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Art

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

The 50 best galleries in London
Art

The 50 best galleries in London

Separated by size and including institutions like the National Gallery to integral upstarters like the White Cube, we present the best places to see art in London.  

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. 

Here are all the weird things you’ll see at the Franz West exhibition at Tate Modern
News

Here are all the weird things you’ll see at the Franz West exhibition at Tate Modern

Tate Modern’s latest solo show is dedicated to Franz West, an Austrian artist known for deliberately destroying his artworks if anyone said they were beautiful. 

Late-night opening hours at London museums and galleries
Museums

Late-night opening hours at London museums and galleries

Drinks with the dinosaurs? Partying next to a painting? London's museums and galleries cram their evening schedules with music, films, talks and more. Here's our guide to 'Lates' you'll want to turn up early to. 

The nine art exhibitions you need to see in 2019
Art

The nine art exhibitions you need to see in 2019

This year is shaping up to be an amazing year for art. Here are the exhibitions our Art editors are most looking forward to.

The latest art reviews

A Tale of Mother’s Bones: Grace Pailthorpe, Reuben Mednikoff and the Birth of Psychorealism
Art

A Tale of Mother’s Bones: Grace Pailthorpe, Reuben Mednikoff and the Birth of Psychorealism

We’ve all got mummy issues and daddy issues. Grace Pailthorpe and Reuben Mednikoff wanted to do more than just prove their parents wrong, though, they wanted to use their work to explore childhood trauma and how it manifests throughout life. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Chloe Wise: Not That We Don't
Art

Chloe Wise: Not That We Don't

Chloe Wise paints beautiful images of absolute dickheads. The young Canadian artist’s lush, detailed images are filled with aloof, snooty, art school layabouts. The real dregs of creative society; blue rinse beauties and hip young things in vintage sportswear with wanky haircuts and tiny moustaches. It’s like being at the worst party in Camberwell ever. 

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
William Eggleston: 2¼
Art

William Eggleston: 2¼

The title refers to inches: two and a quarter inches (stop sniggering at the back). Medium-format cameras use 2.25-inch square negatives. You can blow them up real big, and the quality is amazing. US photography legend William Eggleston isn’t usually associated with this format, but these pictures, taken in 1977 are as glowingly, troubling beautiful as any of his work, doused in a light that’s sweet and sickly as barbecue glaze. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now
Art

Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now

You know a gallery is clutching at straws when they bring Freud into the mix. ‘How are we going to explain why we’ve put all these paintings in a room?’ ‘Errr, can we just say it’s because of Freud? No one’s actually read anything by him, they’ll never know we’re just trying to flog a load of self-portraits.’ That’s what’s happened here. 

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

Pierre Bonnard: The Colour of Memory
Art

Pierre Bonnard: The Colour of Memory

Some paintings seem to shimmer with light, but Pierre Bonnard’s breath-taking images of landscapes, domestic scenes, crowds and bathing women absolutely shake with it. And not just light. They hum with sexuality, vibrate with tension, pulsate with melancholy and almost strobe with colour, colour, colour. 

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver
Art

Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver

Big isn’t always better. Not here, anyway, because this is a show full of tiny, tiny, tiny paintings, and they are gorgeous; achingly small and stunningly intricate portraits of Elizabethan royals, courtiers and poshos by the masters of the form, Isaac Oliver and Nicholas Hilliard. Miniatures – defined not by their size, weirdly, but by their medium: watercolour and bodycolour on vellum, like chunks of illuminated manuscript – were for the rich. They were shows of wealth for the commissioners, and shows of skill for the artists. These tiny works weren’t for mass consumption, they were luxurious objects for the few. The pieces by Oliver and Hilliard that have survived the centuries are the most intimate looks at Elizabethan life that exist. With magnifying glass in hand, you stumble through the darkened gallery, moving from case to case to go eye to eye with Sir Walter Raleigh (who, by the way, was well fit), Elizabeth I and the greatest artists, poets and writers of the time. It’s sort of like flicking through a 450-year-old copy of Tatler or Hello! But instead of the daughter of Lady Whatsherchops vomming outside Mahiki, it’s the most dazzlingly detailed mini painting you’ll ever see – the clothing, the skin, the eyes – it’s staggering. This is as close as you’ll ever get to Elizabethan celebs. And close is the key. You’re forced right up to the paintings to get the details. The best of them are expressive and witty, and many are full of symbolism: a bloke on a background

