The best fall exhibits at Philadelphia art museums


Usually you go to a museum to see the work of several artists. Increasingly, however, as mega retrospectives swell and metastasize, you have to visit multiple museums to see an artist’s work.

This season brings what is arguably the greatest show of its kind to be seen here, the mammoth 500-piece retrospective by Jasper Johns, which will be shared by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

Meanwhile, beloved Philadelphia artist and educator Larry Day (1921-98) will be at the center of three exhibitions: his figurative art will be on display at the Woodmere Art Museum, his abstractions at the University of the Arts, and architecture. and cityscapes at Arcadia University. .

Editor’s Note

Due to the pandemic, many events and openings are still unpredictable, and we expect many to change. Check with the venue ahead of time to confirm dates and times, and what COVID-19 vaccination and testing policies are in place.

The Barnes Foundation will showcase paintings by artist Suzanne Valadon, who is most often seen as a model, in works by Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir, and others, while the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts presents Joan Semmel, one of his successors in the representation of female sensuality.

The Delaware Art Museum will recreate a groundbreaking exhibition of black artists from 50 years ago. The Michener features carpenters and the Reading Public Museum celebrates a regional icon: the Martin guitar.

Be sure to check with the sites for current COVID-19 protocols before you go.

This show examines the roles of three women – Helene Fischer (1879-1970), Hanna Weil (1900-1985) and Marjorie Content (1895-1984) – who played important roles as clients and inspirations for the famous carpenter of Cubist influence during the 1930s. (Until February 6, $ 13-15, Michener Art Museum, 138 S. Pine Street, Doylestown, 215-340-9800,

This is the first retrospective of the Los Angeles-based artist (b.1946) who described himself as a ‘video griot’ who brings together diverse media to tell stories about black culture, traditions and issues. . (Sept. 17-Dec. 30, free, Institut d’art contemporain, 118 S. 36th St., 215-898-7108,

The CF Martin Co. of Nazareth, Pennsylvania was founded in 1833, and this show will feature historical examples of his guitars, as well as unique pieces designed for artists and special occasions. “Medieval to Metal: The Art and Evolution of the Guitar”, an accompanying show, features stringed instruments from the Renaissance to the present day. (September 18-January 9, $ 6-10, Reading Public Museum, 500 Museum Road, Reading, 610-371-5850,

The videographers, known for their dramatic work in black and white, unveil two new works, both featuring characters with pumpkins for heads. (Sept. 24 Feb. 20, suggested donation of $ 5, fabric workshop and museum, 1214 Arch Street., 215-561-8888,

Born Lorenzo del Giorno to an Italian father and a Scottish mother in Philadelphia, Larry Day is one of the best-known Philadelphia artists of the 20th century. This exhibition in three places will bring together more than 150 of his paintings, drawings and prints. Woodmere presents the multi-figure paintings for which he is best known. The exhibition of architectural subjects at Arcadia University opened in August (until November 21) and the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery at the University of the Arts will present its abstractions from October 8 to December 8. 3. (September 25-January 23, Woodmere Art Museum, 9201 Germantown Avenue, $ 7-10, 215-247-0476,

Valadon (1865-1938) is the first woman artist to appear in the great Parisian salons. She was also exhibited there, since she was a model for Renoir’s famous dancing paintings and many others. She was also the mother of artist Maurice Utrillo. Her own work realistically deals with the female body and frequently explores sexual desire. (September 26-January 9, Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway., $ 23-25, 215-278-7000,

This massive retrospective, organized jointly by two museums with which the artist has long associations, was initially supposed to coincide with the artist’s 90th birthday but was postponed by the pandemic. Drawing inspiration from a reflection of much of Johns’ art, each museum’s exhibit will be comprehensive but reflect aspects of the other. New York will have a section on dreams; Philadelphia will have nightmares. (Sep 29-Feb 13, Philadelphia Museum of Art and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway., $ 23-25, joint entry available with Whitney, 215-763-8100,

The first comprehensive exhibition of a photographer known for his books. Benson’s career began with his documentation of the craftsmanship, which is also evident in his own engraving. (3 Oct 23 Jan, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway., $ 23-25, 215-763-8100,

This survey of one of the region’s most popular genres consists of 50 paintings borrowed from museums and private collectors, including artists such as Childe Hassam, William Merritt Chase, and Lila Cabot Perry. It differs from other similar shows in its focus on working from around the country, rather than just Pennsylvania and the Northeast. (October 9-January 9, Brandywine River Museum of Art, 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, $ 15-18, 610-388-2700,

Carpenter, an artist and carpenter from Bucks County, worked as a designer at Nakashima Furniture Studios in New Hope. Her own work, presented in this exhibition, explores and transforms materials, as in the delicate feathers that she teases in wood. (Oct 9-March 20, Michener Art Museum, 138 S. Pine Street, Doylestown, $ 13-15, 215-340-9800,

Amos, who died last year, was the only female member of the influential black artist group Spiral, and also a member of the feminist Guerilla Girls. This investigation, curated by the Georgia Museum of Art, focuses on her use of color and various media, including weaving, to explore femininity and darkness. (Oct 11-Jan 17, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway., $ 23-25, 215-763-8100,

In 1971, artist Perry Ricks organized the Aesthetic Dynamics group and put on an ambitious show bringing together both local artists and artists already known or who would soon become so. This new exhibition of around 130 works by 66 creators includes most of the artists and many works from the original. Among them: Faith Ringgold, Sam Gilliam, Romare Bearden, Humbert Howard, and Edward Loper Sr. and Edward Loper Jr. (23 Oct-23 Jan, Delaware Museum of Art, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE, $ 14, 302-571-9590,

Semmel (born 1932) is known for her female nudes and self-portraits that seek to recapture female eroticism from male voyeurism in historical art and pop culture. This exhibition, his first career retrospective, features around 40 paintings, as well as rarely seen paintings and collages. (October 28-April 3, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 118-128 N. Broad St., $ 15, 215-972-7600,

The artist, who was born in Iraq in 1975 and arrived in the United States in the mid-1990s, is known for his dense and vivid canvases that often evoke the horrors of war. (November 12-May 1, suggested donation of $ 5, fabric workshop and museum, 1214 Arch Street., 215-561-8888,

The New Jersey Sculpture Park launches a nighttime program with 14 site-specific light and sound installations. These often concern or transform existing works in the park. (Nov 26-Feb 28, $ 28, Patterns for the sculpture, 80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton, NJ, 609-586-0616, To buy tickets

»READ MORE: For more information, check out our Complete Guide to the Fall Arts

This article has been updated to correct information about the Suzanne Valadon exhibition at the Barnes Foundation


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