Art

Art reviews and listings for London's best museum exhibitions and art galleries

12 art shows we can’t wait to see in 2017
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12 art shows we can’t wait to see in 2017

Banish those January blues by checking our pick of art to get excited about in 2017

The top 20 public sculptures in London
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The top 20 public sculptures in London

We reveal the best public sculptures in the city, as voted for by you lot

Four things you need to know about Condo 2017
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Four things you need to know about Condo 2017

London's best young galleries are hosting some of the most exciting contemporary art from around the world

50 best buildings in London
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50 best buildings in London

Churches, tower block, car parks – check our unlikely list of London's top buildings

The latest art reviews

Sigmar Polke: Pour Paintings on Paper
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Sigmar Polke: Pour Paintings on Paper

Sigmar Polke was a vital, angry, powerful voice in twentieth-century art. The German artist was a dissenting presence, a real middle finger bobbing along in art’s sea of yes men. He always followed his own path, and this show brings together a whole bunch of pour-paintings that are immediately and recognisably Polke.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Peter Liversidge
Art

Peter Liversidge

Turns out, seeing faces staring back at you from inanimate objects isn’t a sign that you’re losing your mind, it’s just proof that your brain is working. It’s called pareidolia: the phenomenon of seeing familiar patterns where none exist, and it looks like British artist Peter Liversidge sees faces pretty much everywhere. 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Josef Albers: Sunny Side Up
Art

Josef Albers: Sunny Side Up

Look out the window. How is it out there? Grey? Miserable? Is there a low-hanging, neverending blanket of suffocating cloud pressing down on the whole city? Of course there is. This is London. 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
War In The Sunshine: The British In Italy 1917-1918
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War In The Sunshine: The British In Italy 1917-1918

Spruced-up after a five-month renovation, Islington’s Estorick Collection reopens with a rather leftfield show. If you recall, we were all talking about the centenary of WWI, before a contemporary global catastrophe loomed over us, so engaging with this show starts with an oh-yeah… jolt of recognition. Which is quickly replaced with a wait-what? jolt of non-recognition. Because this is not the Great War as we’re used to seeing it.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Must-see art exhibitions in London

Anselm Kiefer: Walhalla
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Anselm Kiefer: Walhalla

Wagner. Hitler. Kiefer. If you want to join the club of six-letter, ends in ‘-er’, mythology-obsessed, visionary-crackpot creator-destroyers you’ve got to think big. Really big. I’m not saying Kiefer is like those two anti-Semitic, delusional, megalomaniac pricks, just that his response to their legacy has always been to adopt their weapons: size, volume,  density, humourlessness, repetition. His work is epic and totalitarian, forged out of industrial materials in art factories. And his latest show is quite something.  If you’ve had the lead nicked off your porch recently, there’s a good chance it’s down at White Cube. Kiefer’s trademark material is everywhere: lining the walls, forming scrolls on which photographs are printed, splashed in huge eruptive gobs across giant canvases of ruined landscapes. The show is called ‘Walhalla’, the legendary afterlife of heroes slain in battle. Obviously Valhalla is mostly familiar to people through the ‘Ring Cycle’, and you get the sense that Kiefer isn’t wholly sold on Wagner’s take on Norse mythology, which so appealed to the Nazis.  First up is a dimly lit corridor of lead hospital beds. It’s horrible: grey and dead. It speaks of the Holocaust. Of field hospitals and desperation. Of abandonment and flight. A machine gun pokes out of one bed like a skeletal leg. In another room, a bed is crushed beneath an enormous lead boulder, as lead wings droop either side. Another bed has the stalks of lead sunflowers poking out of it. A lead sh

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Zaha Hadid
Art

Zaha Hadid

Being an architect must be so frustrating. At every turn, your artistic vision gets constrained by town planners, clients and engineers. Even the laws of physics stop you in your tracks. Visionary architectural nutcase Zaha Hadid, who died in March 2016 at 65, must have felt that frustration more than most. 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Robert Rauschenberg
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Robert Rauschenberg

If there are no original ideas left in art, it’s probably because Robert Rauschenberg had them all. Over the course of his 60-year career (he died in 2008 aged 82), he reinvented, reused, recycled and revolutionised himself so many times that walking around this retrospective feels like stumbling through a textbook on twentieth-century art history. 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Malick Sidibé
Art

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. Not because he was a theorist, but because all of those issues were also central to the newly emerging country. We see teenagers doing the twist, showing off their record collections, rocking drainpipes, then flares, then pimp suits. Friends relax by a river: everyone is young and carefree. But there are questions in these images too. The chronology is sometimes faulty: in a photo dated 1964, a girl holds a James Brown album released in 1968; an androgynous teenager poses in giant bellbottoms and oversized sunnies: it’s dated 1963, but must be a decade later. It’s like Sidibé’s memory played him false, or maybe that these people simply exist in their own parallel universe where there’s always a party and pretty boys and girls to dance with. With a brilliant soundtrack curated by Rita Ray, this show envelopes the watcher and makes you wonder what hardships lie outside the frame, what kind of future these kids found in the ’80s, the ’90s, the 2000s. They must be old, or dead. For now, though, and for ever, they are all intensely, radiantly alive. 

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Making Nature: How we See Animals
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Making Nature: How we See Animals

Mental asylums. Mind-altering drugs. Dirt. The Wellcome Collection has carved out a rep for delivering exhibitions that are outlandish without ever being sensationalist. And while the premise of their latest show – the relationship between humans and animals – might not have the same WTF factor, it’s still just as quirky and enthralling.  The first room kicks off with the Enlightenment-era craze for natural classification. On display is Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus’s ‘Systema Naturae’ from 1735, which listed and filed the animal kingdom, humankind included (albeit as a kind of exception to the rule: this was pre-Darwin). So is Charles Bonnet’s ‘Scale of Natural Being’ from 1783, a league table of best to worst in which humans, naturally, come out top. Older manuscripts show delightfully crap engravings of camel-like beasts the size of houses. Rooms two and three focus on our urge to observe and display animals. Maquettes of the Crystal Palace dinosaurs – the first ever models of an extinct species – show us a Victorian wonder of the big bad lizards that’s never waned since. Dioramas of taxidermied foxes, intended to place them in their natural habitats, seem hopelessly twee and antiquated. Mind you, so do modernist architect Hugh Casson’s early-’60s designs for a radical new type of elephant house. They might replace the painted fakery with concrete, but ultimate still treat the poor pachyderm as little more than a circus spectacle. These are historical curios, but the

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Upcoming art exhibitions in London

David Bailey: NW1
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David Bailey: NW1

Thirty-four years ago, photographer David Bailey released his book 'NW1': a series of images of Camden and Primrose Hill, where he had lived for decades. At that time, the area was in a state of crumbling disrepair – hard to imagine for those who know this swanky location now. To tie in with the book's re-printing, publishers HENI are holding an exhibitions of these poignant images form yesteryear.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Lucy Raven: Edge Of Tomorrow
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Lucy Raven: Edge Of Tomorrow

The first UK solo exhibition of the New York-based artist, Lucy Raven. She's created a series of installations for the gallery, looking essentially at how images are made, moving from a copper mine in the American West to a film studio in India.

Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Zaha Hadid
Art

Zaha Hadid

A uncompromising visionary and fearless innovator, Zaha Hadid was never far from controversy of some kind, whether it was the form her buildings took or the circumstances in which they were built. But in this retrospective, it willl be the late Iraqi-British architect's drawings and paintings on display – in, appropriately, the Sackler extension, which was designed by her firm in 2013.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Bruce McLean: A Hot Sunset And Shade Paintings
Art

Bruce McLean: A Hot Sunset And Shade Paintings

McLean was part of that group of St Martins students from the 1960s, who loved nothing more than pissing off their tutors with weird, outlandish, provacative works of art. His playful, mischievous nature still comes in the large-scale paintings and film pieces that he mostly makes these days.

