The Fall 2015 Culture Guide
Now that staring at the ocean no longer qualifies as the perfect weekend activity, museums, lecture halls, and performance spaces are packing out their Fall calendars with pretty incredible events. What’s even better, is that many are celebrating big anniversaries, so they’re stepping up their game for the season.
Photograph 51 at the Noël Coward TheatreSt. Martin's Lane
This play about Rosalind Franklin, the scientist who researched DNA and was crucial to Watson and Crick's cracking the DNA code, brings Nicole Kidman to the London stage for the first time in 17 years. All reviews point to the fact that writer Anna Ziegler has managed to make a riveting play about what could otherwise only be considered pretty dry subject matter. With a major Hollywood actress in the starring role, the play is almost guaranteed to sell out, so catch tickets while you can. From September 5 to November 21.
Goya: The Portraits at the National GalleryTrafalgar Sq. | +184.108.40.20647.2885
The National Gallery is a perfectly grand venue for an exhibition of this magnitude: Over 70 of the influential Spanish court painter's portraits will be on display from some of his first commissions in the 1780's to late into the 1820's when he'd left Spain for Paris. Among the portraits in the exhibition, there will be two self-portraits of Goya, one at the height of his career, and one nearing the time of his death—in stark contrast. From October 7 through January 10. Image Credit: © Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid
Julia Margaret Cameron at the V&ACromwell Rd. | +220.127.116.1142.2000
Check into the Victoria & Albert museum any day and you're bound to find a gem of a photography exhibition. Known for their incredible collection, the museum was also an early adopter of the medium: Over 150 years ago, museum director Henry Cole was one of the first to see the power of Julia Margaret Cameron's photographs and was the only one to give her an exhibition in her lifetime. In honor of the bicentenary of her death, the museum is displaying their deep archive of her portraits, which were so modern and rule-breaking for the time. From November 28 to February 21. Credit: May Day, Julia Margaret Cameron, 1866 (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Hairy Ape at the Old VicThe Cut | +44.0.844.871.7628
The theater world is watching the Old Vic this season as it will be the first with Matthew Warchus at the helm—he's succeeding none other than Kevin Spacey, who held the position for 12 years. The Eugene O'Neill's classic, The Hairy Ape, which is about an American blue-collar worker forced to explore the New York class system, is among the first productions under his watch. It will be interesting to see rising star Bertie Carvel—the amazing Mrs. Trunchbull from Warchus' own Matilda—take on yet another tough role as the main character, Yank. From October 17 through November 21.
Abraham Cruzvillegas at Tate ModernBankside | +18.104.22.16887.8888
Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas is doing the first in a series of annual site-specific commissions by Hyundai at the Tate's immensely spacious Turbine Hall. Though there are no details yet on exactly what the installation will consist of, Cruzvillegas is known for his conceptual sculptures and installations made using discarded objects, and our bets are on a massive labyrinth made out of garbage dump finds. From October 13 through March 20.
The World of Charles & Ray Eames at The BarbicanSilk St. | +22.214.171.12438.4141
We couldn't think of a better place for a major show on the Eames than at the Brutalist behemoth which is the Barbican. Here, countless objects, designs, pictures, drawings, and prototypes will be gathered in the cultural center's main exhibition space. Charles, and especially Ray, had such a wonderful way of displaying objects, we hope the museum does a good job of approximating their one-of-a-kind aesthetic. Their son, Demetrios, will be on hand on one of the opening nights of the exhibition for a chat with the exhibition's curator. From October 21 through February 14. Picture Credit: © Eames Office LLC
The Serpentine PavilionKensington Park Gardens | +126.96.36.19902.6075
Though the annual opening of the Serpentine Pavilion in Hyde Park is a summertime highlight, the Pavilion stays open late into the fall. This year's winning entry, an innovative steel and plastic structure by Spanish studio SelgasCano, is great to visit on its own, though catching a reading or musical performance inside the tent really makes the visit worthwhile—there are still a few more performances planned until the Pavilion closes in October. Through October 18.
