From the first dedicated, retrospective exhibition of Mary Ellen Mark’s photography in Berlin, to 300 never-before-seen artefacts from Yves Saint Laurent in Tokyo, these are eight of the best exhibitions to visit this November.
November is a vibrant month in the art world, with animated and educational exhibitions to enjoy from London to Paris, Cairo to New York, and beyond. So, wherever you find yourself in the world this month, make sure these exhibitions are on your to-do list.
Marina Abramović, Royal Academy of Arts, London
One of the world’s most anticipated exhibitions has arrived at London’s esteemed Royal Academy of Arts. Marina Abramović is a Serbian conceptual artist who explores the confines of the mind and body through endurance art, and has captured the world’s attention with her striking and avant-garde nature. In these performances, where nothing seems out of bounds, Abramavoić’s work is characterised by its freedom of expression and brazen approach to taboo subjects – including nudity and mortality. The exhibition is welcomed alongside the 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, a celebratory opera by Marina Abramović, showing at the Royal Opera House this November and featuring a series of Abramović’s most famous performances shown through archival footage and enacted by artists. Each performance is of varying length and timings, so make sure to check the schedule and book before visiting.
Mode et Sport, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris
Paris, the city of fashion and romance is set to become a place for sport too, as the Olympics head to the French capital for the 2024 games. To celebrate, Paris’s coveted Museum of Decorative Arts is exploring the relationship between fashion and sport from antiquity to the present day. Overlooking the city’s Renaissance architecture and glass pyramid of the Louvre, the gallery – which typically specialises in ceramics, furniture and interior design – is branching into the art of dress. The chronological exhibition starts with Ancient Greek sporting traditions – where clothes were traditionally absented from athletes – before moving towards the pivotal early 1900s, notably featuring designs by Gabrielle Chanel, Jean Patou, Jeanne Lanvin and Elsa Schiaparelli. As the gallery journeys between time periods, the clothes focus on the changing role of women in the public sphere, discussing the tensions between modesty, vanity, and practicality.
YSL Across The Style, The National Art Center, Tokyo
The first retrospective Yves Saint Laurent exhibition is arriving in Japan to celebrate the life and works of the French pioneering designer. Yves Saint Laurent bore a close infatuation to Japanese culture, art and tradition after visiting in 1963 with his partner Pierre Bergé; manifested and seen in his work through iconography, floral embroidered fabrics, sculpted forms and the colour gold. To celebrate this synergy, the exhibition is run in collaboration with the esteemed Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Paris and displays an impressive range of over 300 never-before-seen artefacts. These include 110 YSL pieces of couture and accessories as well as 12 chapters of sketches, hand drawn by Yves himself. Carefully curated to trace the evolution of the designer’s iconic hand from anxious designs to a bold elegance; housed in the modernist glass building of Tokyo’s National Art Center; and designed by late Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, a visit here is sure to impress.
Azzedine Alaïa, Palais Galleria, Paris
Azzedine Alaïa’s name is still very much alive in the fashion industry, as his exceptional designs continue to inspire contemporary collections, photoshoots, and celebrity styling today. In this Parisian exhibition, the Tunisian designer’s work is marked by his voracious rejection of the banal through artisanally-cut pieces, as well as his opposition to the fast and consumerist whirlpool the industry is known to be. Beyond his own designs, Alaïa was an archivist, tastefully acquiring over 20,000 pieces of haute couture fashioned by his muses and contemporaries including Jean Patou, Jeanne Lanvin, Paul Poiret and Christian Dior – 140 of which appear in the exhibition. Azzedine Alaïa’s documentation and sculpting of the past has formed the industry as we know it today, and Palais Galleria commemorates his lasting legacy.
Manet & Degas, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Impressionism surfaces time and time again as the fascination with the movement’s avant-garde, brazen rejection of realism still resonates strongly. The popular artistic movement champions an immediacy that cleverly captures fleeting moments in a static image, but faced criticism at the time of its conception due to its almost unfinished and erratic look. When Impressionism arrives in galleries, the two figureheads of the movement– Manet and Degas – are often hung in parallel. For the first time ever, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is facing the two painters towards one another as it explores how the preferred subjects and styles of both artists interlaced and diverged through time, in response to contemporary political and social events. As a highlight, four drawings of Manet by Degas – usually found on opposite sides of the Atlantic – will be hung alongside one another. Chronologically and thematically divided into thirteen sections, The Met examines Manet and Degas’ formative years as well as how their legacies continue today.
Mary Ellen Mark, C|0 Gallery, Berlin
American photojournalist Mary Ellen Mark is presenting her latest exhibition Encounters at Berlin’s innovative, modern exhibition space C|O Gallery. Mark’s work is defined by its advocation for people on the fringes of society, and creates empathetic documents of humanity across the globe. Associating her formative years with those of the 1970s second wave feminism, Mark overwhelmingly attributes her lens to the strife and celebration of women and girls around the world, whether from Mumbai or Seattle. Seepia-toned images seep with both a ‘quotidian joie de vivire’ as well as a powerful melancholy as Mark documents socio-economics on a human level. Encounters features five of the photo journalist’s projects from the 1970s and 1980s: Ward 81, Falkland Road, Mother Teresa’s Missions of Charity, Indian Circus, and Tiny: Streetwise Revisited. Previously featured in the likes of The New York Times, Encounters is the first dedicated, retrospective exhibition of her work worldwide.
Ashraf El Zamzami, Safarkhan Gallery, Cairo
Cairo’s Safarkhan Gallery has been a haven for young artists since the 1960s; helping support the careers of budding creatives as well as nurturing some of Egypt’s finest artists, such as Hamed Nada. As a result, the gallery is a cultural retreat frequented by locals, where each exhibition is underpinned by a focus on education. Consequently, Ashraf El Zamzami’s residency is a welcomed choice: the artist first gained recognition amongst Cairo’s art scene in the 1990s for his idiosyncratic fusion of European expressionism and Egyptian social realism to create his art-brut style. El Zamzami’s cultured aesthetic is recognised by its vibrant expressionist colouring, simple yet slightly distorted compositions and human focus. His celebrated oil on canvas piece Geisha in Waiting from 2019 will be on display at the gallery, along with many pieces of his work ranging from the 1990s to the present day.
Claudette Johnson, Courtauld, London
Figurative artist Claudette Johnson shapes the British art scene with her poignant and emphatic examinations of the human subject. As a founding member of the British Black Arts Movement, seeking to re-author social and artistic representation, the politics of the gaze are strongly imbued within each piece of Johnson’s art. The viewer’s gaze, the artist’s gaze as well as the gaze of the subject are all thrown into question in her large-scale sketches. Lining the historic walls of London’s Courtauld Gallery, Johnson’s most pivotal works – including I Came to Dance, And I Have My Own Business in This Skin – will be hung alongside recent pieces to display a range of Claudette’s monochromatic and vibrant works alike.
Lead image: Azzedine Alaïa
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