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The 40 best photos of London ever taken
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The 40 best photos of London ever taken

Our (almost) definitive list of the best photographs ever taken of the capital

Free art in London
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Free art in London

See all London's free art exhibitions this week

Latest art interviews
Art

Latest art interviews

We speak to the biggest names and emerging talent in the art world

The 100 best paintings in London

The 100 best paintings in London

Our expert guide to the best paintings in the capital

Read the latest Time Out art features

What's on at

Barbican Centre
Art

Barbican Centre

The Barbican Centre, a vast concrete estate of 2,000 flats and a leading arts complex, is a prime example of brutalist architecture, softened a little by time and rectangular ponds of friendly resident ducks. The lakeside terrace and adjoining café are good spots to take a rest from visiting the art gallery, cinema, theatre, concert hall or library within the complex. The art gallery on the third floor stages exhibitions on design, architecture and pop culture, while on the ground floor, the Curve is a free exhibition space for specially commissioned works and contemporary art. At the core of the music roster, performing 90 concerts a year, is the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO). The annual BITE season (Barbican International Theatre Events) continues to cherry-pick exciting and eclectic theatre companies from around the globe. The Barbican regularly attracts and nurtures experimental dance, and the Pit Theatre is a perfectly intimate space.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
National Gallery

National Gallery

Founded in 1824 to display a collection of just 36 paintings, today the National Gallery is home to more than 2,000 works. There are masterpieces from virtually every European school of art. The modern Sainsbury Wing extension contains the gallery’s earliest works: Italian paintings by early masters like Giotto and Piero della Francesca. The basement of the Sainsbury Wing is also the setting for temporary exhibitions. In the West Wing are Italian Renaissance masterpieces by Correggio, Titian and Raphael; in the North Wing, seventeenth-century Dutch, Flemish, Italian and Spanish Old Masters. In the East Wing (reached via the street-level entrance in Trafalgar Square) are some of the gallery’s most popular paintings: works by the French Impressionists and post-Impressionists, including on of Monet’s water lily paintings and one of Van Gogh’s sunflowers series. You can’t see everything in one visit to the National Gallery, but the free guided tours and audio guides will help you make the most of your time. There’s also a wonderfully atmospheric café stocked with Oliver Peyton goodies, and a fine-dining restaurant, the National Dining Rooms.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery

Portraits don't have to be stuffy. The National Portrait Gallery has everything from oil paintings of stiff-backed royals to photos of soccer stars and gloriously unflattering political caricatures. The portraits of musicians, scientists, artists, philanthropists and celebrities are arranged in chronological order from the top to the bottom of the building. At the top of the escalator up from the main foyer are the earliest works, portraits of Tudor and Stuart royals and notables. On the same floor, the eighteenth-century collection features Georgian writers and artists, with one room devoted to the influential Kit-Cat Club of Whig (leftish) intellectuals, Congreve and Dryden among them. More famous names here include Wren and Swift. The Duveen Extension contains Regency greats, military men such as Wellington and Nelson, as well as Byron, Wordsworth and other Romantics. The first floor is devoted to the Victorians (Dickens, Brunel, Darwin) and, in the Duveen Extension, the twentieth century. One of the NPG's most popular highlights is the annual BP Portrait Award where the best entrants for the prestigious prize are exhibited.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Tate Britain

Tate Britain

Tate Modern gets all the attention, but the original Tate Gallery, founded by sugar magnate Sir Henry Tate, has a broader and more inclusive brief. Housed in a stately Portland stone building on the riverside, Tate Britain is second only to the National Gallery when it comes to British art. The historical collection includes work by Hogarth, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Constable (who gets three rooms to himself) and Turner (whose works are displayed in the grand Clore Gallery). Many contemporary works were shifted to Tate Modern when it opened in 2000, but Stanley Spencer, Lucian Freud, David Hockney and Francis Bacon are well represented here, and the Art Now installations showcase up-and-coming British artists. The gallery also hosts the controversy-courting Turner Prize exhibition (Oct-Jan). The gallery has a good restaurant and a well-stocked gift shop, and the handy Tate-to-Tate boat service zips along the Thames to Tate Modern.

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Tate Modern

Tate Modern

The permanent collection draws from the Tate’s collections of modern art (international works from 1900) and features heavy hitters such as Matisse, Rothko and Beuys – a genuinely world-class collection, expertly curated. There are vertiginous views down inside the building from outside the galleries, which group artworks according to movement (Surrealism, Minimalism, Post-war abstraction) rather than by theme.

Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Whitechapel Gallery
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Whitechapel Gallery

This East End stalwart reopened in 2009 following a major redesign and expansion that saw the Grade II listed building transformed into a vibrant, holistic centre of art complete with a research centre, archives room and café. Since 1901, Whitechapel Art Gallery has built on its reputation as a pioneering contemporary institution and is well remembered for premiering the talents of exhibitions by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo among others. Expect the rolling shows to be challenging and risqué.

Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars