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 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 Until 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 Until 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 Until 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 Until Sunday March 6 2016 Free


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 Until 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 Until 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 Until 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 Until 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 Until 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 Until Sunday May 17 2015
See art shows opening in April

Art shows opening this April

Mac Conner: A New York Life

Over 70 original artworks by New York illustrator Mac Conner, grace the walls of the House of Illustration for the first major UK exhibition and celebration of the 101 year old influencer's work. Having helped to shaped the image of postwar America with his hand-painted illustrations, Conner's is often referred to as one of New York's original 'Mad Men'. Here, published advertising and editorial illustrations sit alongside reference photos, sketches, process work and tearsheets from the major clients he produced work for between the 1940s and 1960s. Not to be missed. 

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House of Illustration Wednesday April 1 2015 - Sunday June 28 2015

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 Wednesday April 15 2015 - Sunday August 9 2015

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

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
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
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

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


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