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15 reasons to get excited about art in London this autumn

Art in London is awesome this autumn - old masters, new galleries, blockbuster shows and a colourful mist - here's our pick of the 15 highlights

Written by
Martin Coomer
Art is popping up!
© Britta Jaschinski

1. Art is popping up!

The capital’s biggest, boldest art show this autumn is a globetrotting extravaganza celebrating the pop art movement. Get ready for an explosion of colour and concepts at Tate Modern’s ‘The World Goes Pop’, including works from the Andy Warhols and Roy Lichtensteins of Asia and Latin America. Look out for a giant fly-swatter, latex body suits, painted car bonnets and cute robots. One of the most eye-catching pieces in the show is French artist Nicola L’s 11-person raincoat (‘The Red Coat’). Sadly you won’t be able to try on this natty number; insurance costs mean that only Tate employees were able to cosy up inside it during a recent London outing. Regardless, we welcome such a practical solution to festival-going: put this on and you’ll never get soggy or lose your mates again.

Read more about The EY Exhibition: The World Goes Pop

Artists are going crazy for workouts
© Marvin Gaye Chetwynd

2. Artists are going crazy for workouts

The ICA is turning one of its galleries into a fitness studio with the help of Wright & Vandame, whose ‘Art Gym’ will host alternative exercise classes. Artists will lead zumba, pilates and yoga sessions with a creative twist (keep an eye on Fig-2 for the class schedule). We’re already rolling out our yoga mats for Marvin Gaye Chetwynd’s ‘insanity workout’. The Turner Prize-nominated artist known for her wonderfully absurd performances will no doubt come up with a ludicrous session. Can’t promise fitness, but utter foolishness is guaranteed.

'Art Gym', ICA Sep 22 to Sep 27.

The Barbican is getting its skates on
© Eddie Peake, courtesy Galleria Lorcan O'Neill

3. The Barbican is getting its skates on

Eddie Peake only graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in 2013 but is already one of the most hotly tipped contemporary artists in the UK and on the books of the White Cube gallery. Mind you, Peake’s no shrinking violet (check out his defiantly NSFW website). Nakedness is a common theme of his epic, erotically charged performances. He has staged a nude five-a-side football match, covered statuesque performers in gold paint and, for his forthcoming exhibition at the Barbican Curve, ‘The Forever Loop’, we hear whispers of a perpetual rollerskater – although their state of undress is unconfirmed.

Read more about Eddie Peake: The Forever Loop

‘The Generation Game’ is coming back (kind of)
© Ryan Gander, courtesy Lisson Gallery

4. ‘The Generation Game’ is coming back (kind of)

There’ll be a touch of Bruce Forsyth’s TV game show to jokey conceptualist Ryan Gander’s Lisson Gallery exhibition. ‘Fieldwork’ features objects – including a napkin signed by Picasso, a pair of dead pigeons, a National Trust sign and a kitchen sink – rotating round the room on a vast conveyor belt. There will also, of course, be a cuddly toy, though it’s more of a tortured teddy bear. This is, after all, contemporary art, not family viewing.

Ryan Gander: Fieldwork’, Lisson Gallery. Sep 25 to Oct 31.

London is getting an epic new art space
© Kioyar Ltd

5. London is getting an epic new art space

Five buildings, £25 million, three years, one man. Damien Hirst is certainly giving something back to the city that put him on the art map. The former YBA’s Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall is a huge new space that qualifies as the most exciting art opening since Tate launched its modern-art powerhouse at Bankside 15 years ago. But if you need proof that Hirst is his own man, look no further than the first show. From his 3,000-strong ‘Murderme’ collection – which includes pieces by fellow YBAs, including Sarah Lucas, as well as his great hero Francis Bacon – Hirst has chosen to inaugurate the space not with a famous name or his own greatest hits but with the works of relatively unknown British abstract painter John Hoyland (1934-2011).

Read more about John Hoyland: Power Stations

You can soon get lost in fog – Technicolor fog
© Ann Veronica Janssens

6. You can soon get lost in fog – Technicolor fog

Before the Clean Air Act of 1956 made pea-soupers a thing of the past, Londoners were no strangers to disorientating fogs. These days, we have to rely on artists to recreate suchenveloping experiences (without the associated respiratory conditions, of course). In 2007, we queued up to get lost in Antony Gormley’s ethereal ‘Blind Light’ installation at the Hayward Gallery. In autumn 2015, Ann Veronica Janssens kicks off ‘States of Mind’ the Wellcome Collection’s year-long exploration of human consciousness. Her brightly coloured mist installation ‘yellowbluepink’ is described as disorientating and uplifting. Maybe we’ll bump into you there.

States of Mind: Ann Veronica Janssens’, Wellcome Collection. Oct 15 to Jan 3 2016.

