Summer Exhibition, The Royal Academy
6 October – 3 January 2021
For the first time since its inception in 1769, the Royal Academy’s prolific Summer Exhibition is being held in the autumn. The somewhat chaotic open-submission nature of the show means that an eclectic mix of work from both emerging and established artists is guaranteed. This year, visitors can explore more than 1,000 works (whittled down from 18,000 submissions) across 3,000 square metres, with highlights including watercolours by Frank Bowling, sculptures from Yinka Shonibare and Tracey Emin, and work by installation artist Isaac Julien, who also curated the first two galleries. In such a large-scale exhibition, it is difficult to establish a particular theme, but this year’s co-ordinators, Jane and Louise Wilson, note a sense of ‘rapture and fracture’ in the body of work, as well as a celebration of the dogged perseverance and survival of the art world.
Helmut Newton: 100 Years, Zebra One Gallery
31 October – 14 November 2020
This independent Hampstead gallery is commemorating the centenary of celebrated photographer Helmut Newton with an exhibition of original rare prints. Renowned for his erotically charged portraits, which graced the pages of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar in the 1960s and 70s, the retrospective features ‘important images from the past 100 years’, handpicked by Zebra One Gallery owner and curator Gabrielle Du Plooy and her team. Highlights include a candid photo of a young Jerry Hall and two portraits of David Bowie. ‘[We] are honoured to be marking such a momentous occasion,’ Du Plooy commented. ‘Vintage prints were usually sent by the photographer to the newspaper or magazine editors – most were destroyed or written over. It’s extremely rare to find them in immaculate condition, so we’re incredibly excited about sharing these.’
Dante’s In-Furlough, The Vaults
15 October – 30 December 2020
Nobody expected to see the return of immersive theatre this side of Christmas, but The Vaults is back with a devilishly clever theatrical experience. A socially-distanced group of just eight audience members are invited to travel through the cavernous railway arches, through the seven circles of hell, on a quest to win your soul back — with a Covid-19 twist.
Art on a Postcard
5 – 19 November 2020
An alternative to visiting a gallery is the return of Art on a Postcard, which this winter is back as a purely digital initiative. The annual auction sees artists create original works in postcard size to raise funds for The Hepatitis C Trust helpline. Hosted in partnership with art exhibition platform gowithYamo and Dreweatts auction house, this is your chance to nab an original piece by a variety of contemporary artists, with bidding starting at just £50. This year will also welcome a series of virtual extras including a podcast series and online artist talks.
Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer, The Barbican
7 October – 3 January 2021
The Barbican’s major new retrospective of visionary dancer and choreographer Michael Clark is a suitably sensory overload. The Aberdeen-born performer studied at the Royal Ballet, then worked at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance before founding his own dance company in 1984, aged just 22. His collaborations with avant-garde designers, artists, and musicians — notably The Fall’s Mark E. Smith, Sarah Lucas and Leigh Bowery — throughout the 80s and 90s put him in a unique position at the forefront of British counterculture. Through immersive video, photography and installation, Cosmic Dancer showcases Clark’s ‘unique multidisciplinary approach that incorporates a wide range of subcultural influence’.