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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

Georgiana Houghton (1814-1884) Glory be to God c.1868

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. 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 the capital's many free exhibitions instead?

The ten best art exhibitions in London

1

Lukas Duwenhogger: You Might Become A Park

Initially, I wasn’t very impressed by Lukas Duwenhögger’s paintings. Then I was. The works of this German artist, who has lived in Istanbul since 2000, have a distinctive Ottoman sensibility, both sunlit and sinister: a superficial queer theatre of languorous fabulousness, shot through anxiety. The settings are fluid, moving from an operatic nineteenth century into a gilded 1930s and on. It always seems to be the afternoon, waiting to see what the evening will bring. 

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Raven Row , Spitalfields Wednesday July 27 2016 - Sunday September 18 2016
2

Alex Katz: Quick Light

If you put all clever, jargon-filled analysis to one side, paintings of any kind tend to provoke one of two basic reactions in people. The first is: ‘I could do that.’ (Or just as often: ‘My five-year-old could do that.’ I worry about the pressure being put on these kids.) The second is: ‘I wish I could do that.’ The Serpentine’s new show of American artist Alex Katz will send you on a hell of a journey from one to the other.

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Serpentine Gallery , Knightsbridge Tuesday July 26 2016 - Sunday September 11 2016
3

Mary Heilmann

Mary Heilmann is first and foremost a painter – though she never intended to be. Growing up amongst surfers and beatniks in California, she moved to New York in 1968 and found the city full of minimalists proclaiming the medium dead. She made a go of it as a sculptor, but after struggling in a bloke-dominated scene, contrarily moved to painting, nurturing her bright, breezy brand of abstraction. 

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Whitechapel Gallery , Whitechapel Tuesday July 26 2016 - Sunday August 21 2016
4

Wolfgang Tillmans

When Wolfgang Tillmans won the Turner Prize in 2000 it felt like a statement about the future: he was the first photographer to win it, and the first non-UK artist. His club kids and glowing foliage seemed casual and recognisable. Superficially his photography hasn’t changed that much: this show features plenty of Tillmans tropes: apparently snapped portraits, giant inkjet prints of gorgeous blazing colour. 

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Maureen Paley , Bethnal Green Wednesday July 27 2016 - Sunday July 31 2016
5

Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawings

Georgiana Houghton was a nineteenth-century spiritualist and medium who made art under the alleged influence of otherworldly beings. Her work fell into obscurity, but was recently rediscovered and re-evaluated as a precursor to twentieth-century abstraction. Houghton’s ‘spirit drawings’ are small, intimate and mesmerisingly exquisite, with swirling streaks of colour that overlap to form wild, spirographic latticeworks. 

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Courtauld Gallery , Temple Until Sunday September 11 2016
6

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
7

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 Tuesday July 26 2016 - Saturday July 30 2016
8

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
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 Tuesday July 26 2016 - Sunday October 16 2016
10

Fox Talbot: Dawn of the Photograph

Early photography can be hard to fathom, and not just because of all those people in top hats and capes trying and failing to keep still during ten-minute exposure times. The infancy of the medium in the 1830s is a confusing whirl of near-contemporaries, all messing about with lenses and chemicals in a bid to capture the fleeting world.

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Until Sun Sep 11

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?