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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
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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2
© Cindy Sherman. Image courtesy of National Portrait Gallery.
Art

Cindy Sherman

icon-location-pin National Portrait Gallery, Charing Cross Road
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There’s this great Cindy Sherman quote that goes ‘I’m disgusted with how people get themselves to look beautiful.’ Disgust, anger, cynicism and mockery: those are the American artist’s fiercest tools. Her now almost iconic photography – mostly an exercise in extreme self-portraiture – might look like someone playing dress-up for decades, but Sherman has targets, and she is merciless. 

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3
Lee Krasner 'Icarus' (1964) Thomson Family Collection, New York City. © The Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Image courtesy of Kasmin Gallery, New York. Photo: Diego Flores
Art

Lee Krasner: Living Colour

icon-location-pin Barbican Centre, Barbican
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Lee Krasner (1908-1984) spent her life fighting for the right to be herself. She couldn’t be Lena Krasner, she had to become the androgynous Lee. She couldn’t be a realist or a cubist, she had to rip her work to shreds and collage it into new, unique forms. And she could never just be her, she always had to be the wife of Jackson Pollock. 

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4
Faith Ringgold, ‘The Flag is Bleeding #2 (American Collection #6)’, 1997 Courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London © 2018 Faith Ringgold / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Art

Faith Ringgold

icon-location-pin Serpentine Gallery, Hyde Park
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Art is a weapon. I mean, not always. Sometimes it’s just something pretty for rich people’s walls. But in the hands of octogenarian American artist and activist Faith Ringgold, art is a weapon. Art is a way of fighting back. 

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5
'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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6
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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7
Lil Marvel. Image courtesy of Hayward Gallery
Art

Kiss My Genders

icon-location-pin Hayward Gallery, South Bank
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Gender identity has only recently become a hot topic in mainstream society. I know, it’s hard to imagine what the tabloids wrote about before they could announce that gender-neutral toilets would be the downfall of humanity. But in art, the fluidity of gender has been a subject for centuries. From 

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8
Wong Ping, stills from ‘Dear, can I give you a hand?’ (2018) Image courtesy of the artist.
Art

Wong Ping: Heart Digger

icon-location-pin Camden Arts Centre, Finchley Road
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Wong Ping creates brutal, grim, sexually violent modern fairy tales. But there’s no Red Riding Hood or any cute little pigs here. Instead, the Hong Kong artist tears and rips at ideas of societal dynamics through a world of throbbing cocks, aborted foetuses and mistreated OAPs. 

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9
© The State Tretyakov Gallery
Art

Natalia Goncharova

icon-location-pin Tate Modern, Bankside
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For many artists, painting is the act of capturing a single, still moment. For Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962), it was the opposite. Long before the Russian artist painted bicycles in motion or factory machines mid click-clack, her images rejected the point-and-click freeze frame approach in favour of an explosion of life, noise and animation. 

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10
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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