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 Tate Modern's 'The Ey Exhibition: Sonia Delaunay', Hayward's 'Carsten Holler: Decision', Tate Britain's 'Barbara Hepworth' retrospective, Barbican's 30-day exhibition 'Station to Station', the National Gallery's 'Goya: The Portraits', Tate Modern's 'The World Goes Pop' and the Royal Academy's Ai Weiwei exhibition.

Art shows opening this July

Isa Genzken: Basic Research Paintings

The German artist’s rarely-seen and experimental series, ‘Basic Research Paintings’ reveals the processes of painting. Made from laying primed canvases on the floor of her studio and applying pressure on the back with a printing squidgy, the canvas’s surface retains the floor's imprint with dirt and grim. The results are abstracted impressions that veer between the macro and micro.

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ICA Until Sunday September 6 2015 Free

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 July 7 2015 - Sunday September 6 2015

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 Until Sunday October 18 2015

Nicholas Mangan: Ancient Lights

The Melbourne-based artist’s new film installation, which will be powered entirely by an on-site solar PV system, examines the physical and conceptual power of the sun.

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Chisenhale Gallery Wednesday July 8 2015 - Sunday August 23 2015

Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust

Joseph Cornell conjured a sense of adventure and discovery in his brilliantly intricate shadow boxes. Considered a reclusive figure, the self-taught artist was an avid collector amassing a vast array of ephemera that he used to create his intriguing assemblages. This show, the first London survey of Cornell in 35 years, presents 80 works that feature his playful shadow boxes, rarely seen later collages and his extraordinary dabbling in filmmaking. 

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Royal Academy of Arts Until Sunday September 27 2015

Soundscapes: Listening to Paintings

The National Gallery's Sainbury Wing galleries will be transformed into a sonic experience by seven artists responding to paintings from the collection. Susan Philipsz, Jamie xx, Gabriel Yared, Nico Muhly, Chris Watson, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller have each created unique sound works to accompany their chosen paintings that will each be displayed in special soundproofed rooms.

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National Gallery Wednesday July 8 2015 - Sunday September 6 2015

Sculpture in the City

Critics' choice

Now in its fifth year, this public art initiative positions contemporary artists within the heart of the Square Mile, creating unexpected and humorous interactions within the urban environment. This year’s line-up of 14 works includes Damien Hirst’s ‘Charity’, a giant sculpture of a collection box that you won’t fail to miss, and Tomoaki Suzuki’s tiny figures (pictured), modelled after real Londoners, which you might. Joining them in September will be a piece by Ai Weiwei to coincide with his retrospective at the Royal Academy of Arts. 

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Square Mile Thursday July 9 2015 - Thursday June 30 2016 Free

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

Art shows opening this August


Art, theatre, music mash-up, 'Utopia' is the brainchild of British filmmaker, director and artist Penny Woolcock. She's been given full run of the Roundhouse's main space for 'Utopia', which is an installation created in collaboration with Block9 - regulars in creating crazy fantasy worlds at Glastonbury Festival. Staged in the Roundhouse's main space it takes Thomas More's 16th century book 'Utopia' as its inspiration and explores inequality, consumerism, housing, gentrification, education and social media. Alongside the show there is a series of live lates which include spoken word, cabaret and music events.

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Roundhouse Tuesday August 4 2015 - Saturday August 22 2015

Art shows opening this September

The World Goes Pop

The pop art phenomenon entranced artists all over the world from Latin America to Asia, throughout Europe and the Middle East. Although popular culture including advertising, movies, music and packaging gave artists the impetus to create visually stimulating and engaging works that celebrated consumer culture, it also gave them the means to critique the political and social climate. This exhibition of over 200 works created between the 1960s and 1970s reveals how artists from different countries put their individual spin on pop art.

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Tate Modern Thursday September 17 2015 - Sunday January 24 2016

Ai Weiwei

He may still not be allowed to travel out of China, but that doesn’t stop Beijing-based Ai Weiwei from exhibiting all over the world. Known for his openly critical opinion of the Chinese government, he remains one of the countries most important artistic exports and a voice for a generation disenchanted by oppressive political regimes. In 2011 the Royal Academy made him an Honorary Academician and will celebrate his visionary approach to art making with this, the first extensive British survey. Ai’s three-decade career will be mapped through his work that’s informed by personal experiences such as his 2011 detention and emphasises the importance of creative freedom.

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Royal Academy of Arts Saturday September 19 2015 - Sunday December 13 2015

Jumana Manna

Music and politics merge in the Berlin-based, Palestinian artist’s first UK solo show. Within a sculptural installation, Manna will screen her new film. Based on her research of broadcast radio during the British mandate in Palestine, Manna will use contemporary music to explore the cultural traditions of Jerusalem.

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Chisenhale Gallery Friday September 18 2015 - Sunday November 22 2015 Free

A Woman’s Hand

To mark the Saatchi Gallery’s thirtieth birthday, it will present its first exhibition of all-female artists. Over the last three decades, Charles Saatchi has been collecting the work of emerging and established artists including Jenny Saville, Paula Rego, Tracey Emin, Alice Anderson and Phoebe Unwin. Here, that extensive collection will celebrate the rich and diverse practices of female artists without making a feminist point.

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Saatchi Gallery Wednesday September 23 2015 - Sunday January 24 2016 Free

Art shows opening this October

Zhang Ding

In 1991, the UK’s hard rock and heavy metal festival, Monsters of Rock, showcased Pantera, Metallica, AC/DC and The Black Crowes in Moscow. Shanghai-based new media artist Zhang Ding got Chinese bands to recreate this important concert in 2014. Here, ‘Orbit of Rock’ will transform the ICA’s theatre into a music stage so historically significant London gigs can be recreated.

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ICA Tuesday October 6 2015 - Sunday November 1 2015

Goya: The Portraits

The first ever show to focus on the portraits by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, Spain’s leading artist in the late eighteenth century and one of the most psychologically revealing painters of all time. Although his famously bleak ‘Black Paintings’ are far too fragile to travel, there are two masterful and deeply moving self-portraits among the important international loans that will make this show a highlight of autumn 2015.

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National Gallery Wednesday October 7 2015 - Sunday January 10 2016

Frank Auerbach

Considered Britain’s greatest living painter, the 83-year old artist has lived and worked in north London for the last sixty years, painting every day of the year but one. This survey of 70 paintings that span the over half a century you can experience his obsessive renderings of local scenes around Camden Town as well as portraits of close friends.

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Tate Britain Friday October 9 2015 - Sunday March 13 2016


Luci S
Luci S

I would also REALLY appreciate such a thing. 

Mary G
Mary G

It would be really good if you could produce an easily printable listing of all the art events/galleries/shows that are on in London.  It is quite hard to get an overview from your listings as the listings seem to have been bundled into a short list under separate headings.  I would envisage a full list of both contemporary and traditional art - whether at museums, public or private galleries - etc.  Basically a fully comprehensive list - which can be printed off easily.  Any chance?