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
The Renaissance Nude
Art

The Renaissance Nude

Before smartphones, sending a nude was seriously hard work. There were no quick pics in the bathroom mirror in renaissance Europe; instead, they had to rely on good old-fashioned pen and ink. This neat little show – dedicated largely to drawings, engravings and woodcuts from the time – explores the different ways that the nude was used back in the middle of the last millennium. The most obvious function for nudity was as a symbol of purity and vulnerability. There’s Christ, his face and body twisted and greyed, waiting for flagellation in an insanely weird Jan Gossaert work; there’s a satyr mourning a beautiful injured nymph in a Piero di Cosimo image; there’s the pristine Saint Barbara having a breast chopped off in a properly grim Konrad Von Vechta painting. Then there’s the nude as a symbol of pre-Fall of Man innocent beauty, like in the mythical works of Titian and Dosso Dossi. Piousness, heroism, religion; chuck in the anatomical obsession of the stunning Raphael and Michelangelo drawings and you get a general sense of what nudes were for. But then things get a little… sexy. Beyond the religiosity and puritanism, the nude was used for ulterior motives. Some of these works are unambiguously pornographic. Phyllis rides Aristotle around a garden in a Hans Baldung Grien woodcut; a scholar has a wet dream about Venus in an Albrecht Dürer engraving; a young couple canoodle and grope in a Veneziano painting. And it’s not all hetero thigh-rubbing: Dürer shows two men exch

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Don McCullin
Art

Don McCullin

Heads up: this is a difficult show. It’s difficult because it documents in crisp detail some of the most shameful aspects of humanity over the last 60-odd years. It’s difficult because a lot of the images here were commissioned by newspapers and magazines to show their readers those shameful aspects of humanity, and were never meant to be coolly appraised in a big art gallery: they were meant to be spattered with the cornflakes you’d just choked over. And it’s difficult because it’s long and tiring, and you might feel a bit differently about yourself if – as I did – you skipped some photos of Bangladeshi cholera victims and starving Biafran toddlers because you needed the loo. I’m being glib: it’s a defence. Over his career, Don McCullin has photographed things most people don’t want to think about, never mind see. Bloody, foul, repellent conflicts in The Congo, Cyprus, Cambodia, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Vietnam and Beirut. Many of his images are iconic: his ‘Shell-shocked US Marine, Battle of Hué’ (1968) is a defining image of twentieth-century warfare, not just of Vietnam. McCullin helped invent the war photographer cliché that’s used to sell SUVs and beard trimmers – a modest non-combatant superhero, risking his life to bring you the TRUTH. Hell, there’s even a Nikon camera of his here that took a bullet for him in Cambodia. Don’t get me wrong: McCullin is a magical, intuitive photographer. Almost every picture here is beautifully composed, lit and shot. It’s just hard

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
How Chicago! Imagists 1960s & 70s
Art

How Chicago! Imagists 1960s & 70s

While the world was patting New York, LA and London on the back for inventing pop art and conceptualism back in the late ’60s, a group of artists in Chicago were too busy having the time of their lives to care. The Chicago Imagists are criminally under-known – a bunch of friends turning acid trips and comic strips into vivid, hilarious, ridiculous painting – but this exhibition should go some way towards changing that. The ins and outs of the various groups involved in the Imagists are a bit of a mindmelter. They were separated into The Hairy Who, The Monster Roster, The Non-plussed Some and countless other confusing denominations, all of whom took part in group shows in Chicago. Forget it: what matters is that the artists that came out of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago at that time created work that reflected their time better than pretty much anyone. This was art that embodied the brutal rollicking whirlpool of post-Summer of Love America. The wars, the anger, the drugs; they’re all exposed here in this show in gruesome cartoonish glory. The main take-away is that the Imagists created pop art without the po-faced conceptualism and consumerist drive. Instead, they used garish colours, cartoon imagery and rib-nudging humour to warp, twist and mutate everyday American life. And it’s amazing. Barbara Rossi creates swirling, amorphous semi-abstract figures, like hyper-coloured humans made of stuffed tights; Ed Paschke’s luminous, radioactive portraits of freaks g

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
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
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