Tim Marlow's Must-See Museum Shows: September 2023


Looking for some inspiration for your next museum visit? This month, we're taking a tour of the world's most exciting biennales and innovative museum exhibitions with Tim Marlow, CEO and Director of the Design Museum, London.

São Paulo Biennial

6 September - 10 December 2023

Curators of the 35th São Paulo Biennial © Levi Fanan / Biennial Foundation Levi Fanan

‘Choreographies of the Impossible’ – this year’s edition of the second-oldest art biennial in the world – will feature around 100 artists, 76 of whom come from the Global South. Led by four curators – artist Grada Kilomba, anthropologist Hélio Menezes, curator Diane Lima and museum director Manuel Borja-Villel – it will present work as varied as an artist collective who have enlisted football fans to display monumental flags of protest to an album commissioned from the Brazilian singer Inaicyra Falcão. Their collective hope is to “confront the ideas of freedom, justice and equality as impossible achievements”.

Composing Color: Paintings by Alma Thomas

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC
15 September 2023 - 2 June 2024

Alma Thomas, Snoopy--Early Sun Display on Earth, 1970. Smithsonian American Art Museum Smithsonian American Art Museum

Even though Alma Thomas was recognised as a major American abstract painter in the years leading up to her death back in 1978, Composing Color: Paintings by Alma Thomas, feels overdue. In her vibrant paintings and watercolours, Thomas gave new life to the shapes and patterns she saw in the world around her, in work that is never decorative but always hard-won. Even at the end of her life, living with arthritis, she still painted. This exhibition will survey the vivid career of one of the unsung heroes of postwar American painting.

Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto

Victoria & Albert Museum, London
16 September 2023 - 25 February 2024

Gabrielle Chanel, 31 rue Cambon, Paris, 1937. Photo by Roger Schall. © 1938 Shutterstock.

For 60 years, beginning in 1910, Coco Chanel made some of the most elegant and epoque-making designs in womens fashion, not to mention jewellery and cosmetics, establishing arguably the most successful fashion house of the 20th century. Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto, will feature over 180 looks – including outfits created for Lauren Bacall and Marlene Dietrich – which paved the way for a new feminine elegance which continues to influence the way women dress today.

Marina Abramović 

Royal Academy Arts, London
23 September 2023 - 1 January 2024

Marina Abramović, The Current, 2017. Video; 1 hour 35 mins. Courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archives. © Marina Abramović

At the age of 76, having risked life and limb and life during her illustrious career, the performance artist is planning one of her most dramatic shows. Marina Abramovic will highlight key moments of her 50-year career through re-creations of pivotal pieces. Intimacy, endurance and pushing the body to its limits are hallmarks of her work, but the question for curators was always how to preserve ephemeral live performances. The answer was for Abramović to train a new generation of artists to re-perform some of the most compelling, disturbing, moving and transformative works of the past half-century.

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