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Courtesy Cindy Sherman, Metro Pictures and Spruth Magers

London art exhibitions calendar

Our handy collection of all the big, small and scary art exhibitions coming to town in 2020

By Time Out London Art

Hello eager art friend, want to do some planning ahead? Well, you've come to the right place with our one-stop shop for all the art exhibitions, big or small, coming to London in 2019 over the next couple of months. From exciting new gallery openings to upcoming London photography shows, keep your eyes peeled and your paintbrush poised for as much art as your diary can handle. Or, if you can’t wait that long, here's the best new art in London this week to satisfy those creative cravings sooner. 

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Art Opening This Month

Titian 'Rape of Europa' (1562) © Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.

Titian: Love, Desire, Death

Art National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

For the first time in more than 400 years, Titian’s six mythological paintings are going to be reunited. Based on the Greek myths recorded by Ovid, the exhibited artworks include ‘Diana and Actaeon’ and ‘Diana and Callisto’, both favourites of the artist Lucian Freud (he once described Diana's "amazing toes" and re-painted one of his own nudes after seeing how Titian tackled a belly button). When they were painted, Titian called them "Poesie", which means they're the visual art version of poetry. Whatever word you want to use, the simple fact is this: they're stunning. Don't miss. 

Andy Warhol 'Marilyn Diptych' (1962) Tate © 2019 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc / Artists Right Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London

Andy Warhol

Art Tate Modern, Bankside

Andy Warhol once declared that, 'In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes'. The American artist has, of course, had rather more than fifteen minutes himself and his popularity is as strong as ever, as this major retrospective proves. In between the soup cans and the slebs, visitors will be able to see his lesser-known portraits of black and latinx drag queens and trans women. You can also get hair inspo (or jealously) from the display of Warhol's amazing wigs. 

Cecil Beaton 'Anna May Wong', (c.1929) © The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby's

Cecil Beaton's Bright Young Things

Art National Portrait Gallery, Charing Cross Road

Britain's 'Bright Young Things' – famously satirized by Evelyn Waugh in Vile Bodies – take up residence in central London once again via the photos of Cecil Beaton. The photographer clambered up the social ladder to become the official and unofficial chronicaller of the wild-living upper classes. Fans of 'The Crown' will also know him as Queen Elizabeth's preferred snapper (he photographed the monarch and her family on numerous occasions). This exhibition will introduce you to the influencers of Beaton's day, an opulent bunch who never said no to a fancy hat, or five.  

Evelyn De Morgan
'The Gilded Cage' © De Morgan Collection. Image courtesy of De Morgan Foundation

The Enchanted Interior

Art Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London

The art historical motif of a beautiful woman in a beautiful room comes under scrutiny in this exhibition at London's Guildhall Art Gallery. The show features a heavy dose of Pre-Raphaelite paintings – including the under-rated Evelyn De Morgan whose artworks are also a highlight of the National Portrait Gallery's Pre-Raphaelite Sisters exhibition – plus Fiona Tan's contemporary artwork based on Rembrandt's daughter, Cornelia van Rijn.

Paul Gauguin 'Portrait of a Young Woman, Vaïte (Jeanne) Goupil' (1896) © Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen. Photo: Anders Sune Berg

Gauguin and the Impressionists

Art Royal Academy of Arts, Mayfair

Denmark's Ordrupgaard Collection is the result of an art-loving nineteenth-century couple who were not afraid to splash the cash on a bit of French Impressionism, even before others got the memo describing its genius. The highlights of their collection, which runs from the pre-impressionism of Gustav Courbet all the way through to the post-impressionisn of Paul Gauguin, travel to London's Royal Academy for a springtime exhibition in 2020. 

Introductions: Early Embodiment from A Countervailing Theory, (2019) © Toyin Ojih Odutola. Image courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Toyin Ojih Odutola: A Countervailing Theory

Art Barbican Centre, Barbican

Drawing, for Toyin Ojih Odutola, is a form of storytelling. These new works, exhibited around the 90-metre sweep of the Barbican Curve, form part of an epic series relaying an imagined ancient myth. The artist uses pencil, pastel, ballpoint pen and charcoal to create the mega-sized portraits that are as delicate as they are beautiful. 


Not Without My Ghosts: The Artist As Medium

Art Drawing Room, Elephant & Castle

Organised by the Hayward Gallery, this exhibition explores how artists from the 19th century onwards have used mediumship as part of their practice. Ranging from spiritual guidance to seances, trances and automatism, artists have used our friends on the other side to help them create visionary works for hundreds of years. This show, which is on in London prior to a national tour, starts with the wild and brilliant works of William Blake, before looking at Victorian spiritualist artists through to contemporary practitioners. 

Hogarth: London Voices, London Lives

Art Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery, Ealing

William Hogarth's cautionary visual tale of vice and excess, The Rake's Progress, returns to Pitzhanger Manor, the expansive London property it was originally bought for in the early 1800s. The artwork will be shown alongside a host of new works (including films, performance, sound works and photography). Artists include Faisal Abdu’Allah, Ruth Ewan, James Fritz, Oliver Payne & Nick Relph, John Riddy, and debbie tucker green.

