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Features

Hattie Lloyd 02/02/23


What's On At London's Best Art Galleries

We don’t often visit art galleries.

They always tell us off for taking pictures.

Nevertheless, London is awash with art – and so we’ve put together a running list of all the major (and quite a few independent) art galleries in London, complete with opening hours and the run-down on their latest exhibitions. Some galleries still require you to book a ticket in advance – even if you’re just going for a nose around the free collections – so we’ve added in all the links you’ll need.

But enough of all that – here are London’s best art galleries, and all the exhibitions you can visit right now:

 


JUMP TO: CENTRAL | NORTH | SOUTH | EAST | WEST


CENTRAL LONDON ART GALLERIES

180 Studios | Strand

Richard Mosse

Set in the concrete subterranean labyrinth of an iconic Brutalist building, 180 Studios is building a name for itself as the home for innovative, large-scale, tech-infused audio-visual art installations.

WHAT’S ON

Richard Mosse (until 26th February) – an immersive video installation detailing environmental crimes in the Amazon, filmed over three years.

Address: 180 Studios, 180 The Strand, WC2R 1EA | Opening Hours: Daily, 10am-6pm | EntryExhibitions ticketed individually, from £10-25

Centre for British Photography | St James’s

This brand new gallery is pretty flash – sitting on Jermyn Street, it’s the first art gallery in London to focus entirely on British photography (which seems kind of surprising). The exhibitions here will always be populated by the Centre’s own archives, and hope to explore the vast range of photographic art produced here since 1900.

WHAT’S ON

The centre’s opening exhibitions all run until 29th April, and include Heather Agyepong‘s commissioned series inspired by the history of the cake walk dance; an exhibition exploring photography’s role in female empowerment; and a gallery of pictures giving an insight to ‘The British at Home‘.

Address: 49 Jermyn Street, SW1Y 6LX | Opening Hours: Wed-Fri, 11am-6pm, weekends 11am-4pm | EntryFree

The Courtauld Gallery | Strand

courtauld gallery london

Back open after the biggest refurbishment in its history, the Courtauld has an incredible collection of art particularly known for its trove of Impressionist paintings including Manet’s A Bar at the Folies Bergère and Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear. The permanent collection could keep you occupied for hours, but the gallery often plays host to visiting exhibitions, too.

WHAT’S ON

Currently main collection only.

Address: Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN | Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 10am-6pm | Entry: £9-13 (students & concessions free) / Exhibitions from £16

Hayward Gallery | South Bank

Hayward Gallery London

A Brutalist and, quite frankly, brutal concrete metropolis is home to the Hayward Gallery; an exhibition space designed to receive touring work and host major modern collections. Sat within the cultural playground that is the Southbank Centre, it normally holds three to four temporary exhibitions a year and due to the sheer size of the space, they’re often huge installations that allow for lots of audience interaction. Retrospectives are also popular with German photographer Andreas Gursky and our very own Bridget Riley showing off their illustrious careers here.

WHAT’S ON

Mike Nelson: Extinction Beckons (February 22nd until 7th May)In this survey celebrating his career so far, the sculpture supremo has turned the HG into a bit of a scrapyard, but an artistic one at that, with rooms full of his biggest (both literally and metaphorically) large-scale installations, made using materials rescued from junk shops and salvage yards.

Address: Southbank Centre, 337-338 Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX | Opening Hours: Wed 11am-9pm, Thurs-Sat 11am-7pm, Sundays 10am-6pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £12

ICA | St James

The errant, wayward child of the RA, the ICA was established as a space for artists and scientists to discuss ideas freely and without limitation. An avid promoter of the avant-garde, it’s been an epicentre of experimental work ever since – or, as director Stefan Klamar simply describes it, a place that “contextualises contemporary culture within the socio-political conditions of the time’’. With galleries, a theatre, and two cinemas you’re bound to find something, in some medium, that suits your fancy.

WHAT’S ON

Jesus Died For Us, We Will Die For Dudus! (22nd February to 14th May) – The ICA’s lower and upper galleries have been split into two immersive installations that examine two very different worlds within black culture.

