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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

Vogue 100: A Century of Style

Critics' choice

Fashion may be fickle, but the fashion photographer’s lens is also a mirror. ‘Vogue 100: A Century of Style’ is as much a reflection of a hundred years of our history as it is a celebration of the original glossy. Born in 1916 during WWI, when shipping the US magazine became impossible, British Vogue has always been more than a fashion mag. And this exhibition is so much more than a collection of pretty models in pretty clothes – Boris Johnson has found his way on to the walls, for goodness’ sake!

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National Portrait Gallery , Leicester Square Until Sunday May 22 2016
3

Botticelli And Treasures From The Hamilton Collection

Critics' choice

If you thought trying to save important works of art from being sold abroad by cash-strapped toffs was a uniquely twenty-first-century problem, think again. Nineteenth-century London was all aflutter at the sale, in 1882, of the Duke of Hamilton’s collection of rare manuscripts to Berlin’s Prints and Drawings Museum. The critic John Ruskin voiced his concerns; even Queen Victoria and one of her daughters got involved – and they were pretty much German anyway.

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Courtauld Gallery , Temple Until Sunday May 15 2016
4

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
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

In the Age of Giorgione

Anyone who’s ever wandered round shows of Old Master paintings will be used to seeing the phrase ‘attributed to’ before various names. Is this the genuine article, you wonder? Or the work of some fraudster? Not that it was ever that clear-cut: Renaissance painters rarely worked on anything singlehandedly, and often assistants would bash out lesser works. But as this exhibition – which is full of ‘attributed tos’ – reveals, specific authorship isn’t always important. It’s not a case of who-did-what, so much as who-was-where-when. 

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Royal Academy of Arts , Mayfair Until Sunday June 5 2016
7

Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art

Critics' choice

Sex, love, death, war… Lions. More death. Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) isn’t for delicate blooms (those of a fragile disposition should head instead to the Royal Academy’s ‘Painting the Modern Garden’). But if massacres and revolutions are your thing, then fill your boots at the National Gallery, where the French Romantic painter serves up scenes of sword-plunging, foe-slaying, flesh-conquering fantasy unrivalled in nineteenth century art. 

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National Gallery , Trafalgar Square Until Sunday May 22 2016
8

Painting Norway: Nikolai Astrup (1880-1928)

Critics' choice

You have to hand it to Dulwich Picture Gallery. Its intrepid curators will gamely sheath themselves in Gore-Tex, miss ferries and twist ankles if it means bringing us the work of an extraordinary artist who deserves greater recognition. In the case of Nikolai Astrup (1880-1928), they’ve spent the past couple of years hauling themselves to the middle of the Norwegian nowhere where, clinging to the side of a mountain above a lake, lies Astruptunet, the collection of buildings – huts, really – that Nikolai Astrup called home for the last 14 years of his life.

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Dulwich Picture Gallery , Dulwich Village Until Sunday May 15 2016
9

Mark Wallinger: ID

Critics' choice

You’ll recognise it immediately. Revolving in a room of its own, Mark Wallinger’s ‘Superego’ is a dead ringer for the New Scotland Yard sign. Wallinger has stripped the triangular form of words and mirrored it so that, spinning above your head, it reflects fragments of the gallery in an endless cubist dance. It’s mesmerising but also a little terrifying – too high to allow you to catch a glimpse of yourself, it feels aloof, imposing and alienating. Like the Met itself, you might say, or glitzy contemporary art.

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Hauser & Wirth , Mayfair Until Saturday May 7 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?