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London art exhibitions calendar

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

Courtesy Cindy Sherman, Metro Pictures and Spruth Magers
By Time Out London Art |
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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. 

Art Opening This Month

Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen '7th Nov. 2001' Video still © Steve McQueen. Image courtesy of the artist, Thomas Dane Gallery and Marian Goodman Gallery
Art

Steve McQueen

Tate Modern, Bankside

This treat of an exhibition brings together immersive video and film installations by the Turner Prize- and Oscar-winning Steve McQueen made since 2000. Don't miss the chance to see 'Ashes 2002-2015', the artist's dual-screen film based on the life of a young fisherman, plus McQueen's overwhelming 'Caribs' Leap/Western Deep'.  The show overlaps with the Tate Britain's exhibition of McQueen's huge 'Year 3' project, involving photographing every Year 3 primary school child in London in the classic school photo format. 

Antonio Verrio 'The Sea Triumph of Charles II' (c.1674). Image courtesy of The Royal Collection Trust
Art

British Baroque: Power and Illusion

Tate Britain, Millbank

More is more. It's time to embrace the brilliant, bad and bonkers world of baroque, as it occurred on our own shores. Baroque, you say? In Britain? Admittedly far less known that its continental cousins, the 17th century saw a distinct version of baroque used to promote the power of the recently-restored monarchy. This exhibition contains several of the loans from stately homes who've got their baroques off the walls and into a public gallery for the first time. You'll also be able to see art created for Protestant and Catholic worship, plus some "heroic equestrian portraiture". 

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Kehinde Wiley
© 2019 Kehinde Wiley. Image courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery
Art

Kehinde Wiley: The Yellow Wallpaper

William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow

Kehinde Wiley, the man who painted Barack Obama, turns his attention to women he met in Dalston. The American artist, known for his portraits of black men and women on botanical backgrounds has long been inspired by the maximalist florals of William Morris and, in something of a coup for the institution, his latest collection are being displayed at the Walthamstow gallery dedicated to the Victorian maverick. Wiley's show takes its name from Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper', a now-classic novel about a young woman confined to one room after being diagnosed as an hysteric. The story's main theme of denying women freedom informs Wiley's images of powerful, modern black women and the complex world they live in.

Shirin Neshat
'Herbie Nelson' from 'Land of Dreams' series (2019). Image courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery, London
Art

Shirin Neshat: Land of Dreams

Goodman Gallery, Mayfair

For some of us, Shirin Neshat's first UK solo show in over two decades is the exhibition of our dreams. Handily, it's also named 'Land of Dreams' and contains the Iranian-born artist's latest series of photographic portraits and two video installations. In them, Neshat turns her attention to the bizarre new world of Trump's America, including its attitude towards immigrants like herself. One part of the series takes the form of a mass photographic project showing the many, many identities of people living in the US. After being printed, the photos are inscribed with Farsi calligraphy. 

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Charles Mahoney
'The Garden' (1950) courtesy of Liss Llewellyn
Art

Sanctuary: Artist-Gardeners 1919-1939

Garden Museum, Lambeth

Artists love gardens; gardens love artists. Learn more about the 'golden age' of this relationship in Britain between the world wars. The horrors of the recent conflict led people to eke a little bit of Eden out of their own backyards. And, after, turning their green plots into living works of art, they then immortalised their blooming masterpieces in paintings. Lovely.

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Donna Huanca
'Egeria' (2019) © the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery, London
Art

Donna Huanca: Wet Slit

Simon Lee, Mayfair

Take a deep breath. Donna Huaca's site-specific installation features painting, sculpture, oversized hanging sheets, sound design and... smell. Drawing on her Bolivian ancestry, the artist uses a perfume made from a holy wood native to South America. The scent is normally used in purification ceremonies but here accompanies images of female bodies in densely coloured, semi-abstract surroundings. 

Shara Hughes 'Bleeding Heart Finding The Light' (2019) Image courtesy of the artist, Pilar Corrias, London and Rachel Uffner, New York
Art

Shara Hughes: Unmanageable

Pilar Corrias, Fitzrovia

Based on her personal experience of helping friends deal with traumatic events, Shara Hughes turns the tradition of landscape painting on its head. Using manicured gardens as a metaphor for controlling mess, the horticulture in Hughes' paintings runs wild, sliding into psychedelic colours and swirling patterns.  

