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Tate Britain

  • Art
  • Millbank
  • price 0 of 4
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Tate Britain (Lukas Birk / Time Out)
    Lukas Birk / Time Out
  2. Martin Creed slow London (Ed Marshall / Time Out)
    Ed Marshall / Time Out
  3. Tate Britain (Britta Jaschinski / Time Out)
    Britta Jaschinski / Time Out
  4. Tate Britain exhibition (Tony Gibsom / Time Out)
    Tony Gibsom / Time Out
  5. Tate Britain exhibits

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Tate Modern gets all the attention, but the original Tate Gallery, founded by sugar magnate Sir Henry Tate, has a broader and more inclusive brief. Housed in a stately Portland stone building on the riverside, Tate Britain is second only to the National Gallery when it comes to British art. It’s also looking to steal back a bit of the limelight from its starrier sibling with a 20-year redevelopment plan called the Millbank Project: conserving the building’s original features, upgrading the galleries, opening new spaces to the public and adding a new café. The art here is exceptional. The historical collection includes work by Hogarth, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Constable (who gets three rooms) and Turner (in the superb Clore Gallery). Many contemporary works were shifted to the other Tate when it opened, but Stanley Spencer, Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon are all well represented, and Art Now installations showcase up-and-coming British artists. Temporary exhibitions include headline-hungry blockbusters and the annual controversy-courting Turner Prize exhibition (September-January). The gallery has a good restaurant and an exemplary gift shop.


Tube: Pimlico/Vauxhall
Free (permanent collection); admission charge applies for some temporary exhibitions
Opening hours:
Daily 10am-6pm (last admission for special exhibitions 5.15pm)
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What’s on

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Fly In League With The Night

  • 4 out of 5 stars

A cheeky smile can get you pretty far in life, and even further in art. Just ask Mona Lisa, her semi-smirk has helped make her the most famous painting ever. That’s because that smile is enigmatic: we don’t know why it’s there or what it represents. English painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye pushes that idea – the enigma of the portrait – to an extreme. In this huge show, her first major institutional exhibition in the UK, her figures smile and grin and frown and laugh, and we never, ever know why. Partly that’s because every character here is imagined, every setting is made-up. Yiadom-Boakye creates these worlds, these people, and fills in none of the blanks. It’s up to us to try to figure it all out. What’s being said in the dark tension between the two women in ‘To Improvise a Mountain’? What’s being cheersed in ‘Songs in the Head’? Yiadom-Boakye is a very, very good painter And these are just the set pieces, we’re left even more adrift in figuring out the emotions of the straight-up portraits. It’s intense, absorbing, overwhelming – like being given a novel you desperately want to read, but in the wrong language. It helps that Yiadom-Boakye is a very, very good painter. Thick and rough with the brush but just precise enough. You see nods to art classics: the intense humanity of Alice Neel, the amazing composition of Manet, the darkness of Goya. There’s the shimmering Degas orange of ‘Geranium Love Sonnet’, the deranged Vermeer energy of ‘Bound Over to Keep the Faith’, and on

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