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Five really, really great art shows coming to London this autumn

After a long summer break, London is about to explode into artistic life – here are five of the biggest and best exhibitions to look forward to

By Eddy Frankel

We're excited. Are you excited? Not only is London's poor attempt at summer nearly over, there's a wave of new art shows coming to town and, to state the obvious, they're all a massive deal (even if they are mainly by male artists). From Picasso and his portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, to the critic-whirlwinding Turner Prize at Tate Britain, here are five autumnal art shows that definitely won't disappoint. And if you can't wait that long, check out our top ten art exhibitions in London on now and go enjoy the last bits of 'summer'.

‘Project for Door (After Gaetano Pesce)’,Courtesy the artist. © Kyle Knodell
‘Project for Door (After Gaetano Pesce)’,Courtesy the artist. © Kyle Knodell
‘Project for Door (After Gaetano Pesce)’,Courtesy the artist. © Kyle Knodell

1. The Turner Prize at Tate Britain

Art Sculpture

Anthea Hamilton: ‘Project for Door’ (After Gaetano Pesce)’, 2015 installation view. Courtesy the artist

Get ready for the Daily Mail to have its annual opinion about art, as the most controversial prize in the world returns. Every year, people seem to get huffier and puffier about the Turner Prize shortlist, but screw them, it’s a great way to find out about the artists who are shaping contemporary art. And this year there’s a giant bum by Anthea Hamilton, a miniature train by Josephine Pryde, wobbly industrial-looking sculptures by Michael Dean and trashy yet beautiful domestic constructions by Helen Marten. It all looks fascinating and, more importantly, fun.

2. Beyond Caravaggio at the National Gallery

Art Painting

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio: 'The Taking of Christ', 1602. © The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

Caravaggism. It may sound like something you need an ointment for, but don’t worry, it’s a far more pleasant prospect than that. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was one of the most important painters of the Baroque period, and the popular style he pioneered – big, bold paintings filled with amazingly dramatic lighting, dominated by huge swathes of black and dark red – became known as Caravaggism. This show pulls together important works by Caravaggio and those he influenced. It looks like a proper blockbuster, no ointment required.

3. Abstract Expressionism at the RA

Art Painting

Jackson Pollock: ‘Blue poles’, 1952. © The Pollock-Krasner Foundation

Ah, abstract expressionism, the Ronseal of art genres: artists being really expressive, but, you know, in an abstract way, right? Yep, but it’s more exciting than that sounds. In fact, this 1950s American movement is associated with some of the biggest names in art, such as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Those artists made vital, passionate, hugely influential art, and this show will feature prime examples of their work. Big hitters don’t get any bigger than this, and the Royal Academy has pulled together some seriously droolworthy loans.

4. Picasso Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery

Art Painting

Pablo Picasso: ‘Portrait of Olga Picasso’, 1923. © Succession Picasso/DACS London

There was nothing Pablo Picasso couldn’t do – except for monogamy and keeping his hair, obvs. He was a true modern master, turning his hand at various points to sculpture, printmaking, poetry and ceramics, but it was with a paintbrush in his hand that he was truly untouchable. This show promises to bring together more than 80 works depicting the artist’s friends, family and many, many lovers. From simple, realist images to whacked-out cubist visions, this show runs the whole gamut of Picasso’s periods, and may just be one of the shows of the year.
Frieze Sculpture Park 2014: KAWS  Galerie Perrotin.
Frieze Sculpture Park 2014: KAWS  Galerie Perrotin.
Photo: Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze.

5. Frieze and Frieze Masters

Frieze Sculpture Park 2014: KAWS Galerie Perrotin © Linda Nylind/Frieze

Whip out your cheque book, then immediately put it away, because there’s not much you’re going to be able to afford here at the biggest art fair of the year. Frieze and Frieze Masters (one concentrating on contemporary art, the other on older stuff) are taking over Regent’s Park again with a four-day party that attracts all the biggest galleries and artists in the world. But it’s not just for the moneyed and the glamorous, Frieze is open to everyday slobs too, and is a dream come true for anyone who wants to see loads of hugely valuable classic art and the big stars of the future. Slip on your finest frock, grab a glass of champagne and hobnob with the stars. This is art at its most glam.

Find more upcoming London art shows


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