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London art exhibitions calendar

Our handy calendar of the must-see art shows coming to town this year

© Tokyo Gallery+BTAP
Ushio Shinohara, 'Doll Festival', 1966

Get your diary out for a new season of must-see exhibitions in 2015, which include the National Gallery's 'Inventing Impressionism', Tate Britain's 'Barbara Hepworth' retrospective, Tate Modern's 'The World Goes Pop' and the Royal Academy's Ai Weiwei exhibition.

Art shows opening this April

Secret 7"

Critics' choice

Anyone who's familiar with the RCA's Secret Postcard exhibition and sale will be familiar with this concept, but this time round it's record sleeves. Seven tracks from seven well-known bands and artists are each pressed 100 times into 7" singles, then creatives from around the world illustrate the cover artwork for one of the seven tracks, resulting in a very limited-edition piece of art that you can own, for the reasonable sum of £50. All 700 sleeves on show will go on sale on May 4, with song and artist both being kept secret until the purchase. Tempted? You should be especially when all profits going to charity Nordoff Robbins. Artists this year include Sir Peter Blake, Yoko Ono, Sir Paul Smith, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Bob & Roberta Smith, Tatty Devine, Pure Evil, Stanley Donwood and Goldie.

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Somerset House Until Sunday May 3 2015 Free

The EY Exhibition: Sonia Delaunay

This major survey concentrates on Sonia Delaunay’s unrestricted approach to creativity that encompassed painting, fashion, textiles, tapestry and mosaic. Her abstract compositions that incorporated a kaleidoscopic palette and contrasting shapes were inspired by her formative years growing up in Russia as well as the years spent in Spain and Portugal during the WWI. Through multiple economic crises (Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Wall Street crash in 1929) and the heartache of her husband’s death, Sonia pursued a purely aesthetic career experimenting with colour that has injected a spirited vibrancy into the canon of art.

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Tate Modern Until Sunday August 9 2015

Deutsche Börse Photography Prize

The celebrated annual photographic award exhibition has four new nominees. Annually commending a living photographer for a specific photographic project, either an exhibition or publication, Nikolai Bakharev, Zanele Muholi, Viviane Sassen and Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse are all worthy of the £30,000 prize, but who will take home the coveted prize.

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Photographers' Gallery Until Saturday June 6 2015 Free

Converse/Dazed Emerging Artists Award

Now in its fifth year, the annual award have partnered with the Royal Academy of Arts to present this year’s five shortlisted artists. Jonathan Trayte, Rachel Pimm, Lawrence Lek, Tamsin Snow & Sarah Tynan and Patrick Cole were selected from hundreds of submissions by an esteemed judging panel that includes Tim Marlow, Sarah McCrory and Javier Peres. Each artist has been given £1,000 to produce new site-specific works in a bid to win the £5,000 prize that has become an invaluable platform for launching emerging creative talent in the UK.

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Royal Academy of Arts Burlington Gardens Until Sunday May 17 2015 Free

Pick Me Up

Celebrating graphic design in all its manifestations, the best artists, illustrators and designers will once again create engaging displays and interactive stands in the Embankment Galleries at Somerset House.

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Somerset House Until Monday May 4 2015

Sony World Photography Awards

The leading photography competition returns to Somerset House to showcase the winning and shortlisted images selected from a staggering 173,444 entries from 171 countries. There will also be a special display of photographs, films and books by this year’s Outstanding Contribution award recipient, the renowned Magnum photographer, Elliott Erwitt (pictured).

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Somerset House Until Sunday May 10 2015

Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness

Photography is both a medium of magic and manipulation. The Los Angeles-based artist, Christopher Williams has for the past 35 years been deconstructing and demystifying photography, by creating glossy photographs with imperfections. This substantial overview brings together over 50 photographs in specially conceived architectural installations inspired by the history of display. Unexpectedly for a survey the exhibition will start with the latest work and end with the earliest. 

