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This week's best art

All the best current art exhibitions and shows to hunt down in London

Alex Hartley, 'A Gentle Collapsing II', courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro.

Fancy checking out some art this week but don't know where to start? Have a flick through our selection of the best shows on at the moment and take your pick. With galleries spread all over the city and an art scene as changeable as London's, we've divided it into areas to help keep track. Everything featured below got a shiny four or five-star review from us, but check out all the latest art reviews for more. 

Robert Rauschenberg

Recommended

If there are no original ideas left in art, it’s probably because Robert Rauschenberg had them all. Over the course of his 60-year career (he died in 2008 aged 82), he reinvented, reused, recycled and revolutionised himself so many times that walking around this retrospective feels like stumbling through a textbook on twentieth-century art history. 

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Tate Modern , South Bank Until Sunday April 2 2017

The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection

When he’s not writing pop songs about wind-proof candles or knitting himself new wigs, Sir Elton John is a serious collector of modernist photography. No, honestly, he’s been buying the stuff for years, and his collection is world famous.  This show features just a little slice out of his 8,000-strong hoard. Some images are grouped thematically, others hung in the same way they are in his office. 

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Tate Modern , South Bank Until Sunday May 7 2017

Animality: A Fairy Story by Jens Hoffmann

‘Meat is murder’, as Aristotle probably once said. And if you didn’t agree with that sentiment before, the new group show at Marian Goodman might make you reconsider. Curator Jens Hoffmann has pulled together a seriously museum-quality exhibition on animals in art. Part historical investigation, part contemporary art exploration, it mixes tons of mediums, throwing together more than 70 artists, scientists and filmmakers, and mingles high art with low art.

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Marian Goodman Gallery , Soho Until Saturday December 17 2016

Malick Sidibé

Mali got its independence from France in 1960, and immediately became in thrall to a different kind of colonialism: a cultural one of rock ’n’ roll, motorbikes and jeans. At a time when the West was fretting about whether photography was even an art form, Malick Sidibé was taking pictures of young people in Bamako which contain all the issues in that debate: authenticity, imitation, control of the image.

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Somerset House , Temple Until Sunday January 15 2017

Teller on Mapplethorpe

There’s a lot of chat about photographer Robert Mapplethorpe at the moment. As well as a massive retrospective touring galleries around the world, a revealing documentary about his life, ‘Look at the Pictures’, came out earlier this year and now, to mark what would have been his 70th birthday, fellow photographer Juergen Teller has curated a show of his work.

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Alison Jacques , Fitzrovia Until Saturday January 7 2017

Paul Nash

Recommended

In 1917, Paul Nash wrote a letter to his wife from Ypres: ‘I am no longer an artist interested and curious, I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on for ever.’ Nash had returned to the Western Front after convalescing in England and was appalled by what he found: a ruined, flooded landscape of endless death, where all nature was reduced to charred lumps half-sunk in mud. 

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Tate Britain , Westminster Until Sunday March 5 2017

Rodin And Dance: The Essence Of Movement

Every sensible modern human knows you have to make sure you’ve got someone who you can trust to delete your browsing history if you die. It’s just common sense. Master of nineteenth-century French sculpture Auguste Rodin didn’t think that far ahead, sadly. The result is that academics can root through his old stuff and find all sorts of kinky shit. This show, for example, pulls together a bunch of rude drawings and sculptures that Rodin never showed publicly and largely didn’t even finish.

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Courtauld Institute , Temple Until Sunday January 22 2017

Rachel Maclean: Wot U :-) About?

Admit it, you’re addicted to your phone. You’re addicted to social media, to likes, to notifications, to retweets – it’s okay, we all are. And young Scottish artist Rachel Maclean’s green-screened video installation is here to smash us out of our click-reverie. In a glittering pink-carpeted room, Maclean has basically created a long, angry, nasty, bubblegum-pop attack on social media masquerading as a broadband advert A pretty, noseless, yellow-skinned character acts as a metaphorical embodiment of data (as in 4G data).

