The 15 Best Exhibitions Opening In London In September 2019

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 35 months ago

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The 15 Best Exhibitions Opening In London In September 2019

We look ahead to London's art and exhibition openings in September 2019 and select the must-see shows.

Reclaimed by nature

Copyright Suzanne Moxhay.

Suzanne Moxhay puts together photo collages of buildings that look as if humans haven't set foot in them for decades — left empty these buildings have been reclaimed by nature. The result is works that are both serene and haunting. You may have your own views as to whether the world would be better off without humans, but these works show that it would definitely be more peaceful. We've been big fans of Moxhay's work for years and look forward to seeing her latest creations.

Suzanne Moxhay: Conservatory at James Freeman Gallery. 31 August - 21 September, free.

Want to smell some breast milk?

What does it mean to be human in the 21st century? A new permanent gallery at Wellcome Collection explores different aspects of humanity such as the commercial availability of commercial DNA kits and what this will mean for us —will people predisposed to diseases struggle to get health insurance, for example? Plus artist Tasha Marks wants us to explore our sense of smell through her sculpture that smells of human breast milk...

Being Human at Wellcome Collection. Opens 5 September, free.

Virtual worlds

Copyright Claudia Hart

Some of the most impressive artworks we've seen recently have been in the virtual world, so it's great to see Mayfair gallery Gazelli Art House is once again hosting its annual exhibition of artists creating work in the virtual sphere. From the outside it looks like people waving their arms at nothing, but don a headset and new worlds await. In previous years we've voyaged to the underworld and been assailed by disembodied heads.

Enter Through The Headset 4 at Gazelli Art House. 6-28 September, free.

A bounty of Blakes

Capaneus the Blasphemer. Copyright Tate.

The largest exhibition of works by William Blake in more than 20 years hits Tate Britain. Blake was a prolific artist, and over over 300 original watercolours, paintings and prints of his feature in the show. Blake's work wasn't recognised in his time and Tate has recreated his failed exhibition within this show to highlight its contrast to the massively popular figure he is now. See our preview for more details.

William Blake at Tate Britain. 11 September-2 February, £18.

Double science

Hooke's illustration of a flea (1665), as glimpsed down the microscope.

It's a big month for Science Museum, with a new galleries and an exhibition  opening. The Science City galleries tell the story of London between 1550 and 1800 when major scientific breakthroughs were happening across the city — from Newton's laws of physics to the advent of microscopes allowing us to see the tiny creatures that live among us. Check out our preview for more scientific goodness. If that wasn't enough there's also an exhibition on how art and science have worked closely together over the centuries and continue to do so today.

Science City 1550-1880: The Linbury Gallery at Science Museum. Opens 12 September, free.
The art of Innovation: From Enlightenment to Dark Matter at Science Museum. 25 September - 26 January, free but ticketed.

Are you worried yet?

We all suffer from anxiety. Artists look into this through artworks that bring to light their own anxieties or how people living with anxiety manage. The exhibition also covers what anxiety would look like if it could be visualised in light or sound — something we imagine to be impossible, as it would be too worried about being the wrong colour or not sounding right.  

On Edge: Living in an age of Anxiety at Science Gallery. 19 September - 19 January, free.

There's no business like...

Fun times in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens by Johann Sebastien Muller. Copyright Gerald Coke Handel Foundation.

Show Business in Georgian Britain. The Georgians knew how to put on an event, and we're going behind the scenes into how the theatre and festivals were the place to be seen — after all, what's the point of that fabulous outfit if you can't flaunt it in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens? It was also a source of income for painters like Hogarth, who was employed to paint the scenery and to pull together the set designs.

Two Last Nights! Show Business in Georgian Britain at The Foundling Museum. 20 September-5 January, £13.20 (includes admission to the museum)

Climbing the walls

Courtesy of the Artist and PinchukArtCentre (Kiev, Ukraine) © the Artist. Photo: Stephen White, London

No artist has made a bigger career out of placing sculptures of human figures all over the place. Antony Gormley, the artist behind the Angel of the North and sculptures scattered all over London, takes over the Royal Academy of Arts with a blockbuster exhibition. From a tiny iron cast baby to people climbing the walls and hanging from the ceiling, this is the hot art ticket in town.

Antony Gormley at Royal Academy of Arts. 21 September-3 December, £18-22.

Strike a pose

(c) Tim Walker Studio

V&A has upped its fashion game recently with the spectacular Dior and impressive Mary Quant exhibitions. Now it's time for fashion photography to take centre stage. Taking inspiration from the treasures in the V&A collection, Walker has created a new photographic series and short films. Given his knack for creating fantastical tableaux this is going to be one good looking, trippy rabbit hole of an exhibition to dive head first into.

