Art

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

Elmgreen & Dragset Q&A: "It’s important to tell the truth by telling a lie."
Art

Elmgreen & Dragset Q&A: "It’s important to tell the truth by telling a lie."

We speak to the Scandinavian art duo about pools, gentrification and lies. 

Olafur Eliasson has put chunks of melting glacier ice outside Tate Modern
News

Olafur Eliasson has put chunks of melting glacier ice outside Tate Modern

Fifteen years ago, Nordic art superstar Olafur Eliasson installed a giant glowing sun inside Tate Modern for his famous piece ‘The Weather Project’. Now he’s back in town with ‘Ice Watch London’, another artwork that plays with ideas about climate.

Five works you have to see at Bloomberg New Contemporaries
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Five works you have to see at Bloomberg New Contemporaries

It's your chance to spot the art stars of the future.

These were the 14 best art exhibitions of 2018
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These were the 14 best art exhibitions of 2018

Over the last year, we’ve reviewed almost 200 exhibitions, and seen plenty more. Here are our top shows of the 2018.

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.

The latest art reviews

Kris Lemsalu: 4LIFE
Art

Kris Lemsalu: 4LIFE

Kris Lemsalu has converted this gallery into a little shop of psychedelic horrors. It’s filled with bodies caught in the middle of mutating, metamorphosing and transmogrifiying into bizarre, twisted new shapes. The Estonian artist combines glistening ceramics and intricate fabrics into shocking tableaux. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Michael Pybus: Soft Play
Art

Michael Pybus: Soft Play

Michael Pybus has had enough of the internet. The liking, the fav-ing, the selfies, the retweets, the anger, the call-outs and the witch-hunts. He’s sick of it. This show is a reaction to all of that, and it’s a sucker punch. 

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Christine Ay Tjoe
Art

Christine Ay Tjoe

In the past, Christine Ay Tjoe’s artworks have often been notable for their use of wine-stain reds and sugar-mice pinks. This new series of paintings and drypoint etchings at White Cube goes in an entirely different direction, almost exclusively relying on black and dark brown. The resulting images look like they’re made from old tobacco stains or flakes of crumbling, burnt wood. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Martin Creed
Art

Martin Creed

Martin Creed operates in binary. Everything is either one thing or another. Like his Turner Prize-winning installation ‘Work No. 227: The Lights Going On and Off’: it’s just some lights, you know, going on, and then off. You can read all the nauseating waffle you want into that, but really, it’s just a light going on and off. And that’s a good thing. His art is at its best when it does one thing simply, dumbly, directly, when you look at it and get the punchline.

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

Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde
Art

Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde

Think modern love is complicated? Wait until you see this exhibition. Here’s half a century’s worth of explosive couples, transgressive throuples, affairs, gaslighting fuckboys and, mercifully, some great art to contend with. ‘Modern Couples’ wants to show how intimate relationships between artists influenced their works, but it does something even better. By giving equal visibility to women artists who have previously been reduced to ‘muses’ or ‘dilettantes’  tied to more famous men, it subverts the image of the avant-garde artist as an untouchable male genius. The usual star combos are here (Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Dora Maar and Pablo Picasso, Lee Miller and Man Ray) along with less obvious names like Constructivists Aleksandr Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova. They thrived in the creative bubble that existed post-Russian revolution, producing gender-flipping graphic art in the Vkhutemas (a state art school). Yet despite working as equals, art historians largely chose to erase Stepanova’s contribution. Objectifying male obsession looms large in many of these unions. Take composer Alma Mahler, whose beautiful, haunting music was suppressed by husband Gustav when his ego wouldn’t allow room for her talent. She went on to have a relationship with painter Oskar Kokoschka, who took his fixation on Alma so far, he had a lifesize doll made in her image, asking that his ‘sense of touch be able to take pleasure in those parts where layers of fat and muscle suddenly give way t

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Space Shifters
Art

Space Shifters

If I had a penny for every time I heard about the importance of light in art I’d have a shitload of pennies. From Caravaggio’s dramatic chiaroscuro to Turner’s swirling dusky seascapes and Monet’s shimmering waterlilies, light has been a necessary obsession in art for centuries. But it wasn’t until the 1960s and the birth of minimalism that artists really started using and messing with light, rather than just attempting to capture it. This show of art that teases and toys with light and space is an eye-bending journey into the brightest recesses of minimalism. And you’re a part of it. From the minute you walk in, you’re reflected and doubled and twisted and turned. Anish Kapoor’s big silver phone box blobs and blabs your reflection like a funfair house of mirrors. Opposite it, Jeppe Hein’s giant rotating mirrors constantly cut and re-cut the space; Alicja Kwade’s mirror and rock installation makes you question what’s solid and what’s air. Just three works into the show, your mind is melty and your eyes are achey. And you’ve still got Larry Bell’s smoke and reflections corridor to come, then Fred Eversley’s purple lozenge and a whole installation of Yayoi Kusama’s little metal balls before you even get to the visceral ultra-sensory shock of Richard Wilson’s famous room of crude oil. What eventually hits you is that the works here don’t just exist in space, they exist through it. They cut and reorganise rooms, they double the light or suck it away, expand the space or shri

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars
Ribera: Art of Violence
Art

