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Top 10 art exhibitions in London

Check out our critics' pick of the art currently on show in the capital

© The National Gallery Photographic Department

Fancy seeing an art show this weekend but no idea where to go? Well look no further. You can't go wrong if you head down to one of our ten favourite art exhibitions taking place in the capital right now. Or, if you're after the latest London's art scene has to offer, try This Week's Best New Art. Or, if you're skint until pay day, how about trying one of the capital's many free exhibitions

1

Ravilious

Fair haired, tweed clad, a nice lad, Eric Ravilious (1903-42) looked like he could have bicycled straight out of one of his own paintings, perhaps waving to the stout cook outside ‘The Vicarage’ (1935) as he hastened home for tea – to crusty bread and flowers on the table. His is a uniquely comforting vision of Britishness (Englishness, really, and southern England at that) in the 1930s. A timeless one too – with its chalk giants and white horses carved into rolling Wiltshire hills and the South Downs. Which goes to explain why you can buy picnic throws, ‘Ravilious Limited Edition’ English Breakfast tea and ‘Blackcurrant Blighty Jam’ in the gallery shop. But Ravilious (the name is probably Huguenot, though he liked to affect that it was Cornish) isn’t merely a purveyor of a cosy, heritage industry idea of Britishness. 

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Monday August 31 2015
2

Duane Hanson

Critics' choice

There are a lot of people in Duane Hanson’s show and that’s not including the gallerygoers. A cowboy is propped against the wall by the entrance. A lady sits at an ad hoc yard sale surrounded by paintings and books. Duster in hand, a cleaner grips on to her cart of sanitation supplies. Workmen are taking a well-earned break from grafting. And a house painter has half finished covering the gallery’s back wall in a shade of baby pink. These, of course, aren’t real people. They are the meticulously crafted fibreglass and bronze fabrications of the late American sculptor, who sought to capture the familiar and daily activities of Middle America.

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Serpentine Sackler Gallery, Knightsbridge Tuesday September 1 2015 - Sunday September 13 2015
3

Soundscapes: Listening to Paintings

Critics' choice

Forget the art slides and flying machines at the Hayward. The most controversial show of the summer, the one that’s sending some critics into a Victor Meldrew-ish tailspin of invective, involves six paintings and a few loudspeakers. 

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National Gallery, Trafalgar Square Until Sunday September 6 2015
4

Carsten Höller: Decision

Critics' choice

Carsten Höller’s art requires you to use your hands quite a lot. Whether it’s finding your way through pitch-black metal corridors from the entrance to the lower gallery; gripping on to the handrail of a flying machine that soars over Waterloo Bridge (above); attempting to get inside a giant die; taking a red and white pill that may or may not be a placebo or getting yourself in position before you whoosh down a slide upon exiting the show. Hands aside, the key element in the German-Belgian artist’s survey is decision-making, hence the exhibition’s title. 

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Hayward Gallery, South Bank Until Monday September 7 2015
5

Revelations: Experiments in Photography

‘Chickens scared by a torpedo’ may not be Eadweard Muybridge’s most popular work, but it’s definitely the one with the best title. In the 1870s the British photo pioneer broke new ground with his famous study of horses at full gallop. Now his shots of cluckers losing their cool are in an exhibition of science-related photos spanning the last 170 years. 

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Science Museum, Brompton Until Sunday September 13 2015
6

Shirley Baker: Women, Children and Loitering Men

Critics' choice

The children in Shirley Baker’s photographs seem undeterred by the demolition of their neighbourhood. They create makeshift swings on lampposts, while the cobbled streets become their cricket pitch and paving stones their canvas for chalk drawings. Boys grin proudly, while girls dressed up in their mother’s garb flash cheeky expressions. 

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Photographers' Gallery, Soho Until Sunday September 20 2015
7

Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World

Critics' choice

The last time the Tate held a Barbara Hepworth retrospective, the artist herself had a hand in organising the show. That was in 1968, seven years before Britain’s first lady of modernist sculpture died in a fire in her St Ives studio – a fatal combination of sleeping pills and a fondness for smoking in bed. In the intervening years, so this show’s argument goes, we’ve tended to view Babs through rose-, or perhaps clotted cream-tinted spectacles; as a kind comfy heritage-industry modernist, when in fact she was a towering figure of the international avant-garde. If that sounds like a lot of curatorial justification to swallow with your scones, it really isn’t.

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Tate Britain, Westminster Until Sunday October 25 2015
8

Agnes Martin

Critics' choice

The simplicity of the late American artist’s abstract work is their evocative strength. Working in New York during the 1950 sand 60s, Martin became a prominent figure in the male-dominated field of abstraction but soon left the city in search of solitude. Settling in New Mexico, she would continue to create mesmerising paintings in muted and often pale hues for the next three decades. This extensive retrospective covers early experiments, stylistic developments and charts the constant inspiration of her spiritual connection to art. You'll also be able to see her 'I Love the Whole World' that came in at 61 in our 100 Best Paintings in London.

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Tate Modern, South Bank Until Sunday October 11 2015
9

Victorian London in Photographs

Critics' choice

Rapacious, unchecked development, a growing gulf between the richest and poorest and a realisation that modern life is damaging to mental health. Anyway, enough about London in 2015: here are some photos of dead people. There are plenty of contemporary resonances in these images of London from 1839 to 1901. One thing above all else drove Victorian photographers, and saw their technology evolve incredibly quickly: change. A

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London Metropolitan Archives, Clerkenwell Tuesday September 1 2015 - Thursday October 8 2015
10

Joseph Cornell: Wanderlust

Critics' choice

For a man who never really left his home in Queens, New York, 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. Whether it was everyday knick-knacks, pebbles from the beach or maps and prints from second hand stores, Cornell amassed a vast array of ephemera that he would later collage into magnificent feats of mind-blowing creation. 

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Royal Academy of Arts, Mayfair Until Sunday September 27 2015
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Comments

12 comments
Caroline L
Caroline L

I totally agree with the comments made below. I would also like to see a listing of a wider range of galleries not just the critics choice. Time out in the past was my life line for information on new spaces and galleries. The days of Sarah Kent are well gone !! Please if the magazine is now free include more gallery listings, not just the critics choice

e c
e c

as a gallery owner and someone who found many artistic wonders over the years thanks to timeout the current incarnation makes me very sad - noone from Timeout ever even comes to my gallery which is one of the largest in the east end because there is no endeavour to find the new any more - there is a cost to giving away magazines for free - the magazine is guilty but so are we all

Liz D
Liz D moderator Staff Writer

@e c Hi there, please send any upcoming exhibition info to art@timeout.com

Claire M
Claire M

Agree with all the postings below.  Used to love the many pages of listings which I found led me to all sorts of unexpected delights.  I read the broadsheets to get the reviews of a few big shows, & thought of Time Out as the way to explore & find out what's going on.  The nearest things now are the weekend Guardian Guide - can others suggest good alternatives?

Robert F
Robert F

Totally agree with other recent posts. Listings should be centre stage - the backbone of TO's offering.

Jan G
Jan G

Non less than the World are expecting listings from TO. It made us find our way through the most incredible Metropolis over decades. All over now?

Jan from Germany

k f
k f

I don't usually add comments to any sites, but I feel compelled to voice my agreement with all the comments below. I want to see the wide range of art events that are on in London not just the ones the critics are telling me I should see. Time out used to be the first point of call - I won't use it any more.

Ben F
Ben F

45 isn't old or is it? I find the Internet has all the visual charm and clarity of those dreadful jelly sweet game apps that even intelligent people seem to become hooked on. The layout of the web seems to have become an explosion of headlines and adverts mashed into an impenetrable visual splash of confusion. With the galleries own websites - the simple question of what's on seems unanswerable. One is met with a deluge of screen filling design and information jumping around the simple need to know what, when and where. So with Timeout the desire of the user to know what's on and further more the added all important opinion of what's on seems impossible to find in a editorially controlled manner i.e the simple top 10 list. A world influenced by the majestic mess of Facebook. Is this our lot?

D H
D H

Please please please please. This website is near useless now. You can't search for anything. We're dependent on Editors making a list anything outside of those lists essentially is impossible to find. It seems given the tonnes of comments to this effect something akin to commercial suicide is happening at T.O towers. We still love you. Don't give up!

Segun L
Segun L

Oh for heavens sake, where are the listings? Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Time Out is, by definition, a listings magazine, is it not? So, where are they? Ohhhh.... Now, I've seen all the other comments for the last six months. You obviously don't care anymore about user experience. Is this obliqueness an advertiser requirement or just sheer editorial bloodymindedness?