Art

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

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.

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. 

The latest art reviews

Phyllida Barlow: Cul-de-Sac
Art

Phyllida Barlow: Cul-de-Sac

Visiting the Royal Academy can make a person feel small. That naked Grecian sculpture? It’s massive. Those ceilings? They’re towering. The staircase? Gargantuan! And you, tiny insignificant creature, are worthy only of cowering in the corridors of this prodigious Palace of Art. You’re small and it’s big. But the bigness of the RA just got even bigger, thanks to Phyllida Barlow’s new exhibition ‘cul-de-sac’. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Franz West
Art

Franz West

Franz West took all the stuffy, conservative formality of the art world and told everyone where to shove it. The austere reverence of the gallery, the contemplative deification of the artist: West just couldn’t be arsed with it. Instead, the anarchic Austrian artist (1947-2012) created a body of work that’s playful and ludicrous, that feels like one drink too many in a Viennese bar, the art equivalent of a hangover you somehow don’t regret. 

Time Out says
4 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.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Erwin Wurm: New Work
Art

Erwin Wurm: New Work

It’s hard to think deep thoughts when you’re stood in a bucket with another bucket on your head. But that’s Austrian artist Erwin Wurm’s big trick: he gets your brain going by pushing things into the absurd. Just look at the Austin Mini in the main gallery. Wurm has plumped it up, fed it way too many burgers and left it obese. Its sides bulge, its chassis overhangs itself. It’s a ridiculous, silly thing. 

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
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
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Daria Martin: Tonight the World
Art

Daria Martin: Tonight the World

New installation in the Barbican's Curve by video artist Daria Martin. The installation is inspired by dream diaries kept by the artist's grandmother, a survivor of the Holocaust. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Miroslaw Balka: Random Access Memory
Art

Miroslaw Balka: Random Access Memory

On first impression, it might look like Polish conceptual art behemoth Miroslaw Balka has made a couple of massive radiators. And on second impression too. And third. That’s because he sort of has. Both spaces of White Cube’s central London gallery have been sliced in two by enormous sheets of heated corrugated iron. You can’t walk around them or see over the one-metre gaps at the top. You’re penned in. Or maybe being kept out. Balka’s radiators are border walls and prison fences. They’re symbols of every kind of physical barrier you can think of. They force narratives out of you. Dwarfed by them, you become a prisoner of conscience, or an immigrant at the US border. There are millions of stories here, millions of chunks of history rippling out like waves of heat. At first, the temperature is a little underwhelming. The fencing is heated to 45C, the temperature at which human blood coagulates. Coming in from the brittle cold of London’s winter, it’s actually quite nice, and not half as hot as the heating in my flat. But eventually you start to feel uncomfortable, the sweat starts trickling. You reach out and touch the work and it’s too hot, sticky, unreal, nasty. You realise you’re being attacked both physically and environmentally. That’s Balka’s greatest trick: turning something as simple as a sheet of corrugated iron into a tool of oppression and a trigger of memory and trauma. The longer you’re around it, the more it affects you, and the more you want to leave. It’s t

Time Out says
4 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
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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
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