Five exhibitions to see this August

From Matisse in the Studio via Picasso's ceramics to the controversial work of Joe Orton, this month's choices offer insight into some extraordinary chapters in artists' lives – and all exhibitions have either just opened or are opening in August.

John Walter, From Sodomy to Intimacy, 2015

Coming Out

A major exhibition marking 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, Coming Out brings together work by artists who have used their practice to explore issues of gender and sexual identity, including David Hockney, Sarah Lucas and Steve McQueen. The result of two years of research into LGBT history, visual culture, the Walker Art Gallery’s own collection and the Arts Council Collection, it features several new acquisitions and aims to reveal hidden queer histories.

Haiti, North Africa, late 19th-early 20th century. Cotton plainweave cut and appliquéd to bast fiber cloth. Former collection of Henri Matisse

Matisse in the Studio

Sure to be one of the most in-demand exhibitions of the season, the Royal Academy’s window onto Matisse’s working environment allows visitors to see how his collection of objects from around the world shaped his art. From examples of Chinese calligraphy that informed his cut-out period to African sculptures that influenced his depictions of the human figure, his personal possessions played a role in each stage of his career – and in many cases you can see the works they inspired displayed alongside.

Pablo Picasso, Yellow Face Long Plate, 1947

Picasso: Ceramics from the Attenborough Collection

Highlights from the late actor and director Richard Attenborough’s collection of ceramics by Picasso are presented in York Art Gallery’s dedicated ceramics space, the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA), flanked by work from more than 600 artists. Though Picasso did not begin working with clay until later in life, he was prolific, producing more than 2,800 pieces all carrying his distinctive style and ranging from small decorative dishes to huge floor vases. This is a chance to see these works on loan from their permanent home, Leicester’s Walk Museum and Art Gallery.

Bruce Nauman, Run from Fear, Fun from Rear, 1972

Bruce Nauman

  • Tate Modern
  • 24 July 2017 – 24 July 2018
  • Free to all

The second exhibition in Tate Modern’s new ARTIST ROOMS space after Louise Bourgeois, this collection of nearly 30 works spans Bruce Nauman’s career and includes some of his most famous neon and video pieces, as well as sculpture and works on paper. The American artist’s distinctive blend of humour and menace permeates his output, whether working in film, sculpture or performance, and is here augmented by the sound installation Raw Materials, currently filling the Turbine Hall with snatched snippets of conversation and fragmented speech.

Joe Orton

Crimes of Passion: The Story of Joe Orton

Celebrating the extraordinary but tragically short life of British playwright Joe Orton, this exhibition explores the points where his interests and career came into contact with issues of crime and justice – including the inventive collages and interventions he made in library books, but for which he was penalised with a six month prison sentence. Supported by an Art Happens campaign, it marks 50 years since Orton’s untimely death and also recognises his status as an important figure in the fight for LGBT rights.

"Art Fund" is the operating name of the National Art Collections Fund, a charity registered in England and Wales (209174) and Scotland (SC038331)