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Best Art Exhibitions in London in Autumn 2019

 
 
 
 
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Frieze Art Fair

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Frieze Art Fair
Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2019
Nara: sacred images from early Japan
Antony Gormley
Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits
Pre-Raphaelite Sisters
Mark Leckey: O'Magic Power of Bleakness
Gauguin Portraits
Nam June Paik
Buddhism
Leonardo da Vinci: A Life In Drawing
William Blake
Tim Walker
Leonardo: Experience a Masterpiece
 

© Dominick Tyler

From Frieze Week to an immersive exhibition into a Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece at the National Gallery, LondonTown highlights the best art exhibitions in London in Autumn 2019.

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Leonardo da Vinci: A Life In Drawing

See over 200 sketches from the Royal Collection at The Queen's Gallery in Buckingham Palace.

The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, Birdcage Walk, London, SW1A 1AA

Tube: Victoria Station

 

Dates: 24th May to 13th October 2019

 

To celebrate Leonardo da Vinci, who died 500 years ago, the Royal Collection, which owns the world's "most eye-popping hoard of his graphic works" (The Guardian), is staging 12 simultaneous exhibitions nationwide. While other host cities display 12 drawings, London gets over 200 sketches in Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing, on display at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, until 13th October. The beauty of these preparatory works is that they are well preserved, not restored or painted over nor executed by his assistants. "They are pure clear windows on his mind," says The Guardian, "many with his notes in his reversed handwriting interspersed among the images." A wonderful way to celebrate the great Renaissance artist, scientist, engineer and inventor.

 
 
 

William Blake

This large survey of the artist's work includes a re-staging of Blake's 1809 exhibition.

Tate Britain, Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG

Tube: Pimlico Station

 

Dates: 11th September 2019 to 2nd February 2020

 

This autumn, Tate Britain showcases William Blake's work as he intended it to be shown in what will be the largest survey of the artist's work in the UK for a generation. Widely considered to be one of Britain's greatest artists, Blake had bold ambitions as a visual artist and envisioned vast frescos that were unfortunately never realised. Through digital enlargement, this exhibition will project The Spiritual Form of Nelson Guiding Leviathan c.1805-9 and The Spiritual Form of Pitt Guiding Behemoth c.1805 onto one of the gallery walls, presenting them in the huge scale that Blake had once imagined for the very first time. The original works will be shown nearby in a re-staging of Blake's 1809 exhibition - his only significant attempt at gaining public recognition. The exhibition will also act as a visual biography of Blake's life with a strong focus on London and the previously unrecognised creative assistance of his wife, Catherine.

 
 
 

Antony Gormley

The Angel of the North sculptor fills the Royal Academy's main galleries.

Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, London, W1J 0BD

Tube: Green Park Station , Piccadilly Circus Station

 

Dates: 21st September to 3rd December 2019

 

Well known for using his own form as a recurring feature in his works, Angel of the North sculptor Antony Gormley examines what it means to have a body in the Royal Academy of Arts' major autumn exhibition. The solo show, the most significant in the UK for over a decade, brings together existing and new works created especially for the occasion. Drawings and sculptures, expansive and immersive installations take over the RA's main galleries, filling them with iron, steel, lead, seawater and clay artworks which put the solidity and certainty of sculpture to the test.

 
 
 

Tim Walker

A behind-the-scenes insight into the creative process behind the fantastical worlds of Tim Walker.

Victoria and Albert (V & A) Museum, Cromwell Road, Covent Garden, London, SW7 2RL

Tube: South Kensington Station

 

Dates: 21st September 2019 to 8th March 2020

 

An immersive journey into the fantastical worlds created by photographer Tim Walker. Revealing the important roles played by set designers, stylists, make-up artists, models and muses, this Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition gives you a behind-the-scenes insight into the creative process behind Walker's imaginative images. At the heart of the exhibition are new photographs directly influenced by Tim's research into the V&A's collection - a source of inspiration over the past 25 years. A fascination look at the creative process of one of the world's most inventive photographers.

 
 
 

Mark Leckey: O'Magic Power of Bleakness

See a life-size replica of a motorway bridge on the M53 in this ambitious, large-scale exhibition.

Tate Britain, Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG

Tube: Pimlico Station

 

Dates: 24th September 2019 to 5th January 2020

 

Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Leckey brings his work to Tate Britain this autumn with his ambitious, large-scale exhibition, O'Magic Power of Bleakness. Combining new and existing works, the exhibition is set in an atmospheric, theatrical environment with both sounds and visions acting as a key element. A focal point of the exhibition is a life-size replica of a motorway bridge on the M53 near where Leckey grew up. The motorway has been a recurring motif throughout the artist's work and this replica will act as the setting for a new audio play inspired by folklore. Another aspect of the exhibition is Leckey's breakthrough film montage, Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore 1990, which is made up of footage from dance floors chronicling Britain's underground club scene from the 1970s to the 1990.

