Top 10 art exhibitions in London

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

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1

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. Sat Sep 20 - Sun Jan 25
More info
2

Gilbert & George: Scapegoating Pictures for London

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Free

Never have kisses seemed more self-consciously sardonic than in Gilbert & George’s ‘Scapegoating Pictures for London’. Each multi-panel photomontage bears the artists’ signatures along with a couple of Xs. These are constants in a shifting sea of inflammatory signifiers. It’s the old contemporary art ‘light touch paper, stand well back’ trick, repeated, scaled up and repeated again for good measure.

  1. White Cube Bermondsey Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ
  2. Sat Sep 20 - Sun Sep 28
More info
3
Head of a Peasant', 1928-29, by Kazimir Malevich

Head of a Peasant', 1928-29, by Kazimir Malevich © The State Russian Museum, St Petersburg

Malevich

  • Rated as: 5/5

If you know one thing about Kazimir Malevich (1879-1935), it’s that he is the creator of the suprematist ‘Black Square’, the first and last word in abstraction, painting’s absolute zero. Knowing this lends a fair amount of anticipation to the initial rooms of this compelling retrospective. When is it going to come, this avant-garde fetish object?

  1. Tate Modern Bankside, SE1 9TG
  2. Sat Sep 20 - Sun Oct 26
More info
4

Primrose: Early Colour Photography in Russia

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Free

Beginning with a period when photographs were precious souvenirs, this survey explores the importance of a medium we now regard as commonplace. Through exquisite examples, an illuminating image of Russia is presented.

  1. Photographers' Gallery 16-18 Ramillies St, W1F 7LW
  2. Sat Sep 20 - Sun Oct 19
More info
5
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
6

Art and Life: Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis, William Staite Murray, 1920-31

  • Rated as: 4/5

First there were Ben and Winifred, just married, painting the same scenes side by side like proto-modernist peas in a pod. Then along came Christopher, troubled and ambitious, who’d been to Paris to meet Picasso and wanted to be the most famous painter in Britain. Together, Ben and Winifred Nicholson and Christopher ‘Kit’ Wood made the kind of faltering steps towards modernism that render Britain’s early twentieth-century art history such a pleasant if slightly plodding affair. Throw in some biographical detail, some letters and diary entries, though, and you end up with something far pacier.

  1. Dulwich Picture Gallery Gallery Rd, SE21 7AD
  2. Sat Sep 20 - Sun Sep 21
More info
7

Joan Fontcuberta: Stranger Than Fiction

  • Rated as: 4/5

Spanish photographer Joan Fontcuberta was brought up under the censorious Franco regime, so it’s no wonder that the 59-year-old is sceptical about institutional authority. Questioning religion, biology, even the role of the museum itself, this modest retrospective at the Science Museum’s Media Space presents six brilliant bodies of the artist’s work, which span over three decades.

  1. Science Museum Exhibition Rd, SW7 2DD
  2. Until Sun Nov 9
More info
8
Francesca Woodman, 'Untitled, MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire', 1980

Francesca Woodman, 'Untitled, MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire', 1980 Courtesy George and Betty Woodman, and Victoria Miro, London © The Estate of Francesca Woodman

Francesca Woodman: Zigzag

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Free

Arms outstretched, wrapped in bark, mimicking the slender trunk of a silver birch tree. Lying on a scabby carpet, arm flung across the floor with a snake weaving its way over the acanthus pattern. Palms splayed against glass, attempting to keep balanced as the blurred body crams itself into a display cabinet. These are just a few of the situations in which the late American photographer Francesca Woodman captured herself. Yet the subject of Woodman’s beguiling images was never just herself.

  1. Victoria Miro Mayfair 14 St. George St , W1S 1FE
  2. Sat Sep 20 - Sat Oct 4
More info
9

Marcus leith

Shelagh Wakely

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Free

Fruit lies rotten and desiccated in a glass cabinet, each clementine, pear and pineapple trapped in a wire frame. As the fruit has withered away almost to dust, the wire frame around it has remained intact, a perfect metallic rendering of its former shape. Everywhere you look in this major show of work by pioneering British installation artist Shelagh Wakely (1932-2011), there is a tension between what is and what was, between barriers and empty spaces.

  1. Camden Arts Centre Arkwright Road, NW3 6DG
  2. Sat Sep 20 - Sun Sep 28
More info
10
The Children of Frederick, Prince of Wales, by Barthelemy du Pan, 1746. The future George III is second from the right, with bow.Royal Collection Trust / copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
<br/>
<br/>Single use only in relation to the exhibit

The Children of Frederick, Prince of Wales, by Barthelemy du Pan, 1746. The future George III is second from the right, with bow.Royal Collection Trust / copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Single use only in relation to the exhibit

The First Georgians: Art & Monarchy 1714-1760

  • Rated as: 4/5

There are two Georgian eras. There’s the one that’s full of complicated political-religious factionalism, where a non-English-speaking German king, George I, is plonked on the throne just because he’s protestant, leading to bloody wars in Scotland, sabre-rattling from catholic France, and the beginnings of Britain’s insatiable empire building. And there’s the one which is all booze and prozzies and blokes in tricorn hats having their pockets picked as they stand around Italianate piazzas, while Hogarth does an etching of it.

  1. The Queen's Gallery Buckingham Gate, Buckingham Palace Rd, SW1A 1AA
  2. Sat Sep 20 - Sun Oct 12
More info

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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.