Check out screenings, talks and more HERE

Address: The Mall, St James’s, SW1Y 5AH | Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 12pm-9pm | Entry: Free on Tuesday, £5 Wed-Sun

National Gallery | Trafalgar Square

National Gallery

Pride of place in London’s art scene, presiding over the four lions of Trafalgar Square, is the National Gallery. Amongst the most visited art museums in the world, the National Gallery has a premier league roll call of great works amongst the 2,300 paintings in its possession. Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire and Da Vinci’s The Virgin of the Rocks all adorn its walls. Most major Western artists are represented in some way or another here, making it an absolute mecca for Art History bingo.

WHAT’S ON

Turner on Tour (until 19th February) – Turner on Tour, oi oi, sees two of the legendary British landscape painter’s massive masterpieces on display in London, borrowed for a couple of months from the Frick Collection in New York.

After Impressionism: Inventing Modern Art (March 25th to 13th August) – Modern art – you know… cubism, abstraction, expressionism – didn’t just appear out of thin air. The likes Van Gogh, Cézanne, Kandinsky and co moulded it, nurtured it and set the tone for what’s on show today – and this exhibition displays their work, among other notable pieces created in that transitional period between 1886 and 1914.

Address: Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN | Opening Hours: Daily, 10am-6pm (9pm Fridays) | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £10
NOTE: The National Portrait Gallery (just behind the National Gallery) is now closed for refurbishment until 2023.

The Photographers’ Gallery | Soho

soho photography quarter

Christian Thompson

After snapping up a tea bar in Covent Garden, founder and director Sue Davies quickly developed the space into the UK’s first dedicated space for photography and photographers. The gallery’s now moved into an old textiles factory, but continues to act as a centre of excellence, and research, into the 20th century’s iconic medium, with plenty of wonderful camera work to admire over its six floors. Check out the Soho Photography Quarter outside, an old alleyway that’s been revamped as a kind of al fresco gallery space.

WHAT’S ON

Chris Killip, retrospective (until 19th February)Inequality is laid bare in this showcase for one of the UK’s most respected photographers, who gained critical acclaim for charting the lives of the working-class during the deindustrialisation of Northern towns in the 70s and 80s.

An Alternative History of Photography: Works from the Solander Collection (until 19th Feb) – A fresh perspective on the traditions and timelines of photography with 150 works from the Solander Collection, including firsts from major artists and rare finds from those less well-known.

Gideon Mendel: Fire / Flood (until 31st May) – You’ll notice this one before you even enter the gallery, as it’s outdoors in the Soho Photography Quarter. The free exhibition documents the climate crisis through the lens of South African photographer Gideon Mendel and his travels around the world, addressing wildfires and floods, and the catastrophic impact both disasters have had on the environment.

Address: 16-18 Ramillies Street, W1F 7LW | Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-6pm | Entry: £5

The Queen’s Gallery | St James

Once upon a time an exclusively royal affair but these days awash with the unwashed, the Queen’s Gallery is the dictionary definition of a fine art gallery – “a place that houses work created primarily for aesthetic and intellectual purposes”. The collection is, unsurprisingly, fit for a king (or queen) and contains a revolving exhibit of works owned by the royals to ensure their protection for, and presumably from, the Great British public.

WHAT’S ON

Japan: Courts and Culture (until 26th February) – When nations exchange gifts for diplomatic reasons, they don’t just send over any old rubbish. So at this exhibition you’ll see the jaw-droppingly beautiful items that Japan has gifted to the British monarchy over a period of 350 years, from 17th century Samurai armour to silk screens for Edward VIIth.

Address: Buckingham Palace, Buckingham Palace Road, SW1A 1AA | Opening Hours: Thurs-Mon, 10am-5.30pm | Entry: £17

Royal Academy | Piccadilly

royal academy art gallery

Perhaps in a moment of his famed “madness”, King George III dipped into his own pocket to establish the RA in order to raise the professional status of artists and foster a national school of art. Off his rocker or not, it proved a big success (alumni include Turner, Kauffman, Constable et al.), and the RA lives on to this day as a privately funded institution training, and promoting, artists and art appreciation. The gallery has moved with the ebbs and flows of artistic taste, and its annual open-call summer exhibition showcases the best new art on the scene.

WHAT’S ON

Making Modernism (until 12th February) –  A groundbreaking exhibition highlighting the work of female German artists in the early 20th century, with themes such as motherhood and childhood at the forefront.