 
 
 
 

Frieze Art Fair

Regent's Park, Inner Circle, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4NR

Tube: Regent's Park Station

 

Dates: 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Oct 2019

 

London's best known contemporary art fair, Frieze returns to Regent's Park for its 17th edition with over 160 of the most highly respected contemporary art galleries in the world brought together. The most accessible part, the free-to-view Frieze Sculpture, found in the English Gardens of Regent's Park, displays 23 works by leading 20th-century artists. New for 2019 is Woven, which brings together eight international artists who use textiles, weaving and tapestry. Performance art, talks, specially commissioned art works and curated exhibitions are all part of the fair, most of which is packed into a vast temporary structure in the park with work by around 1,000 contemporary artists crammed in. A combined ticket gets you into sister fair, Frieze Masters, a showcase of Old Masters and art up to the 20th century. The two fairs form the heart of Frieze Week, when galleries and museums across London put on special exhibitions and there's a glut of art fairs including Moniker and PAD London. Highlights of the major exhibitions on during Frieze Week 2019 include Anna Maria Maiolino at Whitechapel Gallery, Kara Walker's Hyundai Turbine Commission at Tate Modern, Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts and Gauguin Portraits at the National Gallery.

 
 
 

Nara: sacred images from early Japan

Free display of Chinese paintings, Japanese treasures and sacred images.

British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG

Tube: Tottenham Court Road Station , Russell Square Station, Holborn Station

 

Dates: 3rd October to 24th November 2019

 

Fifteen major Buddhist and Shinto sacred images go on display at the British Museum this autumn in a free display titled Nara: sacred images from early Japan. The display features objects from Nara Prefecture that have never before been seen in the UK, shown alongside related Japanese and Chinese paintings from the British Museum's own collection. Visitors can see items from the AD 600s through to the 1300s including five Japanese national treasures and six important cultural properties. Highlights include Bodhisattva of Compassion and Libation dish with Birth of the Buddha, two gilt bronze sculptures dating from the early AD 700s and mid-AD 700s.

 
 
 

Elizabeth Peyton

The artist's paintings are positioned next to historic portraits from the Tudors onwards.

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London, WC2H 0HE

Tube: Leicester Square Station , Charing Cross Station, Piccadilly Circus Station, Embankment Underground Station, Covent Garden Station

 

Dates: 3rd October 2019 to 5th January 2020

 

This autumn, internationally-renowned artist Elizabeth Peyton will become the first artist ever to be given the run of the entire National Portrait Gallery. Not only will a new major exhibition display more than 40 of her works, there will also be a selection of her portraits dispersed throughout the gallery's permanent collection. One of the world's leading artists, Peyton has been at the forefront of a re-evaluation of figurative art and traditional portrait painting, and this new exhibition will be the first to situate her within the historical tradition of portraiture. Key works from the first two decades of her career will go on display along with an investigation of the new direction that her work has taken over the past ten years. Portraits of Kurt Cobain, Frida Kahlo, Queen Elizabeth II, David Bowie and David Hockney will be among the works on display.

 
 
 

Mary Sibande: I Came Apart at the Seams

The South African artist presents human-scale sculptures modelled on Sibande herself.

Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA

Tube: Temple Station

 

Dates: 3rd October 2019 to 5th January 2020

 

Somerset House puts the focus on contemporary artist Mary Sibande in I Came Apart at the Seams, her first solo exhibition in the UK. One of South Africa's most prominent artists, Sibande uses this exhibition to explore the power of imagination and constructive anger in a post-colonial world, using a series of photographic and sculptural works. The human-scale sculptures are modelled on Sibande herself in the form of an avatar named Sophie, who transgresses from humble beginnings as domestic housemaid into a whole host of empowered characters, transcending racial bias and marginalisation and challenging stereotypes of black women in post-apartheid South Africa.

 
 
 

Rembrandt's Light

Three of Rembrandt's most famous images of women are among the 35 works on display.

Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, Dulwich Village, London, SE21 7AD

Tube: Denmark Hill Station

 

Dates: 4th October 2019 to 2nd February 2020

 

In the year that marks 350 years since Rembrandt's death, Dulwich Picture Gallery is staging Rembrandt's Light, a new exhibition focusing on the Dutch Master's refined use of light and visual storytelling. Bringing together 35 carefully selected international loans, the exhibition focuses on his greatest years, from 1639-1658, and pays particular attention to his skill at creating impact and drama, evoking a meditative mood and lighting his subjects. Among the highlights are three of Rembrandt's most famous images of women: A Woman Bathing in a Stream, A Woman in Bed and the Gallery's inimitable Girl at a Window - displayed side-by-side for the very first time. Award-winning cinematographer Peter Suschitzky, famed for his work on films like Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Mars Attacks!, has assisted with lighting some of Rembrandt's greatest paintings, etchings and drawings for the exhibition.

