Art

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

Five things we learned at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition
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Five things we learned at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

It's big, it's exhausting, and it's a lot of fun - it's the return of London's biggest open call exhibition

Interview: Grayson Perry on Brexit, masculinity and the Tate toilets
Art

Interview: Grayson Perry on Brexit, masculinity and the Tate toilets

We turn to the Turner Prize-winning artist, broadcaster and author to guide us through the major topics of the day

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

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Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines
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Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines

According to Wikipedia, the town of Becket, Massachusetts, has a population of 1,779 and counts a ‘Mormon pioneer’ among its notable residents. According to the new photographic series by Gregory Crewdson, it’s a desolate, snow-blanketed town of anonymous houses filled with ghost-faced inhabitants. Not exactly tourist board material.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Florence Peake: We Perform I am in Love With my Body
Art

Florence Peake: We Perform I am in Love With my Body

Nude drawings always come with a heavy whiff of old perv; a wafting aroma of thigh-rubbing horniness that overwhelms the art. But when Florence Peake does it, the work takes on a whole new scent. 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Cajsa von Zeipel: Insulting the Archive
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Cajsa von Zeipel: Insulting the Archive

You’ve just walked in on the world’s most awkward argument at the worst possible time. German artist Cajsa von Zeipel has sculpted herself and her friends out of gleaming white plaster in a moment of rupture, temper and flared emotions. 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Dreamers Awake
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Dreamers Awake

A word of warning. There are nearly 170 works in this show of surrealist-influenced women artists, and White Cube has decided not to say what they are on the walls, but put them in a little leaflet. Which is fine… except that when I was trying to negotiate my way round it, I almost walked into a big phallic pink marble tongue sticking out of the wall at right angles. 

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

Fahrelnissa Zeid
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Fahrelnissa Zeid

You might not expect to connect with an artist who hails from Ottoman aristocracy and once sat down with Hitler to trade notes on painting. But that’s the cunning of abstraction: through a mesh of colours and spontaneous shapes, we can share and understand a common language, without ever saying the same thing. And that’s what you get with the work of Turkish painter Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid – pulsating hives of colour on large cuts of canvas that unfold in front of the viewer like living Byzantine mosaics, letting the interpretive chips fall where they may. Her painting story is a familiar one: starts out classically trained, strays from figurative work, ‘finds’ herself in the abstract. But in this extensive exhibition of Zeid’s work, the sea change is like a kaleidoscopic sucker punch; her paintings from 1948 onwards literally leave you seeing stars. Tate has done good, giving her biggest pieces room to scream, the same privilege afforded to the macho creations of the RA’s ‘Abstract Expressionism’ show. Zeid led an extraordinary life (as princesses tend to). In 1921, she became one of the first women to study at the Istanbul Academy of Fine Arts. She went on to marry into the Iraqi royal family, and narrowly escaped assassination in Iraq’s 1958 military coup. Yet many in the West have never heard her story, let alone seen her work. Admittedly, her post-abstract period is less impressive. At 57 she cooked her first meal, and was so entranced by turkey bones that she pa

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 2 out of 5 stars
Wayne Thiebaud: 1962 to 2017
Art

Wayne Thiebaud: 1962 to 2017

Many long years before the phrase ‘food porn’ was invented, Wayne Thiebaud had already made an artistic career out of it. 

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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. He was in his early seventies when he created ‘Under the Wave off Kanagawa’ – a work that would become one of the most iconic images in all of history, and he just got better. His whole life as an artist led to that single moment, and then the world blossomed and unfolded in front of him. The Great Wave – a woodblock image – was printed in its thousands, making a star out of lowly Hokusai. It’s a gorgeous little picture, a swirling maelstrom kaleidoscoping around the tranquil mountain as boats crash and clatter in the waves. Later on in the show, two big ceiling panels focus in on the wave. The twisting shapes and spitting foam create mini galaxies that completely overwhelm you in their abstraction. He was taking nods from western art, and in the process, he’d go on to shape the work of Van Gogh and Monet in countless ways. But it’s not all waves and water. The show takes in his prints, of course, but also his books and his one-off paintings. It’s a journey through countless mythological worlds, lush unfolding landscapes, ghost stories and scenes of everyday life. But most of all, it’s a journey through the mind of a master, desperately trying to wring every last drop of art from his brush. You just wish the museum had dimmed the lights a little bit and given the show some atmos. The final works are sad and forlor

