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Top ten art exhibitions in London

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

'The Infinite Mix' at 180 the Strand

Shortcut it straight to the good stuff by heading to one of the very best art exhibitions taking place in the capital right now. From modern and fancy, to classical and serene, we've got your next art outing sorted. Or, if you're skint until pay day, how about trying one of London's many free exhibitions instead?

The ten best art exhibitions in London

1

Animality: A Fairy Story by Jens Hoffmann

‘Meat is murder’, as Aristotle probably once said. And if you didn’t agree with that sentiment before, the new group show at Marian Goodman might make you reconsider. Curator Jens Hoffmann has pulled together a seriously museum-quality exhibition on animals in art. 

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Marian Goodman Gallery , Soho Until Saturday December 17 2016
2

Donna Huanca

There’s only one nightmare more frightening than the one where you’re naked in a room full of clothed people. It’s the one where you’re fully clothed in a room full of naked people. So get ready to have all your bad dreams come true, because American artist Donna Huanca’s show features models wearing body-length nylon stockings and a whole mess of paint. Nothing else. It’s terrifying.

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Zabludowicz Collection , Chalk Farm Thursday December 8 2016 - Sunday December 18 2016
3

Richard Oelze

You’ve got to feel sorry for Richard Oelze (1900-1980) – he lived through pretty much the worst that the twentieth century had to offer. The German artist fought in the trenches in World War One, and after that bounced around Europe, witnessing the rise of fascism. He fought again in World War Two, was imprisoned by the Allies, and survived, only to watch Auschwitz, Hiroshima and the Cold War unfold.

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Michael Werner Gallery , Mayfair Until Saturday January 7 2017
4

Abstract Expressionism

Recommended

If you don’t leave this show feeling completely overwhelmed and totally breathless, you’re either blind, dead or a bit of a dick. The RA has pulled together room after room of paintings and sculptures from probably the most important art movement of the twentieth century and it’s staggering. The abstract expressionists tore painting apart and restructured it into something bigger than it ever had been: more abstract, more passionate, bigger, bolder. 

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Royal Academy of Arts , Mayfair Until Monday January 2 2017
5

Feminist Avant-Garde Of The 1970s

It’s a big one, this new exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery: 200-plus works by 48 artists from 20 countries. It’s also got a big name that some people will find pretty off-putting. In some ways that’s fine: more space for the rest of us to admire some incredible works of feminist art from the decade of ‘The Female Eunuch’, Spare Rib and defiantly abundant body hair. 

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Photographers' Gallery , Soho Until Sunday January 8 2017
6

Flaming June: The Making Of An Icon

No one liked Victorian art in the 1960s, when Sir Frederic Leighton’s masterpiece ‘Flaming June’ couldn’t reach its ultra-low estimate at auction. No one cared about it except for Puerto Rican industrialist Luis Ferré, who spotted it in a Mayfair gallery and snapped it up for just £2,000. He then whisked it away to the brilliantly named Museo de Arte de Ponce in his home country.  But when it was first painted in 1895 and shown along with five other works, Sir Fred was a big deal. 

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Leighton House Museum , Kensington Until Sunday April 2 2017
7

Paul Nash

Recommended

In 1917, Paul Nash wrote a letter to his wife from Ypres: ‘I am no longer an artist interested and curious, I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on for ever.’ Nash had returned to the Western Front after convalescing in England and was appalled by what he found: a ruined, flooded landscape of endless death, where all nature – men, horses, trees – was reduced to charred lumps half-sunk in mud. 

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Tate Britain , Westminster Until Sunday March 5 2017
8

Malick Sidibé

Mali got its independence from France in 1960, and immediately became in thrall to a different kind of colonialism: a cultural one of rock ’n’ roll, motorbikes and jeans. At a time when the West was fretting about whether photography was even an art form, Malick Sidibé was taking pictures of young people in Bamako which contain all the issues in that debate: authenticity, imitation, control of the image. 

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Somerset House , Temple Until Sunday January 15 2017
9

Beyond Caravaggio

Recommended

Prepare for disappointment, as the actress said to the bishop. There aren’t a lot of Caravaggio paintings in this exhibition. Yes, it says Caravaggio in the title, and yes, that’s a bit of a bloody liberty, especially because most of them are already in the National Gallery’s permanent collection, so you can see them for free most of the time anyway. What you’re missing is the ‘beyond’ bit, you see. Because this isn’t a show of Caravaggio paintings at all, silly you, it’s a show of work influenced by him. But trust us, it’s still pretty thrilling.

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National Gallery , Trafalgar Square Until Sunday January 15 2017
10

Peter Wachtler: Far Out

Since it’s nigh-on impossible to explain Peter Wächtler’s show at the Chisenhale, I’d better describe it. So here goes. The Brussels-based German artist has created a four-minute, hand-painted animation in which a solitary figure in a top hat and tailcoat walks towards, but never reaches, a mountaintop castle. Playing over the top is an uptempo rock ’n’ roll song written and performed by the artist himself.

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Chisenhale Gallery , Mile End Until Sunday December 11 2016

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.

BenFlash
BenFlash

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?