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Art

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

Five London galleries in weird spaces
Art

Five London galleries in weird spaces

Forget the hallowed white-walls of most London galleries and head to these unusual spaces dotted around the city for a totally different art experience instead

The UK’s ultimate art destinations
Art

The UK’s ultimate art destinations

Swap beaches for Babs Hepworth and swimming pools for sculpture parks with our guide to the UK's top destinations for art lovers to visit this summer

Frieze Sculpture is back in Regent’s Park and it’s looking great
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Frieze Sculpture is back in Regent’s Park and it’s looking great

The annual transformation of Regent's Park into an outdoor sculpture park is back again. Here's a taste of what to see

Five things to see at Sculpture in the City
Art

Five things to see at Sculpture in the City

The sculpture bonanza is back for its ninth edition. We pick our favourite artworks on display in the Square Mile

Top ten art exhibitions in London
Art

Top ten art exhibitions in London

Shortcut it straight to the good stuff by heading to one of the very best art exhibitions taking place in the capital right now. 

The latest art reviews

Elizabeth Prentis
Art

Elizabeth Prentis

You’re going to leave Elizabeth Prentis’s show with sticky feet. And a sticky mind too, if you’re not careful. A bubbling tub of pink Nesquik foams and bubbles onto the blue carpet as giant alien broccoli sculptures loom over it, threatening to dip their fronds into the pink froth.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
New Order: Art, Product, Image 1976 – 1995
Art

New Order: Art, Product, Image 1976 – 1995

The title of this show is a promise, but not one that anyone ever managed to keep. ‘New Order’ refers to the band, obviously, but also to the era. 1976-1995 represented a time of hefty culture-shifting. 

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Helene Schjerfbeck
Art

Helene Schjerfbeck

If you’re British, Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) is a relatively unknown artist. If you’re Finnish, Helene Schjerfbeck is a very famous artist. This show of 60 paintings is the first chance London audiences have had to join the Schjerfbeck fan club.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Dog Show
Art

Dog Show

The contemporary art world gives us many things, but laughter is rarely one of them. Opportunities to squeal? Even rarer. Which is what makes this exhibition at Southwark Park Galleries as precious to behold as a chug wearing a very small hat. If I was the Marie Kondo of art critics, I’d tell you to metaphorically throw out all the other exhibitions because only this one will bring you joy.

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

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
Lee Krasner: Living Colour

Lee Krasner: Living Colour

Lee Krasner (1908-1984) spent her life fighting for the right to be herself. She couldn’t be Lena Krasner, she had to become the androgynous Lee. She couldn’t be a realist or a cubist, she had to rip her work to shreds and collage it into new, unique forms. And she could never just be her, she always had to be the wife of Jackson Pollock. That’s part of the deal with mid-century modern art, it’s a sausage party; and abstract expressionism was the blokiest movement of all. So what you see in this exhibition is an artist clawing a space for herself among the fellas and nudging her way to the front of the twentieth century art class photo. Early works here deal with life drawing and cubism before diving into small canvases made of billions of marks and colours. These ‘Little Paintings’ are like explosions in a garden, thrumming with manic intensity and precision. Works from the late 1940s are more restrained, built of endless layers of geometric shapes, like feverish sheets of automatic writing. They’re all nice enough, but not the work of a fully developed artist. It took two major events for that to happen. The first was an exhibition where none of Krasner’s works sold. In anger and despondence, she tore up drawings and glued them to the canvases from the show. The result is art of anger and frustration, all tightly and aggressively composed. These blackened, vicious works look like nothing else from the period, full of clashing shapes and forms that fight and jostle, tha

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
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Faith Ringgold
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Faith Ringgold

Art is a weapon. I mean, not always. Sometimes it’s just something pretty for rich people’s walls. But in the hands of octogenarian American artist and activist Faith Ringgold, art is a weapon. Art is a way of fighting back. Ringgold is a black artist, born and raised in Harlem during a time of civil unrest and social upheaval. The early paintings here show rich white bankers next to kissing interracial couples, an educated black woman near a bunch of featureless white men in suits, all captured with thick lines and flat planes of cream and blue and black. But something about straight-up painting feels too close to established art tropes to be effective here. It’s when Ringgold ditches canvas for the power and history of quilts that things really start hitting home. Influenced by Tibetan fabric art as well as the American quilt tradition, Ringgold starts combining storytelling and painting to stitch together narratives about black American history and the fight for equal rights. Panels alternate between written words and painted images. There are stories about Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr and pancake-mix icon Aunt Jemima. The images show horrifying visions of drowning slaves, but also New York subway scenes daubed with graffiti, people dancing in jazz clubs. Some of it is painfully harrowing, some of it brilliant empowering. Using the power of folk tradition and her own fighting spirit, Ringgold condenses the black American experience down into little nuggets of

