Art

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

Ten of the best arty weekends
Art

Ten of the best arty weekends

We've compiled a list of the best mini-breaks from London based on the top art galleries and sculpture parks you need to visit. Because there's nothing like dodging sheep poo in search of contemporary sculptures hidden in woodland.

Five things you need to know about 'Magic Realism: Art in Weimar Germany 1919-33'
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Five things you need to know about 'Magic Realism: Art in Weimar Germany 1919-33'

This month the gods of the Tate are smiling favourably upon cash-strapped Londoners, opening an exhibition of art from Weimar Germany that’s completely free to pop in and see. 

Five thing to see at 'Banksy, Greatest Hits: 2002-2008'
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Five thing to see at 'Banksy, Greatest Hits: 2002-2008'

Street art maverick Banksy is the nation’s graffiti sweetheart. For decades now he’s been covering walls around the world with his razor-sharp political observations. From kissing coppers to Molotov cocktails filled with flowers, Banksy – whoever the mysterious man is – has created images intended to both entertain and make you think. He’s divisive, though. Some people despise him with hatred so powerfully and overwhelmingly all-consuming that it makes them wish they didn’t have eyes. Other people adore him, and are desperate to plaster their flats with prints and editions of his wry observational art. Now Lazinc gallery in Mayfair has pulled together a show of his greatest hits from the years 2002 to 2008, in many ways one of Banksy’s golden eras – his equivalent of Picasso’s Blue Period, perhaps. Here are just five highlights from this small but packed exhibition.  Image courtesy of Lazinc  ‘Tesco Value Soup’  A play on Andy Warhol’s classic Campbell’s soup can, but with a Tesco twist. His Waitrose version isn’t quite as good.   Image courtesy of Lazinc Sunflowers from Petrol Station’ Van Gogh’s famous flowers have been left to wilt, a cathartic statement on the inevitability of death, surely. Image courtesy of Lazinc ‘Bronze Rat’ Here, Banksy has rendered one of his trademark rats in bronze, alluding to the famed bronzes of Edgar Degas, perhaps.    Image courtesy of Lazinc ‘Kissing Coppers’ It’s impossible to tell you how disappointing it is

Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Infinity Mirror Room’ is coming back to London
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Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Infinity Mirror Room’ is coming back to London

Get ready to have your Instagram feed once again flooded with polka dots and pumpkins: Yayoi Kusama is coming back to London. 

Michael Jackson: On the Wall review

Michael Jackson: On the Wall review

HIs every crotch grab sent jolts of ecstasy across the globe, his every spasmodic hip thrust left the world reeling. That’s an inhuman level of power for one human to have. 

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
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Artist Rooms: Jenny Holzer
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Artist Rooms: Jenny Holzer

American artist Jenny Holzer’s work is decades’ worth of statements, aphorisms, quotes and poetry. She takes words and sentences and plasters them over the streets, prints them on cups and condoms, engraves them into marble, and sends them stuttering at lightspeed along LED columns. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Memory Palace
Art

Memory Palace

Are memories pink? White Cube’s new show ‘Memory Palace’ – held at its Bermondsey and Mason’s Yard spaces – suggests so. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Leelee Kimmel: Wormhole
Art

Leelee Kimmel: Wormhole

With reliable regularity, someone will publish clickbait on the subject of ‘You’ll never guess what [insert name of previously famous person] is doing now!’. Leelee Sobieski became famous in the late ’90s as a film star. Her work included teen romcom ‘Never Been Kissed’ and ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, but she’s now swapped movies for art. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Aktion: Conceptual Art And Photography (1960 - 1980)
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Aktion: Conceptual Art And Photography (1960 - 1980)

Forget how many words a picture is worth; what about how many ideas it’s worth? This neat little show is filled with art where ideas are captured in images. The thing you see isn’t necessarily the work, but a representation of the concept… which is the work. You follow? 

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

Michael Jackson: On the Wall

Michael Jackson: On the Wall

HIs every crotch grab sent jolts of ecstasy across the globe, his every spasmodic hip thrust left the world reeling. That’s an inhuman level of power for one human to have. It ended up being too much for Michael Jackson, and maybe too much for the rest of us too, which may explain how the National Portrait Gallery can put together a whole show of art inspired by MJ and without it being mega-cheesy or ultra-dull. 

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
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Cindy Sherman review
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Cindy Sherman review

Cindy Sherman is a film star. Actually, she’s loads of film stars. She’s a reclining blonde looking wistfully into the distance, a slight redhead in a robe, a blushing bride and a raven haired beauty. She’s also three country sisters and their mother, she’s a group of four near-identical stars. It’s seriously creepy. For 35 years, Sherman has been the subject of her own work. She’s transformed herself into an endlessly rotating series of characters. She mocks, twists and undermines femininity and gender roles, and in this show of recent work, she’s become a bunch of fictional pre-war film stars. Each character sits against a digital background, like they’re posing in a promo shot for a non-existent film. They have all the hallmarks you think old female film stars should have. Some are homely, gentle, safe and cutesy – geriatric Judy Garlands – but most have a menace to them. They look like old alcoholic stars, long past their prime, wishing their lives away on a divan, dreaming of their departed lovers. Their star quality has dimmed. Are these photoshoots goodbyes? You imagine a big bottle of piles and a glass of whisky waiting in the background. Tragic figures, nostalgic and vain. By mocking those ideas, by dragging them out into the open by the hair, Sherman is giving a good two fingers up at the idea of all of that. Those boohoo classic tragedies are dismantled here, dismissed outright. It’s classic, humorous, creepy, angry Cindy Sherman.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Anthea Hamilton
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Anthea Hamilton

Imagine you’re a squash – as in, a butternut squash. Now imagine what kind of art you would most like, based on your squashy-brained characteristics. For her 2018 Tate Britain Commission for the Duveen Galleries, Anthea Hamilton has created a squash-human hybrid, performed each day by an individual dressed in one of seven outfits inspired by various strains of curcubita (that’s for you, ‘Gardeners’ World’ fans). She then picked a collection of nine sculptures from the Tate’s existing collection, plus one from The Hepworth Wakefield, that might be of liking to the squash. The pumpkin-friendly artworks are bulbous, ballooning mounds of sculpture – the kind you want to sneakily squeeze. Because, the artist reasons, squashes can’t see well so choose their art based on touch. Bonkers, right? But ridiculous as the idea sounds, Hamilton’s takeover is a brilliant and irreverent response to basically everything the Tate, as the grand old dame of establishment art, represents and displays. The dark floor of the pretty, neoclassical gallery is covered with over 7,000 white squares, with the sculptures inside various tiled blocks. It looks like a high-end swimming pool, which is the last place you’d expect to find some hard-skinned vegetables (technically fruit, but shh!) doing whatever the hell they want. There are no rules: they can even take a nap. Which is the attitude that makes the whole thing so much fun. The mishmash of sculptures shoves the modernist curves of Henry Moore

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing
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Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing

You can see why the Barbican is running these shows of Dorothea Lange and Vanessa Winship together. There’s plenty of overlap in their work: dislocation, displacement, the way that women, children, buildings, landscapes and even cars reflect societal collapse. But I would seriously advise that you buy your ticket, check out one of them, then go and play crazy golf with a few beers or something before you come back and tackle the other. They’re both pretty heavy. Dorothea Lange is revered as a giant of twentieth-century documentary photography. Her ‘Migrant Mother’ – an image she took in 1936 of one of the 300,000 Americans who fled the starvation and poverty of the drought-stricken Midwest – is so celebrated that it gets its own little sort-of-chapel here. A woman stares bleakly into the distance, apparently removed from her plight, her family and the act of being photographed. It’s an image of loss: loss of property, prospects, hope and self. Lange called the effect ‘human erosion’, mirroring the over-cultivated farmland soil that had blown away, taking these people’s bit of the American Dream with it. It’s only part of the story, though. Although the Depression and the Dustbowl spurred Lange to give up taking arty society portraits and hit the road, the rest of her work – less often seen – extrapolates from that experience of the USA on its knees. She shoots the dire racial poverty of the Deep South that existed before, during and after the Midwest droughts. She shoots t

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Lee Bul
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Lee Bul

A huge, gloopy, multi-limbed, fleshy monster stares you out as you enter Lee Bul’s  exhibition. And it’s not alone. Suspended from the ceiling are more of its blobby buddies and a battalion of pure white cyborgs. In the corner sits a silver and black behemoth among a landscape of shattered mirrors and blinking lights. It’s up to you to figure out if the Korean artist’s sci-fi dreamscape is actually a nightmare.

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

Olafur Eliasson
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Olafur Eliasson

In 2003, visitors to Tate Modern went mad for Olafur Eliasson's Turbine Hall installation 'The Weather Project'. The artist is now back at the same galley with a big exhibition and an outside artwork. He's even taking over the Terrace Bar, turning it into a vegetarian canteen. 

Klimt/Schiele: Drawing
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Klimt/Schiele: Drawing

Klimt and Schiele were both working in Vienna in the early 1900s and saw the world changing around them. Both known for their particular drawing and painting styles, as well as controversial for their very sexually explicit nudes, they were friends and shared a love of drawing. This collaboration between the Royal Academy and the Albertina Museum in Vienna marks 100 years since both these great artists died.

Yayoi Kusama
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Yayoi Kusama

The queen of the polka dots is back in London. The last time Victoria Miro held a Yayoi Kusama exhibition (2016), the queues stretched around the block and back - something, it's fair to say, that doesn't happen with many contemporary art exhibitions. This time, the Japanese artist's works are being shown in the gallery's two spaces, plus its waterside garden. Expect all the things that have made Kusama's artwork so beloved to fans: pumkins, flowers and endless dots. The REALLY BIG DEAL, however, is a brand new infinity mirror room involving paper lanterns. 

Elmgreen & Dragset: This Is How We Bite Our Tongue
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Elmgreen & Dragset: This Is How We Bite Our Tongue

A large-scale installation and figurative sculptures from iconic arty duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset. Witty, surreal and enjoyably unsettling, E&D artworks are always worth seeing up close and personal. Go. 

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.

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