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London art exhibitions calendar

Our handy collection of all the big, small and scary art exhibitions coming to town in 2019

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

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 Next Month

Marcus Gheeraerts II 'Portrait of a Woman in Red' (1620) © Tate
Art

Portraying Pregnancy

Foundling Museum, Bloomsbury

Until birth control became widely available, women in Britain and Northern Europe often spent most of their adult lives pregnant and/or nursing a young infant (*shudders*). You'd expect, then, to see lots of preggers women in art of a certain age. Only you don't. Historic pictures of pregnancy are surprisingly rare and even modern ones (like that stunning photo of a heavily-pregnant Beyoncé) still cause shock and awe in equal measure. This fascinating exhibition at the Foundling Museum brings together historic and contemporary artworks, some showing pregnancy in all its bountiful glory and others that magicked out the prominent bumps of their wealthy sitters. 

Pablo Picasso, 'Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe' after Manet I (1962) Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris) / Marine Beck-Coppola © Succession Picasso/DACS 2019
Art

Picasso and Paper

Royal Academy of Arts, Mayfair

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single year in the London art calendar cannot pass by without a solo exhibition of Pablo Picasso. This one, at the Royal Academy, is dedicated to the Spanish artist's use of paper. Unlike other artists who saw paper as a preliminary or draft material, Picasso made use of it in many ways including in collages and sculptures. He also used different types of paper such as newspaper cuttings and table cloths. 

Future Art Exhibitions

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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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.

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. 

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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.

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.

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

Titian: Love, Desire, Death

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

For the first time in over 300 years, 5 out of 6 mythological paintings by Titian, originally created as series, are 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. 

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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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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