October's Must-See Museum Exhibitions


Tim Marlow, artistic director for London's Royal Academy of Arts, chooses the best exhibitions to see this month, presented by Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
T his month, four shows worth traveling to offer something for every type of art lover. In Paris, the Grand Palais showcases over 200 artworks by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, while London’s Barbican Centre unveils a dynamic exhibition that examines the influence of cafes, clubs and cabarets on artists. Meanwhile, visitors to the Kunsthistorisches Museum can uncover the revolutionary oeuvres of Caravaggio and Bernini, the first museum show of its kind in Austria, or learn more about the role of artists in politics at the San Francisco Museum of Art.

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art

Barbican Centre, London
4 October–19 January 2020

T his month at the Barbican Centre in London, an exhibition opens that looks back at the role of cafes, clubs and cabarets – those electrifying social spaces which served as cultural hubs for artists, writers and creatives between the 1880s and 1960s. Entitled Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art, the exhibition is the first to explore the intersection of artists, designers, writers, performers and musicians in these avant-garde arenas.

Karl Hofer, Tiller Girls, before 1927 [ © Elke Walford, Fotowerkstatt Hamburg]

The show captures the spirit of collaboration and idea-exchange which thrived during this period, presenting the work and relationships of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Loie Fuller, Josef Hoffman, Giacomo Balla, Theo van Doesburg and Sophie Taeber-Arp, and their artistic hangouts.

Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Réouverture du cabaret du Chat Noir (Reopening of the Chat Noir Cabaret), 1896 [© Victoria and Albert Museum, London]

In addition to a display of 350 individual works rarely seen in the UK, including drawings, prints, photographs, film and archival materials, special scale recreations of specific spaces, including Vienna’s Cabaret Fledermaus, will allow visitors to peer inside these provocative sites. The show evokes the free expression of life within these sanctuaries of creative activity and the relationships, ideas and art they bore.

Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art opens on 4 October 2019 and runs until 19 January 2020.

Caravaggio & Bernini

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
15 October 2019–19 January 2020

T he Kunsthistorisches Museum is presenting Caravaggio & Bernini, the first major show in Austria to be devoted to these revolutionary giants of the Baroque. The artists were masters of theatricality and dynamism, which they convey brilliantly in their respective oeuvres. This exhibition explores the legacy of innovation and creativity in early 17th century Rome, when the city served as the center of the artistic world.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, David with the Head of Goliath, circa 1600-01 [ © KHM-Museumsverband]

Known for his unconventional lifestyle and unidealized figures, Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio instilled his paintings with dramatic lighting and shadow that was widely copied in Italy and beyond.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, The Crowning with Thorns, circa 1603 [ © KHM-Museumsverband]

Architect, sculptor, painter and playwright, Giam Lorenzo Bernini created exquisite works imbued with realism and expressing grand emotion. His talent won him important commissions and the patronage of powerful popes.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Ecstasy of St Teresa, circa 1644-47 [ © St Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum] Кокшаров А.М.

Both men’s outsize contributions forever changed the course of art history. Over 70 examples of sublime Roman artworks by the pair, along with examples by their contemporaries, will make up the exhibition which promises to be a veritable feast for the eyes. Highlights include Caravaggio’s Narcissus and the eternally surprised, Boy Bitten by Lizard, and Bernini’s Medusa and a statue of St Sebastian.

Caravaggio & Bernini will open at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna from 15 October 2019 to 19 January 2020

Toulouse-Lautrec: Resolutely Modern

Grand Palais, Paris
9 October 2019–27 January 2020

T he electrifying output of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is being reconsidered in a novel exhibition, Toulouse-Lautrec: Resolutely Modern, at the Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais in Paris. The show, which brings together over 200 artworks, examines the legacy of the renowned artist.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Au Cirque Fernando: Ecuyère, 1887-1888. The Art Institute of Chicago.

Curators at Rmn-GP assert that museums and galleries have repeatedly positioned Toulouse-Lautrec as a trivial artist, who was enticed by the allure of a bohemian lifestyle – an artist enveloped by the ‘culture of Montmartre.’

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Rousse (La Toilette), 1889. Musée d’Orsay © Rmn-Grand Palais (musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski.

Toulouse-Lautrec: Resolutely Modern seeks to shape the narrative of Toulouse-Lautrec anew, removing the tropes and associations of the Moulin Rouge. As a result, the exhibition presents an authentic and insightful window to Toulouse-Lautrec’s remarkable oeuvre.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Messaline descend l’escalier bordé de figurants (L’opéra Messaline à Bordeaux), 1900-1901. Los Angeles, County Museum of Art, LACMA © Museum Associates/ LACMA.

Toulouse-Lautrec: Resolutely Modern will open in at the Grand Palais on 9 October 2019 and comes to an end 27 January 2020.


SFMOMA, San Francisco
26 October 2019–17 February 2020

A n important exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art takes a closer look at how artists use their work to explore and expand their roles within society. Entitled SOFT POWER, the show's Reagan-era expression affirms the power of persuasion through culture, political values and foreign policies over violence and coercion.

Tanya Lukin Linklater with Liz Lott, The treaty is in the body, 2017. [Courtesy the artist and Winnipeg Art Gallery. ©Tanya Lukin Linklater]

The show focuses on art as the center of this sentiment, reflecting on the potency and effectiveness of art to generate change.

Eamon Ore-Giron, Infinite Regress LXXIV, 2019 [Courtesy the artist, Fleisher/Ollman, Philadelphia, and Páaramo Gallery, Guadalajara.]

Among work by 20 international artists, three-quarters will be new and never-before shown in the US.

Commissions from 15 artists take the form of sculpture, site-responsive installation, mural, performance, video, photography, sound sculpture and large-scale painting, inspiring visitors to exert their own, soft influence within the world.

Tuan Nguyen, The Specter of Ancestors Becoming, 2019, Still from 4-channel video installation: color, 7.1 surround sound
28 min. [Courtesy the artist and James Cohan.]

SOFT POWER is on view at SFMOMA from 26 October 2019 until 17 February 2020.

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