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Sargent: The Watercolours
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Sargent: The Watercolours

There are stories of John Singer Sargent painting in the field: sploshing colour around with sponges, hissing at his paper, muttering to himself. The American artist is best known for his fantastically accomplished, mildly eccentric society portraits. He was the classic expat Yank Europhile, courting favour (and occasionally opprobrium) among monied sorts in Paris and London. Alongside his day job, though, he painted watercolours throughout his life, and this show of them, the first in this country since 19-bloody-18 reveals Sargent’s manic devotion to his craft. He returns to the same subjects over and over. Venice in particular obsessed him: he would paint in a gondola, so his perspective on the city is sea-level, with buildings and boats looming over the viewer, dashing in the rippling, ever-changing light and water. You sense his freedom away from the salon and the studio: constantly starting over, revelling in the never-finishable. You can see the influence of photography, too. Scenes are tightly, weirdly cropped: nothing is polite or planned. Elsewhere, there are superb studies of Alpine torrents and glacial moraines. Unlike a lot of watercolourists, Sargent could actually paint people, and his workmen, recuperating soldiers, friends and family are all accorded the same democratic casual brilliance. I think this is key to this show: in a Europe increasingly divided and class-ridden, Sargent went looking for subjects and places that didn’t have any attendant societal bag

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Lisa Yuskavage
Art

Lisa Yuskavage

Blushing is ok. Especially if you’re British, because American painter Lisa Yuskavage’s work is sure to play havoc with your gentle sensibilities. It’s all massive swinging knockers, hairy bushes and soft-focus romping. Ooh, matron, etc. Her whole vibe is a collision of gloopy over-exaggerated fantasy aesthetics and constant nods back to classical art. It’s like catching Caravaggio reading a Jilly Cooper novel, or a porno remake of Titian’s Venus of Urbino. The paintings here are hyper-sexualised and ludicrously erotic. Yuskavage’s world is one of angelic, luminous, Technicolour women and grey, faceless, interchangeable men. In almost every work, the woman is the shining object of worship. One blonde is surrounded by grey nude men – she is a work of art, they are necessary ghouls, faceless devotees of her beauty. Another work finds beige figures in a garden painting colour onto a nude woman, like pilgrims maintaining a shrine. The only men who aren’t reduced to ashen nothingness are in the two couples paintings, but here, their dangly bits are oddly hidden. I don’t know, it’s complicated, but maybe that’s the point. Sexuality is a mess, relationships are chaotic tangled webs, sex is weird. This doesn’t reduce any of that down, it just celebrates all of it. Sure, they’re silly, garish and maybe even a little bit awful, but Yuskavage’s paintings are feverish suburban fantasies, they’re escapes into sex and art. I can think of worse ways to spend a Saturday. @eddyfranke

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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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.

David Mach: Incoming
Art

David Mach: Incoming

The Turner Prize-nominated Mach will be creating one of his gargantuan newspaper installations, the first of its kind in 15 years. As it will largely be improvised in the gallery itself, we're not too sure what to expect – except that it will weigh a staggering 30 tonnes.

‘The Best Possible School’: Anna Freud, Dorothy Tiffany Burlingham and the Hietzing School in 1920s Vienna
Art

‘The Best Possible School’: Anna Freud, Dorothy Tiffany Burlingham and the Hietzing School in 1920s Vienna

This exhibition delves into the Heitzing School, which briefly flourished in interwar Vienna as a place of free, uninhibited, non-curricular learning. 

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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