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Kiss My Genders
Art

Kiss My Genders

Gender identity has only recently become a hot topic in mainstream society. I know, it’s hard to imagine what the tabloids wrote about before they could announce that gender-neutral toilets would be the downfall of humanity. But in art, the fluidity of gender has been a subject for centuries. From Jusepe de Ribera to Claude Cahun, art has almost always been a fertile place for radical gender thinking, and this show traces the last 50 years of it, featuring a wide array of non-binary artists. It’s an exhibition filled with photography. There’s Lyle Ashton Harris dressed as Billie Holiday, Peter Hujar’s candid, deeply moving images of New York drag performers, the powerful, alien goddess-like imagery of Juliana Huxtable. The camera is used in some of these works in its traditional role as a documenter – of unseen communities, of oppressed individuals – but it’s also used, more importantly, as a tool of transformation. In the hands of someone like Juliana Huxtable or planningtorock, the camera is a means of representing their true selves, or of creating a world shaped in their own image. The camera is a weapon against intolerance. The only problem is that once you get to the second room, the images are presented so boringly that you lose interest, and maybe even realise that photography is the least interesting thing here. Much better is the video installation of drag artist Victoria Sin performing Cantonese songs projected on shimmering white sheets, or Hunter Reynolds’s s

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Mike Nelson: The Asset Strippers
Art

Mike Nelson: The Asset Strippers

Tate Britain is filled with the corpses of British industry, the long dead, rotting remains of this country itself. Strewn across the massive central Duveen Galleries are chunks of enormous abandoned machinery: presses, clamps, welders, cutters. Some have been left untouched, others have been piled on top of each other. Their wires are frayed, their oils have dried, their spindles have rusted. Nelson spent months collecting these objects from salvage yards and asset strippers. As our national industries waned, debt collectors waded in, seizing equipment and discarding the humans who used it. On the one hand, Nelson has repurposed these machines and turned them into sculptures, laying bare their aesthetic qualities, their twists and turns, shapes and shadows. But on the other, the narrative of these objects is inescapable. Even when he places a concrete ring on a bed of telephone poles, or an engine on a pile of sleeping bags, you’re still haunted by the pasts of the machines. Nelson makes it a claustrophobic experience. The works tower over you, threaten to crumple on your soft, fragile body. And it never ends, there are doors to push through, spaces that unfold, an unending trip through the misery of Britain. You can see it all as a metaphor for the death of Empire and British pride, for the impact of Brexit, for the dire sadness of modern life moving forward too quickly. Or you can see it as an ageing man who is finding a reflection of his own body and mind in the cru

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

Gauguin Portraits
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Gauguin Portraits

The art of Paul Gauguin isn't exactly unknown (to say the least), yet there's never been an exhibition exclusively of his portraiture - until now. See how the artist put his own twist on the traditional genre of painting as he walked away from impressionism and dove into the murky seas of symbolism. 

The Most Powerful Woman In The Universe
Art

The Most Powerful Woman In The Universe

Punk and pop-infused group show of contemporary female artists. See works by Nancy Fouts, Nina-Mae Fowler, Kelly-Anne Davitt, Salena Godden, Bex Massey, Hanne Jo Kemfor, Clancy Gebler Davies and Sara Pope. 

Pre-Raphaelite Sisters
Art

Pre-Raphaelite Sisters

If you're searching for a clue to how much women feature in the traditional narrative of Victorian art, look no further than the Pre-Raphaelites, a group of artists who literally self-identified as a 'brotherhood'. This major exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery is the first show exclusively dedicated to asserting the importance of twelve women to the artistic movement. Names to look out for include Elizabeth Siddal, Joanna Wells and Evelyn de Morgan. 

Harmony Hammond
Art

Harmony Hammond

Harmony Hammond was an important member of feminist art movements in 70s New York. This small exhibition at White Cube Bermondsey - the first European solo show for the artist - focuses on her thick, textured canvases perforated with splits, holes and gaps. The show also includes 'Bag VI' a work from the 70s made of painted recycled material.  

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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

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
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