Top ten art exhibitions in London

Check out our critics’ pick of the best art currently on show in the capital at some of the world's best art galleries
Courtesy The Whitworth, University of Manchester © Trustees of the Paolozzi Foundation, licensed by DACS
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Shortcut it straight to the good stuff by heading to one of the very best art exhibitions taking place in the capital right now. From modern and fancy, to classical and serene, we've got your next art outing sorted. Or, if you're skint until pay day, how about trying one of London's many free exhibitions instead?

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The ten best art exhibitions in London

1
David LaChapelle 'An illuminating path' (1998) Courtesy of the artist
Art

Michael Jackson: On the Wall

icon-location-pin Leicester Square
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HIs every crotch grab sent jolts of ecstasy across the globe, his every spasmodic hip thrust left the world reeling. That’s an inhuman level of power for one human to have. It ended up being too much for Michael Jackson, and maybe too much for the rest of us too, which may explain how the National Portrait Gallery can put together a whole show of art inspired by MJ and without it being mega-cheesy or ultra-dull. 

Time Out says
2
Installation view of Lee Bul, Via Negativa II, 2014 at Hayward Gallery, 2018 (interior detail) © Lee Bul 2018. Photo_ Mark Blower
Art

Lee Bul

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A huge, gloopy, multi-limbed, fleshy monster stares you out as you enter Lee Bul’s  exhibition. And it’s not alone. Suspended from the ceiling are more of its blobby buddies and a battalion of pure white cyborgs. In the corner sits a silver and black behemoth among a landscape of shattered mirrors and blinking lights. It’s up to you to figure out if the Korean artist’s sci-fi dreamscape is actually a nightmare.

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3
Anthea Hamilton The Squash, install view Photo: © Tate (Seraphina Neville)
Art, Sculpture

Anthea Hamilton

icon-location-pin Westminster
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Imagine you’re a squash – as in, a butternut squash. Now imagine what kind of art you would most like, based on your squashy-brained characteristics. For her 2018 Tate Britain Commission for the Duveen Galleries, Anthea Hamilton has created a squash-human hybrid, performed each day by an individual dressed in one of seven outfits inspired by various strains of curcubita (that’s for you, ‘Gardeners’ World’ fans). 

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4
Dorothea Lange, 'Migrant Mother', Copyright the Dorothea Lange Collection, the Oakland Museum of California
Art, Photography

Dorothea Lange: ‘Politics of Seeing’

icon-location-pin Barbican
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You can see why the Barbican is running these shows of Dorothea Lange and Vanessa Winship together. There’s plenty of overlap in their work: dislocation, displacement, the way that women, children, buildings, landscapes and even cars reflect societal collapse. But I would seriously advise that you buy your ticket, check out one of them, then go and play crazy golf with a few beers or something before you come back and tackle the other. 

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5
© Alex Prager Studio and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong
Art

Alex Prager: Silver Lake Drive

icon-location-pin Soho
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You get an eerie sense of déjà vu in this show of American artist Alex Prager’s photography. Seeing the drunken parties, suspicious faces and elaborate beach scenes she meticulously stages, you’re certain that each scenario is familiar.

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6
Copyright Jenny Holzer and Tate
Art, Contemporary art

Artist Rooms: Jenny Holzer

icon-location-pin South Bank
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American artist Jenny Holzer’s work is decades’ worth of statements, aphorisms, quotes and poetry. She takes words and sentences and plasters them over the streets, prints them on cups and condoms, engraves them into marble, and sends them stuttering at lightspeed along LED columns. 

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7
© Ed Ruscha / photography Paul Ruscha
Art, Contemporary art

Ed Ruscha: Course of Empire

icon-location-pin Trafalgar Square
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Five big black and white canvases hang high up on a wall in the National Gallery. They show a tire shop, a tool shop, a trade school, a chemical plant and a telephone box. Under each, the exact same views in technicolour show what those places have become. 

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8
Tomma Abts 'Feke' (2013) Photo: Marcus Leith. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York
Art

Tomma Abts

icon-location-pin Knightsbridge
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There’s nothing wrong with being old fashioned, and something about German artist Tomma Abts’s art feels like it’s from another era entirely. Her work is pure, simple, direct abstraction. 

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