Top 10 art exhibitions in London

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

0

Comments

Add +

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
'The Sampling Officials of the Amsterdam Drapers’ Guild, known as ‘The Syndics’', about 1662 by Rembrandt van Rijn

'The Sampling Officials of the Amsterdam Drapers’ Guild, known as ‘The Syndics’', about 1662 by Rembrandt van Rijn © Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Rembrandt: The Late Works

  • Rated as: 5/5

It takes balls to show the best works first (museum etiquette dictates a sprinkling of masterpieces), so the National Gallery displays some hefty cojones by exhibiting probably the finest group of paintings anywhere in the world at the very start of this knockout show. It’s shockingly simple: four self-portrait canvases and a tiny etching by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, all made during the last 11 years of his life, hang, spotlit, side by side. Yet everything you could wish for in terms of Rembrandt’s genius and his humanity is displayed in front of you.

  1. National Gallery Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Sun Jan 18
More info
2

Late Turner: Painting Set Free

  • Rated as: 5/5

There are some artists whose final works have a special frisson attached to them. Late Rembrandt. Late Beethoven. All mortality is there, we are supposed to understand: the grave opens up and yet they cleave to existence, reporting back from the edges of the infinite. Maybe old Ludwig Van is not a bad comparison with Turner. Both were products of the enlightenment, but their final tonal experiments were greeted with horror, as they circled around their themes, as if pacing the cells of their own imagination.

  1. Tate Britain Millbank, SW1P 4RG
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Sun Jan 25
More info
3

Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age

  • Rated as: 5/5

‘The long exposure time required by the first cameras favoured the static attributes of buildings, making them a far more reliable subject than the human figure,’ reads the dry introductory text to this extensive and actually quite moving show of photography from the past 80 years. The statement is true, up to a point. Barring disaster, buildings don’t tend to move. But the effects of light, weather and most noticeably, human activity, make architecture anything but a static subject.

  1. Barbican Centre Silk St, EC2Y 8DS
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Sun Jan 11
More info
4

Alex Jamison

Sigmar Polke: Alibis

  • Rated as: 5/5

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.

  1. Tate Modern Bankside, SE1 9TG
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Sun Feb 8
More info
5

© Linda Nylind

Mirrorcity

  • Rated as: 4/5

City living might not always be easy but it’s certainly exhilarating. So how do you respond to London, a city that has it all? With fragmented, amplified, high-tech, illusionistic, psychedelic and sometimes cynical work by 23 artists who share a love of the city, that’s how.

  1. Hayward Gallery Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Sun Jan 4
More info
6

Steve McQueen

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Free

Forget about ’12 Years a Slave’, forget about Steve McQueen’s Oscar win. You have to come to ‘Ashes’, his latest film, with fresh eyes, because it really is a quite different sort of work from his more mainstream, cinematic releases. Apparently more simple and open-ended, it demands more of you as a viewer.

  1. Thomas Dane Duke Street, SW1Y 6BN
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Sat Nov 15
More info
7
150 x 300 cm

150 x 300 cm Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Free

Gerhard Richter is as big as they come. In 2012, his painting ‘Abstraktes Bild’ sold at auction for £21m, making it the most expensive work by a living painter. Six months later, his ‘Domplatz, Mailand’ eclipsed that record, going for a whopping £24.4.m. Now, the 82-year-old behemoth is inaugurating mighty New York gallerist Marian Goodman’s first London space with a show of new painting and sculpture. So yeah, it’s a big deal.

  1. Marian Goodman Gallery 5-8 Lower John St, W1F 9DY
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Sat Dec 20
More info
8
Percy Wyndham Lewis, A Battery Shelled, 1919

Percy Wyndham Lewis, A Battery Shelled, 1919 digitised by Ted Dearberg (IWM)

Truth and Memory: British Art of the First World War

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Free

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.

  1. Imperial War Museum Lambeth Rd, SE1 6HZ
  2. Until Sun Mar 8
More info
9

John Constable, 'Brighton Beach', 1824 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Constable: The Making of a Master

  • Rated as: 4/5

There is a kind of decompression chamber at the start of this show. You stand before a screen that fills the wall while real-life scenes made famous by John Constable’s paintings – including Willy Lott’s Suffolk cottage from ‘The Hay Wain’ – gently roll by, apparently unchanged since he painted them a couple of centuries ago. It’ll soothe your soul, which could be a problem if you’ve come to see a radically reinterpreted Constable rather than the comfy heritage industry Constable we think we know.

  1. V&A Cromwell Rd, SW7 2RL
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Sun Jan 11
More info
10
Key. 11   /  Cat. 
<br/>
<br/>
<br/>Anselm Kiefer
<br/>Winter Landscape (Winterlandschaft), 1970
<br/>Watercolour, gouache, and graphite pencil on paper, 42.9 x 35.6 cm
<br/>Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Denise and Andrew Saul Fund, 1995 (

Key. 11 / Cat.


Anselm Kiefer
Winter Landscape (Winterlandschaft), 1970
Watercolour, gouache, and graphite pencil on paper, 42.9 x 35.6 cm
Lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Denise and Andrew Saul Fund, 1995 (

Anselm Kiefer

  • Rated as: 4/5

It’s hard to not feel overwhelmed in this retrospective of Anselm Kiefer, a dizzying show of post-war art that leaves you spinning. The German artist delves deep into history – towards Wagner, the Romans and ancient forest legends, always searching for meaning, something to make sense of what has come before. But the real meat of the matter is World War II itself.

  1. Royal Academy of Arts Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD
  2. Fri Oct 31 - Sun Dec 14
More info

Top art features

London art exhibitions calendar

A handy calendar of the must-see art shows coming to town this year

Latest art reviews

Find out what our critics make of London's new exhibitions

Top 10 art exhibitions

Our critics' pick of the must-see art exhibitions in town this season

Art interviews

We talk to the biggest names and emerging talent in the art world


Users say

8 comments
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.