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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

Liz Johnson Artur 'Burgess Park' (2010) Image courtesy of the artist.
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Liz Johnson Artur

icon-location-pin South London Gallery, Camberwell
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Astonishingly, this is the first UK solo show for Liz Jonhson Artur, a London-based, Russian-Ghanaian photographer, who has been documenting the African diaspora for three decades. 

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Philip Guston. Private Collection, London © Philip Guston. Photo: Richard Ivey
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Artists I Steal From

icon-location-pin Thaddaeus Ropac, Mayfair
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Summer group shows in London galleries are the worst. They’re just naff excuses to sell leftover art in the quiet months, helmed by some curator who’s insisted on writing something on the wall about how the show focuses on physical spatiality or the violence of poetics or some shit. Urgh. 

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Alejandro Hoppe Chile (b. 1961) 'Funeral de Rodrigo Rojas de Negri, Santiago' (1986) Gelatin silver print Vintage print
Art

Urban Impulses: Latin American Photography From 1959 - 2016

icon-location-pin The Photographers' Gallery Café, Soho
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It’s easy to take photography for granted. In fact, it’s easy to get sick of photography. But as this show of Latin American photography from 1959 to 2016 makes clear, cameras have long served a more important function than capturing the light bouncing off an acai berry bowl. 

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Oscar Murillo 'Untitled (news)' (2016 - 19) © Oscar Murillo. Image courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner
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Oscar Murillo

icon-location-pin David Zwirner, Mayfair
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Oscar Murillo is hyped. Or he was. Straight out of art school, people were buying the Colombia-born artist’s abstract paintings for huge amounts of money. He was touted as the next big thing, the future of abstraction, the saviour of painting, yadda, yadda, yadda. It was all bullshit, obviously. 

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Wolfgang Tillmans 'Greifbar 77' (2018) © Wolfgang Tillmans. Image courtesy of Maureen Paley, London
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Wolfgang Tillmans

icon-location-pin Maureen Paley, Bethnal Green
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Wolfgang Tillmans’s giant Tate survey show back in 2017 was a little overwhelming. It was a whole person on display; his passions, his art, his personality. You were dwarfed by the photographer and his life. 

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Francis Bacon 'Two Figures with a Monkey' (1973) © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved, DACS/Artimage (2019) Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd. Image courtesy of Gagosian
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Francis Bacon: Couplings

icon-location-pin Gagosian Gallery, Mayfair
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You can’t imagine that having sex with Francis Bacon was very pleasant. And if this jaw-dropping little collection of paintings of male bodies pre-, during and post-intimacy is anything to go by, it definitely wasn’t gentle. The figures Bacon depicted in these works – some of which haven’t been seen since the 1970s – are writhing fleshy masses, their teeth bared, muscles taught. 

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Faith Ringgold, ‘The Flag is Bleeding #2 (American Collection #6)’, 1997 Courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London © 2018 Faith Ringgold / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
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Faith Ringgold

icon-location-pin Serpentine Gallery, Hyde Park
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Art is a weapon. I mean, not always. Sometimes it’s just something pretty for rich people’s walls. But in the hands of octogenarian American artist and activist Faith Ringgold, art is a weapon. Art is a way of fighting back. 

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Yang Fudong Dawn Breaking - A Museum Film Project 2018 36 days Durational Performance Filming scene Copyright Yang Fudong Courtesy the artist, Long Museum (Shanghai, West Bund) and Marian Goodman Gallery
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Yang Fudong: Beyond God and Evil

icon-location-pin Marian Goodman Gallery, Soho
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There’s something not quite right in Yang Fudong’s glitzy Chinese historical movie. You can see the wires the fighters are flying on, the rails the cameras are moving on, the places where the set ends. A camera keeps cutting in front of your view of the action, people with smartphones keep walking into shot. It’s a mess. 

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Jo Spence 'A Picture of Health: Property of Jo Spence?' (1982) Collaboration with Terry Dennett © The Estate of the Artist. Image courtesy of Richard Saltoun Gallery, London
Art

Jo Spence and Oreet Ashery: Misbehaving Bodies

icon-location-pin Wellcome Collection, Euston
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Walking into ‘Misbehaving Bodies’, the Wellcome Collection’s free exhibition of artworks by Jo Spence (1934-1992) and Oreet Ashery (b. 1966), you first notice two giant, bright pink teddy bears with extra-long arms. The terror-inducing teds sit on the floor under draping canopies of the same intestinal colour. 

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© the Estate of László Moholy-Nagy. Image courtesy of the Estate of László Moholy-Nagy
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László Moholy-Nagy

icon-location-pin Hauser & Wirth, Mayfair
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László Moholy-Nagy set things in motion back in the ’30s that are still picking up speed today. The Hungarian modernist fused art and technology, creating a body of work that explored the base, elemental, constituent parts of our aesthetic world. This small show brings together a handful of Moholy-Nagy’s collages, paintings and sculptures, and make a tidy case for him as one of the most relevant of modernists. The first WOW moment is a set of three enamel panels comprised of simple black, yellow and red lines on white backgrounds. Moholy-Nagy had these produced industrially based on his own graph paper drawings. They’re perfect: impeccably neat, almost digitally clean – a proto-Photoshop bit of visual perfection. Next is his ‘Light-Space-Modulator’, produced with engineering firm AEG. Every hour it flicks on for three minutes, its prisms and grates sending myriad shadows dancing across the room. It’s an industrially-produced light machine, a contraption for creating untouchable shapes. It’s like the best disco ball ever. Surrounding these pivotal, influential works are experimental collages, photographs and paintings. Moholy-Nagy was relentless in toying with form, light and technology. The show’s a little weak on explanatory information, but you can see past that. If this work was made right now it would be good, but it was made way back then, so it’s really good.

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