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Art, Contemporary art

Lars Fisk

Marlborough, Mayfair

Lars Fisk is a balls to the wall sort of artist. And not just balls to the wall, but balls to the floor, the grass, wherever. The American sculptor, you see, turns objects into balls. He’s made circular cottages, campervans and tractors. And now, in his new London exhibition, he’s showing off a bunch of new circular objects including some big circular lederhosen. Zehr gut. Finally, art for people with a phobia of right angles.

Dana Schutz, Imagine You and Me, 2018. © Dana Schutz. Courtesy the artist, Petzel Gallery, NY and Thomas Dane Gallery
Art, Contemporary art

Radical Figures: Painting in the New Millenium

Whitechapel Gallery, Whitechapel

If you had a penny for every time someone said that painting was over, you'd have a shit load of pennies. But year after year, decade after decade, artists keep finding new things to say with the medium. And the artists brought together here are some of the best of the new bunch. From Michael Armitage's paintings on bark paper to Tala Madani's ludicrously scatalogical images, this is  a show with a point to prove, and that point is that you should probably not say that painting is over. Ever.

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Art Opening Next Month

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

Titian: Love, Desire, Death

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
Art

Andy Warhol

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. 

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Aubrey Beardsley 'The Kiss of Judas' (1893) Image courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum
Art

Aubrey Beardsley

Tate Britain, Millbank

Aubrey Beardsley's sexy and scandalous drawings are an iconic part of late-Victorian British art. The hugely talented artist produced illustrations for, among other things, Oscar Wilde's Salomé, developing his iconic black and white images which continue to inspire artists today - most recently they were included in the V&A's Tim Walker show. Sadly, he died of TB aged just 25, making his originals even more precious. 

Cao Fei 'Nova' (2019) Video. Image courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Creative Space
Art

Cao Fei: Blueprints

Serpentine Gallery, Hyde Park

Cao Fei's multimedia artworks crystalise the dissociative weirdness of the pumped-up urban environment in her native China. There is, however, plenty that people from all over the globe will relate to, including her take on virtual, online worlds vs 'real life'. This immersive, site-specific installation at the Serpentine is made up of new and existing works by the artist. 

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

The Enchanted Interior

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.

Abbas Zahedi 'Rose and STEMM' (2019) Image courtesy the artist. Photo: Katarzyna Perlak
Art

Abbas Zahedi: How to make a how from a why?

South London Gallery, Camberwell

This new installation By Abbas Zahedi centres on a sound work made with musicians Saint Abdullah. The artist is interested in lamentation rites and how we make our final exists.  Note: the show is held in the South London Gallery's Fire Station space.

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Sophie Cundale 'The Near Room' (2020) (film still) Image courtesy of the artist and FVU
Art

Sophie Cundale: The Near Room

South London Gallery, Camberwell

'The Near Room' is a psychological melodrama about a professional boxer who nearly dies from being knocked-out. The sportsman's tale becomes entwined with the story of a queen suffering from the Cortard Delusion, a condition that causes sufferers to believe parts of their body, or their whole self, is already dead. The artist Sophie Cundale named the film after the mental space Muhammed Ali would inhabit during an intense fight. 

Shi Guowei 'Pine' (2016) © Mr. Xi Tao
Art

Among The Trees

Hayward Gallery, South Bank

Consider the tree. Stately dependable oak, spindly flamboyant acer, rampantly multiplying sycamore, even the oft-overlooked London plane: trees are just damn beautiful. Dedicate even more time to musing on their exceptional qualities with this group exhibition at the Hayward. Spanning painting, drawing, photography, sculpture and video installation, the show looks at how leaves, twigs, branches and canopies have been inspiring artsy types since they first sprouted happily from the earth, right up to the contemporary artists practicing today. Artists include Robert Adams, Aija-Liisa Ahtila, Tacita Dean, Peter Doig, Anya Gallaccio, Giuseppe Penone, Robert Smithson and Pascale Marthine Tayou.

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

Gauguin and the Impressionists

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
Art

Toyin Ojih Odutola: A Countervailing Theory

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. 

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Future Art Exhibitions

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

Zanele Muholi

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
Art

Magdalena Abakanowicz

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. 

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

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

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.

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

Artemisia

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.

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

Cézanne: The Rock and Quarry Paintings

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
Art

Turner’s Modern World

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?)

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

Maria Bartuszová

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

Rodin

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. 

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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
Art

Marina Abramović: After Life

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
Art

Angelica Kauffman

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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Find our favourite art exhibitions on now

© Tristan Fewings/Getty Images
Art

Top ten art exhibitions in London

Fancy seeing an art show this weekend but no idea where to go? Well look no further. You can't go wrong if you head down to one of our ten favourite art exhibitions taking place in the capital right now.

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