London 2015: Major Art (July - December)

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Ai Weiwei

(c) Gao Yuan

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Ai Weiwei
Serpentine Pavilion by SelgasCano, CGI
The World Goes Pop
Eric Ravilious
Duane Hanson; Installation view, Serpentine Sackler Gallery
Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma, 1852-1860
The Fabric of India
M.C. Escher Drawing Hands, 1948


Following a series of heavyweight blockbuster art shows, summer is all about fun in the capital. Belgian artist Carsten Höller overruns the Hayward Gallery until 6th September with a show that includes his Flying Machines overlooking Waterloo Bridge and the return of the famous slides that graced Tate Modern's Turbine Hall back in 2006. Visitors to Decision can choose between two different entrances to get to the first gallery, and even have the chance to take an unknown pill in a show that explores perception and making choices. Here Omer Ali looks at all the other the best art exhibitions taking place in London during the second half of 2015.

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In tune at the Barbican and National Gallery


Until 27th July, Californian multimedia artist Doug Aitken takes over the Barbican for a free, 30-day "happening" inspired by his 2013 event in which he and a number of other artists travelled across the US by train, staging performances as they went. Station to Station features more than 100 different events, including work from artists Martin Creed, Olafur Eliasson and Ed Ruscha, plus New York punks Suicide in concert and a new piece from musician Terry Riley. You'll be able to watch the latter prepare live for his concert, though this and many other events are ticketed, so do check the website.

There's more music at the National Gallery for Soundscapes (from 8th July to 6th September), which sees musicians and sound artists including Jamie xx create pieces in response to paintings in the collection. Jamie xx has chosen Théo Van Rysselberghe's pointillist Coastal Scene while other contributors include award-winning film composer Gabriel Yared, who's responded to Cézanne's Bathers, and wildlife programme-maker Chris Watson, who has chosen one of the gallery's most popular works: Akseli Gallen-Kallela's Lake Keitele from 1905.


The Royal Academy


The Royal Academy's annual Summer Exhibition (until 16th August) - now in its 247th year - embraces colour this year under the stewardship of artist Michael Craig-Martin. Jim Lambie's kaleidoscopic stairs lead up to the brightly painted main galleries containing 1,200 works, showcasing painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, architecture and film by new and established artists.The RA stages autumn's biggest show, too: the first major UK survey of Chinese iconoclast Ai Weiwei (19th September to 13th December). Perhaps in the top five of any list of global artists from the last ten years, while playful, Ai's work has become increasingly political, tackling censorship, freedom of expression and right of free movement.

Covering two decades of work, from Ai's return to China from the US in 1993 to the present day, this exhibition has been organised in collaboration with the artist from his Beijing studio. It includes a number of new, large-scale installations specially created for the main galleries and the courtyard.


The Serpentine Galleries


The season's other big talking point is the Serpentine Galleries' annual outdoor Pavilion (open until 18th October). For its 15th year, Madrid-based architects José Selgas and Lucía Cano (SelgasCano) have created a webbed, multicoloured structure. Visitors to its polygonal rooms should feel as if they've stepped into a stained-glass interior, where they'll also be able to have a coffee and experience the summer programme of live events. Until 4th October, visitors can also experience Bertrand Lavier's playful Fountain, which spurts water from a tangle of bright garden hoses in front of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery. And, to 13th September, the gallery itself hosts the unnerving sculptures of Duane Hanson, who creates lifelike portrayals of working-class Americans in polyester resin. Key works from his 40-year career are here, including Football Players (1968), Man with Hand Cart (1975), Housepainter (1984/88) and Policeman (1992/93).


Tate Modern


Tate Modern's colourful survey of the work of Sonia Delaunay (ends 9th August), a key figure of the Parisian avant-garde, is accompanied by a look at US artist Agnes Martin's more restrained grid and striped paintings, created with subtle pencil lines and pale washes (until 11th October). This first retrospective in more than 20 years covers her formative days in New York in the 1950s and '60s, through to the work she created in three decades in New Mexico until her death in 2004.

In The World Goes Pop (from 17th September), Tate Modern tells the global story of pop art, from Europe, through Latin America to Asia and the Middle East. While we may associate the movement of the 1960s and '70s with Western consumerism, this explosive show of canvas, car bonnets and pinball machines demonstrates how pop embraced protest around the world.

From 11th November, there'll be bright, spinning objects in the gallery for Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture. Calder first created his dynamic mobiles (the name came from Marcel Duchamp) in Paris in the early 1930s and this show aims to show how they brought together motion, performance and theatricality. The exhibition will assemble many of the American artist's major sculptures from around the world, as well as showcasing his film, theatre, music and dance collaborations.