Spain and the Hispanic World (until 9th April) – Think you know a lot about Spain? Well you will, or at least, you will know more, after taking in this rather extensive exhibition that charts Spain and its history – starting from the ancient world and going all the way up to the early 20th century – with paintings, silk textiles, ceramics, maps and loads more important works that are on loan here from the Hispanic Museum and Library in New York.

Address: Burlington House, Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 0BD | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun, 10am-6pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from ~£15

Somerset House | Strand

Best Things To Do in Covent Garden: Somerset House

Kevin Meredith

Originally the Tudor crib to end all cribs, this imposing residence on the river Thames became a Stuart royal palace, a brief home of the Royal Academy, and now holds the offices of over a hundred creative organisations and artists, alongside numerous exhibition spaces for a range of different media. The Duke of Somerset, despite being executed before it was completed, would no doubt lose his head over how brilliant it’s become.

WHAT’S ON

Amba Sayal-Bennett: Geometries of Difference (until 5th February) – a series of sculptural works created in response to the original architect’s plans of the building.

The Horror Show! (until 19th February) – A frightening exhibition, not for any monsters hiding around the corner, but for the rather dark, disturbing and ultimately highly engaging take on the last 50 years of modern British history.

Address: Strand, WC2R 1LA | Opening Hours: Daily 10am-6pm | Entry: Free/£15+ for exhibitions

Tate Britain | Pimlico

tate britain

The epicurean, slightly dotty uncle of the Tate Modern is concerned with one thing only – old Blighty (and the artists who come from within it). A national treasure full of national treasures, expect to see all the big names from 1500 to the present day –Turner, Constable, Bacon, Blake, and Emin – and there’s even a series of exhibitions titled Art Now that shines a light on our stars of tomorrow.

WHAT’S ON

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Fly In League With The Night (until 26th February) – Marvelled for creating compelling made-up characters that could well be real people, this is the former Turner Prize short-listed British figurative painter’s biggest survey yet, displaying 70 of her portrait works dating back to 2003. 

Address: Millbank, SW1P 4RG | Opening Hours: Daily, 10am-6pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £16

Tate Modern | Bankside

Some people think modern art is just a load of Pollocks. And they’d be right. But he’s not the only artist you’ll find in this behemoth of modern and contemporary works. Tate Modern holds the British collection of pieces from 1900 to the present day, and is one of the largest modern art museums in the world. Housed within the old Bankside power station, it has become an iconic landmark on the Thames’ riverscape. Pieces from Picasso, Dali and Matisse lead the permanent line-up, while the old turbine hall dwarfs its visitors and holds specially commissioned, larger-than-life exhibits.

WHAT’S ON

Cézanne (until 12th March) – Wait! we hear you cry. Isn’t Cézanne like, sooo 19th century? Well, yes, but this major show (displaying many pieces that have never been in the UK before) charts how the French painter broke down artistic conventions of the time and ushered in a new era, ultimately paving the way for many great artists of the 20th century.

Maria Bartuszová (until 16th April) Maria Bartuszová is a Slovakian sculptor who fills objects like balloons with white plaster to create her delicate art. As you’ll be able to see at this survey (that looks into what she’s done since the 1960s), her body of work is very solid…

Magdalena Abakanowicz: Every Tangle Of Thread And Rope (until 21st May)The Polish artist is weaving her magic in the Tate Modern with the gallery in the Blavatnik Building now an eerie ‘forest’ populated by her unnerving, towering textile sculpture displays (also known as ‘Abakans’). Knot one to miss…

Address: Bankside, SE1 9TG | Opening Hours: Daily 10am-6pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £13

Wallace Collection | Marylebone

wallace collection london art gallery

A collecting hobby that got a little out of hand is now a major collection of 18th and 19th century works collected by subsequent Marquesses of Hertford, and bequeathed to the public. Housed within an imposing regency townhouse, the Wallace is famed for its triumphant collection of French decorative arts; the grandest one outside of Gaul. It’s a fancy family’s fancy private collection, so expect gilded frames, suits of armour, and offensive levels of wealth to dominate your surroundings on your sojourn through the wings.

WHAT’S ON

Just the permanent collection for now.

Address: Hertford House, Manchester Square, W1U 3BN | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 10am-5pm | Entry: Free / £14 for exhibitions

NORTH LONDON ART GALLERIES

Camden Art Centre | Hampstead

al fresco music gig london

What began as a local Arts scheme providing the Hampstead community with classes in everything from painting to pottery, has grown, over the past 50 years, into an internationally acclaimed centre for the arts. Housed on the leafier side of Finchley this enclave of ever rotating, multi disciplinary artistry favours edgy, young contemporary artists and has a bookshop, cafe, and garden to boot.

