10 art exhibitions to see in September

Published 1 September 2019

From Matisse’s masterful use of line, to an exhibition showing the overwhelming obsession with colour in the 20th century, here are 10 exhibitions to see this month.

    • 1. Still Undead: Pop Culture in Britain Beyond the Bauhaus

      Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, 21 September 2019 – 12 January 2020
      The Bauhaus’s brief existence tells nothing of the influence it had on the art and design of the 20th century. Now, at the tail end of centenary celebrations for the radical German art school, Nottingham Contemporary looks to works produced in Britain between 1920 and 1990, featuring 50 artists, musicians and designers who transformed the Bauhaus legacy. Ranging from former student Kurt Schwertfeger’s experimental “reflective coloured light game” from 1922, to Leigh Bowery’s outrageous costumes and performances made as part of the 1980s underground nightclub scene, Still Undead is sure to invoke the far-reaching and everlasting impact of the Bauhaus and its methods.

      Kurt Schwerdtfeger, Reflektorische Farblichtspiele

      Kurt Schwerdtfeger, Reflektorische Farblichtspiele, 1966.

      16mm film transfer to digital, sound, 17 minutes 24 seconds. Courtesy of Microscope Gallery and Kurt Schwerdtfeger Estate.

    • Henri Matisse, Jeune Femme le Visage enfoui dans les Bras

      Henri Matisse, Jeune Femme le Visage enfoui dans les Bras, 1929.

      Etching on chine collé. © Succession H. Matisse / DACS 2019.

      2. Matisse: Master of Line

      The Holburne Museum, Bath, 18 September 2019 – 5 January 2020
      Jeune Femme le Visage enfoui dans le Bras (1929) was created when Henri Matisse was deeply occupied with printmaking and, as it seems, female nudes. The slight curve of the lines, reported to have been drawn directly on to the copper etching plate, come to delicately represent a woman’s face resting gently on a soft arm. The Holburne Museum presents around 20 of the French artist’s etchings, allowing us to witness the dawning of a style that championed simplicity and led eventually to some of his most famous cut-out works.

    • 3. Otobong Nkanga: From Where I Stand

      Tate St Ives, Cornwall, 21 September 2019 – 5 January 2020
      Comprising four textile panels and ten photographs of a vacant mining town in Northern Namibia, The Weight of Scars (2015) is displayed as part of artist Otobong Nkanga’s first survey show in the UK. The vibrancy of the work proves to be a cover for the sorrow it represents. Placed over what appear to be continents in a satellite image, the photographs are connected by a series of machine-like arms, which extend from one image to the next, creating a strange network or web. By drawing together disparate points on the map, Nkanga reminds us of the troubled history of land acquisition, and how its tentacles extend across the surface of the globe.

      Otobong Nkanga, The Weight of Scars

      Otobong Nkanga, The Weight of Scars, 2015.

      Woven textile and photography. 4 tapestries 253 x 153 cm each. Courtesy of the Artist. Photograph: M HKA.

    • Joseph Beuys, The Couple

      Joseph Beuys, The Couple, 1952-53.

      Plaster, wax, wood. 77 x 60 x 20.5 cm. courtesy BASTIAN, © Joseph Beuys Estate.

      4. Joseph Beuys: Important Sculptures from the 1950s

      BASTIAN, London, 20 September – 16 November 2019
      Joseph Beuys turned his hand to a multitude of disciplines over the years, but it is his sculptural works from the 1950s which form the focus of an exhibition at BASTIAN this month. The works include Untitled (Sybilla) (1951), an engraved drawing on slate depicting the Greek prophet Sybilla, and The Couple (1952-3), an ambiguous sculpture of two lying figures, one asleep and one dead, a reference to the poet Homer’s claim that these states are interconnected. Shown alongside a series of archival photographs of Beuys’s work, the sculptures promise to offer compelling insight into the influential German artist’s early fascination with mythology.

    • 5. Robert Polidori: Fra Angelico / Opus Operantis

      Flowers Gallery, London, 4 September – 12 October 2019
      Six centuries after their initial completion, Fra Angelico’s frescoes in Florence’s San Marco priory are captured by Canadian photographer Robert Polidori in a series of large-scale photographs to be exhibited by Flowers Gallery. In one image, which depicts the ominous tale of Christ’s capture, we see 10 men gathering in the dead of night, with one brutally beheaded as Christ is seized. Polidori, a revered photographer of human dwellings, draws attention to the spectacular setting of Angelico’s biblical scene, turning it into a cinematic and mysterious narrative and drawing our attention to the intriguing layers of history present in our architecture.

      Robert Polidori, The Capture of Christ by Fra Angelico, Cell 33, Museum of San Marco Convent, Florence, Italy

      Robert Polidori, The Capture of Christ by Fra Angelico, Cell 33, Museum of San Marco Convent, Florence, Italy, 2010.