The Amazing World of M.C. Escher at the Dulwich Picture GalleryGallery Rd., Southwark, +188.8.131.5293.5254
Admittedly not a central fixture on the London culture scene, the Dulwich Picture Gallery is very much worth the trek, not only for its beautiful setting in leafy Dulwich Park, but for its thoughtful retrospectives on influential though sometimes overlooked artists like Eric Ravilious, Ben Nicholson, and in October, Dutch artist M.C. Escher. It's the first time this many of Escher's mind bogglingly detailed, maze-like drawings, woodcuts, and lithographs will be on show in London. From October 14 through January. Image: © 2015 The M.C. Escher Company, The Netherlands
Wonder.Land at the National TheatreFrom November 23rd | South Bank | +184.108.40.20652.3000
With an original score by Blur's Damon Albarn, and a total reinterpretation courtesy of playwright Moira Ruffini, the National Theatre presents a totally contemporary version of Alice in Wonderland. Here, Aly—not Alice—falls into an alternative world "through the looking glass" that is her cell phone. Expect great music and fantastical staging and digital projections courtesy of the same team behind War Horse.
Frieze and Frieze Masters at Regent’s ParkOctober 14-17 | Regent's Park
Now divided into Frieze and Frieze Masters, this is London's biggest annual art fair which is visited by the world's most important artists, gallerists, collectors, and dealers. Frieze is where the splashier, more contemporary finds are up for grabs, while at Frieze Masters, prestigious dealers known for working with everything from antiquities, to modern masters display their most important holdings. It's a mad art-meets-fashion scene both inside and ouside the tents, and in the impressive Sculpture Garden which always makes for a nice break during the 20-minute walk between the tents. Credit: Photograph by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze
Gravity Fatigue at Sadler’s WellsRosebery Ave. | +220.127.116.1163.8000
It's not the first time fashion designer Hussein Chalayan has made clothing for a ballet, but it is the first time he also has his hand in the rest of the production. In collaboration with choreographer Damien Jalet, he's directing a ballet, and creating costumes that will bend, stretch and twist along with the movements. It's an absolute experiment and a risk on the part of Sadler's Wells but it will undoubtedly be as minimally elegant as Chalayan's clothes. From October 28 to 31.
The World Goes Pop at Tate ModernBankside | +18.104.22.16887.8888
When we think of Pop Art we think of artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Claes Oldenburg who mainly operated in the U.S., however this new show at the Tate Modern explores Pop's global influence. They're adding artists like Ushio Shinohara from Japan, Isabel Oliver from Spain, and Kiki Olgenik from Austria to the roster and arguing that Pop was not just politicized, but a worldwide form of protest. © Ushio and Noriko Shinohara Runs from September 17 to January 24.
London Design FestivalSeptember 13-21 | Citywide
LDF is definitely a free fall highlight for design lovers where shops, studios, galleries, and museums throughout the city feature the latest in contemporary design from major lighting installations, to new furniture prototypes, to exciting product presentations. The hub of all the action is always at the V&A—this year they're presenting the work of Barber Osgerby, Zaha Hadid, and David David design studios, among others—though there's plenty to see nearby in the Brompton Design District as well as in Shoreditch. Another highlight this year will be at the Somerset House, where designers Jasper Morrison and Punkt, Faye Toogood, and Barber Osgerby are each taking over a room in the West Wing. Photo credit: Carousel Wall by David David.
Open House LondonSeptember 19 & 20 |Citywide
At this annual event, architects, private home owners, and major private institutions open their doors to let the public in for just two days each year. The Prime Minister's home, 10 Downing Street, is always a popular destination, and this year's sneak peak into a few of the Crossrail stations—the new London light rail system set to open in 2017—will undoubtedly be a highlight. Some of the open houses are balloted, and otherwise many require a reservation, so book in advance.