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contributor: Svetlana Legetic

It is a pretty fabulous DC Fine Arts Fall ahead. So much so that listing everything that’s going on in any kind of comprehensive way seemed near impossible. Instead, sort of like with our other guides, we decided to focus on the unmissables (in our opinion-please feel free to suggest your choices in the comments).  From museum shows to gallery exhibits to the fairs and festivals and great events, we got you covered here.

ENJOY, and follow us on facebook and twitter (@BYT) for ongoing updates.

  • Warhol x2: the name on everyone’s lips this season seems to be Andy Warhol (again) and with two concurrent, very high profile shows in two do our finest fine art institutions, both opening this weekend- it’s, well, no wonder:
  • ANDY WARHOL: SHADOWS @ Hirshhorn (September 25-January 15) – organized by the Dia Art Foundation, this show features 102 silkscreened and hand-painted canvases featuring distorted photographs of shadows generated in the artist’s studio, during the last decade of his life. At The Hirshhorn, the paintings, which are always installed edge-to-edge, will extend uninterrupted for almost 450 linear feet around the Museum’s distinctive curved galleries, emphasizing the cinematic quality of the work and providing a unique opportunity to see the work in its entirety. (photo: (Andy Warhol, Shadows, 1978-79. Dia Art Foundation. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Photo: Bill Jacobson.)

  • ANDY WARHOL: HEADLINES @ National Gallery of Art (September 25-January 2) On the other end of the spectrum, the National Gallery show will focus on Warhol’s lifelong obsession with the sensational side of contemporary news. The show will bring together works that the artist based largely on headlines from the tabloid news, and examples of his source materials for the works of art will be presented for comparison, revealing Warhol’s role as both editor and author. The show is organized in association with The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, the Galleria nazionale d’arte moderna, Rome, and the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt. (photo: Andy Warhol, A Boy for Meg [2], 1962 oil and egg emulsion on canvas National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Burton Tremaine, 1971.87.11 © 2011 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)

BONUS: Both shows come with a plethora of side programs, lectures, movies and music performances that will help you get to know and love Andy more.

  • 30 AMERICANS @ The Corcoran (October 1-February 12) – brought in from the Rubell Collection in Miami, and reaching new levels of poignancy with it’s DC location, 30 AMERICANS (which actually showcases artwork by 31 artists) is the much talked about new show @ The Corcoran highlighting the works by many of the most important African American artists of the last three decades (from Jean-Michel Basquiat to Nick Cave to David Hammons to…). This provocative exhibition puts laser sharp focus on issues of racial, sexual, and historical identity in contemporary culture while exploring the powerful influence of artistic legacy and community across generations. (photo: Xaviera Simmons, One Day and Back Then (Standing), 2007. Color Photograph, 30 x 40 inches. Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami)
  • DEGAS DANCERS AT THE BARRE: POINT & COUNTERPOINT @ The Phillips Collection (October 1-January 8) – Degas was a lover of ballet, everyone knows that. He knew the dancers, the choreographers, the work it took for a piece of dance to come to life, and spent 40 years documenting this love, which culminated in Dancers at the Barre (early 1880s–c. 1900), one of the greatest works in The Phillips Collection. With this piece at the center of the exhibit, about 30 related paintings, works on paper, and bronzes, created between 1870 and 1900, from some of the world’s greatest collections have been brought together to round out the show.  (photo: Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, Dancers at the Bar, early 1880s–c. 1900.)

  • POWERPLAY: CHINA’S EMPRESS DOWAGER @ Freer & Sackler Galleries (September 24-January 29) Following China’s disastrous Boxer Rebellion, the Grand Empress Dowager Cixi was held in low regard throughout the world. In 1903, a strategy emerged to use photographic portraiture to rehabilitate her public image. Cixi allowed a young aristocratic photographer named Xunling to take elaborately staged shots of her and her court, designed to improve her reputation by conveying imperial authority, aesthetic refinement, and religious piety. This fall, at the Arthur M. Sackler you get a unique chance to look at this iconic figure through thirty-six glass plate negatives, acquired from the estate of the photographer’s sister Deling, which comprise the only group of these intimate portraits held outside of the Palace Museum in Beijing.


