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
There’s something special about a tapestry, something traditional, a tangible aura of history. It’s as if the act of creating an image by slowly and meticulously weaving countless threads together is somehow more permanent, more holy, than just slapping a bunch of paint on a canvas.
You get the feeling that Bucharest-based Geta Brătescu is taken very seriously in the Romanian art world. On the eve of her 91st birthday, she has been chosen to represent her home country at the 2017 Venice Biennale, and has also been the longstanding artistic director of art and literature magazine Secolul 21.
Many long years before the phrase ‘food porn’ was invented, Wayne Thiebaud had already made an artistic career out of it. The Californian artist also paints portraits and landscapes – but it’s his still-lives of cakes, pies, candy and deli counters that earned him fame, and in this six-decade survey you’ll see why. Working on the fringes of pop, Thiebaud is perhaps best summed up as an Old World painter of the New; dealing with the optics of modern American life – excess, desire, mass production – but with the mindset of European masters like Matisse and Cézanne. It’s this paradox that makes him arguably the best working colourist today (yes, that includes Hockney), and each painting such a prismatic, confounding experience. How can a gherkin flecked with pink still look like a gherkin? How can every colour in the spectrum successfully figure into a pair of beige nylons? His dense and gooey use of oil paint is as witty as it is gratuitous: he paints the icing on a cake in much the same way as you’d ice an actual cake. Downstairs, we’re treated to some of his West Coast landscapes: vertiginous quilts of car-studded freeways and candy-coloured cornfields. These are nuts. Their morphing perspectives and 45-degree inclines clearly don’t belong to exact reality, and yet they feel in total obeisance to their subject matter. His portraits have a kind of Rockwell-esque reverence to them – but I’d argue he paints cherry pies and high-heeled shoes with just the same humanity. Just lo
Although Howard Hodgkin had been creating portraits since the age of 16, this is the first time they’ve been brought together for a solo show. But he never got to see the final result: the 84-year-old British artist died just two weeks before the opening of this exhibition.
Two pieces of legislation set the timespan for this exhibition. One is the abolition of the death penalty for sodomy in 1861; the other is the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967. And it’s the shadow of illegality and widespread prejudice that’s cast over everything on display in this rich and fascinating survey of queer art.
Next up: the best photography shows
Addicted to Instagram or permanently attached to your SLR? Even if your camera roll is totally empty, you'll find a way to appreciate London photography; we have the widest variety of styles in some of the best exhibitions at the most beautiful galleries. Find them in a flash with our guide to photography in London.