (she was commissioned by Michelle Obama for her official portrait as FLOTUS). This, Sherald’ first major solo show in Europe and her largest presentation to date with the gallery, is a wonderful opportunity to see her new body of work. Across both her small-scale portraits and huge brightly hued canvases, Sherald humanises the Black experience by depicting her subjects in recognisable everyday settings and, by doing so, reinserts them into the art historical canon.
Objects Of Desire: Surrealism And Design 1924 - Today
The Design Museum
14 October - 19 February 2023
The museum invites you to “delve into the dreamlike relationship between Surrealism and design” for their new exhibition which has been curated with the Vitra Design Museum in Germany. Furniture, interior design, fashion, photography and art works by the likes of Salvador Dali, Dora Maar, Man Ray, Leonora Carrington and Lee Miller through to contemporary names such as Schiaparelli, Dior and Björk all help the visitor better understand the rich history of this unique avant-garde art movement and its influence on design, from 1924 to the current day.
Fuseli And The Modern Woman: Fashion, Fantasy, Fetishism
The Courtauld Gallery
14 October - 8 January 2023
The artist Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) may have been born in Zurich, but he spent most of his life in London, where he was elected Professor of Painting at The Royal Academy and served for 21 years as Keeper of the RA Schools, working and living at Somerset House in what is now The Courtauld. But beneath his cultured exterior was a secret lifelong obsession with the female figure, which he manifested through a series of private drawings. The Courtauld brings 50 of these private works together for an exhibition that looks at both Fuseli’s fascination with female sexuality and the modern woman’s “dangerous allure”as well as the late 18th- and early 19th-century attitudes to gender, identity and sexuality.
Strange Clay: Ceramics In Contemporary Art
26 October - 8 January 2023
A unique exploration into the possibilities of ceramics and how contemporary artists use the medium of clay in ever more inventive and innovative ways. The exhibition features 23 international artists (including the great and the good of the ceramics world include Grayson Perry, Magdalene Odundo, Betty Woodman and Aaron Angell). From abstract sculptures and huge installations to fantastical figures and unusual twists on everyday objects, their artworks address topics ranging from architecture to social justice and politics. The one thing they have in common? They’re all made of clay.
The Horror Show!
27 October - 19 February 2023
In what is billed as a journey into the underbelly of modern Britain’s cultural psyche, this landmark exhibition presents a unique perspective on counterculture over the past 50 years. From 1970s punk to modern witchcraft, this is a spellbinding visual study into horror, looking at it less as a genre and more as a reaction and provocation to some of our most troubling times. Told in three acts – Monster, Ghost and Witch – it includes all the mavrick artists and creatives who have drawn inspiration from the monstrous, mystical and magical, telling the story of how horror has informed the last five decades of creative rebellion.