And Mexican sculptor Abraham Cruzvillegas takes over the Turbine Hall for the first of a new series of Hyundai Commissions from 13th October. Known for his improvised, "self-construction" works made from local found objects, early rumours suggest this installation will involve planting, and should hopefully reignite a series that perhaps had come to feel less pivotal to the city's arts scene.


Tate Britain


The big show at Tate's Millbank sibling is Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World (ending 25th October). Though associated with St Ives, this major exhibition - the first dedicated to Hepworth in London for almost 50 years -examines her global fame, starting with her small carvings, through to the large bronzes of the 1960s that grace many of the world's foremost collections. For Berlin-born British artist Frank Auerbach's 84th birthday, the gallery assembles some 70 paintings and drawings from the 1950s on, under the eye of his long-time model Catherine Lampert (from 9th October). Lampert sat for Auerbach for every week for 37 years and this promises to offer a captivating angle on a modern master.

Then, from 25th November, Artist and Empire aims to be the "first major presentation of the art associated with the British Empire from the 16th century to the present day". The show will bring together works from public and private collections across the UK, including sculpture, to explore how different artists around the world responded to the experience of empire.


Indian summer at the V&A


Remaining with empire, this autumn the V&A experiences something of an Indian summer with its India Festival - a series of exhibitions, events and digital initiatives exploring South Asian culture past and present. Marking the 25th anniversary of the opening of the museum's Nehru Gallery, which displays some of the most important objects from the V&A's South Asian art collection, the highlight of the India Festival is The Fabric of India (from 3rd October).

The first major exhibition to explore handmade textiles from India, it will include an 18th-century tent belonging to Tipu Sultan, historic costume and cutting-edge fashion from celebrated Indian designers. Alongside it, Bejewelled Treasures: the Al-Thani Collection (from 21st November) will explore themes of tradition and modernity in Indian jewellery, using pieces all drawn from a single collection.Meanwhile Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma, 1852-1860 (until 11th October) is an often cinematic, free glimpse of South Asian landscape and architecture taken at the dawn of a new medium.

The V&A then marks the bicentenary of the birth of one of photography's 19th-century pioneers, Julia Margaret Cameron (from 28th November). More than 100 of her photographs from the V&A's collection will go on show alongside her letters to the institution's founding director, Sir Henry Cole.


The National Portrait Gallery


Summer's most popular photography exhibition will undoubtedly be Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon (2nd July-18th October). The National Portrait Gallery's exhibition covers the Brussels-born actress's early years as a chorus girl in London's West End through the years of film stardom, to her philanthropic work in later life in more than 70 pictures from such leading 20th-century photographers as Cecil Beaton, Norman Parkinson and Irving Penn, alongside a wealth of archive material.

From 15th October, Giacometti: Pure Presence promises to be an unmissable opportunity to experience the Swiss artist's portraiture. The first major exhibition to cover this aspect of Alberto Giacometti's work, the show includes important paintings, sculpture and drawings by him.


Dulwich Picture Gallery


A little off the beaten track for visitors, but something of a big-hitter on the capital's art scene, until 31st August Dulwich Picture Gallery hosts more than 80 watercolours by influential British designer Eric Ravilious, best known for his work for Wedgwood. Ravilious died aged only 39 in 1942 but he's credited with reviving English watercolour painting and his work has been collected into a series of popular books. Taught by Paul Nash at the Royal College of Art and said to be inspired by the films of Alfred Hitchcock, famous works by the artist on show here include Train Landscape and Westbury House.

The gallery's year closes with the mind-bending work of Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher (from 14th October). This first major UK show of his work brings together his best-known prints and drawings in their original.


Art fairs


The London Design Festival 2015 (19th-27th September) has established itself as one of the largest and most innovative design events in the world. It features more than 350 events and installations across London, from the V&A to a series of installations and exhibitions at Somerset House, including a new immersive work in the courtyard by architect David Adjaye - plus a showcase of ten major international designers in the west wing.

Frieze London pitches camp once again in Regent's Park 14th-17th October; London's leading contemporary art fair offers the chance to buy work from more than 1,000 of the world's top artists, while its talks, installations and new commissions series are an added draw.

You can investigate prints, paintings, sculpture and more from the last 100 years at the 20/21 British Art Fair (9th-13th September) in the pleasant surroundings of the Royal College of Art. PAD (14th-18th October), in Berkeley Square, is another chance to pick up 20th-century art and design from leading global galleries.

From 15th-18th October, The Other Art Fair in Brick Lane's Old Truman Brewery offers the chance to buy direct from 130 emerging artists and is a good chance to scout new talent. The Affordable Art Fair Battersea (22nd-25th October) is a bustling affair and offers work from around 112 galleries priced up to £5,000.

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