The exhibitions you must see this September

Published 18 August 2021

From leading painters at the Hayward Gallery to a rising sculpture star at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, these are the exhibitions not to miss this month as autumn sets in.

Falling leaves, orange hues and back-to-school mindsets: September marks the official start of the dreamy season, autumn.

Autumn is a wonderful time to see art. The days are cooler, the evenings are still long, and museums and galleries are revamping their spaces to welcome exciting new shows. Make sure not to miss the tail-end of the summer’s big hitters – Don McCullin at Tate Liverpool, Nalini Malani at Whitechapel Gallery and Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years at York Art Gallery all close 5 September.

This month it’s all about the pioneers. In London, the Hayward Gallery welcomes a group exhibition of contemporary painters who manipulate their art form to challenge our ways of seeing, and in Liverpool, the Walker Art Gallery showcases the work of modern artist Walter Sickert, a leader in capturing raw human experience in all its gritty detail.

There is a strong focus on multimedia artists, as eclectic artist and designer Sophie Taeuber-Arp comes under the spotlight at Tate Modern and conceptual artist Alberta Whittle creates a powerful film work for Jupiter Artland.

From evocative portraits and intricate paintings to costumes from film, see art you love and discover new things with this month’s must-sees.

These are our picks to get you started, but don’t forget there’s so much more out there to enjoy. Keep an eye on our full exhibition listings to plan your autumn adventures and sign up to Art in Your Inbox for updates on what to see.

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Lubaina Himid, The Captain and The Mate, 2017-2018, acrylic on canvas, 183 x 244 cm. Mixing It Up: Painting Today at Hayward Gallery 9 September - 12 December 2021. © Lubaina Himid (2021). Courtesy the artist and Hollybush Gardens, London. Photo: And

Mixing It Up: Painting Today

50% off exhibitions

This major group exhibition features the work of artists such as Lubaina Himid, Allison Katz and Denzil Forrester, and focuses on a thought-provoking style of painting where the traditions of the medium are exploited to create fresh perspectives and challenge topical issues. The paintings on display sit somewhere between depiction and imagination, showing how artists can manipulate real life and fantasy to make evocative work.


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Kedisha Coakley, Ritual Series, 2019-2020. © The artist. Courtesy of Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Kedisha Coakley

Free entry
10% off

Challenging western depictions of black culture is high on the agenda for rising sculpture star, Kedisha Coakley, who has her first public art gallery exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Her work is concerned with identity and representation, particularly regarding black women. A powerful part of the exhibition is her patterns and motifs of braided hair intertwined within her sculptures, exploring the maintenance of African Caribbean hair. The exhibition features work in sculpture, photography and printmaking, and will be combined with a large-scale public sculpture to be unveiled in the West Midlands later this year.


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Bernardo Bellotto, The Fortress of Königstein from the North, 1756-8 © The National Gallery, London

Bellotto: The Königstein Views Reunited

50% off exhibitions

In this exhibition the National Gallery displays five works that all depict the Saxon fortress of Königstein by 18th-century landscape artist Bernardo Bellotto, one of which was acquired with Art Fund support. The nephew of Canaletto, Bellotto was constantly overlooked in his lifetime in favour of his superior artist uncle. This exhibition highlights how he took a radical approach to painting in the 18th century as a leading painter in his own right.


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Power of Stories at Christchurch Mansion 26 June - 24 October 2021. Photo: Megan Wilson.

Power of Stories

Free to all

Three costumes from Marvel Studios’ blockbuster hit Black Panther are on display at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich. The exhibition looks at how costumes and objects in film contribute to a strong sense of time and place in storytelling and features the costumes of characters T’Challa, Shuri and Okoye alongside historic objects.


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Sickert: A Life in Art

50% off exhibitions

Drawn to the raw debauchery of music halls, theatres and urban scenes, Walter Sickert was known for portraying 20th-century life in unapologetic detail. This exhibition looks particularly at how drawing contributed the artist’s practice, and features over 300 works in paint and pencil. The images featured chart the challenges of life in in 20th-century Britain and show how Sickert invented himself as an artist over time.


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Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Composition of Circles and Overlapping Angles 1930, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Riklis Collection of McCrory Corporation.  Photo: The Museum of Modern Art, Department of Imaging and Visual Resources.

Sophie Taeuber-Arp

50% off exhibitions

Sophie Taeuber-Arp was an incredibly varied artist who worked in many different forms. This exhibition features embroidery, painting, sculpture, magazines, puppetry and Dada objects, demonstrating how she toed the line between making and crafting. This collection of works has never been seen in this country before, providing a rare opportunity to explore this leading artist and designer of the 1920s and 30s.


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King Richard III by Unknown artist, late 16th century, photo © National Portrait Gallery, London

Richard III: Coming Home

Free entry

This iconic portrait of Richard III by an unknown artist has become synonymous with the image of the last Plantagenet king. The exhibition at Yorkshire Museum has been supported through Art Fund’s Weston Loan Programme, which helps museums to borrow major works from collections across the UK, and places this famous work in context with objects and artefacts associated with the king's life. Highlights include exquisite jewels, coins and supporters' badges.


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Still from Alberta Whittle’s RESET, 2020. Image courtesy of Alberta Whittle.

Alberta Whittle: RESET

50% off entry

Multimedia artist Alberta Whittle's new film work RESET was made at the height of lockdown and explores how fears around contagion, moral panic and xenophobia have been amplified by the coronavirus pandemic. The film is combined with a group exhibition across Jupiter Artland’s indoor and outdoor spaces, featuring a collective of Scottish artists working in creative writing, music, performance and visual art.


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