September'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.

This month, four shows worth travelling for offer something for every type of art lover. The Walker Art Center hosts the work of installation artist Theaster Gates in his first major US exhibition, while Germany’s Vitra Design Museum unveils a delightful, confounding and fantastic exhibition devoted to Surrealism. Meanwhile, visitors to the Albertina Museum can discover the pioneering work of Albrecht Dürer, Young Hare and all, or celebrate the impact of the radical and rebellious William Blake at Tate Britain.

Theaster Gates: Assembly Hall

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
5 September 2019–12 January 2020

T he first major US exhibition of acclaimed American social practice installation artist, Theaster Gates, is to take place at The Walker Art Center.

Theaster Gates. © the artist. Photograph © Sara Pooley. Courtesy White Cube.

Gates’s multi-disciplinary practice, which ranges from sculpture and installation to performance and architectural interventions, often looks to find the "life within things." In pursuit of this, the artist reclaims and redeems abandoned buildings in Chicago’s South Side, re-housing within them objects salvaged from libraries, archives, and collections which have turned them aside. This process bestows new purpose and meaning upon the items and spaces – in essence, new life.

Theaster Gates, Stony Island Arts Bank, 2012 onwards. © Theaster Gates. Photograph © Tom Harris. Courtesy White Cube.

Now, many of these artefacts, including Gates’s vast collections and studio environment, will be housed at the Walker Art Center, transforming four rooms into immersive works of art. The extraordinary installation will include glass lantern slides, books, periodicals, furniture, and other ephemera.

Theaster Gates, Black Vessel for a Saint in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 2017. Photograph Gene Pittman, courtesy Walker Art Center.

Theaster Gates: Assembly Hall will be on view from 5 September at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and will run until 12 January 2020.

William Blake

Tate Britain, London
11 September 2019–2 February 2020

I n London, Tate Britain is presenting the largest UK survey for a generation devoted to English painter, printmaker and poet, William Blake – one of the most influential figures in all of British Art.

William Blake, Newton, 1795–circa 1805.

Blake was somewhat under recognised as a visual artist in his own lifetime. In tribute, this exhibition will attempt to present the artworks as he had intended them to be experienced: two works originally planned as large frescos will be enlarged and digitally projected onto the gallery wall, whilst their small-scale originals will hang nearby in a re-construction of his 1809 exhibition, allowing 21st-century audiences to view the work as it was seen at the time.

William Blake, Pity, circa 1795.

Visitors will encounter more than 300 extraordinary pieces, including many of his illuminated books, including the famed Songs of Innocence and Experience 1794, and some of his best-known paintings, such as Newton and The Ghost of a Flea.

William Blake, Capaneus the Blasphemer, 1824–27.

Expect to be transported into Blake’s visionary world and realise the full and enduring impact of his output on the arts.

William Blake will open at Tate Britain on 11 September and run until 2 February 2020.

Albrecht Dürer

Albertina Museum, Vienna
20 September 2019–6 January 2020

T he Albertina is celebrating a pioneer of the German Renaissance, and one of the greatest printmakers of any era, Albrecht Dürer.

Albrecht Dürer, Young Hare, 1502.

Presenting its own impressive collection of Dürer drawings, the largest in the world no less, along with important international loans of drawings, paintings and prints, the museum will stage an exhibition of more than 200 individual works, celebrating the artist’s expert draughtsmanship.

Albrecht Dürer, A Ninety-Three-Year-Old Man, 1521.

Through works including the famed Young Hare and Praying Hands, each unmistakably “Dürer”, the show will demonstrate the artist’s trademark precision and exceptional attention to detail, which is carried through even to his distinct monogrammed signature. It will look to the latest in research findings, trace the output of the artist’s workshop, and explore his personal, early humanist notion of art and the new concerns of the Renaissance - creating beautiful figures inspired by classical statues but imbued with naturalism. He’s even credited with elevating drawing as an art-form to the high status it holds today.

Albrecht Dürer, Adoration of the Magi, 1504. © Gabinetto Fotografico delle Gallerie degli Uffizi.

Albrecht Dürer will open at the Albertina from 20 September and run until 6 January 2020.

Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today

Vitra Design Museum, Weil-am-Rhein, Germany
28 September 2019–19 January 2020

I n Germany, the Vitra Design Museum will be delving into the delightful, confounding, and fantastic world of Surrealism – one of the most influential artistic movements of the 20th century, which took influence from dreams, the ephemeral and the unconscious, and yet heavily influenced material culture from 1930s onwards.

This exhibition will examine the way in which design and Surrealism have stood hand-in-hand by exhibiting Surrealist artworks and design objects alongside each other, illustrating intriguing parallels between the two disciplines. The show will include works by some of the foremost names in art and design from the last century, including Le Corbusier, Gae Aulenti, Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, Ray Eames, Frederick Kiesler, Carlo Mollino, Man Ray and many others. It looks to be a true celebration of the ubiquitous influence of the fantastical world of Surrealism upon design throughout furniture, interiors, fashion, film and beyond.

Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today opens at Vitra Design Museum on 28 September and runs until 19 January 2020.

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