Art

Art reviews and listings for London's best museum exhibitions and art galleries

Five things you need to know about Alberto Giacometti
Art

Five things you need to know about Alberto Giacometti

The Swiss master gets the retrospective treatment at Tate Modern, so here's our guide to this iconic artist

Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic
Art

Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic

Ofili is back at the National Gallery with this totally tropical, sumptuous and absolutely gorgeous tapestry. What a return.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
Banksy in London: a guide
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Banksy in London: a guide

Who is Banksy? Who knows. But what we DO know is all this amazingly useful info

Top ten photography exhibitions in London
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Top ten photography exhibitions in London

Discover a world beyond Instagram at the city's best current and upcoming photography shows

The latest art reviews

Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave
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Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave

Most of us don’t get any better with age. After our twenties we just get uglier, fatter and more useless. But Katsushika Hokusai was like a seriously fine wine. 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Joyce Pensato: Forgettabout It
Art

Joyce Pensato: Forgettabout It

Joyce Pensato stands in her filthy New York studio. Paint cakes the walls and floor, there’s rubbish chucked everywhere, countless dolls, toys and kids’ masks stare back at her. Then she attacks the canvas. 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Philip Guston: Laughter in the Dark, Drawings from 1971 & 1975
Art

Philip Guston: Laughter in the Dark, Drawings from 1971 & 1975

How can you go about your everyday business when it feels like the world is collapsing around you? When Richard Nixon started dragging America through a swamp of war, death and corruption in the 1970s, Philip Guston couldn’t just keep painting in the same old way. 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Alice Neel: Uptown
Art

Alice Neel: Uptown

Alice Neel didn’t paint portraits of people. When you look at one of her canvases, you’re not just seeing that one person – you’re seeing a whole world, condensed down to lines and colour. Her paintings are portraits of a city, portraits of life, portraits of time; they’re full landscapes, visual essays. 

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Must-see art exhibitions in London

David Hockney
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David Hockney

Some paintings are like celebrities. You’ve read about them, studied them from afar, obsessed over them for years, but never actually seen them in the flesh. So when you actually come face to face with one, you get all wobbly-kneed and fluttery-eyed. 

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Vanessa Bell (1879-1961)
Art

Vanessa Bell (1879-1961)

Vanessa Bell spent her life surrounded by famous people, and has come to be remembered primarily as Virginia Woolf’s sister. But she was one of the most interesting characters of her day and – from the look of this exhibition – one of its finest artists too. 

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends
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Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends

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. News of his passing came as the first painting was hung. With this in mind, it’s a challenge to not view the work through a tinted posthumous lens. However, ‘Absent Friends’ more than delivers. It’s a sonorous, lovingly curated moment that reminds us just how few artists can touch Hodgkin on use of colour. With the exception of his early figure paintings (just skip past those), these are ‘portraits’ in the most tentative sense. They are a tug-of-war between abstraction and representation, where thick licks of paint are stacked like slabs of cake to describe his subjects. See the ’60s and ’70s double portraits of Hodgkin’s ‘art scene’ friends that take up an entire room. In some, stray limbs flail and faces stare out from the canvas, dotted with red splodges for eyes. In the same breath, as with ‘Mr and Mrs E.J.P.’ (1969-73), he’d use garish masses of pox dots and lines of primary colours to conjure their memory. His work is about capturing a ‘feeling’ on canvas; he frequently gobbled up the frame with paint, as though his exuberance couldn’t be contained. At times, it’s all so loud it can leave you with visual tinnitus, unable to take it in. He had a sense of humour too. A room of his best works fr

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Jordan Wolfson: Riverboat Song
Art

