Clockwise from left Cindy Sherman Untitled Film Still #15, 1978, Gelatin silver print, 10 x 8 inches (detail). Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York. Installation image of An Enquiring

Your summer 2019 guide to the must-see exhibitions in London

From Olafur Eliasson at Tate Modern to Helene Schjerfbeck at the Royal Academy, we survey the exhibitions that make London the place to be for art lovers

Co-curated by the Spanish shoe designer Manolo Blahnik and The Wallace Collection’s director Dr Xavier Bray, An Enquiring Mind presents a curated selection of Blahnik’s greatest creations from his private archives alongside masterpieces from The Wallace Collection.

Installation image of An Enquiring Mind Manolo Blahnik at the Wallace Collection. © The Wallace Collection

Installation image of An Enquiring Mind: Manolo Blahnik at the Wallace Collection. © The Wallace Collection

Each room in the exhibition pays tribute to a particular theme explored by Blahnik over his 50-year career, from the theatre and spectacle of the Commedia dell’arte  to the 18th-century Rococo style. On display will be some of Blahnik’s most coveted creations, including the candy-coloured shoes designed for Sofia Coppola’s award-winning film Marie Antoinette, and his carefully worked, jewel-encrusted stilettos.

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  • Cindy Sherman The National Portrait Gallery, until 15 September

Cindy Sherman has been exploring the fragile boundaries between fiction and reality, truth and illusion since her Untitled Film Stills series catapulted her to fame in the late 1970s.

In this groundbreaking work, comprising 70 self-portraits, Sherman dresses up, role plays and performs for the camera, adopting stereotypical female identities, from the 1950s Hollywood movie star and struggling supporting actress in film noir, B movies and European art-house films to the office girl and the housewife.

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #21, 1978. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #21, 1978. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

In May 2017 Christie’s in New York auctioned an edition of Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Still #21 (1978) for $871,500. Now it headlines a new Cindy Sherman retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Exploring the artist’s sustained interest in performance, Cindy Sherman  brings together around 180 works from the 1970s to the present day, including the complete Untitled Film Stills  series, which goes on public display for the first time in the UK, and all five of Sherman’s Cover Girl Series, completed when she was a student.

Barry Flanagan, Composition, 2008. Bronze. Courtesy Waddington Custot

Barry Flanagan, Composition, 2008. Bronze. Courtesy Waddington Custot

London’s largest free outdoor sculpture display, featuring works by more than 20 internationally recognised artists — to include Tracey Emin, Robert Indiana and Huma Bhaba — returns to leafy Regent’s Park.

Stroll around the English Gardens and marvel at monumental sculpture, including Emin’s touching bronze When I Sleep  from 2018, and Barry Flanagan’s 2008 Composition, depicting a hare dancing atop two elephants.

Clare Lilley, Director of Programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, made the selection and says the temporary sculpture park ‘promises to intrigue and give pleasure to the many hundreds of thousands of residents, workers and tourists who will visit the gardens over the summer months.’

Helen Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) is one of Finland’s most famous artists, and yet her name is little known in Britain. The first solo exhibition of her work in the UK seeks to readdress this imbalance. Organised into five thematic sections, this largely chronological survey of around 65 portraits, self-portraits, landscapes and still lifes charts the evolution of Schjerfbeck’s remarkable career, from her early naturalistic work influenced by French salon painters in the early 1880s, to her highly abstracted late self-portraits. 

Helene Schjerfbeck, Self-portrait, Black Background, 1915. Oil on canvas, 45.5 x 36 cm. Herman and Elisabeth Hallonblad Collection. Finnish National Gallery  Ateneum Art Museum. Photo Yehia Eweis
Helene Schjerfbeck, Self-portrait, Black Background, 1915. Oil on canvas, 45.5 x 36 cm. Herman and Elisabeth Hallonblad Collection. Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Yehia Eweis

In her obsession with the physical and psychological processes of ageing, and the gulf between fiction and reality, Helen Schjerfbeck stands as one of the most prescient artists of the early 20th century. It's gratifying that she is finally getting the recognition that she has long deserved. 


In any vote on the most popular of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall commissions, Olafur Eliasson’s The Weather Project would come top. His great yellow sun was an experience that everyone could share and think about, and that was absolutely his intention. This exhibition of more than 30 works from three decades, from installations to new paintings and sculptures, is the most comprehensive UK survey of his work to date. 

Olafur Eliasson, Din blinde passager (Your blind passenger), 2010. Fluorescent lamps, monofrequency lamps (yellow), fog machine, ventilator, wood, aluminium, steel,
fabric, plastic sheet. Dimensions variable. Installation view Tate Modern, London, 2019. Photo Anders Sune Berg
Courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York  Los Angeles. © 2010 Olafur

Olafur Eliasson, Din blinde passager (Your blind passenger), 2010. Fluorescent lamps, monofrequency lamps (yellow), fog machine, ventilator, wood, aluminium, steel, fabric, plastic sheet. Dimensions variable. Installation view: Tate Modern, London, 2019. Photo: Anders Sune Berg Courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles. © 2010 Olafur Eliasson

It aims to explore key themes, from his early investigations into space, motion and natural phenomena (such as 1994’s Moss Wall, featuring lichen from his native Iceland) to his continuing experiments with light, colour and perception, such as Stardust Particle (2014).