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Top ten art exhibitions in London

Check out our critics’ picks of the best art currently on show in the capital at some of the world's best art galleries

By Time Out London Art |
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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
William Blake 'Newton' (1795 – c.1805) © Tate
Art

William Blake

icon-location-pin Tate Britain, Millbank
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For a man who casts such a huge, dark shadow over the history of British art, William Blake’s drawings, paintings and etchings are quietly unobtrusive little things. The poet, artist and printmaker (1757-1827) spent his life huddled over, creating mesmerising, tiny works to illustrate poems and histories. 

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2
Helene Schjerfbeck 'The Sailor (Einar Reuter)' (1918) Private collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen
Art

Helene Schjerfbeck

icon-location-pin Royal Academy of Arts, Mayfair
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If you’re British, Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946) is a relatively unknown artist. If you’re Finnish, Helene Schjerfbeck is a very famous artist. This show of 60 paintings is the first chance London audiences have had to join the Schjerfbeck fan club. 

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3
Olafur Eliasson 'Your uncertain shadow' (2010) © Olafur Eliasson
Art

Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life

icon-location-pin Tate Modern, Bankside
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Olafur Eliasson does epic like few others. The Danish-Icelandic artist was last at Tate Modern in 2003 with 'The Weather Project', a monumental installation that transformed the Turbine Hall into a pulsating, hazy sunset. This time, they’re showing 40 works, including many large-scale installations, made throughout his career. 

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4
'A portrait of Leonardo', attributed to Francesco Melzi, (c.1515-18) Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019
Art

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing

icon-location-pin The Queen's Gallery, Victoria
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If you’ve ever seen Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’, then you know you’ve never really seen it. What you’ve really seen is a jostling crush of irritable tourists with their cameras obscuring your view of an enigmatically grumpy Renaissance woman somewhere in the distance. 

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5
Photo: Tate (Matt Greenwood)
Art

Mike Nelson: The Asset Strippers

icon-location-pin Tate Britain, Millbank
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Tate Britain is filled with the corpses of British industry, the long dead, rotting remains of this country itself. Strewn across the massive central Duveen Galleries are chunks of enormous abandoned machinery: presses, clamps, welders, cutters. Some have been left untouched, others have been piled on top of each other. T

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6
Alejandro Hoppe Chile (b. 1961) 'Funeral de Rodrigo Rojas de Negri, Santiago' (1986) Gelatin silver print Vintage print
Art

Urban Impulses: Latin American Photography From 1959 - 2016

icon-location-pin The Photographers' Gallery Café, Soho
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It’s easy to take photography for granted. In fact, it’s easy to get sick of photography. But as this show of Latin American photography from 1959 to 2016 makes clear, cameras have long served a more important function than capturing the light bouncing off an acai berry bowl. 

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7
Courtesy the artist & Zabludowicz Collection. Photo: Tim Bowditch
Art

Shana Moulton

icon-location-pin Zabludowicz Collection, Kentish Town
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Anxiety is at epidemic levels. The painful agoraphobic stress of contemporary life is everywhere, and we’re all looking for a mindful way to escape it. American video artist Shana Moulton uses a character called Cynthia as an avatar for all of that modern angst. 

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8
Peter Doig 'Lion in the Road: Sailors' (2019) © Peter Doig. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2019. Courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York an d London.
Art

Peter Doig: Paintings

icon-location-pin Michael Werner Gallery, Mayfair
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After decades of fuzz, fug, fog and gloom, there’s some clarity peeking out of Peter Doig’s work. The Trinidad-based Scottish painter has built a massively influential career out of clouding his works in a haze of dreamlike mist. He paints visions of childhood, nature and obsession that are barely there, like half-forgotten memories. 

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9
Photo by Damian Griffiths.
Art

Rhys Coren: Shape of Story

icon-location-pin Seventeen, Haggerston
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The worst people on earth are the ones who take the tube from Covent Garden to Leicester Square. They have no idea what they’re missing. London is a walking city. These damp, polluted streets are built for trudging down; you’re meant to slap your feet on the pavement and make the city your own. Young English artist Rhys Coren knows that. 

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10
© Tim Walker
Museums

Tim Walker: Wonderful Things

icon-location-pin V&A, South Kensington
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Fantastical. Fairytale. Magical. Lot of words are used to describe the photography of Tim Walker, but rarely this one: sex. Yet as this exuberant solo exhibition at the V&A proves, the British photographer’s special brand of surrealism, honed over decades working for fashion magazines, is far from saccharine innocence. 

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