Must-see autumn exhibitions

From a landmark exhibition celebrating the colourful popular culture of South Korea at V&A to a show dedicated to British painter Duncan Grant’s recently discovered erotic drawings at Charleston, there’s a wonderful range of exciting things to see this autumn.

PSY performs Gangnam Style, on TODAY, 2012, New York, USA. Courtesy of Jason Decrow

Carolee Schneemann: Body Politics

The Barbican, 8th September – 8th January 2023

Carolee Schneemann: Body Politics is the first survey in the UK of the work of American artist Carolee Schneemann (1939-2019) and the first major exhibition since her death in 2019.

Tracing Schneemann’s diverse, transgressive and interdisciplinary work over six decades, the show celebrates a radical and pioneering artist who remains a feminist icon and point of reference for many contemporary artists and thinkers.

Addressing urgent topics from sexual expression and the objectification of women to human suffering and the violence of war, Schneemann’s work is concerned with the precarious lived experience of humans and animals.

With over 300 objects, the exhibition draws from the Carolee Schneemann Foundation, as well as numerous private and public collections, spanning the extraordinary range of Schneemann’s artistic output. Find out more:

Carolee Schneemann, Peronsae: J.T. and Three Kitchs, 1957. Courtesy of the Carolee Schneeman Foundation and Galerie Lelong & Co., Hales Gallery, and P.P.O.W, New York and (c) Carolee Schneemann Foundation/ ARS, New York and DACS, London 2022

Kaffe Fassett: The Power of Pattern

The Fashion & Textile Museum, 23rd September – 13th March 2023

Kaffe Fassett is one of the most successful artists and designers working in contemporary craft today. His career spans over 50 years with a prolific oeuvre that encompasses knitting, needlepoint, mosaic, quilting, textile design, painting and drawing. His books and projects have encouraged millions to make and to create.

Kaffe Fassett’s inspiration comes from everything around him; his inimitable eye can translate the most everyday of details into the base for one of his colourful, sophisticated maximalist designs.

Kaffe Fassett: The Power of Pattern will explore Fassett’s world, drawing on original artworks from invited makers as well as Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably, textiles works, photographs and archival material to illuminate the work of this distinctive, influential artist and designer. Learn more:

Kaffe Fassett, Flower Vase Collage, Kaffe Fassett Studio

Hallyu! The Korean Wave

Victoria and Albert Museum, 24th September – 25 June 2023

The V&A’s landmark exhibition Hallyu! The Korean Wave will be the first exhibition of its kind to celebrate the colourful and dynamic popular culture of South Korea, following its early origins to its place on the global stage today.

From K-Pop costumes to K-drama props and posters, alongside photography, sculpture, fashion, video and pop culture ephemera, the exhibition will invite visitors to delve into the phenomenon known as ‘hallyu’ – meaning ‘Korean Wave’. Hallyu rose to prominence in the late 1990s, rippling across Asia before reaching all corners of the world and challenging the currents of global pop culture today. Learn more:

PSY performs Gangnam Style, on TODAY, 2012, New York, USA. Courtesy of Jason Decrow

William Kentridge

The Royal Academy of Arts, 24th September – 11th December 2022

In autumn 2022, the Royal Academy of Arts will host a major exhibition of the work of the internationally celebrated South African artist and Honorary Royal Academician, William Kentridge (b. 1955).

Working closely with the artist and his studio, this ambitious and immersive exhibition has been specifically curated for the Royal Academy and will encompass the broad repertoire of Kentridge’s forty-year career. 

It will bring together important works spanning from the 1980s through to the present day, including charcoal drawings, animated films, a mechanical theatre, sculptures, tapestries and performance pieces. William Kentridge will be the most significant exhibition of the artist’s work in the UK to date and promises to reveal an artist at the height of his creative powers. Learn more:

William Kentridge, Video still from Notes Towards a Model Opera 2015, Courtesy of the artists (c) William Kentridge

Very Private?

Charleston Trust, 17th September – 12th March 2023 

Exploring themes of sex, intimacy, gender and identity, this exhibition presents a selection of Duncan Grant’s recently discovered erotic drawings alongside responses by six contemporary artists – Somaya Critchlow, Harold Offeh, Kadie Salmon, Tim Walker, Alison Wilding and Ajamu X. 

Drawn during the 1940s and 50s when sex between men was still illegal in England, these private drawings by Grant were previously feared lost. Instead, they were secretly passed down through the queer community, from lover to lover, friend to friend.

Wildly imaginative, intimate, sensual and fun, the drawings have garnered attention from around the world since they were gifted to Charleston in October 2020. From watercolour, collage and photography to sculpture and video, the new contemporary responses to the drawings examine the struggle between private and public, sexual liberation, prejudice and love. Learn more:

Duncan Grant, Untitled Drawing, c.1946-1959, The Charleston Trust (c) The Estate of Duncan Grant, lincenced by DACS 2022

Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt

The British Museum, 13th October – 19th February 2023

This autumn a major exhibition at the British Museum will mark one of the most important moments in our understanding of ancient history: the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The show will explore the inscriptions and objects that helped scholars unlock one of the world’s oldest civilisations, exactly 200 years since this pivotal moment. 

At the exhibition’s heart will be the Rosetta Stone, amongst the world’s most famous ancient objects and one of the British Museum’s most popular exhibits. Learn more:

The Rosetta Stone, Granodiorite; Rasid, Egypt; Ptolemaic, 196BC (c) The Trustees of the British Museum

The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Lucian Freud: New Perspectives

The National Gallery, 1st October – 22nd January 2023

This landmark exhibition is being staged by the National Gallery to mark the centenary of the birth of the major 20th-century artist Lucian Freud (1922–2011.)

This first significant survey of Freud’s paintings in 10 years will bring together a large selection of his most important works from across seven decades – spanning early works such as ‘Girl with Roses' (British Council Collection) from the 1940s; to Reflection with ‘Two Children (Self-Portrait)’ (Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid) in the 1960s and right through to his famous late works, such as 'The Brigadier', 2003–4 (Private Collection.)

Freud’s celebrity has often overshadowed approaches to the artist’s work and the historical contexts in which it was made. This exhibition seeks to present new perspectives on Freud’s art, focusing on his tireless and ever-searching commitment to the medium of painting. Learn more:

Girl with a Kitten, Lucian Freud, 1947. Tate: Bequeathed by Simon Sainsbury 2006, accessioned 2008

The EY Exhibition: Cézanne

Tate Modern, 5 October 2022 – 12 March 2023

‘With an apple, I will astonish Paris’, Cezanne once claimed. Leaving his native Aix-en-Provence for the French capital in his 20s, this is precisely what he did. Cezanne’s still lifes, landscapes and paintings of bathers were to give licence to generations of artists to break the rule book. The history of painting was never to be the same again.

Focusing on the many tensions and contradictions in Cezanne’s work, this exhibition seeks to understand the artist in his own context, as an ambitious young painter proudly from the Mediterranean South, yet eager to make it in metropolitan Paris.

Featuring many works shown for the first time in the UK, the show will follow his struggle between seeking official recognition and joining the emerging impressionists before relentlessly pursuing his own unique language. Learn more:

Paul Cézanne, The Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses) 1898-1905, The National Gallery

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