Top 10 art exhibitions in London

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

© Peter Macdiarmid

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

Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector

Critics' choice

There are moments in this exhibition when you forget you’re in an exhibition at all – when looking through the personal collections of 14 artists feels more like being in some fantastic bazaar. In Peter Blake’s part of the show alone you’ll find creepy Edwardian dolls and puppets, faked taxidermies of mythological animals and gorgeous old tin signs. Elsewhere, the cornucopia includes glass eyeballs owned by photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto, Soviet space dog memorabilia from Martin Parr, and psychedelic, cod-surrealist paintings sourced by American artist Jim Shaw from thrift stores around the world. 

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Barbican Centre Until Monday May 25 2015
2

Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden

Marlene Dumas paints celebrities, nonentities, supermodels, porn models, terrorists, tyrants, dead people, fictional people, children, herself, history’s ghouls and spectres – and Phil Spector, twice capturing the jailed former record producer with and without his fright wig. All succumb to her dissolving, fluid style, as if being carried along a Styx-like river of dark undercurrents.

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Tate Modern Until Sunday May 10 2015
3

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
4

History is Now

Ahead of the general election, the Hayward Gallery has invited seven UK-based artists and duos, John Akomfrah, Simon Fujiwara, Roger Hiorns, Hannah Starkey, Richard Wentworth and Jane and Louise Wilson to curate works that define certain periods of our recent history. Over 250 objects have been selected from public and private collections, archives, libraries and local museums. As part of the Southbank Centre’s ‘Changing Britain' festival, this group show will create unexpected connections between events and look at how we remember from individual and collective perspectives.

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Hayward Gallery Until Sunday April 26 2015
5

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
6

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
7

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 Tuesday March 3 2015 Free
8

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 Wednesday March 4 2015 - Sunday March 29 2015
9

Rubens and His Legacy: Van Dyck to Cézanne

Hear the phrase ‘Rubenesque’, and chances are it’s the Flemish master’s women that you’ll picture – big and buxom, fleshy and sexy. Yet beyond that, the expression points to a broader ethos of abundance and vitality, both in terms of Peter Paul Rubens’s own life (besides being an artist, he was a diplomat and all-round celebrity), and also his paintings in general, stuffed full with muscular, almost orgiastic scenes of energy and tumult. The Royal Academy captures this side of Rubens extremely well, eschewing a chronological display in favour of themed sections – ‘Violence’, ‘Lust’, ‘Power’ and so on – that showcase his baroque virtuosity.

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Royal Academy of Arts Until Friday April 10 2015
10

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
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Comments

11 comments
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?

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.