10 art exhibitions to see in September

Published 1 September 2017

From Outsider Art to ancient warriors, here are ten unmissable art exhibitions opening this month.

  • Commissions from Performa’s Archives

    Whitechapel Gallery, London, 6 September – 4 March 2018

    Based in New York, home of the hip avant-garde “happenings” of the 1960s and ‘70s, Performa is an arts organisation and biennial dedicated to performance art. This Whitechapel Gallery display presents video recordings from 20 of more than 64 commissions produced for the biennial since it was founded in 2005. Highlights include a reimagining of a Stravinsky ballet by choreographer and filmmaker Yvonne Rainer, a veteran of the 70s New York art scene, and a theatrical exploration of international trade by the Colombian rising star Oscar Murillo.

  • , RoS Idexical

    RoS Idexical, 2007.

    A Performa Commission.

    Photo ® Paula Court.

  • Hannah Black

    Chisenhale Gallery, London, 22 September – 10 December

    Though this is Manchester born Hannah Black’s first institutional UK solo show, she is already well known for her incisive social awareness, with a conceptual art practice that interrogates issues surrounding race, gender, the body, social codes and capitalism. As a published writer, she often uses texts in her work – this show is comprised of books and other objects presenting edited conversations between the artist and her friends. Initiated by the deliberately vague idea of “the situation”, the discussions range from the abstract to the everyday, the personal to the political, and are filled with expressions of hope, anger and exhaustion.

  • Hannah Black, Temporary (installation view)

    Hannah Black, Temporary (installation view), 2017.

    Photo by mumok / Klaus Pichler. Courtesy of the artist.

  • Portrait of the Artist: Käthe Kollwitz

    Ikon, Birmingham, 13 September – 26 November)

    Käthe Kollwitz was a late exponent of German Expressionism, and a pioneering artist in her own right. Her art dealt with personal tragedy and loss but also terrible social problems, as she saw her country decimated by two world wars – the first claimed the life of her son and the second that of her grandson. Amongst the 40 haunting monochrome prints on display, all borrowed from the British Museum, is Tod und Frau (1910), meaning “death and woman”, in which a woman grapples with a deathly skeletal figure while a small child clings to her.

  • Käthe Kollwitz, Tod und Frau (Death and Woman)

    Käthe Kollwitz, Tod und Frau (Death and Woman), 1910.

    © The Trustees of the British Museum.

  • Putti’s Pudding

    Studio Voltaire, London, 9 September – 5 November

    The writer and actress Cookie Mueller and her partner Vittorio Scarpati were icons of the New York downtown scene in the 1980s. Tragically, the pair passed away from AIDS-related illnesses in 1989, but both documented their struggle with the disease and its surrounding stigma. The intimate, brutal and darkly comic sketches and texts that they produced toward the end of their lives are presented in this moving exhibition, having initially been published as a book of the same name. Accompanied by Mueller’s crafted words, Scarpati’s felt-tip notepad sketches range from surreal philosophical musings to unflinching depictions of his own deteriorating body.

  • Vittorio Scarpati, Untitled

    Vittorio Scarpati, Untitled, 1989.

    Courtesy of Max Mueller. Photo by Andy Keate.

  • Rachel Whiteread

    Tate Britain, London, 12 September – 21 January

    British artist Rachel Whiteread is known for her distinctive sculptural works, making casts, often in resin, of forms as small as light switches and as large as entire buildings. She creates works from the negative space of the interior and exterior of objects, and a dramatic example of this approach is House (1993), which cast the interior of a terraced house in concrete. Although the work, installed in London’s East End, stood for only three months before being demolished, it won critical acclaim and a Turner Prize. Whiteread has since established herself as one of the country’s leading artists, and this exhibition is her most comprehensive to date, spanning her entire career, from sculptures displayed in her first solo show in 1988, to new works produced especially for Tate Britain.

  • Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (Clear Torso)

    Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (Clear Torso), 1993.

    Courtesy of the artist. Photograph courtesy of the artist. © Rachel Whiteread.

