Art

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

Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic
Art

Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic

Ofili is back at the National Gallery with this totally tropical, sumptuous and absolutely gorgeous tapestry. What a return.

Banksy in London: a guide
Art

Banksy in London: a guide

Who is Banksy? Who knows. But what we DO know is all this amazingly useful info

Four things you need to know about Ashley Bickerton
Art

Four things you need to know about Ashley Bickerton

From ‘Neo-Geo’ to Bali beaches, we get to know the American artist ahead of a major new show at Newport Street Gallery

Top ten photography exhibitions in London
Art

Top ten photography exhibitions in London

Discover a world beyond Instagram at the city's best current and upcoming photography shows

The latest art reviews

Jordan Wolfson: Riverboat Song
Art

Jordan Wolfson: Riverboat Song

Jordan Wolfson raises a baseball bat over his head and smashes it down into another man’s face. He stamps on his head, over and over, squelchy belches singing out with every impact. 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Picasso: Minotaurs and Matadors
Art

Picasso: Minotaurs and Matadors

It’s hard to come away from a Picasso exhibition without thinking that he was a total bastard: a selfish, arrogant, mercurial, lascivious, lecherous, horny, misogynistic bastard. 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Cornelia Parker
Art

Cornelia Parker

America and Britain have long held a morbid fascination with one another. They think we’re a creaky island of tea-addicted aristocrats; we think they’re a deranged wasteland of trigger-happy rednecks and religious fundamentalists. 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Ashley Bickerton
Art

Ashley Bickerton

Ashley Bickerton is like a friend who’s just come back from travelling around Asia for six months and literally won’t stop talking about it and showing you pictures down the pub. Except the pictures aren’t irritating iPhone photos of a beach he dropped some wicked acid on, it’s a whole goddamn body of fine art. 

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

David Hockney
Art

David Hockney

Some paintings are like celebrities. You’ve read about them, studied them from afar, obsessed over them for years, but never actually seen them in the flesh. So when you actually come face to face with one, you get all wobbly-kneed and fluttery-eyed. 

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Vanessa Bell (1879-1961)
Art

Vanessa Bell (1879-1961)

Vanessa Bell spent her life surrounded by famous people, and has come to be remembered primarily as Virginia Woolf’s sister. But she was one of the most interesting characters of her day and – from the look of this exhibition – one of its finest artists too. 

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends
Art

Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends

Although Howard Hodgkin had been creating portraits since the age of 16, this is the first time they’ve been brought together for a solo show. But he never got to see the final result: the 84-year-old British artist died just two weeks before the opening of this exhibition. News of his passing came as the first painting was hung. With this in mind, it’s a challenge to not view the work through a tinted posthumous lens. However, ‘Absent Friends’ more than delivers. It’s a sonorous, lovingly curated moment that reminds us just how few artists can touch Hodgkin on use of colour. With the exception of his early figure paintings (just skip past those), these are ‘portraits’ in the most tentative sense. They are a tug-of-war between abstraction and representation, where thick licks of paint are stacked like slabs of cake to describe his subjects. See the ’60s and ’70s double portraits of Hodgkin’s ‘art scene’ friends that take up an entire room. In some, stray limbs flail and faces stare out from the canvas, dotted with red splodges for eyes. In the same breath, as with ‘Mr and Mrs E.J.P.’ (1969-73), he’d use garish masses of pox dots and lines of primary colours to conjure their memory. His work is about capturing a ‘feeling’ on canvas; he frequently gobbled up the frame with paint, as though his exuberance couldn’t be contained. At times, it’s all so loud it can leave you with visual tinnitus, unable to take it in. He had a sense of humour too. A room of his best works fr

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Making Nature: How we See Animals
Art

Making Nature: How we See Animals

Mental asylums. Mind-altering drugs. Dirt. The Wellcome Collection has carved out a rep for delivering exhibitions that are outlandish without ever being sensationalist. And while the premise of their latest show – the relationship between humans and animals – might not have the same WTF factor, it’s still just as quirky and enthralling.  The first room kicks off with the Enlightenment-era craze for natural classification. On display is Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus’s ‘Systema Naturae’ from 1735, which listed and filed the animal kingdom, humankind included (albeit as a kind of exception to the rule: this was pre-Darwin). So is Charles Bonnet’s ‘Scale of Natural Being’ from 1783, a league table of best to worst in which humans, naturally, come out top. Older manuscripts show delightfully crap engravings of camel-like beasts the size of houses. Rooms two and three focus on our urge to observe and display animals. Maquettes of the Crystal Palace dinosaurs – the first ever models of an extinct species – show us a Victorian wonder of the big bad lizards that’s never waned since. Dioramas of taxidermied foxes, intended to place them in their natural habitats, seem hopelessly twee and antiquated. Mind you, so do modernist architect Hugh Casson’s early-’60s designs for a radical new type of elephant house. They might replace the painted fakery with concrete, but ultimate still treat the poor pachyderm as little more than a circus spectacle. These are historical curios, but the

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Eduardo Paolozzi
Art

Eduardo Paolozzi

Paolozzi wanted to produce art so badly that he faked his own madness. He was stationed on a Slough football pitch with the Pioneer Corps at the time, so who can blame him? Slough’s loss was the world’s gain: without Paolozzi there would be no pop art, and no vibrant mosaics at Tottenham Court Road. The Whitechapel had a serious challenge on its hands with this retrospective: the man defies categorisation. He moved from painting to collage to textiles with the pace of a crazed polymath. And so the exhibition moves chronologically, from the rough-hewn sculptures of the 1940s through to the abstracted screenprints and public art installations of the ’80s and ’90s.  He was known to be easily distracted. While working, he would flip from one image to the next, frantically trawling advertisements and magazines. In his famous ‘Bunk!’ lecture, which is part-recreated using wall projections for this show, he presented clippings of Coca-Cola adverts, ’50s pin ups and sci-fi illustrations, analysing their artistic merit. These were the founding days of pop art, when it still offered a scathing comment on consumerism, before itself becoming commodified and losing all meaning. Exploring Paolozzi’s early work is a depressing reminder of how derivative this genre has become. In the giant, colourful ‘Whitworth Tapestry’ he weaves a silhouette of Mickey Mouse, a motif now so overused in commercial art we barely bat an eyelid when we see Disney characters surrounded by penises and swastikas.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Norman Hyams: Ethos
Art

Norman Hyams: Ethos

New work by the London-based painters, whose fragmentary, seemingly half-complete pictures delve into memory and imaginations.

Rachel Kneebone: 399 Days
Art

Rachel Kneebone: 399 Days

Kneebone's sculpture '399 Days' – originally shown at White Cube in 2014 – is a towering colossus made of porcelain tiles and writhing limbs, and is going to look pretty damn spectacular amongst the objects of Gallery 50a at the V&A.

Ryoji Ikeda: π, e, ø
Art

Ryoji Ikeda: π, e, ø

The Japanese artist – who is as famous for his electronic music as his art – makes work based around mathematical principles and has a lyrical, precision-tooled beauty.

Erik van Lieshout: Three Social Works
Art

Erik van Lieshout: Three Social Works

Three of the Dutch artist's films will be screened in this exhibition, each in a specially created 'environment'. Look out for cats living in the basement of the Hermitage museum in St Petersberg, interviews with members of the van Lieshout family and monologues about a dead man called Janus. 

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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
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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
Art

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.

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  • 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