 
 
 
 

Gauguin Portraits

Around 50 works by the French artist reveal his move from Impressionism to Symbolism.

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, London, WC2N 5DN

Tube: Charing Cross Station , Leicester Square Station, Embankment Underground Station, Piccadilly Circus Station, Covent Garden Station

 

Dates: 7th October 2019 to 26th January 2020

 

For the first time ever the National Gallery stages an exhibition on the portraits of French artist Paul Gauguin. From autumn 2019 the Sainsbury Wing houses Gauguin Portraits, displaying approximately 50 works from the mid-1880s to the end of his life in 1903 and focusing on how the artist moved away from Impressionism towards Symbolism. By adding carefully selected attributes or placing the sitter into a suggestive context Gauguin was able to make portraits that expressed meaning beyond their personalities. Included in the exhibition is a group of self-portraits which show how Gauguin created personifications including his self-image as 'Christ in the Garden of Olives'.

 
 
 

Pre-Raphaelite Sisters

Discover the untold stories of twelve women depicted in Pre-Raphaelite art.

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London, WC2H 0HE

Tube: Leicester Square Station , Charing Cross Station, Piccadilly Circus Station, Embankment Underground Station, Covent Garden Station

 

Dates: 17th October 2019 to 26th January 2020

 

A major new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, Pre-Raphaelite Sisters, tells the untold stories of twelve women depicted in Pre-Raphaelite art, 160 years after they were exhibited by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1849. Through a display of previously unseen works and new discoveries, the exhibition explores how the women were far more than just models, but rather creative influences and artists in their own right. Joanna Wells, for example, was a Pre-Raphaelite artist while Marie Spartali Stillman and Evelyn de Morgan helped shape the development of Pre-Raphaelitism alongside their male counterparts. An extraordinary collection of paintings, photographs, manuscripts and personal items will showcase the roles the women played as models, muses and helpmeets.

 
 
 

Nam June Paik

Works by the Korean artist known for his pioneering use of emerging technologies.

Tate Modern, Bankside Power Station, 25 Sumner Street, London, SE1 9TG

Tube: Blackfriars Underground Station

 

Dates: 17th October 2019 to 9th February 2020

 

In what will be the UK's most comprehensive survey of the Korean artist's work, Tate Modern presents a major exhibition on Nam June Paik. The artist is renowned for his pioneering use of emerging technologies, and the exhibition will introduce visitors to the concept with an opening display of TV Garden 1974/2002, a large-scale installation featuring dozens of television sets seemingly growing within a garden of lush foliage - created as an exploration of the diminishing distinctions between the natural and the technological. The installation is just one of more than 200 works going on display in the exhibition, which includes early compositions, performance and video.

 
 
 

Buddhism

The British Library takes us back to the beginnings, in north India in the 6th century BC.

British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB

Tube: King's Cross Station , Euston Station

 

Dates: 25th October 2019 to 25th February 2020

 

It has an estimated one billion followers across the world today, Buddhism is the subject of a major exhibition at the British Library in autumn 2019. Going back to its beginnings in north India in the 6th century BC, the display begins with the roots of one of the world's major religions and explores its philosophy and modern day relevance. Rare and colourful scrolls, painted wall hangings and folding books highlight the outstanding art found within Buddhist manuscripts and early printed works. Sacred scriptures written on tree bark are shown alongside calming ambient film and sound. You'll leave with a better understanding of Buddhism and its central role in developing writing and transmitting stories across Asia.

 
 
 

Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits

Famous for his fleshy, unflinching portraits, this time Freud's subject is himself.

Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, London, W1J 0BD

Tube: Green Park Station , Piccadilly Circus Station

 

Dates: 27th October 2019 to 26th January 2020

 

He's famous for his fleshy, unflinching portraits but in this Royal Academy of Arts exhibition Lucian Freud's subject is himself. Featuring more than 50 paintings, prints and drawings in The Sackler Wing of Galleries, Lucian Freud: The Self-portraits is the first exhibition to focus on his self-portraits. Executed over almost seven decades on canvas, paper and etching plate, the artworks here chart the trajectory through Lucian Freud's development as a painter as well as his life, from young boy to old man. In short, it amounts to a candid and an ongoing study into the process of ageing.

 
 
 
 

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2019

Major international photography award worth £15,000 to the winner.