Tim Walker: Wonderful Things at V&A. 21 September - 8 February, £15.

Very expensive abstract painting

© Grayson Perry Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

Social commentator and self-proclaimed transvestite potter Grayson Perry is taking a dig at society's ills — and let's face it, that's an easy target these days. Art, the gap between rich and poor, lust for power and our obsession with pretty things are all sent up in his tapestries and ceramic vases — you know we're in for a laugh when there's a tapestry titled 'Very Expensive Abstract Painting'.

Grayson Perry: Super Rich Interior Decoration at Victoria Miro, Mayfair. 25 September-20 December, free.


Copyright the artist. Photographed in Dinosaurier Museum Altmuhltal, Germany

Everybody loves dinosaurs, but it's hard to admire them within thronging museums. German photographer Christian Voigt gives them the isolated head shots they deserve by photographing them as if they're emerging from the darkness. A whole series of these beauties has popped up in Mayfair and another plus is the gallery will be a hell of a lot quieter than the Natural History Museum giving us a lot more time to appreciate them.  

Christian Voigt: Evolution @ Bel Air Fine Art. 25 September - 20 October, free.

Memory palace

A render of what the memory palace will look like. Copyright Es Devlin Studio

What were the spaces where human trajectory was changed? From the caves adorned with paintings by early humans, to the street in Alabama where Rosa Parks broke segregation by taking a seat, Es Devlin has recreated these important times in a mirrored 18-metre landscape that's certain to be mesmerising. It's a worthy follow up to the excellent Anish Kapoor exhibition.  

Es Devlin: Memory Palace at Pitzhanger Manor. 26 September-12 January, £7.70.

Fabulous fashion

British designer Dame Zandra Rhodes has a rainbow penthouse on top of the Fashion and Textile Museum, so it's only right that this museum will be the place to examine her 50-year career in fashion. With 100 key looks and 50 original textile designs it's bound to be fabulous.

Zandra Rhodes: 50 years of fabulous at Fashion & Textile Museum. 27 September-26 January, £9.90.

Cuban creativity

Courtesy Mike Stanfield collection.

The iconic image of Che Guevara is the one most associated with Cuban graphic design, but there was much more, including anti-apartheid messaging and expressions of solidarity with the Black Panthers. House of Illustration has 100 works of highly politicised creativity with a look inside Cold War Cuba. If it's anything like the excellent North Korea show we'll all be exclaiming 'viva la revolucion'.  

Designed in Cuba: Cold War Graphics at House of Illustration. 27 September - 19 January, £8.80.

Short run events and art fairs

Copyright Warner Brothers.

Coulrophobics should steer clear of the Vaults in Waterloo as it's hosting a terrifying immersive experience (30 August-4 September, free) in the lead up to the release of IT Chapter Two. It's free but ticket releases get snapped up very quickly.

A flashback to Richard Woods' house in a skip in Hoxton Square.

Skip Gallery is exactly what it sounds like, a gallery of artwork in a skip — read our interview with the founders for where this unique concept came from. This time they've upped their game with seven skips being populated by artists at the Arts Building in Finsbury Park (5-15 September, free)

Copyright Michael Wallner. One of the artists in A River Runs Through It.

For lovers of London and art combined, A River Runs Through It (4-8 September, free) is an annual exhibition of artists inspired by London. They're back at Oxo Gallery to show off their stunning works — including an Oxo Tower made of Oxo cubes, situated under the actual Oxo Tower.

The Disco Carbonara by Martin Gamper in Coal's Drop Yard, part of London Design Festival.

This years's London Design Festival (14-22 September, many events free) will have installations, talks and events across all of London and invites us to take the plunge into an undersea exploration in an immersive installation at Oxo Bargehouse, all without getting wet. There's a low light maze of constricting corridors at V&A and a multi-coloured lounge for laying about in style in Mayfair.

September kicks off art fair season and fans of beautiful objects and art should get down to Berkeley Square for both PAD London: Art & Design (30 September-6 October, £25) and LAPADA: Art & Antiques Fair (13-18 September, £20).

Artwork by Rob Clayton, who will be appearing in New Artist Fair.

International galleries will be bringing a fantastic range of artists for START art fair at Saatchi Gallery (26-29 September, £25), and if you're after the next big thing then head down to spot some emerging artists at Old Truman Brewery's New Artist Fair (13-15 September, free). There are more details in our feature on the fair.

Getting more specific, there's the London Art Book Fair at Whitechapel Gallery (5-8 September, free) for those who love an art-y book, Tribal Art London at Mall Galleries if tribal artworks is more your artistic taste and Art the Arms Fair (3-13 September, free) across Peckham designed to protest and the world's largest arms fair taking place in London.

Last Updated 06 September 2019