      Archival pigment print. © Robert Polidori. Courtesy of Flowers Gallery.

    • Barbara Hepworth, Granite Forms, Red, Yellow and Deep Blue

      Barbara Hepworth, Granite Forms, Red, Yellow and Deep Blue, 1953.

      © Bowness, Image courtesy of The Ingram Collection of Modern British & Contemporary Art.

      6. Reflection: British Art in an Age of Change

      Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, 17 August 2019 – 5 January 2020
      While Barbara Hepworth’s embrace of primary colours in Granite Forms, Red, Yellow and Deep Blue (1953) adds a delightful lift to her flattened geometric forms, the stern faces of the French soldiers marching through CRW Nevinson’s etching A Dawn (1916) hint at something more sinister. Showcasing a number of British artists working within the last century, Ferens Art Gallery questions what it means to be British in a time of political uncertainty. The selected works, all from the Ingram Collection and the gallery’s own stores, reveal periods of both struggle and joy, highlighting the sometimes turbulent journey the nation has taken in the past 100 years.

    • 7. Simon Starling A-A’, B-B’

      The Modern Institute, Glasgow, 7 September – 26 October
      The Modern Institute teams up with conceptual artist Simon Starling for a somewhat unusual exhibition in two parts. In the Glasgow gallery, the artist will display a photographic reproduction of one half of Giambattista Tiepolo’s 18th-century work The Finding of Moses (known as A Halberdier in a Landscape), a courtly painting full of noble splendour that was mysteriously cut in two during the 19th century, to be displayed alongside a blue Fiat 125 Special, also cut to match. The pairing is incongruous, and deliberately so – with a second part of which is also taking place in Turin, this show promises to draw parallels between these and other seemingly random or unconnected objects, offering an intriguing insight into the Turner Prize winning artist’s inventive practice.

      Simon Starling, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, A Halberdier in a Landscape, 1736-38 (formally the right-hand portrait of The Finding of Moses)

      Simon Starling, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, A Halberdier in a Landscape, 1736-38 (formally the right-hand portrait of The Finding of Moses).

      1:1 scale archival pigment print. 202 x 132 cm. Collection Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Turin.

    • Josef Albers, Never Before I

      Josef Albers, Never Before I, 1976.

      Screenprint. © 2019 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.

      8. The Interaction of Colour

      Alan Cristea, London, 7 September – 26 October
      Rather than representing anything concrete, the striking punches of colour in the works of Josef Albers evoke an emotional response. In his series ‘Never Before’, the German artist repeats the same cubic form, each time using a different palette. The overwhelming fierceness of reds in Never Before J (1976) juxtaposes with a sense of calm in Never Before I (1976) and reveals the potential in pigment to provoke a reaction. Charting the past 50 years of geometric abstraction, Alan Cristea presents works by a group of artists, including Bridget Riley and Rana Begum, that demonstrate the primacy of colour in the style’s development.

    • 9. Anna Maria Maiolino: Making Love Revolutionary

      Whitechapel Gallery, London, 25 September 2019 – 12 January 2020
      Having witnessed Argentinian mothers of the Plaza de Mayo fight for their children disappearing under dictatorial control, Anna Maria Maiolino returns repeatedly to theme of love’s revolutionary potential in her art. She employs tropes and ideas typically associated with the feminine, such as imagery of eggs or hand-kneaded clay, and combines these with scenes of graphic violence, as in É o que sobra (What is left over) (1974), where she threatens to cut out her eyes. In doing so, the artist testifies to a sense of revolt latent with maternal love, a certain measure of its strength.

      Anna Maria Maiolino, Entrevidas, da série Fotopoemaçã (Between Lives, from the series Photopoemaction)

      Anna Maria Maiolino, Entrevidas, da série Fotopoemaçã (Between Lives, from the series Photopoemaction), 1981/2010.

      Photo: Henri Virgil Stahl. Courtesy the artist / Private collection / Monza and Galleriea Raffaella Cortese, Milano.

    • Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, Weaving Hummingbirds

      Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, Weaving Hummingbirds, 2017.

      © Jasmine Thomas-Girvan. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner.

      10. Jasmine Thomas-Girvan & Chris Ofili: Affinities

      David Zwirner, London, 30 August – 21 September
      Given the opportunity to exhibit alongside someone he was inspired by, the painter Chris Ofili chose Jamaican-born sculptor and collagist Jasmine Thomas-Girvan. Whilst both artists make work which speaks of identity and transformation within the Caribbean, where they both reside, their approaches differ. Thomas-Girvan uses found pieces of wood, bronze and coral to form the bodies of animals and humans, directly referring to the environment around her. By contrast, Ofili cites ancient mythical figures, such as Calypso and Odysseus, and reimagines them as dark-skinned and powerful mermaids, bringing to light the rich history and tradition in this region, once disregarded by colonial powers.