WHAT’S ON

Atiéna R. Kilfa The Unhomely (until 28th May) – Suspend reality and you’re in a movie scene that’s taking place on an unidentified staircase. Back in real time, you’re also in Atiéna R. Kilfa’s first institutional solo presentation in the UK where her personal memories and thoughts on the word ‘model’ are explored through various art mediums.

Mohammed Sami The Point 0 (until 28th May) – Sami’s powerful, hallucinatory paintings might look neat at first glance, but behind the acrylic lie years of traumatic memory with the artist having grown up and lived in Iraq during Sadaam Hussein’s dictatorship.

Address: Arkwright Road, London NW3 6DG | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 11am-6pm, late opening Thursday until 9pm | Entry: Free

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art | Islington

The frontage exudes the class and posture of Georgian England, but step inside and you’ll tumble down into the kaleidoscopic world of Italian Futurist Art. Futurism was one of Italy’s most significant contributions to the 20th century and this museum is Britain’s only one dedicated to the movement. Expect sculptures, paintings, landscapes, and the downright bizarre – all from a young nation looking to find la dolce vita.

WHAT’S ON

Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation (until 30th April) In celebration of its 25th anniversary, the Estorick is dedicating an entire exhibition to the greatness of Giorgio Morandi where you can gaze upon 50 of the still life maestro’s finest works.

Address: 39A Canonbury Square, N1 2AN | Opening Hours: Wed-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 12pm-5pm | Entry: £7.50/£5.50 (Concession)

Victoria Miro | Islington

Representing 40 established and emerging artists, Victoria Miro is one of the largest commercial art galleries in London – and a great place to wile away the afternoon pretending you can afford to buy even one item. The Wharf Road gallery is a converted furniture factory and now houses Grayson Perry’s 15m Walthamstow Tapestry amongst numerous other works including the garden itself, landscaped specifically for the gallery.

WHAT’S ON

Grayson Perry: Posh Cloths (Until 25th March)A collection of typically colourful (and satirical) tapestries from Grayson Perry, created in the last eight years that – using the history of British art – comment on societal issues facing today’s Britain.

Address: 16 Wharf Road, N1 7RW | Opening Hours: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm | Entry: Free

William Morris Gallery | Walthamstow

William Morris Gallery

The original hipster, Morris eschewed Victorian trends in favour of more “retro” Medieval vibes – before going on to propagate the socialist movement in Britain and then sow the seeds of fantasy literature by translating Icelandic epic poetry. His life was as intricate and interconnected as his infamous wallpaper designs, and this delightful museum celebrates every facet of his fascinating existence.

WHAT’S ON

Fierce And Fearless: Witty Wise Women and Wondrous Tales (until 28th February)Following on from WM’s recent exhibition The Legend of King Arthur: A Pre-Raphaelite Love Story (which was very male heavy), Joy Gregory is flipping the script and focussing on the role of women in myth and legends.

Joy and Solace: Frank Brangwyn and Music (until 2nd April) – The artist and craftsman who helped to found the gallery gets his own semi-permanent display here, showing recently restored paintings and sketches on the theme of music.

Address: Lloyd Park, Forest Road, E17 4PP | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-5pm | Entry: Free, book to visit here

Zabludowicz Collection | Kentish Town

Housed in a Victorian Methodist chapel-turned drama school-turned exhibition space, the Zabludowicz Collection is one of North London’s most varied contemporary art galleries. Driven by philanthropic endeavours, their aim is to bring emerging artists to a wide audience, and frequently commission works by rising talent around the globe. They’re also the first London gallery with a dedicated room for 360° VR artwork.

WHAT’S ON

LuYang NetiNeti (extended until 12th March) – Buddhism, neuroscience and anime clash in the strange but comic world of this Shanghai-born artist.

