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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

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


Charles I: King and Collector

5 out of 5 stars

Art’s a matter of taste, and Charles I (1600-1649) knew his Tiziano from his Shitziano. Before he had his head lopped off, the monarch and his wife Henrietta Maria had been avid art buyers and assembled a collection of renaissance paintings to rival any out there – we’re talking Titian, Holbein, Tintoretto, you know, the big guns. 

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Royal Academy of Arts , Mayfair Until Sunday April 15 2018

Andreas Gursky

4 out of 5 stars

The Hayward Gallery reopens after two years with a bang and two-and-a-half floors of photos by German snapper Andreas Gursky. I say ‘snapper’, but obviously he’s an art megastar, whose massive prints sell for millions. And I say a ‘bang’ but it’s more of a vast low-frequency ‘Oooooaaaaauuuuummmmmm’ sort of sound: the sound of things being crushed flat on to photographic paper. 

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Hayward Gallery , South Bank Until Sunday April 22 2018


3 out of 5 stars

It’s not often that you get access to the studio of an artist – never mind one who died 97 years ago. But for their new Modigliani exhibition, the Tate has collaborated with a tech company to recreate the Italian artist’s Parisian digs in virtual-reality form. Put on the headset, and you’re suddenly there: watching the smoke drift from the cigarette beside his easel; listening to the rain beat down on the street outside. 

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Tate Modern , South Bank Until Monday April 2 2018

Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World

4 out of 5 stars

‘Wunderkammer’ is a neat little German word. It means a ‘room of wonder’, filled with incredible, awe-inspiring objects and trinkets. Now imagine if that wonder was replaced with something much darker: the truth of humanity’s legacy. US artist Mark Dion has been replacing wonder with ecological misery for his whole career. 

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Whitechapel Gallery , Whitechapel Until Sunday May 13 2018

Eddie Peake: Concrete Pitch

4 out of 5 stars

Concrete sport pitches are dotted throughout this city like thousands of tarmac scabs that just won’t heal. They’re places for congregating, for fighting, for socialising, for competing: they’re where countless Londoners do their growing up. And Eddie Peake is one of them. He spent his youth near Finsbury Park, doing what kids do on concrete recreation grounds. In this show, he’s reimagined the gallery as a new pitch, a concrete playground for grown-ups. 

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White Cube Bermondsey , The Borough Until Sunday April 8 2018

Gideon Rubin: Black Book

4 out of 5 stars

Gideon Rubin’s family fled the Nazis 80 years ago, just like Sigmund Freud, in whose Hampstead home the artist has secreted a series of new artworks. Most of this show is based on pre-war German magazine images, from which the taint of Nazism has been erased. Swastikas have been removed from the vests of exercising girls, parades have been doctored out of streets, colourful flags have replaced red ones we’d rather forget, but never can, or should. 

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Freud Museum , Frognal Until Sunday April 15 2018

Rachel Howard: Repetition is Truth – Via Dolorosa

4 out of 5 stars

Humanity's capacity for atrocity was laid bare during the Iraq war when images emerged of the humiliating treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. One showed Ali Shallal al-Qaisi stood on a box, a hood pulled over his head, arms spread wide, with wires attached to his fingers and genitals.  A painting of that horrifying act opens Rachel Howard’s show at Newport Street Gallery. Brutal, painful, degrading. 

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Newport Street Gallery , Lambeth Until Monday May 28 2018

Lubaina Himid

4 out of 5 stars

Based on traditional African stringed instruments, the banjo came to life in the hands of enslaved Africans in the Caribbean before finding its feet in the poor American South. Now, it’s a ubiquitous symbol of white redneckery, with a violent aura heaped on it thanks to ‘Deliverance’. So when you encounter two banjo cases daubed with hand-painted slogans in Lubaina Himid’s first show of new work since winning the Turner Prize last year you’d better believe they’re carrying some serious symbolism. 

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Hollybush Gardens , Clerkenwell Until Saturday March 24 2018

Nancy Rubins: Diversifolia

4 out of 5 stars

‘Diversifolia’, in case you don’t know, is a scientific term indicating that a single species of plant has a variety of different leaves. Look at Nancy Rubins’ sculptures and, while they may not feature any actual foliage, you get the gist: her bouquet-like structures sprout a range of different animals, cast in metal and held together with tensile cables. Zebras flail; hogs hover mid-air. Crocodiles are caught in flight. Think an explosion in the zoo, frozen in time, basically.

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Gagosian Britannia St , St Pancras Until Saturday April 14 2018

Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins

5 out of 5 stars

From its earliest days, photography has probed the hidden: from porn to politics, it’s been there and brought back the evidence. Beyond that, though, is a shadowy place where photographers become so tangled up in what they’re chronicling that roles become blurred. These are not just the margins of society, they’re the margins of creativity. That’s what ‘Another Kind of Life’ is about. 

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Barbican Centre , Barbican Until Sunday May 27 2018

Next up: the best photography shows

Photography in London

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.

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By: Time Out London Art

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Caroline L

I totally agree with the comments made below. I would also like to see a listing of a wider range of galleries not just the critics choice. Time out in the past was my life line for information on new spaces and galleries. The days of Sarah Kent are well gone !! Please if the magazine is now free include more gallery listings, not just the critics choice

e c

as a gallery owner and someone who found many artistic wonders over the years thanks to timeout the current incarnation makes me very sad - noone from Timeout ever even comes to my gallery which is one of the largest in the east end because there is no endeavour to find the new any more - there is a cost to giving away magazines for free - the magazine is guilty but so are we all

Liz D moderator Staff Writer

@e c Hi there, please send any upcoming exhibition info to art@timeout.com

Claire M

Agree with all the postings below.  Used to love the many pages of listings which I found led me to all sorts of unexpected delights.  I read the broadsheets to get the reviews of a few big shows, & thought of Time Out as the way to explore & find out what's going on.  The nearest things now are the weekend Guardian Guide - can others suggest good alternatives?

Robert F

Totally agree with other recent posts. Listings should be centre stage - the backbone of TO's offering.

Jan G

Non less than the World are expecting listings from TO. It made us find our way through the most incredible Metropolis over decades. All over now?

Jan from Germany

k f

I don't usually add comments to any sites, but I feel compelled to voice my agreement with all the comments below. I want to see the wide range of art events that are on in London not just the ones the critics are telling me I should see. Time out used to be the first point of call - I won't use it any more.


45 isn't old or is it? I find the Internet has all the visual charm and clarity of those dreadful jelly sweet game apps that even intelligent people seem to become hooked on. The layout of the web seems to have become an explosion of headlines and adverts mashed into an impenetrable visual splash of confusion. With the galleries own websites - the simple question of what's on seems unanswerable. One is met with a deluge of screen filling design and information jumping around the simple need to know what, when and where. So with Timeout the desire of the user to know what's on and further more the added all important opinion of what's on seems impossible to find in a editorially controlled manner i.e the simple top 10 list. A world influenced by the majestic mess of Facebook. Is this our lot?


Please please please please. This website is near useless now. You can't search for anything. We're dependent on Editors making a list anything outside of those lists essentially is impossible to find. It seems given the tonnes of comments to this effect something akin to commercial suicide is happening at T.O towers. We still love you. Don't give up!

Segun L

Oh for heavens sake, where are the listings? Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Time Out is, by definition, a listings magazine, is it not? So, where are they? Ohhhh.... Now, I've seen all the other comments for the last six months. You obviously don't care anymore about user experience. Is this obliqueness an advertiser requirement or just sheer editorial bloodymindedness?