  • Jean Dubuffet: Théâtres de mémoire

    Pace Gallery, London, 13 September – 21 October

    French artist Jean Dubuffet coined the term Art Brut, meaning “raw art”, to describe unconventional art made outside of established art institutions by artists without formal artistic education, “where the worries of competition, acclaim and social promotion do not interfere”. Despite briefly attending art school as a teenager, he adopted an artistic style inspired by this “outsider art” (as it is now often known), employing both abstraction and a direct, simplistic form of representation. This exhibition presents Théâtres de mémoire, a series of enormous works that Dubuffet produced towards the end of his life in the mid-1970s. In Les commentaires (1978), for example, a chaotic canvas comprises many different sections, ranging from apparently random patches of colour, slapdash patterns, and Picasso-like figures.

  • Jean Dubuffet, Les commentaires

    Jean Dubuffet, Les commentaires, 1978.

    © ADAGP, Paris / DACS, London 2017.

  • Toby Ziegler: The Genesis Speech

    The Freud Museum, London, 13 September – 26 November

    While Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, explored the murky unconscious of the human mind, Toby Ziegler’s work reminds us of our corporeal nature. In this Freud Museum exhibition, Ziegler’s large 3D-modelled Perspex and aluminium human hands, sit among the objects and antiquities that the Freud family collected in their home. Ziegler is interested in how our bodies – and our minds – are increasingly augmented and altered by technology. A dual-screen video work depicts various other kinds of inorganic hands, such as a prosthetic arm, accompanied by bizarre associated images that a Google reverse image search has algorithmically generated.

  • Toby Ziegler, Martyrdom in the swinging sixties

    Toby Ziegler, Martyrdom in the swinging sixties, 2017.

    Courtesy the artist and Freud Museum London.

  • Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia

    British Museum, London, 14 September – 14 January

    The Scythians were a collection of nomadic warrior tribes that roamed Siberia between 900 and 200 BC. This major exhibition presents over 200 artefacts documenting their culture, astonishingly well preserved having been buried in frozen ground for centuries. A striking gold plaque depicts a spear-wielding warrior riding horseback – evidence of highly skilled craftsmanship as well as the importance of combat and horses to Scythian society. The tribes were some of the first to engage in mounted warfare; so revered were their equine comrades that warriors were often buried with their steeds.

  • , A gold belt plaque of a Scythian funeray scene, Siberian Collection of Peter the Great

    A gold belt plaque of a Scythian funeray scene, Siberian Collection of Peter the Great, 4th–3rd century BC.

    © The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, 2017. Photo by V. Terebenin.

  • John Armstrong: Dream & Reality

    Penlee House Gallery and Museum, Penzance, 16 September – 18 November

    John Armstrong was a Sussex-born painter, muralist and designer, notably a member of Paul Nash’s Unit One group, a collection of artists that embraced the twin poles of abstraction and Surrealism. This exhibition on the Cornish coast is the first major survey of his work since a 1975 show at the Royal Academy, two years after his death. Armstrong had been made an Associate member of the Royal Academy in 1966, a form of pre-selection for full Academy membership once a vacancy arose. Although Armstrong sadly did not live to become an RA, he produced a stunning body of work that took inspiration from both the English landscape and the major conflicts that took place during his lifetime, such as the two World Wars and the Spanish Civil War.

  • John Armstrong ARA, A Stately Dance

    John Armstrong ARA, A Stately Dance, 1945.

    Scarborough Art Gallery. © The Artist's Estate / Bridgeman Images.

  • Poor Art | Arte Povera

    Estorick Collection, London, 20 September – 17 December

    The Estorick Collection in North London, a gallery dedicated to modern Italian art, is the ideal location for this exhibition of Arte Povera, meaning “poor art”. Arte Povera was a groundbreaking art movement that developed in Turin and other Italian cities in the late 1960s. While the major artists of the movement produced different kinds of work, they were united by an interest in unconventional – typically everyday – materials, evidenced in Mario Merz’s Cone (1967), made from willow, and Mario Ceroli’s Io (1968), an iron and coal sphere. The on-going influence of the movement is explored through the inclusion of several contemporary British artists, such as Stephen Nelson, who works with salvaged materials.

  • Michelangelo Pistoletto, Television

    Michelangelo Pistoletto, Television, 1962–83.

    Mazzoleni, London – Turin.

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