Art Opening Next Month

Artemisia Gentileschi 'Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria' (about 1615-17) © The National Gallery, London


Art National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

In July 2018, the National Gallery acquired ‘Self Portrait as St Catherine of Alexandria’ by Artemisia Gentileschi. It is the first painting they've owned by the Baroque artist and it very slightly boosted their collection of works by female artists (shamefully, the gallery only owns 20 artworks by female artists in a collection totalling 2,300). They’re now re-doubling their efforts to promote Artemisia’s talents with this major solo show. Along with the 'St Catherine' image, the exhibition will feature major loans from private and public collections, including several paintings only recently attributed to the artist. It's art not to miss-isa. Sorry.

Eileen Agar 'Figures in a Garden' (1979-81)
© the artist. Photo: © Tate

The Botanical Mind: Art, Mysticism and the Cosmic Tree

Art Camden Arts Centre, Finchley Road

The mystical, mythical possibilities of the humble tree are explored in this very calming-sounding exhibition at the Camden Arts Centre. A group show of visionary, surrealist, modernist and outsider artists, it considers the spiritual, deep-rooted significance of plant-life for all cultures and their artists. 


Derek Jarman: My garden's boundaries are the horizon

Art Garden Museum, Lambeth

Derek Jarman discovered Prospect Cottage, his now-iconic home on the Dungeness beach, when out filming with Tilda Swinton. After purchasing the fisherman's hut, he set about turning the garden into a living work of horticultural art. This sincerely lovely-looking exhibition at the Garden Museum tells the story of Jarman's garden, including how it directly influenced his artworks (some of which were made from found objects from the beach). Prospect Cottage is currently part of a campaign by the Art Fund to save it for the nation. 

Ai Weiwei: History of Bombs

Art Imperial War Museum, Lambeth

Artist and activist, Ai Weiwei, takes over the Imperial War Museum's huge atrium with a new site-specific artwork. Although the title focuses on conflict, the work itself considers human migration as a result of war and the impact of politics on the individual. The artwork is part of the museum's 'Refugees' season.


Christina Quarles: In Likeness

Art Contemporary art South London Gallery, Camberwell

Christina Quarles’s brilliant, bright, bendy, twisty, lumpy, bumpy paintings of bodies are coming to a major London institution, and about time. The American artist has shown at Pilar Corrias gallery before, and was included in the Whitechapel Gallery's figurative painting show, but this is her first major solo presentation and it promises to be seriously good. Quarles's figures bend and morph, painted with a wide variety of techniques and colours, defying easy categorisation, just like their creator: a queer woman born to a black father and white mother. So all those painterly ideas have conceptual reasoning, making for some beautiful, smart and hugely appealing contemporary painting.

Jerwood/FVU Awards 2020

Art Jerwood Space, Southwark

This year's Jerwood/FVU Awards show features moving-image works by Guy Oliver and Reman Sadani. The artists responded to the theme 'hindsight', specifically how ideas shift as different generations adopt and adapt them. 

Future Art Exhibitions

Zanele Muholi 'Ntozakhe II, Parktown' (2016) Image courtesy of the artist and Stevenson Gallery © Zanele Muholi

Zanele Muholi

Art Tate Modern, Bankside

This mid-career survey of South Aftrican visual activist Zanele Muholi captures the breadth and power of an extensive body of work dedicated to presenting a multifaceted view of black LGBTQI+ individuals. Muholi’s long-running projects include a substantial collection of self-portraits, many of which were made on trips abroad. The artist’s experiences of racial profiling at airports and hotels inspired a phenomenal series of images referencing and commemorating episodes in their personal history and the political landscape of South Africa. Also included in the show are examples of Muholi’s portraiture, many of which show black lesbians or trans people. 

Magdalena Abakanowicz 'Abakan Red' (1969) Tate. © Magdalena Abakanowicz Foundation

Magdalena Abakanowicz

Art Tate Modern, Bankside

Magdalena Abakanowicz’s ‘Abkans’ are massive woven sculptures that look like the type of bizarre, organic creation you’d expect to discover buried in the deepest reaches of a rain forest. Made in the 60s and 70s, the ‘Abkans’ cemented the artist’s reputation - as well they should’ve, because these towering, raw shapes are absolutely brilliant. And, as luck would have it, you can see a whole load of them in Tate Modern’s huge Blavatnik Building in summer 2020. If that wasn’t reason enough to go, they’re also showing some of the Polish artist’s other large-scale works, including ‘War Games’, sculptures making use of felled tree trunks. 

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye 'Elephant' (2014) © Lynette Yiadom -Boakye

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

Art Tate Britain, Millbank

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s timeless portraits of fictional black figures have seen her work compared to artistic greats including Goya, John Singer-Sargent and Edouard Manet. This exhibition contains paintings from 2003 to now, and shows how Yiadom-Boakye has refined a unique style of figurative painting that pays homage to history, while also remaining instantly recognisable as her own. The people and scenes in her artworks frequently challenge mainstream ideas about identity, race and art.