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London, WC2H 0HE

Tube: Leicester Square Station , Charing Cross Station, Piccadilly Circus Station, Embankment Underground Station, Covent Garden Station

 

Dates: 7th November 2019 to 16th February 2020

 

Neil, a resident from the Belfast Conway estate, sits lost in thought, a family ready for their day out on Whitley Bay beach and works from a series depicting LA photographer Pat Martin's late mother are the three shortlisted photographers for this year's Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. Open to professionals, emerging artists and amateurs alike, the major international photography award - worth 15,000 pounds to the winner - goes on display at the National Portrait Gallery and is a highlight of the autumn arts calendar each year. The prize consistently attracts a high level of expertise yet the 'open to all' caveat means there's always an element of surprise. The exhibition also includes previously unseen prints from a new body of work by New York based photographer Ethan James Green, the subject of the In Focus display devoted to the work of one distinguished photographer.

 
 
 

Leonardo: Experience a Masterpiece

Enjoy an immersive exploration of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, The Virgin of the Rocks.

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DN

Tube: Charing Cross Station , Leicester Square Station, Embankment Underground Station, Piccadilly Circus Station, Covent Garden Station

 

Dates: 9th November 2019 to 12th January 2020

 

Get an insight into the mind of Leonardo da Vinci and explore his masterpiece, The Virgin of the Rocks, through this immersive exhibition in the ground floor galleries of the National Gallery. Divided into four distinct spaces, Leonardo: Experience a Masterpiece opens with a landscape populated by the thoughts and ideas of Leonardo, 500 years after his death. You'll then discover his studio in a projection-filled space which unlocks the mysteries of how The Virgin of the Rocks was painted and, using the latest and conservation methods, reveals the lost composition hidden beneath the surface. An entire room has been given over to an experiment where you'll discover the dramatic effects of light and shadow on Leonardo's composition. Finally, you will come face to face with the original masterpiece where it hangs on the walls of an imagined chapel, showing the painting in its original setting as part of an elaborate altarpiece.

 
 
 

George IV: Art & Spectacle

The collection of a King famous for his extravagant lifestyle and his Royal Pavilion in Brighton.

The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, Birdcage Walk, London, SW1A 1AA

Tube: Victoria Station

 

Dates: 15th November 2019 to 4th May 2020

 

George IV, who became king in 1820, was famous for his extravagant lifestyle and his Royal Pavilion in Brighton. Much of his impressive collection of art remains in the Royal Collection and his Dutch and Flemish masterpieces and magnificent portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence and Sir Joshua Reynolds are brought together in George IV: Art & Spectacle. Delicate French porcelain is shown alongside intricate goldsmiths' work and elegant books and drawings in an exhibition at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, which presents his life through the art he collected.

 
 
 

Dora Maar

The Surrealist artist and lover to Pablo Picasso is celebrated as an artist in her own.

Tate Modern, Bankside Power Station, 25 Sumner Street, London, SE1 9TG

Tube: Blackfriars Underground Station

 

Dates: 20th November 2019 to 15th March 2020

 

The Surrealist artist and photographer Dora Maar, lover to Pablo Picasso for eight or nine years, is celebrated as an artist in her own right at Tate Modern. More than 200 of her works, including rarely seen, privately-owned canvases such as La Conversation 1937 and La Cage 1943, and never-before exhibited negatives, feature in this first UK retrospective of her work. Her documentary style photography from the 1930s, when she was active in left-wing revolutionary groups, shows the effect of Europe's economic depression on the streets of Barcelona, Paris and London. The exhibition also reunites over 20 works from the second half of her life - the camera-less photographs that she made in the 1980s, four decades after all but abandoning the medium.

 
 
 

Troy

Classical Greek vases and Bronze Age discoveries from the city which sparked myths and legends.

British Museum, Great Russell Street, Bankside, London, WC1B 3DG

Tube: Tottenham Court Road Station , Russell Square Station, Holborn Station

 

Dates: 21st November 2019 to 8th March 2020

 

Be enchanted by the epic legend of the city of Troy, the place which inspired Greek myths about a horse full of hidden soldiers, Homer's Iliad and stories of Troilus and Cressida as the British Museum opens the gates to the ancient city. Through beautifully painted classical Greek vases and and later Bronze Age discoveries, the exhibition wades in on a debate on the history of Troy that is still ongoing today. It shows how the remarkable archaeological evidence from excavations in the 1870s persuaded the world that Troy had existed and was not just a myth. The extensive exhibition also looks to literature to reveal how Troy's story has been reworked and retold in the literary world, through the works of Virgil, Chaucer and Shakespeare.

 
 
 
 
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