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Art

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

Covid-19 closed this widow’s exhibition of her husband’s art after just one day, so we put it online
News

Covid-19 closed this widow’s exhibition of her husband’s art after just one day, so we put it online

On the morning of March 16, 90-year-old Diana Cohen travelled from Norfolk to Bush House in London for the opening of ‘Alfred Cohen: An American Artist in Europe’, a retrospective of her late husband’s work and the first public exhibition of it since 2001, the year he died. But by that evening the show had been formally closed to the public as part of London’s coronavirus lockdown. The product of 20 years work, and a labour of love on the part of Diana Cohen and Max Saunders (the artist’s stepson and co-curator of the show), it had been open less than 24 hours. Alfred Cohen was born in Chicago in 1920, the son of Latvian immigrants to the United States. His American art education preached the virtue of all things French and, not long after the Second World War, he moved to Paris, the first step in a new life that ended with his permanently relocating to Britain. His paintings – many of which are landscapes – are a pool of different influences swirling together. There are river views bearing the wispy imprint of Impressionism; a patchwork of blocky, boldly coloured rooftops in a borderline abstract manner; and a parade of joyfully creepy carnivalesque characters completed along the wobbly, whimsical lines of Marc Chagall.  Best of all, he painted countless images of London and the Thames, filled with nods to Whistler and Monet, but imbued with something more modern and melancholy. They’re empty, quiet vistas – and they feel weirdly appropriate for right now. The exhibition is

This Banksy is on sale for around £100, and it might look a little familiar
News

This Banksy is on sale for around £100, and it might look a little familiar

Back in 2010, we got everyone’s favourite anti-establishment maverick-with-a-spray-can – none other than Mr Banksy himself – to do a Time Out cover. It was, as you can no doubt imagine, hugely popular. Time Out wasn’t free back then, you actually had to PAY to read all of our brilliant content. I know, incredible. Out in the shops you’d get the Banksy cover with all of our cover lines on it, but subscribers got a special edition that was just the image and our logo. Here are the two covers side by side: Banksy Now, London auction house Tate Ward is hosting an online sale, and our Banksy subscriber cover (it could be one of our cover posters, but we think it’s the subscriber version of the magazine cover) is one of the lots. It currently has an estimate of £100-£200 – for something that would have cost just £2.99 in the shops. Even considering inflation, that's a pretty good return on investment. So there you go, reading Time out could make you rich in the future. It’s just another thing we do for you. You’re welcome. Bid on the Time Out Banksy cover here. And then when you’re done with that, find more art here.   

London art magazines to get you through self-isolation
Art

London art magazines to get you through self-isolation

Missing the galleries? Desperate for some arty eye-fuel? Here are some great London-based art magazines to see you through these weird times

These videos of empty London streets are eerily beautiful
News

These videos of empty London streets are eerily beautiful

Last night, the pubs, restaurants and cinemas of London all closed their doors as part of new government regulations in the battle against coronavirus. For how long, we don’t know, but this was the first night of a new London, a city brought to a standstill by a terrible, terrifying virus. 

Here are five paintings that perfectly express the boredom of isolation
News

Here are five paintings that perfectly express the boredom of isolation

Art is full of bored-looking people. Take a walk through any museum or gallery around the world (when they re-open, obviously) and you’ll see hundreds of faces expressing nothing more than ennui. That’s because sitting for portraits is a tedious business, what with spending all those hours sat still doing absolutely nothing. Sound familiar?

The latest art reviews

Cecil Beaton's Bright Young Things
Art

Cecil Beaton's Bright Young Things

If the name Cecil Beaton means anything to you, it might well be from a Claire Foy-era episode of ‘The Crown’. ‘Dear Cecil’, as they lovingly refer to him, is a favourite for his frou-frou portraits of the young monarch, his sugar plum conservatism contrasting with the sexy modernity of Lord Snowdon, husband to Princess Margaret and a very different type of society portraitist. This exhibition, however, presents a different side to the photographer and costume designer. 

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Titian: Love, Desire, Death
Art

Titian: Love, Desire, Death

Bodies flailing through the air, mythical creatures rushing by in a blur, golden rays of light and mounds and mounds of flesh: Titian’s poesie series is wild, dramatic, violent and very, very sensual. The Renaissance master’s works are reunited in full here for the first time since the 1500s. 

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Edmund de Waal: Library of Exile
Museums

Edmund de Waal: Library of Exile

It stings the heart, this installation by Edmund de Waal. The ceramicist and author has lined the walls of his room within a room in the British Museum with books by writers in exile. Albert Camus’s ‘Exile and the Kingdom’, Jean Rhys’s ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’, Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’. Shelf after shelf of stories written by people far from home, thinking of home. 

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Andy Warhol
Art

Andy Warhol

Sometimes, when you stand in front of a painting, it’s like being in the presence of a celebrity. Some works – the ‘Mona Lisa’, ‘Starry Night’, ‘Luncheon on the Grass’ – are so famous, so ubiquitous, so a part of our world’s cultural fabric that actually seeing them feels unreal, uneasy, magical. This show is full of those celebrities. 

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

Edmund de Waal: Library of Exile
Museums

Edmund de Waal: Library of Exile

It stings the heart, this installation by Edmund de Waal. The ceramicist and author has lined the walls of his room within a room in the British Museum with books by writers in exile. Albert Camus’s ‘Exile and the Kingdom’, Jean Rhys’s ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’, Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’. Shelf after shelf of stories written by people far from home, thinking of home.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Donna Huanca: Wet Slit
Art

Donna Huanca: Wet Slit

Donna Huanca’s art drips, melts, trickles and slithers through the gallery. It coats and covers every inch of this brightly lit space. Plastic sheeting lines the walls like the space is being prepared for something very, very messy. An ice sculpture – big crystalline blocks filled with blue hair-like fibres – drips, drips, drips into a pool. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Steve McQueen
Art

Steve McQueen

This is heavy art. The deeper you go into Steve McQueen’s exhibition, the more each work seems to weigh down on your shoulders. Which won’t surprise anyone who’s seen the English artist’s Oscar-winning films. Whether dealing with sexual addiction in ‘Shame’ or the brutal history of slavery in ‘12 Years a Slave’, he likes to drop a titanic, hulking weight on you and force you to confront it. His visual art’s no different. Each work here hits with a thud. One of the first is a slideshow of images selected by NASA to be sent into space to represent life on earth. Sunsets, music, art, maths. No poverty, conflict, disease or pain. It’s an important opening statement, because the rest of the art here is built to totally undermine that veneer of pleasantness. 'Static' is a huge screen showing a helicopter’s eye view of the Statue of Liberty right after it re-opened post-9/11. You spin around it, taking in the streaked copper degradation to its serious, austere face. The liberty it once promised, the freedom and welcoming embrace, all decaying right in front of you. McQueen’s fingers poke and prod at actress Charlotte Rampling’s eye in a video nearby, dancing between tenderness and violence. He tugs viciously at his own nipple in another closeup work. It’s all too close, too tense. ‘Western Deep’ sends you down on a claustrophobic, endless journey into the world’s deepest gold mine: a grim film of grim working conditions which exist only because human greed demands it. ‘Ashes’ is

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
1 out of 5 stars
Picasso and Paper
Art

Picasso and Paper

Of all the things the world needs in 2020, another effing Picasso show is not one of them. There have been countless major Pablo exhibitions in London over the past decade. Hell, I’m tired of typing the word Picasso, let alone looking at the bloke’s art. But the British public seems to have the same appetite for Pablo as it does for binge drinking and vomiting on the high street on a Saturday night, and British art institutions just can’t seem to stop pulling the Picasso pints. Now the RA is offering up a little snifter of the great Spanish artist’s works on paper. But – annoyingly and obviously – it’s still great, because Picasso is great. Of course he is, the bastard. And he was as obsessed with paper as he was with every other material. Throughout his career he used it for sketches, preparatory drawings, etchings and full-blown works. He drew on scraps of paper, on envelopes and newsprint, and some of it is stunning. Even the animal cut-outs from when he was nine years old are good. And by the time he moved to Paris in his late teens he was unstoppable. ‘The Frugal Meal’ is a heart-wrenching etching of desolate misery, ‘Woman with Lock of Hair’ is a morass of blue sadness. His Rose Period brings stony faces peering out of ochre walls before the influence of African art sets everything bursting apart into the birth of cubism. There are inventive cut-outs and collages of newsprint and coloured paper, facial features exploding into geometric shapes. The work is a whirlw

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
1 out of 5 stars
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. And if nothing else, you have to admit they had taste. The artists they commissioned were the masters of their fields – the greatest miniaturists, portraitists and textile designers of their generations – and now they were in the employ of Westerners. Their work has always been anonymised as ‘Company Painting’, but now, here, the artists are taking centre stage. There’s compromise involved in that transaction. The patrons didn’t want traditional painting, they wanted watercolours on English paper, they wanted European art, but had to get it with local artists. So Indian artists used European materials, twisting Eastern forms into Western shapes. The best work is botanical and zoological. The swirling yam by Chuni Lall, the spiralling squash by Rungiah, the hungry stork by Shaikh Zain ud-Din, the cheeky bat with a boner by an artist from the circle of Bhawani Das. The composition of textile designers, the microscopic detail of miniaturists, it’s all here. Yellapah of Vellore captures ascetics and pujaris, but soldiers in British uniform, too. Ghulam Ali Khan paints dense groups o

Time Out says
4 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.

Titian: Love, Desire, Death
Art

Titian: Love, Desire, Death

For the first time in more than 400 years, Titian’s six mythological paintings are going to be reunited. Based on the Greek myths recorded by Ovid, the exhibited artworks include ‘Diana and Actaeon’ and ‘Diana and Callisto’, both favourites of the artist Lucian Freud (he once described Diana's "amazing toes" and re-painted one of his own nudes after seeing how Titian tackled a belly button). When they were painted, Titian called them "Poesie", which means they're the visual art version of poetry. Whatever word you want to use, the simple fact is this: they're stunning. Don't miss. 

Cao Fei: Blueprints
Art

Cao Fei: Blueprints

Cao Fei's multimedia artworks crystalise the dissociative weirdness of the pumped-up urban environment in her native China. There is, however, plenty that people from all over the globe will relate to, including her take on virtual, online worlds vs 'real life'. This immersive, site-specific installation at the Serpentine is made up of new and existing works by the artist. 

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. 

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

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