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Whitechapel Gallery Wednesday April 29 2015 - Sunday June 21 2015 Free

Zabludowicz Collection: 20 Years

Anita and Poju Zabludowicz have amassed a world-renowned private art collection over the last two decades. This group show celebrates the breadth and diversity of the Zabludowicz Collection, set up in 1994, through rarely seen and important works shown alongside installations by artists at the beginning of their career. Championing and supporting both established and emerging artists, the Zabludowicz Collection boasts works in a range of media by over 500 artists. Here, a cross section of practices will be brought together to reflect the collection’s development over the years and the changing landscape of art history.

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Zabludowicz Collection Thursday April 30 2015 - Sunday August 16 2015 Free

Elliott Erwitt: Double Platinum

As the World Photography Organisation honour the Magnum photographer, known for his playful approach to the medium, Beetles + Huxley present two rarely seen bodies of work, Erwitt's platinum prints and images of Marilyn Monroe.

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Beetles & Huxley Tuesday April 28 2015 - Wednesday May 27 2015 Free
See art shows opening in May

Art shows opening this May

Catlin Art Prize

After launching the sixth Catlin Art Guide earlier this year at the London Art Fair, the Catlin Art Prize has now announced the shortlisted artists for the ninth year of the coveted art prize. This year’s finalists are Jon Baker Felicity Hammond, Oliver Hickmet, Nicholas Johnson, Paul Schneider, Lexi Strauss, Dominic Watson and Zhu Tian. Each artist will create new works for the three-week long show in east London.

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Londonewcastle Project Space Friday May 8 2015 - Saturday May 30 2015 Free


Annual contemporary craft fair with 35 international galleries showcasing the most exciting, experimental and world-class examples of applied arts craftsmanship. As well as a preview of the latest Crafts Council touring exhibition 'I Am Here' and a programme of talks from curators, gallerists and exhibiting artists, COLLECT Open provides artists with the space to explore new ideas, which this year focuses on textiles and furniture.

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Saatchi Gallery Friday May 8 2015 - Monday May 11 2015

Peter Kennard: Unofficial War Artist

A look at the work of one of Britain's most important political artists, this exhibition is the first major retrospective of Peter Kennard's 50-year career. Learn more about the motivations and methods behind his iconic artworks and how key images are reworked and reinterpreted to become representations of the protest movement. 

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Imperial War Museum Thursday May 14 2015 - Monday May 30 2016 Free

Max Mara Art Prize for Women: Corin Sworn

Following her six-month residency in Italy, Max Mara Art Prize winner Corin Sworn presents a new large-scale installation inspired by Commedia dell’Arte. Drawing on the rich theatrical history of the improvising troupe of masked actors, the Glasgow-based artist will create an engaging, immersive and dramatic environment filled with props, costumes, sound and video to investigate literary devices such as mistaken identity.

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Whitechapel Gallery Wednesday May 20 2015 - Sunday July 19 2015 Free

Photo London

At last London gets its own photography-dedicated fair. Presenting a diverse range of photographic practices throughout Somerset House, the sixty plus leading international and London-based exhibitors will showcase both familiar and celebrated names alongside rising stars. From vintage to contemporary, fair goers will engage with an assortment of styles and genres alongside a series of live events and specially organised exhibitions.

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Somerset House Thursday May 21 2015 - Sunday May 24 2015


With a new fair director Kate Bryan, Art15 returns for its third year with a new slot in London’s busy art calendar. With over 130 cutting-edge galleries selected from 41 countries, the fair continues its commitment to showcase emerging talent and young galleries alongside established artists and representatives from Asia’s burgeoning art market. This year’s highlights include two major curatorial projects as well as a programme of topical talks and public tours.

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Olympia London Thursday May 21 2015 - Saturday May 23 2015

Beneath the Surface

Reflecting on London's rich history, this exhibition commissioned by Photo London draws on the the V&A’s preeminent collection of photographs.

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Somerset House Thursday May 21 2015 - Monday August 24 2015

The London Photograph Fair

This boutique-style photograph fair will take over the neo-gothic mansion with unique displays by international dealers for this special weekend edition. Focusing on vintage photos from the 1840's through the 20th Century you can expect everything from rare daguerreotypes and early salt prints to original film and fashion images. 