Address: 176 Prince of Wales Road, NW5 3PT | Opening Hours: Thurs-Sun 12-6pm | Entry: Free

 

SOUTH LONDON ART GALLERIES

Dulwich Picture Gallery | Dulwich

dulwich picture gallery

Do the names Rembrandt and Rubens get your blood racing? Does stroking your chin over classic art make you feel peckish? Then you’re probably gonna like what’s on offer at England’s oldest public gallery. Expect Dutch paintings of cows on bridges, splendid nudity in reenactments of Greco Roman mythology, and a handful of Italian masters. There’s also a variety of more modern-ish temporary exhibitions, if you’ve seen enough classical buttocks for one day. As for the food part: check out the alfresco cafe doing all-day brunch.

WHAT’S ON

M.K. Čiurlionis: Between Worlds (until 12th March) – Widely regarded as Lithuania’s greatest artist, Čiurlionis painted an insane number of ethereal images in his short career at the turn of the century, and many of them are on show here in the UK for the first time.

Address: Gallery Road, SE21 7AD | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-5pm | Entry: £15

Fashion & Textile Museum | Bermondsey

A Bermondsey Street treasure specialising in contemporary fashion design, founded by the legendary Dame Zandra Rhodes. Rather than housing a permanent collection, they stage exhibitions on particular designers, printmakers, or fashion periods and trends, gathering items from around the globe.

WHAT’S ON

Kaffe Fassett: The Power of Pattern (until 12th March) – Explore the dazzling textiles of the legendary contemporary designer with some of his own artworks as well as quilted pieces from other makers.

Address: 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF | Opening Hours: Tues-Sat 11am-6pm | Entry: £12.65

Newport Street Gallery | Vauxhall

Formaldehyde-bathed bovines and spin-painted pictures, sharks sliced in half, and a golden-hooved calf, mountains of artwork all tied up with string, these are a few of Damien Hirst’s favourite things. As one of the richest living artists and most enthusiastic collectors, Hirst is no stranger to the contemporary scene and his personal collection, on show at the Newport Street Gallery, contains over 3,000 works from Bacon, Banksy, Emin and even Picasso.

WHAT’S ON

Currently closed, upcoming exhibitions to be announced

Address: Newport Street, SE11 6AJ | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-6pm | Entry: Free

NOW Gallery | Greenwich

NOW Gallery is, unsurprisingly, all about cutting-edge, contemporary art; but it’s also art that’s accessible and unpretentious, often taking the form of large-scale, walk-through installations. Commissioned artists are often up-and-coming and from a blend of creative backgrounds – art, fashion and design – with the kinds of ideas that not only spark conversation but plenty of social media opps too.

WHAT’S ON

Ribbons by Matty Bovan (until 5th March) – Move over grandmas. New York designer Matty Bovan has knitted a giant, multi-coloured sweater installation out of thousands of ribbons, which, alongside three films and a wall of large-scale painted canvases, encourages you to think about the fashion and textile industry, as well as how many days (or weeks?) it took for him to actually create this…

Address: The Gateway Pavilions, Peninsula Square, London SE10 0SQ |  Opening Hours: Tues-Fri, 10am-7pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm | Entry: Free

South London Gallery | Peckham

South London Gallery

Camberwell’s contemporary art gallery has always been at the forefront of the South London art scene. Originally the gallery of a local working men’s college, it has always sought to celebrate current artists. That trend continued and, in 1995, it was the first venue to showcase Emin’s infamous “tent”. Now spread across two listed buildings, the SLG houses a number of permanent exhibits with revolving temporary installations.

WHAT’S ON

Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2022 (until 12th March) – It’s a discerning collection of works by specifically 47 of the UK’s future art stars, picked from art schools and programmes by James Richards, Veronica Ryan and Zadie Xa.

See talks, workshops and screenings HERE.

Address: 65-67 Peckham Road, SE5 8UH | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 11am-6pm (9pm Weds/last Fri of the month) | Entry: Free

White Cube Bermondsey & Mason’s Yard | Bermondsey & St James

Bloomsbury Street Guide: White Cube

Europe’s biggest commercial gallery has come under its fair share of criticism. Owned and run by an old Etonian and known for displaying works in a cold and clinical manner, it’s easy to see why. But representing the likes of Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst, you can guarantee that the stars of British contemporary art will shine bright on any visit. The whitewashed walls, and strip lighting, can make it feel like a bit like a trip to the hospital, but this institution of the ever-fractious art scene is well worth a wander.

