Vintage View: Exhibitions and shows this August and September

Taking a city break, here or abroad gives us time to stand, stare and listen, sometimes at no expense at all. 

Vintage View: Exhibitions and shows this August and September

Keep an eye out for what’s going on around you at galleries, museums and temporary exhibitions wherever you happen to be. This is my choice of the many must-see shows for this month and next.

New York:

Ol’ Blue Eyes is celebrating his centenary this year, and if you’re lucky enough to be in the Big Apple before September 9, the New York Public Library of Performing Arts, has something to croon about.

A multimedia exhibition telling the story of Frank Sinatra’s life as an actor and singer, it includes displays of memorabilia including personal letters, private photos, rare interviews and concert footage. Union Centre, Upper West Side. Free entry.

For fashionistas, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and its glorious Anna Wintour Costume Centre, is staging China through the Looking Glass, a look at Chinese haute couture. Take a wider look around the Wintour rooms which feature everything from rock stage outfits to 17th century court gowns. 1000, 5th Avenue. Pay what you like at the door.


This years marks the centenary of the birth of English designer Robin Day. From September 19 to 26, the London Design Festival features hundreds of events, showcasing the city’s pivotal role in global design.

To celebrate the place of Day, an exhibition focusing on his lesser known genius in wood will be on display outside the V&A’s British Galleries from the September 19. Ten contemporary designers including Martino Gamper, Tom Dixon, and Margaret Howell have been challenged to compose a response to Day’s beloved Reclining Chair.

The contemporary chairs will be displayed at the twentytwentyone, 274, Upper Street. While staggering around the V&A check out our Ogham Wall, an Irish inclusion by Stirling Prize nominee Grafton Architects, created in collaboration with Irish Design 2015.


Such a great city for walking through the architecture of 19th century townhouses and Art Deco office buildings, but take an afternoon out to visit the stunning Museum of Fine Art (MFA) for the Yours Sincerely, John S Sargent exhibition.

The best known of turn of the century American painters, Sargent (1856-1925) is one of those artists that everyone just seems to ‘get’. His luxuriant portraiture (he got through 900 commissions in this life) is influenced by Velázquez and many will stop you in your tracks for sheer technical brilliance, humanity and feel.

The MFA has a famous collection of his works including watercolours, sculptures and even murals, and this year they have 60 highly personal objects on display including parts of his correspondence with lifelong friend Claude Monet. Take a look at Hokusai’s iconic Great Wave of Kanagawa also on tour to Boston. $25 for admission to the MFA, under 17s free. 465 Huntington Ave. Take the T (urban train).


Paris is a city to be experienced, not just visited. Try to get deeper under its sensual skin. At the Museé d’Orsay there’s an exhibition devoted to prostitution entitled Splendour & Misery highlighting major works inspired by the world’s oldest profession showcasing Toulouse-Lautrec, Munch, Manet, Picasso and many others.

At the Café Polisson from December 19, enjoy haunting performances of the tortured, teasing songs of the mistresses, prostitutes, and absinthe drinkers of the Belle Époque at the end of the 19th century.

This is in the tradition of the beuglant (café concerts) and includes the sexually charged works of cabaret chanteuse Yvette Guilbert. €25 for adult with concessions available. Go to ticket point 6 at the museum or book online. Duration: 1 hour, 8.30pm daily. Over 16s. 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris

Dublin & Cork:

Famed for his versatile use of horizontal and vertical stripes, Seán Scully is regarded as one of the greatest abstract painters in the world.

The National Gallery of Ireland is holding an exhibition to mark his 70th birthday. Major works are on loan from the Tate, Arts Council England, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Kerlin Gallery, as well as works on paper from a private collection.

At the Crawford Gallery in Cork there’s the parallel celebration Figure /Abstract, featuring works by Scully from 1964 to the present. It continues until September 12.


Vincent Van Gogh died 125 years ago this year and there’s a fleet of shows entitled 125 Years of Inspiration taking place across France, England, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The largest collection of his paintings is held at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Van Gogh wrote over 800 letters, most to his brother where he revealed his insecurities, hopes and wonder at the latent beauty all around him.

When I give, I give myself allows 25 artists to respond to a letter by the master in another letter, a piece of artwork or poem. Continues until January 2016. Tickets €17, under 18s free, €15.30 with Holland Pass. 7 Paulus Potterstraat.

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