Jordan Wolfson: Riverboat Song

Jordan Wolfson raises a baseball bat over his head and smashes it down into another man’s face. He stamps on his head, over and over, squelchy belches singing out with every impact. Then back to the baseball bat – bang, bang, bang – the body’s convulsing, its face a mush. In the background, a cantor sings a Jewish prayer. Then you take the virtual reality goggles off and you’re back in the real world, you feel shaky and disoriented, palms sweaty, arms heavy. ‘Real Violence’ by this young American artist is stomach-turning, shocking and horrifying, but it’s also one of the most important works of art you will see this year. This two-space show is made up of a massive video installation at Kingly Street and two sculptures and the VR work at Davies Street. The sculptures are a wood cabin with a contorted witch’s face for a roof and a massive articulated doll of a boy, all in black, lying prostrate in chains, its face an evil grimace. They’re childhood fairytales with the sugar taken out, leaving behind pure horror. Wolfson has covered the bigger gallery with purple carpet and a collection of flat screen TVs showing ‘Riverboat Song’, a short animated movie centred on an adorable little animated boy, cherubic and mischievous. It lacks the aggression of ‘Real Violence’ but more than makes up for it in nasty intent. We all grew up watching the Roadrunner condemning Wile E Coyote to a million humiliating deaths, and Jerry torturing Tom in countless unimaginable ways – cartoons a

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Geta Brătescu: The Studio: A Tireless, Ongoing Space
Art

Geta Brătescu: The Studio: A Tireless, Ongoing Space

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. Over the past few years there has been an uptick of interest in her work outside of Romania, and even the title of this retrospective exhibition has a sober tinge to it. But there’s more to Brătescu than the thoughtful reception of her impressive output suggests, another layer to be found in her idiosyncratic way of expression – in a body of work encompassing photos, drawings, films, sculptures and textiles. Put simply, this nonagenarian multimedia artist has one finely tuned sense of humour. In a short film, ‘The Hands. For the eye, the hand of my body reconstitutes my portrait’ (1977) (admittedly not the most hilarious title ever), we see the artist’s hands as they pick up and consider various items lying around her studio. These include a rolled cigarette, some paint sticks – which she uses to draw lines on her hands – and some strings, which get her into a solo game of cat’s cradle. This film, appearing early on in the exhibition, sets an agenda of creative spontaneity and the liberating nature of play. Another silent film, ‘The Studio’ (1978), starts with a door opening into the artist’s home studio (a regularly occurring location in her work), and she shows us

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Prix Pictet 2017
Art

Prix Pictet 2017

The seventh edition of what's arguably one of the most illustrious prizes in photography will circle around the theme of 'space' – the twelve shortlisted photographers all deal with this subject in varying ways. 

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
Terry Adkins: Solitude
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Terry Adkins: Solitude

The late American artist's first solo exhibition in the UK will focus on his 'Recitals' series, a collection of work that delves into the lives of musicians including Jimi Hendrix and John Coltrane. 

Bruce Conner: A Movie
Art

Bruce Conner: A Movie

A presentation of the American artist's groundbreaking 1958 film 'A Movie', a collage of found footage that includes westerns, war movies and soft-core porn.

Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Bronzes from the 1980s
Art

Per Kirkeby: Paintings and Bronzes from the 1980s

The Danish expressionist will be showing a number of paintings and sculptures influenced by trips to Mayan ruins in South America and geological sites in the Arctic Circle.

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The 40 best photos of London ever taken
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The 40 best photos of London ever taken

Our (almost) definitive list of the best photographs ever taken of the capital

Free art in London
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Free art in London

See all London's free art exhibitions this week

Latest art interviews
Art

Latest art interviews

We speak to the biggest names and emerging talent in the art world

The 100 best paintings in London

The 100 best paintings in London

Our expert guide to the best paintings in the capital

Read the latest Time Out art features

What's on at

Barbican Centre
Art

Barbican Centre

The Barbican Centre, a vast concrete estate of 2,000 flats and a leading arts complex, is a prime example of brutalist architecture, softened a little by time and rectangular ponds of friendly resident ducks. The lakeside terrace and adjoining café are good spots to take a rest from visiting the art gallery, cinema, theatre, concert hall or library within the complex. The art gallery on the third floor stages exhibitions on design, architecture and pop culture, while on the ground floor, the Curve is a free exhibition space for specially commissioned works and contemporary art. At the core of the music roster, performing 90 concerts a year, is the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO). The annual BITE season (Barbican International Theatre Events) continues to cherry-pick exciting and eclectic theatre companies from around the globe. The Barbican regularly attracts and nurtures experimental dance, and the Pit Theatre is a perfectly intimate space.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
National Gallery

