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Top 10 art exhibitions in London

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

© Royal Academy of Arts. Photo: courtesy David Parry

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. Or, if you're skint until pay day, how about trying one of the capital's many free exhibitions

1

Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse

Critics' choice

For a show that was always going to be a surefire hit, ‘Painting the Modern Garden’ more than delivers in the ways you’d expect. Floral masterpieces by Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir and Henri Matisse are abundant; there are also endless discoveries to be made, from Henri Le Sidaner’s ‘The Rose Pavilion’ (1936), pink and powdery like your nan’s cheek, to the fiery sunset strangeness of little-known Spaniard Santiago Rusiñol’s ‘Glorieta VII, Aranjuez’ (1919). The Royal Academy has embraced the theme with gusto. Walls are painted the sludgy greens and subdued blues of posh garden sheds. There are park benches to sit on. You half expect a holographic Titchmarsh to appear, offering advice about your hanging baskets.

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Royal Academy of Arts , Mayfair Until Wednesday April 20 2016
2

Vogue 100: A Century of Style

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

Masters of the Everyday: Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer

Critics' choice

This is a show that serves up four Rembrandts. As a starter. Just to give a sense of the royal and artistic dialogues between Britain and the Netherlands at the time. So, we’re talking the sort of quality that only the oldest of old money can buy. The main meat of this show, however, isn’t all that refined, not in it subject matter at least.

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The Queen's Gallery , St James's Park Until Sunday February 14 2016
4

Lee Miller: A Woman's War

Critics' choice

It wasn’t until Lee Miller’s death in 1977 that her son Anthony Penrose discovered the role his mother had played in documenting World War II. Forgotten in the attic was Miller’s archive of negatives. A selection of her photographs exploring the role of women in the lead-up to, during and after World War II is exhibited in a remarkable display here. Don’t expect a dry history lesson. Miller was quite the character and a wilful woman who is the perfect visual storyteller of the period. Miller’s rise to accomplished photojournalist begins with a very personal introduction. 

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Imperial War Museum , Kennington Until Sunday April 24 2016
5

Saul Leiter: Retrospective

It seems an irony that Saul Leiter always considered himself more a painter than a photographer. Firstly, because it was the latter that made his name. Secondly, because he was pretty bad at the former. Leiter moved to New York in the 1940s, soaked up the abstract expressionist scene, and occasionally showed his twitchy, garish, overworked paintings in galleries in the East Village. Fortunately, alongside the art exhibitions, he also visited a show of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photography in 1947. Soon after, he bought a Leica and started taking pictures on the city’s streets.

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Photographers' Gallery , Soho Until Sunday April 3 2016
6

Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture

Critics' choice

Artists aren’t widely known for inventing things of practical use. Things of beauty, yes, but something you might wind up buying in a shop, carting home and assembling with the aim of making your life easier? Believe this show’s publicity, though (and there’s no reason to dispute it) and American artist Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is the man responsible for distracting restless babies and relieving dog-tired parents the world over by inventing the mobile. 

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Tate Modern , South Bank Until Sunday April 3 2016
7

Alec Soth: Gathered Leaves

Critics' choice

Forty-six-year-old Minnesota native Alec Soth still lives in his hometown of Minneapolis. Since the early 2000s his version of Americana has been hugely influential: mostly small-town and second-city portraits with an emphasis on place, capturing ‘middle’ (ie non-wealthy) Americans in all their inglorious glory.

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Science Museum , Brompton Until Monday March 28 2016
8

Out There: Our Post-War Public Art

Our poor public art. When it isn’t being decried as a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money, it’s being sawn off at the base in the dead of night, loaded into vans and sold for scrap. Of course, both responses fail spectacularly to appreciate the value of having an artwork in your local park, shopping centre, at the bottom of your street or on your way to work. But, as this spirited exhibition by Historic England (formerly English Heritage) reveals, these aren’t the only – or even the worst – fates that can meet our Barbara Hepworths, Henry Moores and their ilk. 

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Somerset House , Temple Until Sunday April 10 2016
9

Artist and Empire

The first room in this mesmerising exhibition about how artists represented the British Empire and how empire shaped – and continues to shape – British art is painted a tasteful duck egg blue. Really, though, it ought to be done out in expansionist red or pink, like the colours denoting the British empire that creep across the maps on the walls: the colours of blood, or rage or, perhaps, crimson-faced shame. ‘Artist and Empire’ covers a period when Britannia ruled not just the waves but vast swathes of the known world, naming the bits of the unknown world it laid claim to as it opened up new trade routes and, ahem, diplomatic channels. You’ll see the first map to feature the word ‘Australia’, drawn by Matthew Flinders in 1804. 

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Tate Britain , Westminster Until Sunday April 10 2016
10

John Hoyland: Power Stations – Paintings 1964-1982

Critics' choice

First impression: it’s red, very red. Not the gallery. Damien Hirst’s long-awaited Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall is as pristinely white as any self-respecting mogul with £25million to splash on an entire street of bespoke exhibition spaces could justifiably expect. But, as you push open the double doors to the first gallery, John Hoyland’s paintings glow brilliantly crimson, magenta and vermillion. Second impression: it’s big. Both the venue and the art: Hoyland’s 15-foot-long canvases appear sparsely hung, even when six are shown together in a single room. It makes for a powerfully coherent display, almost as if Newport Street had been designed with Hoyland’s epic paintings in mind.

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Newport Street Gallery , Lambeth Until Sunday April 3 2016
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Comments

12 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?