Art

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

Four reasons you should care about Robert Mapplethorpe
Art

Four reasons you should care about Robert Mapplethorpe

Juergen Teller explains all ahead of his new show of rare Mapplethorpe photos

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The latest art reviews

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. 

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Robert Rauschenberg
Art

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. 

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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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, provocative 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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Thinking Tantra
Art

Thinking Tantra

Type ‘Tantra’ into Google Images, and up pops a lot of queasy erotica. Luckily, there’s none of that here. Instead, there are gorgeous nineteenth-century drawings from India, works by Indian artists from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, and pieces by ten international contemporary artists interested in tantric drawing. 

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

Anselm Kiefer: Walhalla
Art

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

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Animality: A Fairy Story by Jens Hoffmann
Art

Animality: A Fairy Story by Jens Hoffmann

‘Meat is murder’, as Aristotle probably once said. And if you didn’t agree with that sentiment before, the new group show at Marian Goodman might make you reconsider. Curator Jens Hoffmann has pulled together a seriously museum-quality exhibition on animals in art. Part historical investigation, part contemporary art exploration, it mixes tons of mediums, throwing together more than 70 artists, scientists and filmmakers, and mingles high art with low art. It’s a zoological art party and it’s the best show the Wellcome Collection has never done.  You enter through a little canopy of foliage and squawking bird sounds. The first room is filled with display cabinets holding all sorts of pre-modern illustrations. There are eighteenth-century drawings of crabs and walruses, sixteenth-century anatomical images of monkeys and mythical beasts, and even an appearance by Albrecht Dürer’s famous rhino. Next to this biological madness, Hoffmann has placed contemporary and modern art. There’s a big purple octopus by slide-master Carsten Höller, photos of birds by Roni Horn and a giant stuffed white squirrel by Mark Dion. Throughout, there are detailed wall texts with almost zero art-speak bullshit. It really does feel like a museum show.  As you go through, you realise Hoffmann’s done the show in stages. It starts with humans and animals as two distinct things. Animals are foreign and unintelligible, something to be studied. Then we start to figure them out; films by Jean Painlevé and St

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Paul Nash
Art

Paul Nash

In 1917, Paul Nash wrote a letter to his wife from Ypres: ‘I am no longer an artist interested and curious, I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on for ever.’ Nash had returned to the Western Front after convalescing in England and was appalled by what he found: a ruined, flooded landscape of endless death, where all nature – men, horses, trees – was reduced to charred lumps half-sunk in mud. While future stars of European art were hanging around a titty bar in Zurich inventing Dada, Nash was forced to create his own nightmare language to deliver his message.  Nash’s WWI paintings are his most famous works, and justifiably. The huge ‘Menin Road’ and especially ‘We Are Making a New World’ – with its alien hummocked earthworks and sky like a sinkful of blood draining down a plughole – look at the horrors of war, but obliquely. It’s like Nash literally cannot comprehend what he has seen; all he can try to do is suggest its horrible inhuman strangeness. This show puts that in context. Throughout his career, Nash constantly refashioned landscape. His early, pre-1914 works have a watered-down symbolism. Later, he turns to abstraction then to a more overt surrealism. His best paintings from the 1920s and ’30s reconfigure his Great War works into a kind of rural English dreamscape: in ‘Landscape at Iden’ (1929), chopped logs are piled like artillery shells, as clouds blockade the Sussex sky. These are disconcerting w

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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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
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Abstract Expressionism
Art

Abstract Expressionism

If you don’t leave this show feeling completely overwhelmed and totally breathless, you’re either blind, dead or a bit of a dick. The RA has pulled together room after room of paintings and sculptures from probably the most important art movement of the twentieth century and it’s staggering. The abstract expressionists tore painting apart and restructured it into something bigger than it ever had been: more abstract, more passionate, bigger, bolder. This show’s got all the headline names – Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, etc, etc etc – and there’s a lot to get through. It’s mainly organised by artist, with a couple of thematic spaces, and every room feels like walking through a greatest hits compilation.  It kicks off with Arshile Gorky, the ab-ex daddy. His blobby, twisting fusions of cubism and surrealism are angry, brave and tormented. But they’re just an appetiser for the massive room of Pollocks that follows. Seriously, there are tons of them: it’s incredible. They’re brutal, intense, aggressive and tightly composed. Not all of them are great – and probably the standout work in this room is by Pollock’s wife, Lee Krasner, an artist who deserves a whole show in her own right – but seeing so many in one room is awe-inspiring. It’s a herd of Pollocks, a whole flock, it’s like being on Pollock safari. And seriously, ‘Blue Poles’ is a genuine 100 percent fucking masterpiece. Then you dive into a cathedral of Rothkos, filled with lime greens, dark blues and

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

David Bailey: NW1
Art

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.

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Chloe Sells: Measuring Infinity
Art

Chloe Sells: Measuring Infinity

The American-born photographer works in the darkroom, and creates seductive and complex images, often working into the pictures with paint and marker pens. This new series of images are the outcome of two years of photographing the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan in Botswana.

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Art

When Frost Was Spectre-Grey

'Tis the season for pictures of wintry landscapes! Taking its title from a poem by Thomas Hardy, this exhibitions gathers various contemporary photographers, including Evgenia Arbugaeva, Nicholas Hughes and Pentti Sammallahti.  

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Lucy Raven: Edge Of Tomorrow
Art

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.

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The 40 best photos of London ever taken
Art

The 40 best photos of London ever taken

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

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Free art in London
Art

Free art in London

See all London's free art exhibitions this week

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Latest art interviews
Art

Latest art interviews

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

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The 100 best paintings in London

The 100 best paintings in London

Our expert guide to the best paintings in the capital

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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.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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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
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National Portrait Gallery
Art

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.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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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.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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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
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Whitechapel Gallery
Art

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
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