Five exhibitions to see this October

Looking for inspiration now the temperatures are starting to drop? Make the most of the shortening days with these five unmissable exhibitions.

Whether it’s the celebrities of fin-de-siècle Paris, the A-listers of 18th-century English theatre, or the very literal star of our solar system, this month’s must-sees make for a stellar line-up. Our fabulous five are all open from early October, and all are free or 50% off with a National Art Pass.

Coronal mass ejection from the sun

The Sun: Living with our Star

Life would be impossible without it, but it also has the power to disrupt and destroy: no wonder the sun has fascinated and awed humankind for millennia. This exhibition explores how our understanding of our star has deepened and evolved, from ancient beliefs revealed through Bronze Age artefacts to NASA’s planned solar missions which will allow us to ‘touch’ the sun for the first time. There's also the opportunity to escape the autumn chills and bask in the sun’s rays with your toes in the sand.

Cathie Pilkington, Three Graces, 2015

Cathie Pilkington: Working from Home

Cathie Pilkington ‘interrupts’ Pallant House Gallery this autumn with a site-specific installation including 30 of her provocative doll-like sculptures. Responding to the museum’s exceptional collections of British Modern art (including works by Eileen Agar, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore) and the domestic elegance of the building itself, Pilkington explores the boundaries between private and public life, stating 'I am convinced that work made on an intimate scale, involving the viewer in close proximity, has as much power to deal with the big subjects as any macho museum scale art.'

Mrs Siddons, Thomas Gainsborough, 1785

Gainsborough & the Theatre

Theatre experienced a renaissance in the 18th century with a surge in popularity and a rise in the wealth and celebrity status of performers. Thomas Gainsborough became friends with many leading lights, including actors, playwrights and dancers, and his intimate portraits reflect the more natural style of performance that was developing on stage. Alongside highlights such as his portrait of the actress Mrs Siddons are playbills, satirical works and other theatrical ephemera, bringing to life a vibrant period in the history of English theatre.

Isaac Julien, En Passage (Stones Against Diamonds), 2015

Strata, Rock, Dust, Stars

A geological map published by William Smith in 1815 revolutionised our understanding of the earth’s layers and ultimately changed how we shape our environment. This exhibition – the largest media art display ever presented in York – investigates scientific and artistic responses to geological strata, and from there delves into the many layers of human curiosity about the world and our exploration of its resources. Internationally renowned artists featured in the show include Agnes Meyer Brandis, Semiconductor and Ryoichi Kurokawa.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, May Belfort, 1895

Pin-Ups: Toulouse-Lautrec and the Art of Celebrity

Come and explore the ‘city of pleasure’, meet the stars of cabaret and discover the dance halls and cafés of 19th-century Paris. Living and working in Montmartre, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was immersed in the bohemian world centred around café-cabarets such as Le Moulin Rouge and Le Chat Noir. He captured this heady time at its height, immortalising stars like Yvette Guilbert, Jane Avril and Aristide Bruant through revolutionary new techniques in printmaking. His lithographic posters, portfolio prints and illustrations are exhibited alongside works by contemporaries including Pierre Bonnard and Walter Sickert.

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