National Gallery

Founded in 1824 to display a collection of just 36 paintings, today the National Gallery is home to more than 2,000 works. There are masterpieces from virtually every European school of art. The modern Sainsbury Wing extension contains the gallery’s earliest works: Italian paintings by early masters like Giotto and Piero della Francesca. The basement of the Sainsbury Wing is also the setting for temporary exhibitions. In the West Wing are Italian Renaissance masterpieces by Correggio, Titian and Raphael; in the North Wing, seventeenth-century Dutch, Flemish, Italian and Spanish Old Masters. In the East Wing (reached via the street-level entrance in Trafalgar Square) are some of the gallery’s most popular paintings: works by the French Impressionists and post-Impressionists, including on of Monet’s water lily paintings and one of Van Gogh’s sunflowers series. You can’t see everything in one visit to the National Gallery, but the free guided tours and audio guides will help you make the most of your time. There’s also a wonderfully atmospheric café stocked with Oliver Peyton goodies, and a fine-dining restaurant, the National Dining Rooms.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery

Portraits don't have to be stuffy. The National Portrait Gallery has everything from oil paintings of stiff-backed royals to photos of soccer stars and gloriously unflattering political caricatures. The portraits of musicians, scientists, artists, philanthropists and celebrities are arranged in chronological order from the top to the bottom of the building. At the top of the escalator up from the main foyer are the earliest works, portraits of Tudor and Stuart royals and notables. On the same floor, the eighteenth-century collection features Georgian writers and artists, with one room devoted to the influential Kit-Cat Club of Whig (leftish) intellectuals, Congreve and Dryden among them. More famous names here include Wren and Swift. The Duveen Extension contains Regency greats, military men such as Wellington and Nelson, as well as Byron, Wordsworth and other Romantics. The first floor is devoted to the Victorians (Dickens, Brunel, Darwin) and, in the Duveen Extension, the twentieth century. One of the NPG's most popular highlights is the annual BP Portrait Award where the best entrants for the prestigious prize are exhibited.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
Tate Britain

Tate Britain

Tate Modern gets all the attention, but the original Tate Gallery, founded by sugar magnate Sir Henry Tate, has a broader and more inclusive brief. Housed in a stately Portland stone building on the riverside, Tate Britain is second only to the National Gallery when it comes to British art. The historical collection includes work by Hogarth, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Constable (who gets three rooms to himself) and Turner (whose works are displayed in the grand Clore Gallery). Many contemporary works were shifted to Tate Modern when it opened in 2000, but Stanley Spencer, Lucian Freud, David Hockney and Francis Bacon are well represented here, and the Art Now installations showcase up-and-coming British artists. The gallery also hosts the controversy-courting Turner Prize exhibition (Oct-Jan). The gallery has a good restaurant and a well-stocked gift shop, and the handy Tate-to-Tate boat service zips along the Thames to Tate Modern.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Tate Modern

Tate Modern

The permanent collection draws from the Tate’s collections of modern art (international works from 1900) and features heavy hitters such as Matisse, Rothko and Beuys – a genuinely world-class collection, expertly curated. There are vertiginous views down inside the building from outside the galleries, which group artworks according to movement (Surrealism, Minimalism, Post-war abstraction) rather than by theme.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Whitechapel Gallery
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Whitechapel Gallery

This East End stalwart reopened in 2009 following a major redesign and expansion that saw the Grade II listed building transformed into a vibrant, holistic centre of art complete with a research centre, archives room and café. Since 1901, Whitechapel Art Gallery has built on its reputation as a pioneering contemporary institution and is well remembered for premiering the talents of exhibitions by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo among others. Expect the rolling shows to be challenging and risqué.

Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars