Top 10 art exhibitions in London

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

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.

1

Sigmar Polke: Alibis

Sigmar Polke’s name isn’t (yet) up there with the giants of twentieth-century art. Maybe that’s because at every stage of his career he mocked, derided and rebelled against every art movement, historical legacy and consumerist ideal he encountered. Stuck in post-war Germany, between the Soviet realism of the East and the pop artistry of the West, Polke (1941-2010) fitted in nowhere, and pissed everyone off. If this major retrospective does its job, though, he’ll no longer be in the shadows of the likes of Warhol or his old pal Gerhard Richter.

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Tate Modern Until Sunday February 8 2015
2

Adventures of the Black Square: Abstract Art and Society 1915-2015

Fun fact of the year, and it’s only January: under the military junta in Argentina in the 1970s, Venn diagrams were banned, since they illustrated collaboration and collective action. This is just one of the unexpected turns taken by this show tracing the course of geometric abstraction across the last century.

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Whitechapel Gallery Until Sunday April 5 2015
3

Conflict, Time, Photography

Conflict has an immeasurable impact on civilisations, landscapes, countries, cities, towns, loved ones and our memories. So a photographic exhibition about war might not strike you as an engagingly rewarding blockbuster show. But this enlightening and thoughtful survey is exactly that.

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Tate Modern Until Tuesday April 14 2015
4

Truth and Memory: British Art of the First World War

The war was just too big, confided William Kennington after he had completed his masterpiece ‘The Kensingtons at Laventie’ in 1915, one of the first things you’ll see in the ‘Memory’ section of this captivating two-part show. The authorities had hoped that Kennington would make more paintings to rival his pin-sharp, quietly devastating depiction of his unit – knackered, wounded, each soldier caught in a moment of reflection after their march back to billets from the trenches. But he couldn’t do it. The war was just too big.

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Imperial War Museum Until Sunday March 8 2015 Free
5

Post Pop: East Meets West

Who would’ve thought a borderline sociopath and devoutly homosexual voyeur like Andy Warhol would wind up siring so many children? Even though his work doesn’t feature, Warhol’s DNA is all over this exhibition of art made from the 1970s up to today, and it’s a potent stream of influence that takes you from New York to Moscow to Beijing.

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Saatchi Gallery Until Monday February 23 2015 Free
6

A Victorian Obsession

Leighton House is the stuff of dreams. With its opulent Arab Hall, electric-blue tiled walls and a taxidermy peacock perching on the stairwell banister, the former home and studio of artist and president of the Royal Academy, Frederic Lord Leighton, is Victorian decadence incarnate. It’s fitting, then, that these impressive works owned by Mexican collector Juan Antonio Pérez Simón should wind up on display here.

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Leighton House Museum Until Sunday March 29 2015
7

Wilhelm Sasnal

No subject matter seems too large or controversial for Wilhelm Sasnal to tackle. Here, the Polish painter focuses on historical events and tales from folklore that circumnavigate religious and racial prejudices. The canvases vary between large abstract views of interiors and op-art landscapes, and more penetrating portraits and narrative driven works. There’s fluidity to the work. Quick gestural brush marks give the sense of freshness, as if they were painted yesterday.

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Sadie Coles Kingly St Until Saturday February 21 2015 Free
8

Drawn by Light: The Royal Photographic Society Collection

Got to love a pun in the name of a serious exhibition. ‘Drawn by Light’ could refer to the pull of the nascent technology of photography in the early nineteenth century, which drew scientists, artists and wealthy dilettantes, mothlike, to this incredible new way of recording the world on light-sensitive plates. But it also reflects the ‘artistic’ tack of a lot of early photography.

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Science Museum Until Sunday March 1 2015
9

Emily Carr: From the Forest to the Sea

Around a century ago, Emily Carr was making the most progressive art in Canada. If that’s hard to visualise (like Canadian art in general), you need only look at a couple of paintings in this belter of an exhibition.

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Dulwich Picture Gallery Until Sunday March 8 2015
10

Joseph Kosuth

American artist Joseph Kosuth isn’t trying to win your heart. So if a visceral punch is what you’re after, he’s probably not your man. But what his conceptual art does deliver is an open-ended dialogue with the artist himself, you the viewer, and a vast number of cultural references out there in the world.

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Sprüth Magers Until Saturday February 14 2015 Free

Comments

9 comments
Nicky Z
Nicky Z

I agree with all these comments - this is all pre-digested for us. Can we not also decide what we want to see for ourselves? Where are the listings?

Daryoush
Daryoush

Agree with all the commentators the new listing system is really hard to understand.

mark de novellis
mark de novellis

One of the bext exhibitions of 2013 is the Madge Gill: Medium & Visionary exhibition at Orleans House Gallery. This free retrospective brings together over a hundred stunning works by the UK's leading outsider artist - many of which have never been shown to the public before. There is still time to see it - it ends on 26 January 2014.

David I
David I

Totally agree with the comments here. London no longer has a proper listings magazine, which is a major loss, and the website is terrible. Cluttered, utterly confusing to navigate, I am frequently defeated just trying to find out what's on in the major galleries or where a particular film is showing. It's totally unfit for purpose. Bring back the magazine with listings.

Lamaline
Lamaline

Couldn't agree more. No more top 10. The essential and that's it!

robspackman
robspackman

A little of me died when i first saw the gutted form of the Timeout I love on my return to London after two years in South Africa. At least I thought I could still find the listings online. I was wrong. What have you done with them? Sitting with a pencil planning what to do in this wonderful but at times bewildering city was once one of the highlights of my week. No more. Why?

Liz Eyres
Liz Eyres

I agree with Nik Wood totally. I was so upset when Time Out in its old form (IE you could buy it from newsagents) ceased to be as it was the art listings that I mainly bought it for. Not only is it almost impossible for me to get a copy of it now as I am never in central London when it is distributed, but it lacks the straightforward and comprehensive listings that were in the old incarnation of the magazine. Please can you reintroduce them.

Nik Wood
Nik Wood

Why don't you do a list of what's on any more? I don't want "Top 10". I don''t want "Critics' Choices". I don't want "Opening today". I just want a comprehensive list of what shows are running now so that I can make up my own mind which to go to.