Autumn is just around the corner and as the sun slowly slips away, what better way to spend the shorter days than by exploring London’s vibrant exhibitions?
Some of the capital’s biggest galleries will be hosting retrospectives on big name artists, including William Blake, Bridget Riley and Lucian Freud.
These are some of the biggest shows landing in the capital over the coming months.
William Blake, Tate Britain, from 11 September
It’s fair to say that William Blake was a man of many talents. Not only was he an accomplished poet, but his painting and printmaking helped cement his position as a leading artistic figure of the Romantic Age. His commitment to politics, innovative visions and technical craft – which seem all the more relevant in today’s society – will be explored in this immersive exhibition. Launching at Tate Britain in early autumn, the show will recreate the small domestic room where Blake showcased his art in 1809, and will feature another space where his works will be digitally enlarged and projected onto the gallery’s wall. The retrospective will be the largest show of Blake’s work for almost two decades, bringing together 300 original watercolours, paintings and prints.
Antony Gormley, Royal Academy, from 21 September
If you’re not familiar with sculptor Antony Gormley, you’ll almost certainly be familiar with his artworks – most famously, the Angel of the North. Gormley will follow the likes of Ai Weiwei and Anselm Kiefer as he takes over the Royal Academy’s main galleries, pushing its architecture to the limit. Exhibition-goers will find a series of experiential installations, all designed to engage viewers in an awareness of their own body.
Rembrandt’s Light, Dulwich Picture Gallery, from 4 October
With 2019 being dubbed as the year of Rembrandt – marking the 350th anniversary of his death – galleries around the world have been laying on shows dedicated to the Dutch painter. The Dulwich Picture Gallery exhibition will combine 35 works from his prime years 1639-1658, which best define the artist’s mastery of light and visual storytelling. Expect paintings, etchings, drawings and more.
Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art, Barbican, from 4 October
Barbican will be living for the night this autumn, with a new exhibition exploring the history of cabarets, cafés and clubs in modern art across the globe. From the Berlin clubs of Weimar Germany to the famous jazz clubs of Harlem, the show will span from the 1880s to the 1960s, leaving no creative stone unturned. Combining more than 200 works of art with immersive, life-size space recreations, the exhibition will focus on how creatives used these areas to push the boundaries of art.
Gauguin Portraits, National Gallery, from 7 October
The National Gallery will host the first show of its kind this autumn, as an exhibition dedicated to the portraits of artist Paul Gauguin opens in October. Featuring ceramic and wood sculptures alongside paintings and drawings, the landmark show will delve into how Gauguin used portraits to express himself and his artistic ideas. Visitors will be able to soak up more than 50 works, many of which have rarely been seen together. This is one not to miss.
Nam June Paik: The Future is Now, Tate Modern, from 17 October
Through playful, experimental TV and video art, Nam June Paik established himself as one of the most innovative artists of the 20th century. A new show opening at Tate Modern in mid-October will celebrate the South Korean artist, collating works from his career, including robots made from old TV screens and a recreation of his room-sized 1993 installation Sistine Chapel.
Pre-Raphaelite Sisters: Models, Artists, Muses, National Portrait Gallery, from 17 October
For the past 160 years, men have hogged the limelight when it comes to Pre-Raphaelite art. This National Portrait Gallery exhibition will focus on the untold story of the women behind the Pre-Raphaelite movement, specifically looking at the stories of 12 different women. Both newly-discovered pieces and never-before-seen works will make up the show, shedding light on the women behind the pictures and exploring their roles as artists, models and muses.
Bridget Riley, Southbank Centre, from 23 October
Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery will host a retrospective on British artist Bridget Riley. Set to be the first large-scale showcase of her work in 16 years, the show will delve into the origins of some of her most famous works and track the pivotal moments of her 70-year career. Guests will find a whole host of her acclaimed pieces, from her black and white paintings of the 1960s, to her only 3D work, Continuum, as well as new wall paintings made especially for the autumn exhibition.
Lucian Freud: The Self-portraits, Royal Academy, from 27 October
For the first time ever, the Royal Academy will bring together more than 50 paintings, prints and drawings by Lucian Freud. The landmark exhibition will delve into Freud’s autobiographical approach to portraiture, with works spanning seven decades, mapping the linear style of his early career to the fuller, fleshier portraits of his later life.