  • SITE APERTURE @ Flashpoint (September 30-November 5) – Curator and art writer Danielle O’Steen brings together four young, promising artists (Margaret Boozer, Mia Feuer, Talia Greene and Mariah Anne Johnson)  to create site-specific installations at Flashpoint Gallery. The exhibition challenges the confines of the white cube in order to reconsider the traditional gallery space and create a unique experience for viewers. If what we’ve seen before from these ladies is anything to go by, we should all be in for a treat.
  • Victoria F. Gaitan @ Conner Contemporary “SCENES OF MILD PERIL” (November 5-December 17) – please read our “INSIDE THE ARTIST STUDIO” profile of Victoria F. Gaitan and if that doesn’t persuade you to come check out whatever she has in store next, I don’t know what will.

  • TRANSFORMERS @ Transformer (now through October 2) – celebrating their 10th exhibition season
  • PREQUEL TO THE SEQUEL @ Heiner Contemporary (now through October 22) – is it bad to say we think you should see this show because it looks fun? Does that sound very non-high-brow from us? Well, we don’t care. David Kramer brings his keen eye for color AND satire to this very special adaptation of the American dream. (photo: Modern Living, 2011)

  • TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH @ Adamson Gallery (now through October 29). Whatever the Adamsons print, I will always want to see. And if, in this case, that includes works by masters such as Edward Burtynsky and Robert Pollidori, we can’t get there fast enough. (photo:  Edward Burtynsky Oil Spill #13, Mississippi Delta, June 24, 2010, chromogenic print)


  • Daily admission is $15 ; $10 for Seniors and Students with valid ID.

  • ART ALL NIGHT: NUIT BLANCHE DC – happens this Saturday. 7pm-3am. FREE. Watch as DC’s creative community re-imagines public and private space and invites us all to see our city anew. Indoor and outdoor venues will showcase work by artists in a diverse range of media – with vibrant visual arts, street performances, live music, and DJs contributing to an unprecedented mash-up of cultural experiences in the nation’s capital. With this inaugural festival Washington DC joins a global network of Nuit Blanche all-night arts events, that started in Paris in 2002 and has captivated audiences from Toronto to Tel Aviv.

  • ARTISPHERE 1 PARTY-OCTOBER 8. Has it really been a year since Artisphere opened? I guess time does fly when you’re having fun. Well, we’re coming back to celebrate Artisphere’s first birthday with an evening of original art, incredible music and off-beat artsy activities. In honor of turning one, Artisphere commissioned local artist and cinematographer Brian Stansfield to create a site-specific video work, Orbit, to light Artisphere’s Dome. DETAILS/TICKETS ETC can be found here.

  • Tactile Dinner Car @ Flashpoint Gallery, through September 24 – Come to the Tactile
    Dinner car for a a multi-sensory experience that riffs on F.T. Marinetti’s Futurist Cookbook.
  • BYT RETURNS TO THE NEWSEUM for a very haunted October 28 event. DETAILS COMING SOON.
  • FOTOWEEK DC – after a very busy year, FOTOWEEK returns to it’s flaship series of events November 5-12. Stay tuned for more details etc.
  • The Downtown Scene NY Film Series (@ Phillips Collection, Corcoran, National Gallery of Art) through October 9 – curated by Adrian Loving,  four movies about the Downtown NY scene of late 70s and early 80s are coming to DC’s galleries (mostly, admission is free or by donation, to boot). Experience the art renaissance through “The Universe of Keith Harring”, “Downtown Calling”, “Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child”, and “Downtown 81” + conversations with everyone from Tim Conlon to legendary nightlife photographer Maripol. Truly a “DON’T MISS THIS, OK?” kind of a situation.

  • NOW! AT NIGHT @ The Corcoran – October 21, 8pm-midnight. Celebrate contemporary art in the capital city with DJ Spooky. Join fellow art lovers and philanthropists at the second annual fundraiser for NOW at the Corcoran—an exciting program of exhibitions presenting new and site-specific work by emerging and mid-career artists.
  • ZESTFEST in NOMA-through September 30 – an interactive effort to beautify NOMA’s district.
  • follow us on facebook and twitter (@BYT) for ongoing updates.

A brief run-down of some author-in-person events we think you should go to. Next season-we’ll ramp up to a full-on book guide, we hope.

  • FALL FOR THE BOOK FESTIVAL-through this Friday. With Stephen King and Amy Tan in person!
  • NATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL – is THIS WEEKEND. BYT LOVES THE NATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL. WE GO EVERY YEAR AND DO THINGS LIKE: wrestle John Irving, hug Paula Deen, ambush Ken Barnes and some other stuff in between. This year’s roster of authors includes Dave Eggers,  Jennifer Egan, Garrison Keillor, Amy Chua & Toni Morrison. GO.

Please feel free to let us know in the comments if you feel we missed something (and we probably missed a bunch, lets face it). And please read the rest of the all important fall guides too: