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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

Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company
Art

Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company

Colonialism didn’t just come for the minerals, spices and priceless artefacts, colonialism came for the art too. As the East India Company tightened its grip on the Indian subcontinent in the nineteenth century, it also grabbed at the arts of the places it was occupying. This gorgeous show brings together botanical, portrait and everyday scene paintings commissioned by wealthy European patrons.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Valie Export
Art

Valie Export

There’s one colour that matters in Valie Export’s art: red. It’s the red of menstruation, childbirth and the fluid of Christ sipped at Eucharist. But it’s not a rich, winey shade. It’s at the orange end of the scale, like a thin trail of blood through bathwater. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Nan Goldin: Sirens
Art

Nan Goldin: Sirens

The imperfectly beautiful and the beautifully imperfect: these are Nan Goldin’s currency. In her photographs, people are caught unawares (apparently). They are awkward, maybe squinting or gawping or sort of looking over there. Her flash is pitiless; she almost convinces you that these are everyday snaps, intimate moments taken out of time, and not the product of a minutely controlled aesthetic.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Young Bomberg and the Old Masters
Art

Young Bomberg and the Old Masters

There are a lot of limbs in David Bomberg’s paintings. Bent, angled, twisted body parts jut out at awkward angles as sweaty figures clamber over each other on the wrestling mat, in the tight hold of a ship or on the sticky floor of a sauna. These are paintings with the raw, bloody, masculine attention to sweat and skin seen in Francis Bacon or Lucian Freud, although Bomberg was painting at an earlier date than either (everything here’s from the 1910s) and his images are more geometric and abstract. 

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

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. Acid etchings in one space reproduce newspaper articles, and their half-arsed retractions, about child-killer Ian Huntley coming out as trans – a story that was fake, with the idea of transitioning being used by the media as a mocking, degrading weapon against both the government and Huntley. The other space is given over to a horrifying film featuring found footage of animal abuse on industrial farms. It’s stomach-turningly unwatchable seeing these creatures – pumped full of growth hormones, harvested for their skin, fur and meat – being violently abused in grainy, shocking recordings. At first, the show feels a little slight, a little empty, a little unintelligible, but taken as a whole, Staff’s intention becomes crystal clear. This is art about transformation and gender, but it’s not a celebration. It revels in the brutality of day-to-day queer existence, in the crushing pressure of a society that’s constantly bearing down on you, in the destructive power of negative ideas, of forced conformation, of having to figure yourself out in a world that doesn’t want you. The artist is dunking the viewer in these barrels of acid and forcing

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Bridget Riley
Art

Bridget Riley

Bridget Riley will make your eyes hurt and your brain ache. With her perception-altering lines and colours, it’s like the octogenarian grand dame of op art is reaching into your skull, grabbing a fistful of your optic nerves and twisting, pulling and yanking them in a million different directions. Art, at its most basic level, is about looking. An artist uses pigments and shapes to create images which trigger recognition in your brain. ‘That’s a bowl of fruit,’ your brain says while looking at a drawing of a bowl of fruit. But Bridget Riley wanted to push that much, much further. What if the image didn’t just enter your brain, but messed with it, affected it, manipulated it. In the op art (short for optical art) movement she helped pioneer, paintings and viewers weren’t placed in a passive, one-way relationship, but in an undulating dialogue where the more you look the more you see, and the more you see the more you question what you’re seeing. The best room in this show is filled with early black and white paintings and works on plexiglass. They’re the purest and most extreme expressions of Riley’s ideas. Thick squares squash down into little rectangles, sucking you into an infinite horizon. Circles fade into nothingness, straight lines curve into waves that your eyes just can’t latch on to. Everything tingles and wobbles, drifts in and out of focus, the picture planes jiggle and reform. It’s art as non-Newtonian fluid. Solid then liquid and back again. It’s all about co

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
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All future art exhibitions in London

Artemisia
Art

Artemisia

In July 2018, the National Gallery acquired ‘Self Portrait as St Catherine of Alexandria’ by Artemisia Gentileschi. It is the first painting they've owned by the Baroque artist and it very slightly boosted their collection of works by female artists (shamefully, the gallery only owns 20 artworks by female artists in a collection totalling 2,300). They’re now re-doubling their efforts to promote Artemisia’s talents with this major solo show. Along with the 'St Catherine' image, the exhibition will feature major loans from private and public collections, including several paintings only recently attributed to the artist. It's art not to miss-isa. Sorry.

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. 

Zanele Muholi
Art

Zanele Muholi

This mid-career survey of South Aftrican visual activist Zanele Muholi captures the breadth and power of an extensive body of work dedicated to presenting a multifaceted view of black LGBTQI+ individuals. Muholi’s long-running projects include a substantial collection of self-portraits, many of which were made on trips abroad. The artist’s experiences of racial profiling at airports and hotels inspired a phenomenal series of images referencing and commemorating episodes in their personal history and the political landscape of South Africa. Also included in the show are examples of Muholi’s portraiture, many of which show black lesbians or trans people. 

British Baroque: Power and Illusion
Art

British Baroque: Power and Illusion

More is more. It's time to embrace the brilliant, bad and bonkers world of baroque, as it occurred on our own shores. Baroque, you say? In Britain? Admittedly far less known that its continental cousins, the 17th century saw a distinct version of baroque used to promote the power of the recently-restored monarchy. This exhibition contains several of the loans from stately homes who've got their baroques off the walls and into a public gallery for the first time. You'll also be able to see art created for Protestant and Catholic worship, plus some "heroic equestrian portraiture". 

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
Cinemas

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
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
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.

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