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Art

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

The 9 best exhibitions in London this winter
Art

The 9 best exhibitions in London this winter

Dump the Christmas shopping invite in the bin and escape instead to one of the brilliant winter exhibitions happening across London

The best young artists in London right now
Art

The best young artists in London right now

London is full of young artists, but it can be hard to separate future Picassos from future Shitassos. Art Editor Eddy Frankel joins forces with industry experts to pick the ones to watch

11 must-see exhibitions opening in October
Art

11 must-see exhibitions opening in October

Looking to top up your culture levels this autumn? You're in luck

London Art Fairs 2019
Art

London Art Fairs 2019

It’s that beautiful time of the year where the art world heads out of galleries and into some really big tents. In time for Frieze, here’s our round-up of the London art fairs

Nine autumn art exhibitions to get really excited about
Art

Nine autumn art exhibitions to get really excited about

After a long summer break, the art world is waking up with a vengeance. Here are the autumn exhibition you can't afford to miss. 

The latest art reviews

Steve McQueen: Year 3
Art

Steve McQueen: Year 3

The best thing about Steve McQueen’s ‘Year 3’ project is imagining all the gammon-faced, xenophobic, anti-immigration bigots it’s going to get frothing with rage. Because the artist and filmmaker’s project is a brazen, forthright, unapologetic celebration of multi-cultural London.  It’s a simple enough concept: every primary school in London was approached to have its year 3 class photo taken.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Leonardo: Experience a Masterpiece
Art

Leonardo: Experience a Masterpiece

The National Gallery’s new immersive exhibition aims to drag visitors inside Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Virgin of the Rocks’ with a little help from cutting edge virtual reality technology. The painting, one of the gallery’s most popular, is normally on display for free in a room crammed with visitors who make a special point of seeing it. It now costs £18-£20, on the understanding that the ‘immersive’ additions will enhance your encounter. 

Time Out says
2 out of 5 stars
Patrick Staff: On Venus
Art

Patrick Staff: On Venus

Life is a mess of toxic, corrosive, acidic substances and ideas in Patrick Staff’s work. The young English artist has filled the Serpentine with barrels collecting steady drips of acid from leaking overhead pipes. The ground is a perfectly reflective sickly green, dragging you into a mirror world of grim gunge. And things only get nastier. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Caroline Coon
Art

Caroline Coon

Caroline Coon has painted a vision of herself with a single, monstrous, enormous, gnarled, veined, manly hand. It’s one of the first things you see in this show (which opened back in October but is on through to December). Her naked body is thin, angled, fragile; her skin hangs loosely, her face is heavily lined. But that hand is something else.

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

United Visual Artists: Other Spaces
Art

United Visual Artists: Other Spaces

At one point in their show, United Visual Artists make your stomach turn. The walls of the room collapse around you, or split wide open, or spin sickeningly. But it’s not real. It’s a trick of perspective that reaches through your eyes and tickles your brain. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Gauguin Portraits
Art

Gauguin Portraits

It’s not easy to like Paul Gauguin. He was, in almost every way, an absolute prick. He abandoned his wife and five kids, liked to paint himself as Jesus, called provincial French people ‘savages’, married a child, used his Western dominance to shag half of Tahiti and died of syphilis as a miserable, lonely old man. So how do you deal with his art (in this case his portraiture)? 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life
Art

Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life

Olafur Eliasson does epic like few others. The Danish-Icelandic artist was last at Tate Modern in 2003 with 'The Weather Project', a monumental installation that transformed the Turbine Hall into a pulsating, hazy sunset. This time, they’re showing 40 works, including many large-scale installations, made throughout his career. 

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Hogarth: Place and Progress
Art

Hogarth: Place and Progress

With impeccable timing, Sir John Soane’s Museum has gathered together for the first time all of William Hogarth’s series, including ‘A Rake’s Progress’ and ‘Marriage A-la-Mode’. The timing is great because the highlight here is ‘Humours of an Election’ (1754), in which a bogus general election goes from bad to worse, amid corruption, violence and national division, and in which literally every other character looks like Boris Johnson, including some of the animals. 

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars
William Blake
Art

William Blake

For a man who casts such a huge, dark shadow over the history of British art, William Blake’s drawings, paintings and etchings are quietly unobtrusive little things. The poet, artist and printmaker (1757-1827) spent his life huddled over, creating mesmerising, tiny works to illustrate poems and histories. His giant bearded man who haunts the entrance of the show is barely bigger than a rat in real life. His gods could fit in your palm, his angels are the size of swifts. It’s at this small, hypnotising scale that Blake drags you into his universe of rebel demons, invented mythologies and head-spinning dissident philosophies. He had an incredible way with line and composition. His figures, whether allegories for the American revolution or characters from the bible, are solid, dramatic constructions, all rippling muscles, tormented faces and fierce, piercing eyes. They’re all arranged in swooping curves and arcs, whipped up to heaven or dragged down to hell. Some are tiny, like the incredibly coloured, dramatic works from his Small Book of Designs, drawing you closer and closer. Others are grander, like the breath-taking room of watercolours with the crawling, shocking image of Nebuchadnezzar, his eyes wild and horrified.  Every work is thrillingly, uniquely Black, These are his visions of society, history, religion and science, and they couldn’t be anyone else’s. That’s probably why he was never rich, never able to achieve his more ambitious projects: he was too busy being

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
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All future art exhibitions in London

Dora Maar
Art

Dora Maar

Tate Modern continues flying the flag for female artists neglected by history with the biggest retrospective of Dora Maar ever held in Britain. Maar’s slippery, surrealist works make use of an extensive archive of photographs and photomontages, but her career has been somewhat overshadowed by her relationship with Picasso. This exhibition plans to situate Maar’s creations alongside those of her contemporaries, but hopefully not (for once) just ol’ Pablo.

Eco-Visionaries
Art

Eco-Visionaries

As the world gradually melts, the Royal Academy presents a slightly different exhibition to normal. Gone are the Renaissance nudes and contemporary sculptures, in their place are eco-warriors crossing over with artists. The show casts a (solar-powered) light on the artists and architects doing their bit in the fight against climate change and other assorted horrors facing the planet. Visitors will become acquainted with the people fighting the good fight head on, as well as those who are chronicling our collective doom. 

Steve McQueen
Art

Steve McQueen

This treat of an exhibition brings together immersive video and film installations by the Turner Prize- and Oscar-winning Steve McQueen made since 2000. Don't miss the chance to see 'Ashes 2002-2015', the artist's dual-screen film based on the life of a young fisherman, plus McQueen's overwhelming 'Caribs' Leap/Western Deep'.  The show overlaps with the Tate Britain's exhibition of McQueen's huge 'Year 3' project, involving photographing every Year 3 primary school child in London in the classic school photo format. 

Young Bomberg and the Old Masters
Art

Young Bomberg and the Old Masters

One of the ‘Whitechapel Boys’, David Bomberg created bold, bright, sharp paintings that so went against the conventions of the time they got him expelled from the Slade School of Art in 1913. A lesser-known fact about the artist is how he drew inspiration from the Old Masters of art history, including Botticelli and Michelangelo. This free exhibition at the National Gallery celebrates these acts of imitative genius. 

See more upcoming art exhibitions

See more art in London

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

Free art in London
Art

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
Art

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

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
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National Gallery
Art

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
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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
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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
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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