London art exhibitions calendar

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

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 February

Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden

Enter a Marlene Dumas exhibition and you never know who you might meet. Among the subjects of the South Africa-born, Amsterdam-based painter’s work over the past few years are Jesus, Princess Diana, Phil Spector, Amy Winehouse and Osama bin Laden. Dumas is the painter-doyenne of dark undercurrents, tragic lives and falls from grace. ‘I have always been interested in how you can depict suffering without being heavy-handed,' she told us when we spoke in 2011. Dumas avoids heavy-handedness with a free-flowing style and wraith-like portraits that seem to float like apparitions. Despite being among the world’s most prominent painters, the sixty-something artist is not well known in the UK. This retrospective looks set to change that. Big time. 

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Tate Modern Until Sunday May 10 2015

Human Rights Human Wrongs

Through photography, world issues including political upheavals, racial discrimination and war have been conveyed to an international audience. This exhibition of over 200 original press prints focuses on the important role photojournalism has played in providing a voice to critical moments in social history and raising awareness on a global scale. Featuring a selection of work from the Black Star photo agency, whose roster of photographers have included Robert Capa, Bill Brandt and Henri Cartier-Bresson, the show relays pivotal events from 1945 to the 1990s through enigmatic, intriguing and captivating prints. The old adage ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ couldn’t be more appropriate.

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Photographers' Gallery Until Monday April 6 2015 Free

History is Now

Ahead of the general election, the Hayward Gallery has invited seven UK-based artists and duos, John Akomfrah, Simon Fujiwara, Roger Hiorns, Hannah Starkey, Richard Wentworth and Jane and Louise Wilson to curate works that define certain periods of our recent history. Over 250 objects have been selected from public and private collections, archives, libraries and local museums. As part of the Southbank Centre’s ‘Changing Britain' festival, this group show will create unexpected connections between events and look at how we remember from individual and collective perspectives.

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Hayward Gallery Until Sunday April 26 2015

Made in China: A Doug Fishbone Project

Could you spot a fake old master painting from the original? Well now’s your chance as the Dulwich Picture Gallery will replace one of their prized Old Master paintings with a Chinese replica from Feb 10. The brainchild of London-based artist Doug Fishbone, a Chinese artist from the Dafen Village has been commissioned to copy a painting from the gallery’s collection. But can you be foiled? Well you have until April 26 to guess which painting is the forgery. Then on April 28 the counterfeit will be unveiled and hang next to the original so we can compare the artistry.

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Dulwich Picture Gallery Until Sunday July 26 2015

Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector

Critics' choice

Tune into your inner hoarder with the Barbican’s spring blockbuster ‘Magnificent Obsessions’. Showcasing 14 artists’ collections including Arman’s tribal masks, Damien Hirst’s skulls, Dr Lakra’s bizarre LP covers, Martin Parr’s Soviet space dog memorabilia and Andy Warhol’s kitsch cookie jars, the exhibition will be a veritable cornucopia of all things eccentric, rare and curious.

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Barbican Centre Until Monday May 25 2015

Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends

Few artists got around as much as John Singer Sargent. The son of an American surgeon, he was born in Florence in 1856 and spent his childhood touring Europe, settling in Paris, then moving to London (after the furore over his sensational ‘Madame X’ portrait at the 1884 Paris Salon), where he died in 1925. He remained an American citizen his whole life, but such was his international reputation that memorial exhibitions were held in Boston, New York and London. 

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National Portrait Gallery Until Monday May 25 2015

Sculpture Victorious

During Queen Victoria’s reign from 1837 to 1901, Britain was not only the world’s most powerful nation, it also produced the most technologically advanced arts and crafts on the planet. In its major spring exhibition, Tate Britain celebrates this industrious chapter of art history with a collection of rarely seen sculptural works from the period, ranging from an earthenware elephant to an electroplated sculpture of the Earl of Winchester, which has been removed from the House of Lords for the first time.

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Tate Britain Until Monday May 25 2015

Salt and Silver: Early Photography 1840-1860

It was whilst William Henry Fox Talbot was on his honeymoon in Italy in 1833 that the Cambridge graduate came up with the idea to permanently capture an image on paper. Looking back to photography’s infancy and the invention of printing images using a solution of salt and silver nitrate this show of 90 images includes rarely seen portraits and day-to-day Victorian activities. You’ll even see Trafalgar Square being built in one of Fox Talbot’s earliest photographs of Nelson’s Colum being constructed.

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Tate Britain Until Monday May 25 2015

Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album

Not only did going deaf at 50 have a profound effect on the Spanish painter’s life, but also his work. He started to create personal albums of drawings that recorded his observations of human nature in particular our dreams and nightmares. Unfortunately after his death, these albums were broken up and scattered throughout private collections and museums. For the first time, all twenty-two drawings from Goya’s ‘Witches and Old Women Album’ have been brought together along with examples of his other albums.

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Courtauld Gallery Until Monday May 25 2015

Art shows opening this March

Inventing Impressionism

It may seem surprising that there was a time when the works of Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir were not fashionable. Just like any ground-breaking art movement that went against the grain, it took considerable time and endless promotion before a lasting impression would be made. This was the fate for the Impressionists. But thankfully a nineteenth century Parisian art dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel knew talent when he saw it.

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National Gallery Wednesday March 4 2015 - Sunday May 31 2015

Leon Golub: Bite Your Tongue

The late-figurative painter, who was shunned for many years by the American establishment, is celebrated in this survey of his rugged, politically charged work that spans the Vietnam War and 1990s dystopian urban scenes.

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Serpentine Gallery Wednesday March 4 2015 - Sunday May 17 2015 Free

Roman Signer: Slow Movement

Towed by a rope, a kayak will travel through the 90-metre long gallery as if on water. Joined by two other canoes placed around the centre in bizarre ways and early films featuring the kayak, Signer transforms an ordinary scenario into something absurd. An avid kayaker for many years, Signer has used boats in his practice since the 1980s to explore the experience of landscape and time.

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Barbican Centre Wednesday March 4 2015 - Sunday May 31 2015 Free

Fourth Plinth: Hans Haacke

As we say goodbye to Katharina Fritsch’s blue cockerel, Trafalgar Square will be getting another animal resident atop the fourth plinth with German artist, Hans Haacke's ‘Gift Horse’. At four-metres high, the latest commission mimics its neighbouring equestrian statue of George IV. Based on an etching by George Stubbs, the giant skeleton has a sinister tone, which mocks British history and questions class structure. To push the point home, Haacke has included an electronic ticker from the London Stock Exchange around the horse’s raised leg to highlight the inequalities of global finance. 

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Fourth Plinth Thursday March 5 2015 - Sunday March 6 2016 Free

Beard

Calling all pogonophiles, this exhibition of over 80 portraits by Mr Elbank is just for you. Here, all manner of facial tufts come under the spotlight from John Hurt's wiry fisherman’s whiskers to Harnaam Kaur’s unexpected beard, which she’s been growing since she was sixteen when she was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries.

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Somerset House Thursday March 5 2015 - Sunday March 29 2015 Free

Nick Waplington/Alexander McQueen: Working Process

Known for his controversial and unorthodox approach to fashion, Alexander McQueen collaborated with photographer Nick Waplington to create a unique record of his working practice. During the creation of the late fashion designer’s final Autumn/Winter 2009 collection, ‘The Horn of Plenty’, which reused elements from McQueen's previous collections, Waplington's photographs capture the creative process of sketching designs through to the Paris catwalk and pair them with images of recycling plants to comment on destruction and renewal.

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Tate Britain Tuesday March 10 2015 - Sunday May 17 2015

The Syngenta Photography Award Exhibition

Aiming to stimulate global discussion through thought provoking photographic responses to worldwide issues, the second edition of this annual photography prize focuses on 'Scarcity-Waste'. Showcasing over 40 photographers including six of the professional commission and open competition finalists, a subject most of us would like to ignore is captured in striking ways.

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Somerset House Wednesday March 11 2015 - Friday April 10 2015 Free

Joshua Reynolds: Experiments in Paint

This spring the Wallace Collection will reveal a more radical side to the British eighteenth century portraitist who founded the Royal Academy. Bringing together fascinating archival material, x-rays and twenty paintings, Reynolds’ unconventional technical approach will be unearthed. Enthralling detective antics aside, it’s also the perfect chance to appreciate his magnificent portraits of London’s colourful elite.

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Wallace Collection Thursday March 12 2015 - Sunday June 7 2015 Free

Revelations: Experiments in Photography

The invention of photography helped Victorian scientists to capture things too small and too fast for the human eye to see. So it’s apt this Science Museum show should focus on the mutually inspiring terrain of scientific study and artistic endeavour. Bringing together the early photomicrography experiments of British inventor William Henry Fox Talbot with contemporary artists including Idris Khan and Clare Strand, ‘Revelations: Experiments in Photography’ reveals the everlasting aesthetic stimulus of early scientific photographic techniques.

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Science Museum Friday March 20 2015 - Sunday September 13 2015

Ydessa Hendeles: From Her Wooden Sleep

The ICA's theatre is the perfect location to stage a tableau vivant. The German-born Canadian artist and curator, Ydessa Hendeles has been collecting wooden artist manikins of all sizes and period for the past 30 years. These fascinating wooden models are arranged together in a site-specific installation that replicates a ceremonial gathering or an auction in which they all seem to concentrate their attention onto one single manikin. Here art imitates life in disturbing yet intriguing circumstances.

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ICA Tuesday March 24 2015 - Sunday May 10 2015

Art shows opening this April

London Original Print Fair

The world’s longest running art fair returns to the Royal Academy for its 29th year with fifty leading print dealers, specialising in everything from Old Masters to contemporary masterpieces. This year the Royal Collection will loan 30 prints including pieces by Dürer, Raphael and Canaletto as well as prints made by royals, including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. With prices ranging from a few hundred into the thousands, this favourite among collectors is also a good place for any novice looking to start buying art.

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Royal Academy of Arts Thursday April 23 2015 - Sunday April 26 2015

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 Thursday April 23 2015 - 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 Friday April 24 2015 - Sunday May 10 2015

Comments

7 comments
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.

Celeste Ponzellini
Celeste Ponzellini

In reference to the exhibition in October on Paul Klee your opening line reads:''A wishy-washy favourite of the student bedroom wall...'' HOW DARE YOU? I appreciate that in the more detailed description of the actual show, you are more respectful to this great artist, but this initial line is unacceptable and offensive to the man and the potential visitors alike, not to mention the curators of the exhibition. I do sincerely hope you will change this by the time we get closer to October. I would also like to point out that this less than tasteful joke, has for me finalised the decision of cancelling my subscription to your magazine, which has in the last two years or so declined so much it has reached the bottom. Regards

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

mulondo patrick
mulondo patrick

My name is Mulondo PATRICK from Uganda East Africa. I am student at Makerere university 3rd year studding art. I want to be part of these exhibitions and exhibit my works as well. I am a sculptor working with fiberglass mixed media with scrap metal welded together. Below is a link to my works. How can I please be part of these exhibitions? http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2642977811187.71152.1757875344&type=3 http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2805850882912.72528.1757875344&type=3

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