Rosa Bonheur 'Brizo, A Shepherd's Dog' (1864)
© The Wallace Collection, London

Faithful and Fearless: Portraits of Dogs

Art Wallace Collection, Marylebone

The cute and cuddly, rough and jowly splendour of the canine world comes to the Wallace Collection in an exhibition destined to show that dogs are far more preferable to look at than humans. The London gallery has a fair amount of four-legged chums in its permanent collection (if you know where to look, dogs are no stranger to a paintbrush and easel). This exhibition will go beyond that, cataloguing an obsession with fuzzy-wuzzy faces that goes back way further than pug memes.

Paul Cézanne 'L'Estaque' (1879-83) © 2019. Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence

Cézanne: The Rock and Quarry Paintings

Art Royal Academy of Arts, Mayfair

Paul Cézanne loved rocks. Big rocks, small rocks, some-as-big-as-your-head rocks. He liked them so much, he spent a lot of time studying the ones he painted in the French landscape. And that’s basically the entire concept behind this exhibition: Cézanne’s paintings of rocks. Which could result in a pretty ‘meh’ show, only it won’t. When you’re dealing with artistic genius like Cézanne’s, even a subject like ‘rocks’ becomes impossibly fascinating. The show contains some of the artist’s most beautiful landscapes, including ones painted in the Forest of Fontainebleau and the abandoned Bibémus Quarry in Provence.

JMW Turner 'Rain, Steam and Speed - the Great Western Railway' exhibited 1844 The National Gallery, London © The National Gallery, London

Turner’s Modern World

Art Tate Britain, Millbank

J.M.W. Turner is now one of the most famous and well-established painters to have ever come out of Britain. Which can make it hard to appreciate just what a radical Turner was during his lifetime. His loose, loose and looser-still approach to landscape painting repeatedly shocked the painterly establishment, but it wasn’t just his artistic style that was innovative. Turner was fascinated by the new inventions of the Industrial Revolution, as captured in the 100% glorious ‘Rail, Steam and Speed’. And - guess what? - you can see it irl in this show!! Which basically justifies the price of an entry ticket on its own accord. Only this being Turner, you’re also guaranteed a whole heap of other genius works too. (Can we stress enough how much we love a bit of Turner painting a train?)

Maria Bartuszová 'Untitled' (1985) Tate © Estate of Maria Bartuszova

Maria Bartuszová

Art Tate Modern, Bankside

Maria Baruszová was a Slovakian artist who lived and worked in Košice, the second-largest city in her home country. This major retrospective concentrates on her output from 1960s onwards, when she first started making plaster sculptures by pouring the liquid into rubber balloons. She would then shape plaster either by hand or by submerging it in water. This resulted in a series of beautifully delicate sculptures that often look like egg shells, spiders’ webs or birds’ nests. Others look like sexy, undressed body parts or folds of skin. The artist also liked to photograph her creations in natural settings, highlighting their connection to the rural landscape. Summary: gorgeous, one-of-a-kind art by an artist deserving greater recognition. 

Auguste Rodin 'Study for The Thinker' (1881) Musée Rodin, S.01168


Art Tate Modern, Bankside

In 2018, the British Museum staged a fascinating exhibition placing the sculptures of Auguste Rodin alongside the Ancient Greek masterpieces that inspired them. This major exhibition at Tate Modern takes a different approach, emphasizing just how radical Rodin was. In a sort-of ‘behind the scenes’ approach, the show draws attention to the artist’s use of clay and plaster in producing his best-known marble and bronze creations. For fans of Rodin (and really, who isn’t one?) this is a great opportunity to see a lot of material from France’s Musee Rodin without getting on the Eurostar. 

Marina Abramović ‘Artist Portrait with a Candle (C)’, from the series 'Places of Power' (2013) Brazil. Image courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archives © Marina Abramović

Marina Abramović: After Life

Art Royal Academy of Arts, Mayfair

Everyone’s favourite performance artist, Marina Abramovć, will return to London with a major exhibition at the Royal Academy spanning her iconic career. More than 50 works are going to be on display, including some brand new ones, including the one everyone’s talking about, ‘Imponderabilia’. The idea is simple: two naked performers, one male and one female, stand either side of a doorway. To pass through, visitors must squeeze sideways through the narrow space facing either the man or the woman. When it comes to London next autumn, the now 72-year-old Abramović will not perform it herself (the artist will be present in other ways). Instead, a selection of younger performers trained by the artist will take over proceedings. Visitors will also experience a selection of her other famous works, plus some brand new ones designed specifically for the RA. 

Angelica Kauffman 'Self-portrait of the Artist hesitating between the Arts of Music and Painting' (1794) © National Trust Images/John Hammond

Angelica Kauffman

Art Royal Academy of Arts, Mayfair

One of two female founding members of the RA (Mary Moser was the other), Angelica Kauffman was a portraitist and history painter who established a celebrated career in 18th-century London despite, you know, being a woman and all that. A close friend and contemporary of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Kauffman’s art is lushly-coloured with lots of soft-focus females looking like they’ve just come indoors after a hearty walk through a Capability Brown landscape. They’re also crammed with mythological and Grecian references, and on the whole well worth going to take a look at.

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© Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

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