Free art in London

See great free art in London without splashing the cash on an admission fee
By Time Out London Art |
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Looking at great art needn't cost the same as buying great art. With a shed-load of free art exhibitions in London, wandering through sculptures, being blinded by neon or admiring some of the best photography in London needn't cost a penny. Here's our pick of the best free art exhibitions this week and beyond.

RECOMMENDED: explore our full guide to free London

Free art exhibitions in London

Tracey Emin 'It was all too Much' (2018) © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2017. Photo © White Cube (Theo Christelis)
Art

Tracey Emin: A Fortnight of Tears

icon-location-pin White Cube Bermondsey, The Borough
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You are inches from Tracey Emin’s face. You’re right there on the pillow next to her, watching her desperately wait for sleep to finally come. Emin suffers from insomnia, and takes selfies as she helplessly wrestles with it. She’s printed them two metres high and pasted them across the walls here. On the one hand, they’re terrifying, ridiculous, even a little stupid. But on the other, they’re… really good. 

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Liu Xiaodong 'Weight of Insomnia' (2018) © Liu Xiaodong Courtesy Lisson Gallery
Art

Liu Xiaodong: Weight of Insomnia

icon-location-pin Lisson Gallery, Lisson Grove
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When we imagine the impending robo-apocalypse, the day when the machines finally rise up to enslave the human race, we largely think of violence, nuclear wastelands and those big towers that shoot blue lightning bolts. But inside the Lisson Gallery, humanity is being tossed aside in a much more pleasant way. 

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Nicole Farhi 'Cybele' (2018) © the artist and Matt Pia
Art

Nicole Farhi: Folds

icon-location-pin Beaux Arts, Mayfair
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Nicole Farhi is into flesh origami. The concertinaed indents of a bent knee, the twisted softness of part-rotated belly fat, the puckered skin of a damn-it’s-cold areola, that kind of thing. To produce her new series of sculptures based on the bodily beauty of larger women, the artist made plaster casts directly from the physiques of two friends, then re-cast the results in bronze and Jesmonite. 

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Daria Martin 'Tonight the World' (2018) © Daria Martin. Image courtesy of Maureen Paley, London
Art

Daria Martin: Tonight the World

icon-location-pin Barbican Centre, Barbican
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A sad fact of life is that your dreams aren’t interesting to anyone but you. You think people will be fascinated by how last night you were trapped in a spider’s web, but the spider was your primary school teacher and you were naked except for a fez. But your dreams are as tedious to other people as their dreams are to you. So American artist Daria Martin has achieved the impossible by making her grandmother’s reveries into interesting art. 

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Miroslaw Balka 'Random Access Memory' (installation image) © Miroslaw Balka. Image courtesy of White Cube (Theo Christelis)
Art

Miroslaw Balka: Random Access Memory

icon-location-pin White Cube Mason's Yard, St James'
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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. 

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Hanna Moon 'Me and Tyrone for A Nice Magazine Issue 2' (2015) © Hanna Moon
Art

Hanna Moon & Joyce Ng: English as a Second Language

icon-location-pin Somerset House, Temple
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This joint exhibition is inspired by the Asian-born Londoners’ feeling of being ‘lost in translation’, in their new home and in the fashion industry. 

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The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton (Published 1621). Image courtesy of Bethlem Museum.jpg
Art

The Anatomy of Melancholy

icon-location-pin Bethlem Gallery and Museum of the Mind, West Wickham
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Robert Burton’s ‘The Anatomy of Melancholy’ was first published in 1621. The extensive handbook to misery was an unlikely seventeenth-century bestseller and has continued to provide inspiration to gloriously gloomy souls ever since, including Nick Cave, the crown prince of melancholia. This small exhibition at the Museum of the Mind is made up of paintings relating to Burton’s six categories. 

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Beatrice Gibson 'I Hope I'm Loud When I'm Dead' (2018)
Art

Beatrice Gibson: Crone Music

icon-location-pin Camden Arts Centre, Frognal
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‘I dreamt my daughter had become a fried egg…’ explains one of the interviewees in ‘Deux Soeurs Qui Ne Sont Pas Soeurs’, a new film by British artist Beatrice Gibson. The dream-recounting segment is typical of a work that, like a half-remembered scene snatched from the land of nod, both makes sense and doesn’t make sense. Or rather, it makes sense but mainly in the way that a feeling ‘makes sense’.

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McDermott & McGough (2017), 'The Oscar Wilde Temple', Church of the Village, New York . Image courtesy of the artists
Art

McDermott & McGough: The Oscar Wilde Temple

icon-location-pin Studio Voltaire, Clapham
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‘The Oscar Wilde Temple’ by McDermott & McGough is one of those artworks that’s difficult to ‘review’. Not because it isn’t beautiful, wonderfully detailed, clever in its use of art history or politically poignant. It is all of those things. But because this entirely immersive installation isn’t really intended to just be art. 

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Copyright Jenny Holzer and Tate
Art, Contemporary art

Artist Rooms: Jenny Holzer

icon-location-pin Tate Modern, South Bank
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American artist Jenny Holzer’s work is decades’ worth of statements, aphorisms, quotes and poetry. She takes words and sentences and plasters them over the streets, prints them on cups and condoms, engraves them into marble, and sends them stuttering at lightspeed along LED columns. 

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