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Two Temple Place Saturday May 23 2015 - Sunday May 24 2015
See art shows opening in June

Art shows opening this June

Carsten Höller

Let’s give one almighty holler for the Hayward’s final exhibition before they close for two years of renovation work. The Belgian artist, whose background in biology has informed and inspired his practice that challenges our perceptive boundaries, will have his first UK retrospective. He’s filled the Tate’s Turbine Hall with slides, placed giant replica mushrooms onto gallery ceilings and turned last year’s Gagosian Frieze stand into a children’s playground. Covering the last 20 years of the Stockholm-based artist’s work, which has truly put participation into art, we're expecting a rip-roaring presentation of fun-filled, hands-on exhibits.

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Hayward Gallery Wednesday June 10 2015 - Monday September 7 2015

Christina Broom: Soldiers and Suffragettes

Considered the first female press photographer, Christina Broom took to the Edwardian London streets documenting daily routines and notable events. From suffragettes campaigning for women’s right to Oxford Street bustling with horse drawn carriages, Broom’s candid approach, captured pivotal moments of cultural history. Here, previously unseen photographs from private collections will be brought together with negative plates, postcards and personal memorabilia, giving this unsung hero of photography, her time in the spotlight.

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Museum of London Docklands Friday June 19 2015 - Sunday November 1 2015 Free

Serpentine Galleries Pavilion

The task of transforming the lawn outside the Serpentine Gallery with a multi-purpose temporary Pavilion falls to the Spanish architectural duo SelgasCano. Their use of new technologies combined with nature conscious concepts will no doubt take inspiration from the gallery’s park location for the commission’s fifteenth anniversary.

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Serpentine Gallery Tuesday June 23 2015 - Saturday October 17 2015 Free

Barbara Hepworth

The last time there was a major retrospective of Barbara Hepworth’s work in London, the First Lady of British modernism attended herself (we’re hoping she wore her fabulous fur coat). That was in 1968. Forty-odd years later, Tate Britain’s summer 2015 show looks to reassess the reputation of this sculptor of famously holey forms who, thanks in part to her beautifully preserved studio in St Ives, is forever associated with Cornwall, where she lived from 1939 until her death in 1975. The show includes carvings and sculptures in wood, stone and bronze, along with drawings, collages, textiles and experimental photogram works.

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Tate Britain Wednesday June 24 2015 - Sunday October 25 2015

Eloise Hawser: Medivance

Solo exhibition that presents modern and contemporary work by the artist which will include a pair of hand made loafers belonging to her father.

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ICA Tuesday June 30 2015 - Sunday September 6 2015

Art shows opening this July

Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon

The waiflike muse of Givenchy, not only captivated the fashion world but also the big screen. This summer the National Portrait Gallery celebrate the British actress, dancer and humanitarian worker with an exhibition of exquisite and rarely seen photographs. Chronicling the multi-award winning screen legend’s rise to fame are family snaps of Hepburn as a young ballerina, portraits by photographic greats including Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton and Norman Parkinson and behind-the-scenes images from the set of Sabrina by Mark Shaw.

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National Portrait Gallery Thursday July 2 2015 - Sunday October 18 2015

The London Open

With a back catalogue that includes Grayson Perry, Anish Kapoor and Rachel Whiteread, this open-submission exhibition is a well-tested barometer of the scene that always picks up a few of tomorrow’s stars. Launched in 1932, the showcase promises to exhibit the most dynamic artists living and working in London today.

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Whitechapel Gallery Wednesday July 15 2015 - Sunday September 6 2015 Free


Eleanor Ferguson
Eleanor Ferguson

To all the people scandalized by the Paul Klee comment, you do understand that we live in a world where peopel are allowed to have opinions; rather than some sort of mythical dictatorship where cultural appreciation is sanctioned by the state and anyone who doesn't toe the party line will be expunged ?? Also art criticism is just that.....criticism.

Esar Quais
Esar Quais

Nice paintings ! I like them. Paintings made in February, June and November are the best of all others. Thanks

Liz Keevill
Liz Keevill

Paul Klee a "wishy-washy favourite of the student bedroom wall"? How very dare you. Who writes this tosh?

thaer jrab
thaer jrab

Iwould like to show my liters and simpoles from my oun world

Saskia Whinney
Saskia Whinney

I hear the great French Artist/ Graffiti Writer Horfe is coming and doing a show in London in March. That should definitely be added to the list