Frieze has a subterranean secret
© Jeremy Herbert, courtesy Frieze Projects

7. Frieze has a subterranean secret

Now in its thirteenth year, the ritziest of all art fairs – with more than 160 of the world’s best contemporary art galleries – will once again be joined by its sister fair Frieze Masters, full of brilliant historical work including comic inspired sculptures by the late, great Roy Lichtenstein. If the frenzied atmosphere causes you to overheat, cool off in Jeremy Herbert’s Frieze Project: the London multimedia artist is taking matters underground with a secret subterranean chamber beneath the fair.

Read more about Frieze London

A Spanish old master is ready to dish the dirt
© The Hispanic Society of America, New York

8. A Spanish old master is ready to dish the dirt

Long before sidebars of shame, art had to do the lion’s share of celebrity tittle-tattling. And gossip doesn’t come more exquisitely detailed than in Goya’s 1797 masterpiece ‘The Duchess of Alba’. Look closely at this portrait of the eighteenth-century It-girl and you’ll notice ‘Solo Goya’ written in the sand at her feet. The duchess’s rings, meanwhile, read ‘Alba’ and ‘Goya’. Many a fan has fluttered at the rumoured relationship between artist and sitter. This painting is the star of the first ever show to focus on the portraits by Spain’s leading artist, one of the most psychologically insightful painters of all time.

Read more about Goya: The Portraits

It’s all happening on the streets too
© JR, courtesy Phaidon

9. It’s all happening on the streets too

When he was last in London, French street artist-activist JR covered the side of the old Foyles building in Charing Cross Road with ginormous black-and- white portraits from his global art project ‘Inside Out’. He returns this October for a solo show at Lazarides and the launch of his first book. He has also promised something spectacular out on the streets. Keep your eyes peeled.

‘JR: Can Art Change the World?’ (£39.95 ) is published by Phaidon on Oct 12.

'JR:JR', Lazarides. Oct 16 to Nov 12.

Tate Britain is getting the drinks in
© Tate

10. Tate Britain is getting the drinks in

If there’s one thing we like as much as intoxicating art, it’s a drop of the sauce. And we’re clearly not alone. ‘Art and Alcohol’ at Tate Britain traces the historical links between daubing and boozing through works by British artists including William Hogarth (who pointed out the pitfalls of the hard stuff in his 1751 print ‘Gin Lane’) and Gilbert & George, whose ‘Drinking Sculpture’ is a sequence of progressively blurred photos of tanked-up Londoners. Make ours a double (vision)!

Art and Alcohol’, Tate Britain. Nov 16 to autumn 2016.

MC Escher is in the house! Turning it upside down, of course
© The MC Escher Company

11. MC Escher is in the house! Turning it upside down, of course

He of the impossible perspectives, gravity defying waterfalls and, most famously, stairs rising inexorably to nowhere is the subject of a retrospective, ‘The Amazing World of MC Escher’, comprising nearly a hundred prints and drawings. Expect to see all the greatest hits including ‘Drawing Hands’ (1948) in which two hands seem simultaneously to be drawing each other into existence. Far out!

Read more about ‘The Amazing World of MC Escher’

The really wild show will be back
© Thomas P Peschak

12. The really wild show will be back

Yes, Wildlife Photographer of the Year – the renowned photography competition that’s given us images of everything from stunning views of threatened marine habitats to a texting monkey – returns next month. True animal magic.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year’, Natural History Museum. Oct 16 to Apr 10 2016.

The British Museum is going Celt-crazy
© British Museum

13. The British Museum is going Celt-crazy

If you think Celtic culture gave us nothing more than Clannad and knotty tattoos, ‘Celts: Art and Identity’ will put you right. Focusing on 2,500 years of culture, the British Museum’s autumn blockbuster features a vast array of booty ranging from intricate jewellery to a Marvel comic depiction of a Celtic warrior –  that’ll be Cuchulainn the Irish Wolfhound, of course.

Read more about Celts: Art and Identity

The Barbican is getting all Eame-otional
© Eames Office LCC

14. The Barbican is getting all Eame-otional

Chances are you’ve parked your backside on one of Charles and Ray Eames’s iconic stacking chairs, or at least a knock-off version of one. Their influence is so ubiquitous that the Eames name now defines an era of clean-lined, mid-twentieth-century design. The most stylish exhibition of autumn 2015 chronicles the US design duo’s evolution and their efforts to bring their ethos into homes around the world. Get ready for some serious furniture envy.

Read more about The World of Charles and Ray Eames

And last but most definitely not least: Tate Modern’s other next big thing is coming soon

15. And last but most definitely not least: Tate Modern’s other next big thing is coming soon

The biggest exhibition space in London also holds its biggest secret, as much as it’s possible to keep anything under wraps in a 152-metre-long space overlooked by three floors of galleries. The Turbine Hall commission, which in the past has given us an endless sun to worship and a massive crack to ponder, is certain to be spectacular and – we’ve heard – will have a very particular London focus. Find out what Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas has cooked up for his ‘Empty Lot’ before anyone else with our exclusive interview on October 13.

Read more about Hyundai Commission 2015: Abraham Cruzvillegas – Empty Lot

Keep up to date with all art in London

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