Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Philadelphia’s art museums feature Dior, Berthe Morisot, Winslow Homer, more in fall 2018

Lavish designer fashions and master works by female artists are highlights in Philadelphia museums this fall.

Detail from Berthe Morisot's "Cottage Interior" (1886), part of the Barnes Foundation show Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist (Musée d'Ixelles)
Detail from Berthe Morisot's "Cottage Interior" (1886), part of the Barnes Foundation show Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist (Musée d'Ixelles)Read moreMusée d'Ixelles

It will be, at last, the season of the woman at art museums in the area this fall.

The big show at the Barnes will be an international traveling exhibition of the work of Berthe Morisot, who (along with Mary Cassatt) was a rare, successful female artist in impressionist-era Paris.

>> READ MORE: Bradley Cooper, Drake, Vikings and festivals: Here's what's happening in Philly this fall

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has its own traveling exhibition of contemporary artist Rina Banerjee, an American sculptor born in India, that features a Taj Mahal made of plastic wrap.

ICA is mounting a career retrospective of sculptor and installation artist Ree Morton, who died in 1977, and another show on contemporary filmmaker and sculptor Cauleen Smith.

The Fabric Workshop and Museum will feature installations with outrageous costumes by contemporary artist Suzanne Bocanegra. And Delaware has a female member of the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood.

Designer women's fashions from Dior to today are the focus of the Philadelphia Art Museum's marquee show this season.

Die Meisterstuck (The Masterpiece) (through Dec. 19, Berman Museum at Ursinus College). Photographer Matthias Schaller has during the last decade documented 200 palettes of more than 70 19th- and 20th-century artists. Twenty seven, including van Gogh, Kandinsky, Monet, and Kahlo, will be seen here in high-definition images. (610-409-3500,

The Soviet Lens: Photography by Dmitri Baltermants and Mark Markov-Grinberg (through Jan. 6, Allentown Art Museum). This show spotlights two photojournalists active in the USSR during the Cold War years, producing a combination of propaganda and valuable documentation. Also at Allentown, Power and Piety: Spanish Colonial Art (through Dec. 9) (610-432-4333,

Ree Morton: The Plant That Heals May Also Poison and Cauleen Smith: Give It or Leave It (both Sept. 14-Dec. 23, Institute of Contemporary Art). ICA is premiering a traveling show that is the first retrospective in 40 years about Morton, who studied and taught in Philadelphia. It examines the last 10 years of her short career with installations, sculptures, and other works that defy category. Smith, an African American filmmaker and multimedia artist, celebrates artists and activists who have combined utopian visions with concern for existing cities and communities. (215-898-7108,

30 Years: Art at the Michener (Sept. 16-Jan. 6, Michener Art Museum). After a year of upheaval that brought key departures, the Doylestown Museum celebrates the 30th anniversary of its founding in the former Bucks County prison by showing 50 of the estimated 3,500 works in its collection. (215-340-9800,

And Europe Will be Stunned (Sept. 21-Jan. 1, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Perelman Building). This is the local debut of a three-part immersive film by Yael Bartana recently acquired by the Art Museum that is based on the imaginary premise that Polish Jews are allowed to return to homes from which they were displaced. On Sept. 22, the artist will lead a performance that begins on Independence Mall and concludes near the museum. (215-763-8100,

The Pennsylvania Landscape in Impressionism and Contemporary Art (Sept. 22-Jan. 27, Woodmere Art Museum). This show juxtaposes the paintings, photographs, sculptures, and drawings of contemporary area artists with the work of the early-20th-century Pennsylvania impressionists both to show the enduring importance of landscape in local art, and how attitudes have changed. (215-247-0476,

Suzanne Bocanegra: Poorly Watched Girls (Oct. 5-Feb. 17, Fabric Workshop and Museum). This New York artist, who is interested in costume and theatricality, will use the museum's three gallery spaces to "stage" a movie, an opera, and a ballet with some distinguished collaborating artists and musicians. (215-561-8888,

Nature's Nation: American Art and Environment (Oct. 13-Jan. 6, Princeton University Art Museum). This important traveling show, featuring about 125 works of art created here during the last 300 years, claims to be the first exhibition to examine how American artists have reflected and shaped understanding of the environment. All the big names in American art and photography are here, along with works by Native Americans and others. (609-258-3788,

Fabulous Fashion: From Dior's New Look to Now (Oct. 16-March 3, Philadelphia Museum of Art). A rebuilding Art Museum continues its series of exhibitions of its permanent collection. This presentation of the costume collection focuses on lavish dresses for wealthy women designed by Pierre Cardin, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Oscar de la Renta, Geoffrey Beene, and others. (215-763-8100,

Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist (Oct. 21-Jan.14, Barnes Foundation). Morisot (1841–95) worked alongside the major impressionist painters in late 19th-century Paris, though she has often been overlooked. Her free brushwork gives her paintings an air of spontaneity and intimacy. The Barnes has joined forces with museums in Paris, Quebec, and Dallas to assemble the first retrospective in more than three decades. (215-278-7000,

Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Oct. 27-March 31). This is the first midcareer retrospective of Banerjee (b. 1963), featuring several large-scale installations, two dozen sculptures, and other works that PAFA promises will turn its historic building into "an otherworldly and multi-sensory space." Most of them comment on and embody the experience of living in and between different cultures. (215-972-7600,

Politics and Paint: Barbara Bodichon and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (Delaware Art Museum, Nov. 3-Feb. 3). This small show of about 30 watercolor sketches and drawings highlights the working methods of Bodichon (1827–91), an early member of the pre-Raphaelite movement in Victorian England and an advocate of women's causes. (302-571-9590,

Winslow Homer and the Camera: Photography and the Art of Painting (Brandywine River Museum of Art, Nov. 17-Feb. 17). This exhibition, which will feature about 50 paintings, prints, and watercolors from the artist's career, along with a comparable quantity of photographs he took and collected and that influenced his work. It was organized by the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, which owns an important Homer archive, and includes loans from other major museums. (610-388-2700,

Dieter Rams: Principled Design (Philadelphia Museum of Art, Perelman Building, Nov. 18-April 14). Rams (b. 1931) is a German product- and furniture-designer associated with the austere, functional, yet glamorous design of 1960s European audio equipment, and for his key role in the creation of the style of Braun appliances. He is the recipient of this year's Collab award, given to outstanding designers and manufacturers. (215-763-8100,