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Tate Britain , Westminster Until Sunday April 2 2017

Making Nature: How we See Animals

Mental asylums. Mind-altering drugs. Dirt. The Wellcome Collection has carved out a rep for delivering exhibitions that are outlandish without ever being sensationalist. And while the premise of their latest show – the relationship between humans and animals – might not have the same WTF factor, it’s still just as quirky and enthralling.  The first room kicks off with the Enlightenment-era craze for natural classification. 

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Wellcome Collection , Bloomsbury Until Sunday May 21 2017

Donna Huanca

There’s only one nightmare more frightening than the one where you’re naked in a room full of clothed people. It’s the one where you’re fully clothed in a room full of naked people. So get ready to have all your bad dreams come true, because American artist Donna Huanca’s show features models wearing body-length nylon stockings and a whole mess of paint. Nothing else. It’s terrifying. 

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Zabludowicz Collection , Chalk Farm Until Sunday December 18 2016

Gavin Turk: Who What When Where How & Why

Sometimes it’s hard to see beyond the shtick. Gavin Turk’s shtick especially. He’s the guy whose degree show was just a blue plaque with his name on it (he failed), the guy who thinks rubbish bags are art, the guy who reckons his signature is a masterpiece in itself, the guy who put himself on the cover of ‘Hello!’ magazine. But all those headlines obscure the truth that beyond the shtick, schlock and schmaltz, Turk is a quiet, clever, passionate and maybe even – whisper it – important artist.

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Newport Street Gallery , Lambeth Until Sunday March 19 2017

Anselm Kiefer: Walhalla

Wagner. Hitler. Kiefer. If you want to join the club of six-letter, ends in ‘-er’, mythology-obsessed, visionary-crackpot creator-destroyers you’ve got to think big. Really big. I’m not saying Kiefer is like those two anti-Semitic, delusional, megalomaniac pricks, just that his response to their legacy has always been to adopt their weapons: size, volume,  density, humourlessness, repetition. 

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White Cube Bermondsey , The Borough Until Sunday February 12 2017

Leah Capaldi: Lay Down

Think performance art isn’t for you? Hold your horses. In her first major solo exhibition, young London-based artist Leah Capaldi treads the usual body-as-art performance territory, but she manages to make it her own with a blend of short film and live performance all contained in the shiny new Matt’s Gallery space. As you walk in, you find a hired performer prostrate on a raised platform. 

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Matt's Gallery , The Borough Friday December 9 2016 - Sunday December 18 2016

Alex Hartley: After You Left

There’s a house in ruins in a swamp. Palm trees sway as rain taps against their leaves, roots climb over the crumbling walls: the residents of this house long ago left it to rot into the water. But we’re not in the jungle, this is Old Street. In fact, it’s Victoria Miro’s back garden, which Alex Hartley has filled with the dilapidated remains of a little modernist house abandoned to time. Looming over Hartley’s collapsed house is one of Old Street’s endless, faceless new builds. 

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Victoria Miro , Hoxton Until Friday December 16 2016

Matthew Darbyshire: Passive Sensor

If you were a sculptor you might find 3D printers a little threatening: these bastard machines can make perfectly in seconds something which would take you months to make imperfectly. It’s like seeing your ex with some ultra-advanced sexy super-robot. You just can’t compete, can you? Well, young British artist Matthew Darbyshire is trying to, by becoming his very own analogue 3D printer. 

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Herald St , Bethnal Green Until Friday December 16 2016

KP Brehmer

As you enter this exhibition, you’re immediately confronted by a television playing the news. So of course what you’ll see is entirely dependent on when you visit – and even if it’s intensely depressing, it’s still a wise move on the part of the gallery. The sound of the here-and-now follows you around the space, and keeps the work of KP Brehmer (1938-1997) rooted in the present – which is important, because even though he’s a twentieth-century artist, his work feels grimly, urgently relevant. 

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Vilma Gold , Bethnal Green Until Saturday January 7 2017

Patrick Caulfield: Stillness And Drama

The late British artist Patrick Caulfield had a knack for painting social spaces during moments of calm, from intimate bar nooks in the daytime to a tandoori restaurant poised before the evening rush (he was also known to like a drink). So it’s fitting that a selection of his works, painted between the late ’80s and ’90s, are being shown at The Approach, a gallery handily located above a pub. 

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The Approach , Globe Town Until Sunday December 11 2016

Guerrilla Girls

Recommended

The Guerrilla Girls are some of the art world’s most creative complainers, and for over 30 years now, they have been handing America’s galleries their arses on a platter. For their show at the Whitechapel Gallery, they’ve turned their attentions to Europe. This entire exhibition is based on a survey they sent out to 400 art institutions across 29 countries on the continent. In it, they demand stats for their representation of female artists, those who are gender non-conforming and artists of colour. Spoiler: it doesn’t go well. 

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Whitechapel Gallery , Whitechapel Until Sunday March 5 2017

Peter Wachtler: Far Out

Since it’s nigh-on impossible to explain Peter Wächtler’s show at the Chisenhale, I’d better describe it. So here goes. The Brussels-based German artist has created a four-minute, hand-painted animation in which a solitary figure in a top hat and tailcoat walks towards, but never reaches, a mountaintop castle. Playing over the top is an uptempo rock ’n’ roll song written and performed by the artist himself. 

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Chisenhale Gallery , Mile End Until Sunday December 11 2016

Jennifer Guidi: Radiant

Jennifer Guidi’s art is proof that you should never discourage your kids from finger-painting, it could turn into a whole career. She makes these big works by covering coloured canvases with thick layers of cement-like sand, then digging her fingers in to create spiralling indentations, all emanating from a single spot. Guidi might use tools, but it’s the tactile nature of the work that comes across.

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Massimo De Carlo , Mayfair Until Saturday January 28 2017

Huma Bhabha

One of the sculptures here looks like a barbecued Predator. If that’s not enough to make you go see Pakistani-born, USA-based artist Huma Bhabha’s show then this whole art criticism thing is pointless. Her three cork sculptures here flirt with the modernism of Alberto Giacometti and Constantin Brancusi, the spirituality of totem poles and the aesthetic futurism of sci-fi. They stink too, the whole gallery smells of burnt cork.

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Stephen Friedman , Mayfair Until Saturday January 28 2017

Mai-Thu Perret: Zone

A papier-mâché sculpture keeps guard as you enter Mai-Thu Perret’s show, a blood red machine gun at her side. Masks hang from thick black sheets above a disembodied woman’s head. ‘Zone’ takes inspiration from an avant-garde French novel about a society run by a tribe of warrior lesbian women and also forms part of a story by Perret about a remote commune of women in the desert. 

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Simon Lee , Mayfair Until Saturday February 4 2017

Flaming June: The Making Of An Icon

No one liked Victorian art in the 1960s, when Sir Frederic Leighton’s masterpiece ‘Flaming June’ couldn’t reach its ultra-low estimate at auction. No one cared about it except for Puerto Rican industrialist Luis Ferré, who spotted it in a Mayfair gallery and snapped it up for just £2,000. He then whisked it away to the brilliantly named Museo de Arte de Ponce in his home country.  

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Leighton House Museum , Kensington Until Sunday April 2 2017

Richard Oelze

You’ve got to feel sorry for Richard Oelze (1900-1980) – he lived through pretty much the worst that the twentieth century had to offer. The German artist fought in the trenches in World War One, and after that bounced around Europe, witnessing the rise of fascism. He fought again in World War Two, was imprisoned by the Allies, and survived, only to watch Auschwitz, Hiroshima and the Cold War unfold. Poor guy. 

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Michael Werner Gallery , Mayfair Until Saturday January 7 2017

Ed Ruscha: Extremes and In-Betweens

Ed Ruscha is so cool. His art is just so effortless, throwaway, simple and easy. Since the ’60s, he’s made a career out of painting words such as ‘oof’ and ‘honk’ on big canvases. He’s painted the same building over and over, in different variations. He paints the Hollywood sign. He paints sentences. His work seems so calm, collected, cold, deadpan and aloof. But that doesn’t mean it’s unapproachable, or lacks emotional strength.

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Gagosian Gallery , Mayfair Until Saturday December 17 2016

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IIP Foundation
IIP Foundation

The Indian Institute of Photography wishes you a happy & Colourful Holi !