WHAT’S ON

Mason’s Yard:

TARWUK Posadila sam kost u zimskom vrtu (Until 18th March) – Croatian-born Ivana Vukšić and Bruno Pogačnik – aka TARWUK, ‘two artists who work as a single identity’ – grapple with topics like identity, language and violence via a series of out-there, dystopian-ish sculptures and paintings, in this very complex, very avant-garde and very White Cube exhibition.

Bermondsey:

Imi Knoebel Once Upon a Time (February 8th until 26th March) – A critical figure in abstract art, Imi Knoebel has new paintings up at White Cube Bermondsey and he’s thrown in a never-before-seen installation too.

Address: WCB: 144-152 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ | WCMY: 25-26 Mason’s Yard, SW1Y 6BU | Opening Hours: Tues-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12-6pm/MY closed | Entry: Free

 

EAST / THE CITY GALLERIES

The Barbican | Barbican

Barbican Centre art galleries London

One of the city’s Brutalist icons, the Barbican isn’t just home to theatre, cinemas, concert halls (and an unexpected urban jungle, the Barbican Conservatory). It also boasts a two-storey gallery space that has hosted exhibitions on everything from AI to Japanese architecture, and a retrospective of the pioneering street artist Basquiat.

WHAT’S ON

Alice Neel: Hot Off The Griddle (February 16th to 21st May)The biggest Alice Neel exhibition in the UK to date; featuring 70 expressive portraits that illustrate, in great detail, humans of New York from various walks of life.

Soheila Sokhanvari: Rebel Rebel  (until 26th February) – Named after one of David Bowie’s all-time great songs, this inspirational and profoundly powerful exhibition tells the previously untold stories of the women who dared to defy cultural conforms in the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Address: Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | Opening Hours: Sun-Wed 10am-6pm, Thurs-Sat 10am-8pm | Entry: Free/Exhibitions from £15

Guildhall Art Gallery | The City

Guildhall Art Gallery

Established in 1886 as ‘a collection of art treasures worthy of the capital city’, the Guildhall Gallery is exactly that – a sumptuous assembly of art that you’d expect the captains of industry from centuries past to have amassed. Big sexy frames, portraits of gentlemen with enormous wigs, and an impressive number of Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces are the mainstay of their throng which seeks to show off in telling the story of London town.

WHAT’S ON

This is England (until 19th February) – In an artsy way of wishing the team good luck before Qatar, visual artist Matt Small has imagined, in portrait form, all 27 members of the England football squad that made the Euros final last year, so you can come face-to-face with Harry Kane and co.

The Big City (February 10th to 23rd April) – Lots of big, grandiose paintings depicting London from back in the day, produced by the likes of Frank O. Salisbury, Terence Cuneo and David Hepher, including what’s said to be one of the largest oil paintings currently on display in the UK (John Singleton Copley’s ‘Defeat of the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar’, measuring in at a whopping 7.5 x 5.4metres).

Address: Guildhall Yard, EC2V 5AE | Opening Hours: Daily 10.30am-4pm | Entry: Free/ exhibitions from £8

Whitechapel Gallery | Whitechapel

Whitechapel Gallery Brick Lane

Founded in 1901, this gallery set out to give great art to the masses. Since then it’s had some pretty impressive mates round for tea: Picasso’s Guernica popped by; Pollock, Hockney, and Lucian Freud all logged stays. It hasn’t lost any of its mojo from following expansion in 2009 where it doubled in size; Theaster Gates and Mark Dion are just a few of the famous to have dropped by in recent years. Come hungry – Townsend is well-worth a post-exhibition trip.

WHAT’S ON

Zadie Xa (until 30th April) – The Korean-Canadian artist stages her first major solo show in the UK, a collection of sculpture housed within a fabric representation of the traditional Korean hanok (house).

The House of Le Bas (until May 2023) English Romani Gypsy travellers Delaine Le Bas and her late husband Damian Le Bas draw upon their personal experiences as ‘outsiders’ and use them to tackle stereotyping in this part installation, part archive display.

Action, Gesture, Paint Women Artists and Global Abstraction 1940–70 (February 9th to May 7th)This exhibition shows off work from Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, Bertina Lopes and a host of other women (150 paintings from 81 international female painters, in total) who were all a pivotal part of the abstract expressionist movement that took place post-WWII, with lots of stuff on display that’s never previously made it to the UK before.

