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Royal Academy of Arts

  • Art
  • Piccadilly
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Royal Academy of Arts ( John Bodkin)
    John Bodkin
  2. Royal Academy of Arts
  3. Royal Academy of Arts ( Jonathan Perugia / Time Out)
    Jonathan Perugia / Time Out
  4. Royal Academy of Arts (Jonathan Perugia / Time Out)
    Jonathan Perugia / Time Out
  5. Royal Academy of Arts (John Bodkin)
    John Bodkin
  6. Royal Academy of Arts (Jonathan Perugia / Time Out)
    Jonathan Perugia / Time Out

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

For 250 years, Britain’s first art school has been a hotbed of artistic talent. You name ’em, they were an Academician. But the RA’s also got serious pedigree when it comes to putting on big shows, like 2016’s totally incredible ‘Abstract Expressionism’ show. Now, it’s got a big old extension, including its first free permanent collection display – and it’s just as important as it’s ever been.

Written by
Time Out editors


Burlington House, Piccadilly
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Some exhibitions free, ticketed exhibitions vary
Opening hours:
Mon-Thu, Sat, Sun 10am-6pm; Fri 10am-10pm
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What’s on

Making Modernism

  • 4 out of 5 stars

Simple acts can be the most radical. And in turn-of-the-last-century Germany, being a woman and painting a self-portrait was about as radical as you could get. Four pairs of eyes greet you as you walk into this exhibition, mostly staring boldly, defiantly, beautifully right out of the canvases. They’re the eyes of Kathë Kollwitz, Gabriele Münter, Marianne Werefkin and Paula Modersohn-Becker, four women who knew better than most that being experimental modern painters in 1900 Germany was radical.  They lived with relative creative freedom to begin with, going to artist colonies, hanging out with people like Paul Klee, shacking up with Wassily Kandinsky (Münter’s other half for a while). But their lives were blocked, hamstrung and curtailed by societal expectations of women. When you think the works look a bit ropey or unfinished, remember that women couldn’t attend art academies. When there’s a ten-year gap between paintings, remember that these women couldn’t just be artists, they had to be wives and they had to be mothers. Early portraits are bold and fierce. Then Münter and Werefkin capture interior scenes with naive, primary-colour innocence; intimate moments with lovers or private evenings with friends, all caught quickly, simply. But lovers and soirées soon get replaced with parental responsibilities and spousal obligations.  Four women who knew that being experimental modern painters was radical The paintings of children in the first room here are dark and tense. Münte

‘Spain and the Hispanic World’ review

  • 2 out of 5 stars

Spain is a very big country, with a very long history. So big and so long, that trying to sum it all up in one exhibition sounds like an impossible task, a bad idea doomed to unavoidable failure.  Who would set themselves up to stumble so spectacularly? Well, the Royal Academy’s giving it a whack. The works in this show are all loaned from the Hispanic Society Museum and Library in New York, an institution dedicated to exploring the history of Spain and its colonial legacy, which is currently closed for refurbishment and apparently using the RA as a storage space. The exhibition is a sort of greatest hits, starting way back around 2,000 BC with ceramics by the Bell Beaker people, Celtiberian bracelets from 50 BC and Visigoth belt buckles from AD 500. Then you’re whooshed through time to the Arab invasion of Spain, with its intricate silks, expert ceramics and a wall of door knockers. All in the first few rooms, presented with almost no context, history or information. Here’s some stuff, you figure it out. By the time the show dumps you in the seventeenth century – as Jewish, Arab and Christian coexistence was being chucked out in favour of Catholic dominance – your head’s spinning. Not that there aren’t amazing things here: there are stately portraits of serious men by Velazquez and Alonso Cano, two incredible, thickly painted, gestural, tormented El Grecos and Andrea de Mena’s tiny polychrome busts of Mary and Jesus which are bursting with colour, gore and emotion. But it’s

Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers Black Artists from the American South

Inspired by Langston Hughes' book of the same name, ‘Rivers Run Deep...’ explores the Black artists from the American South who have been creating their own, unique visual culture since the middle of the last century. Artists include Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, Hawkins Bolden, Bessie Harvey and Charles Williams, all creatives operating outside of the mainstream, using local materials to create art about oppression, marginalisation and ancestral memory. 

Marina Abramović

After endless delays, the Royal Academy's much anticipated major exhibition of everyone’s favourite performance artist, Marina Abramovć, is finally coming to London this Autumn. The show will span her iconic career, featuring more than 50 works, including some brand new ones, and 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.  Uncomfortable, confrontational and undeniably iconic – Marina is back.

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