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Top 10 art exhibitions in London

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

'Strange and Familiar' at the Barbican. Photo: Tristan Fewings

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 and our new London art reviews. Or, if you're skint until pay day, how about trying one of the capital's many free exhibitions

The best art exhibitions in London

1

Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers

Critics' choice

This is an exhibition for anyone who has ever queued for a bus, stared longingly into a cake shop window, blown bubbles just for the fun of it, picknicked in the car in the rain, been in love, worn a hat, walked down a high street… If you don’t recognise yourself in that list, or in the photographs in this show, then I’m calling you out, you droid. Selecting 23 photographers from overseas who have come to these shores armed with rampant curiosity and a killer eye for a great shot, ace photographer Martin Parr has put together one of the most involving and moving exhibitions of the year. 

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Barbican Centre , Barbican Until Sunday June 19 2016
2

Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century

Critics' choice

Goodness: It’s a quality you probably appreciate in your mum. But in an artist? We’re taught from an early age to admire art’s bad boys and girls, from Caravaggio via Picasso to Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. They have the coolest lives and make the best copy. But the photographer Paul Strand (1890-1976) was, unerringly, a good man. And his images, of New York City streets, remote rural communities, even crocuses in his back yard, are inseparable from his humanity. 

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V&A , Brompton Until Sunday July 3 2016
3

Edward Barber

A foot in Jesus sandal protrudes from under a police van, while an officer looks smirkingly on. A man stands in Hyde Park: on his head is a paper bag printed with instructions on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. One reads: ‘Kiss your loved ones goodbye.’ A demure woman sits in a folding chair beside a sign which reads ‘Hello, can you stop for a talk?’ She might be canvassing for a politician or manning a WI stall. In fact she’s picketing Greenham Common RAF base, home to Uncle Sam and his cruise missiles. 

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Imperial War Museum , Kennington Until Sunday September 4 2016
4

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama is one of those artists whose mythology often overshadows her work. Now 87 years old, she has had a litany of avant-garde terms thrown her way over the years – conceptualist, feminist, minimalist – and was an indisputably huge influence on pop art giants including Andy Warhol. Having done her time on the 1960s’ New York scene, in the early 1970s Kusama returned to Tokyo, checked herself into a mental institution and has lived there willingly ever since – travelling to her nearby studio to work. 

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Victoria Miro , Hoxton Until Saturday July 30 2016
5

Dutch Flowers

Flowers, as anyone who has been on the giving or receiving end of a bunch will agree, are never just flowers. They speak of love, lust, celebration, sympathy, guilt… And so the bouquets of tulips, irises and roses in this scintillating display of Dutch painting from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are not just paintings of flowers. They’re symbols of passion, wealth, fashion, empire. Vases overflow with life (blooms in bud) and are shadowed by death (a broken stem, a withered leaf). 

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National Gallery , Trafalgar Square Until Monday August 29 2016
6

Sharon Hayes: In My Little Corner of the World, Anyone Would Love You

It might be tough to convince gallery goers that a five-screen video installation featuring non-actors reading aloud letters written to defunct feminist publications makes for a good time: but it really does. Firstly, American artist Sharon Hayes’s debut UK solo exhibition answers that burning question: what did people do before the internet?

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Studio Voltaire , Clapham Until Sunday June 5 2016
7

Martine Syms: Fact & Trouble

‘Lightly, Slightly, Politely.’ In her ‘Glossary of Harlem Slang’, American writer Zora Neale Hurston says this expression means ‘to do something perfectly’. The three words appear on the wall of Martine Syms’s current solo ICA exhibition, in a typeface the LA-based artist also created. It’s just the tip of the show’s iceberg of cultural references. 

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ICA , St James' Until Sunday June 19 2016
8

The Tate Britain Commission 2016: Pablo Bronstein

Children love Argentine artist Pablo Bronstein. Or at least they love his 2016 Tate Britain Commission, a performance currently running all day in the Duveen Galleries (the grand hallway) at Tate Britain. When little ones wander in, more often than not they stop and stare, enraptured. What’s the appeal? Let’s break it down: three classically trained dancers make their way through the lofty space, performing movements that hover somewhere between baroque dance and voguing – a combination of classical formalism and modern minimalism. 

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Tate Britain , Westminster Until Sunday October 9 2016
9

Jeff Koons: Now

Jeff Koons is why people loathe modern art. According to the haters, the American superstar is a cynical artistic oligarch, using shock and pop culture to make his pile: he made porn-art, he ripped off comic books, he did balloon sculptures – and he’s become one of the most expensive living artists in the process. So it’s no surprise that Damien Hirst has a massive collection of Koons originals, which he is displaying here in his fancy gallery. Hirst and Koons, a match made in hell. 

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Newport Street Gallery , Lambeth Until Sunday October 16 2016
10

Emotional Supply Chains

Of the many incredible things the internet has given us – cat memes, transcontinental instantaneous video communication, limitless porn – maybe the most revolutionary is the ability to redefine ourselves. Between Facebook, Twitter, online gaming and countless other websites, you can basically be whatever the hell you want to be. It doesn’t matter who you are in real life – online, you can be anything. It’s no surprise that a lot of contemporary art is obsessed with this idea, so this show of work from around the world acts as a neat self-portrait of a generation of (mostly) digital natives.

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Zabludowicz Collection , Chalk Farm Until Sunday July 17 2016
Find more art events in London

Next up: the best photography shows

Photography in London

Addicted to Instagram or permanently attached to your SLR? Even if your camera roll is totally empty, you'll find a way to appreciate London photography; we have the widest variety of styles in some of the best exhibitions at the most beautiful galleries. Find them in a flash with our guide to photography in London.

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By: Time Out London Art

Comments

13 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?