Ribera: Art of Violence

Flayed skin and dislocated shoulders are two recurring themes of Jusepe de Ribera’s art. The first, normally inflicted on Christian saints as part of their martyrdoms, and the second, the result of a foul seventeenth-century torture device known as the ‘strappado’. There are also crucifixions, arrow-piercings and bindings to stakes. All of which, over the centuries, gained the artist a reputation for being unnecessarily and extremely violent in his art, and possibly in his private life too. The central point of this show at the Dulwich Picture Gallery is that we’ve been wrong about Ribera. Specifically, we’ve been silly to see him as senselessly sadistic. The darkened gallery space (so darkened, in fact, that the faces of the gallery assistants loom out like Ribera’s holy martyrs) contains a small number of his large, lushly executed paintings along with many of his drawings and a few exhibition buffer items, such as a tattooed piece of human skin that looks a bit like those pig-ear treats dogs like to gnaw on. In the age of big and small-screen violence, Ribera’s imagery perhaps isn’t shocking in the same way it once was. Yet what remains so brilliantly ‘can’t-stop-peeking-through-my-fingers’ about these gorgeous and gory pictures is the essential contrast between the shiver-inducing subject matter and the beauty of Ribera’s painting. Though you could maybe say the DPG couldn’t quite borrow enough major Ribera works to justify a full show, look away from the gruesome bi

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Elmgreen & Dragset: This Is How We Bite Our Tongue
Art

Elmgreen & Dragset: This Is How We Bite Our Tongue

The Whitechapel Gallery is being turned into a luxury hotel. Sorry about that. Its galleries will be turned into suites for the moneyed hipster elite to huff designer drugs in, and its pool will become an opulent spa. You probably didn’t know the Whitechapel had a pool, but it does. Been there since 1901, in the main gallery, hugely popular in the 1970s. Hockney painted it back in the day, apparently. Or that’s what Scandi art duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset want you to believe. The mischievous bastards have built a full-size pool right as you walk into the gallery. It’s empty and decrepit, littered with debris and leaves, its tiles cracked and dusty. It’s lived through its fictional heyday, and now, like everything else in this city, it has been earmarked for redevelopment. You’ll still be able to swim here when it’s a hotel, sure, as long as you’re a guest or a member. It’s not subtle. It’s a jackhammer of a concept, bashing your skull in with its blunt-force indictment of gentrification and the constant loss of a city’s public, special spaces. What it lacks in subtlety it more than makes up for in brutal effectiveness. And that goes for all of Elmgreen & Dragset’s shtick. Upstairs, canvases show the names and dimensions of well-known artworks, but not the art itself. A baby in a basket has been dumped in front of a cash machine, a small child stares at a framed rifle, a maid watches over a kid huddling in a fireplace. The first two galleries of this show are br

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Good Grief, Charlie Brown!
Art

Good Grief, Charlie Brown!

Anxiety, despair, dread, depression, fear, misery, alienation: a pretty standard Friday night, but an unusual recipe for a kids’ comic strip. ‘Peanuts’ is special, though. Over his tens of thousands of strips – syndicated the world over and read by millions of adoring fans – Charles M Schulz combined simple line drawings and emotional non-sequiturs into little bundles of pure, heart-wrenching modern truth. This show, looking at the history of ‘Peanuts’ and the art it inspired, starts with the development of Charlie Brown and Snoopy, based on Schulz himself and his childhood dog Spike. From the start, Schulz’s characters are forlorn, sad little things – always downtrodden, always caught on the worst possible day, but always with a bit of hope in their hearts. Then along comes Lucy, Woodstock and the gang and you start to see the birth of the world’s most popular comic strip. It’s almost shocking to be confronted with the emotional vulnerability of ‘Peanuts’ on such a scale. Charlie Brown is a loser, a sad sack. His mouth is a shaky line that seems moments away from quivering with sorrow. So raw, so vulnerable. Snoopy is a gentle, necessary foil, Lucy is a hotheaded mess, Linus is a needy wreck. It’s all too real for me, an overtired slightly hungover 33-year-old. How the hell do kids hack this? But that’s the point. Schulz made the emotional vulnerability that we all feel acceptable. These original panels are so honest and close to the bone that you want to reach out and hug

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

Edvard Munch: Love and Angst
Art

Edvard Munch: Love and Angst

It's the exhibition whoever invented the scream emoji has been waiting for. The British Museum stages a huge exhibition of Norway's most famous painter, Edvard Munch. The show, which includes major loans from the Munch Museum in Oslo, will focus on the artist's prints and his unique ability to crystalise intense human emotions like grief, sorrow, jealousy and desire - you know, the ones we felt long before we had the emojis to represent them.

Kiss My Genders
Art

Kiss My Genders

Summertime means group shows, and the Hayward Gallery's offering for the sunshine-filled months is a collection of artworks from 1960s onwards all connected to gender fluidity, non-binary, trans and intersex identities.

Lee Krasner: Living Colour
Art

Lee Krasner: Living Colour

Retrospective of the innovative abstract expressionist artist Lee Krasner. As the title suggests, one reason for buying a ticket is to check out Krasner's vivid, large-scale canvases that explode in fireworks of colour. But that not all. You'll also be able to see her superb charcoal drawings and some early self-portraits. The Barbican aims to stop Krasner always being mentioned in the same breath as her husband (also an artist). So we're not even going to say his name.

Helene Schjerfbeck
Art

Helene Schjerfbeck

Go on, say it. 'Who?' Helene Schjerbeck, that's who and, hopefully come 2019 you'll never need to ask again. Helene Schjerbeck might not be that well known outside her native Finland, but her paintings cry out for greater recognition. Over the course of a long career, Schjerbeck skipped lightly between different artistic trends and traditions, creating stunning self-portraits and many intimate images of her female friends and relatives. The Finnish Laura Knight, perhaps? Find out with this great bit of programming by the Royal Academy.

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

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

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

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
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