Address: 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX | Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 11am-6pm, 9pm Thursdays | Entry: Free/ Exhibitions from £9.50

 

WEST LONDON ART GALLERIES

Design Museum | Kensington

Nominated for European Museum of the Year in 2018, the Design Museum is, as you’d expect, very well put together. In the bustling cultural quarter of Kensington, its three floors and two basements serve up permanent exhibitions, learning centres, glass-walled design studios and temporary gallery spaces. The permanent gallery is the only one in the UK to be dedicated completely to contemporary design.

WHAT’S ON

Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today (until 19th February)What connects Björk, Dior and Salvador Dalí? Find out in this… surreal look at how surrealism and design have played off one another over the course of the last century.

Weird Sensation Feels Good: The World of ASMR (until 10th April) – if you’re the kind of person who can’t stand the noise of other people eating, this highly interactive exhibition won’t be for you.

Yinka Ilori: Parables for Happiness (until 25th June) – a display exploring the wonderfully colourful, geometric world of artist-designer Yinka Ilori.

Address: 224-238 Kensington High Street, W8 6AG | Opening Hours: Sun-Thurs 10am-6pm, Fri-Sat 10am-9pm | Entry: Free/~£16 temporary exhibitions

Graffik Gallery | Ladbroke Grove

Street art off the street is the focus of this gritty and urban gallery. Derived from the Italian to scratch, this ancient form of expression has taken on a new lease of life in our modern times. This collection gives you a vast overview of the city’s strongest pieces – without ever making you step outside. Unless, of course, you want to try your hand at one of their graffiti workshops…

WHAT’S ON: Main collection only.

Address: 284 Portobello Road, W10 5TE | Opening Hours: Wed-Sun 11am-6pm | Entry: Free

Leighton House Museum and Art Gallery | Holland Park

leighton house

©Leighton-House/RBKC. Image courtesy of Will Pryce

When a noted painter and lord of the realm commissions you to design his house, you’d better bring your A-game. Well, George Aitchison did just that and his creation is now a Grade II listed building, widely revered for its Orientalist and aesthetic interiors – and the home of the Leighton House Museum. The permanent gallery, predictably, contains numerous works from Lord Leighton himself; so expect to cast your eye over lavish oil panoramas of Greek myths, lords and ladies, and ecclesiastical scenes.

WHAT’S ON

A Life of Drawing: Highlights from the Leighton House Collection (until February 19th)The man whom this gallery was named after and who lived in the building before it actually became a public art gallery, Sir Frederic Leighton, had some ultra-impressive drawing skills and this exhibition, well, exhibits some of his rarest drawings.

Artists and Neighbours: The Holland Park Circle (until 19th March)The neighbours that used to live around Leighton House were coincidentally a group of great artists themselves, known collectively as the Holland Park Circle, and this exhibition houses much of their finest work.

Address: 12 Holland Park Road, W14 8LZ | Opening Hours: Wed-Mon 10am-5:30pm | Entry: £11

Saatchi Gallery | Chelsea

A controversial centre headed by a controversial curator, the Saatchi Gallery has always sought to challenge. Its guiding principle has always been to operate as the quirkier B-side to places like the Tate Modern – so expect to find new and unknown works from artists all hoping to be the Hockney of tomorrow.

WHAT’S ON

Beyond The Streets London (February 17th to 9th May) Graffiti has come a long way from school desk doodling and this exhibition supported by Adidas Originals and billed as ‘the most comprehensive graffiti and street art exhibition to ever open in the UK’ will show its impact on and importance to urban culture – and the mark it’s left on the scene…

Address: Duke of York’s HQ, Kings Road, SW3 4RY | Opening Hours: Daily 10am-6pm | Entry: Free/Exhibitions from £24.50

Serpentine Galleries | Kensington

A gallery double-act tucked away in Kensington Gardens mainly dabbling in the modern, avant-garde side of art. Come here for the daring contemporary stuff and to marvel at the temporary outdoor pavilion, designed by a different world-renowned artist each summer.

WHAT’S ON

Barbara Chase-Riboud: Infinite Folds (until 10th April) – Good if you’re into heavy metal – the art kind – as this covers the sculptor’s (she was also a pretty respected writer and poet) long and distinguished seven-decade career with some of her more noteworthy sculptures and installations.

Address: Kensington Gardens, W2 3XA | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-6pm | Entry: Free

V&A | South Kensington

V&A Museum best museums in London

Like the Queen whose name it bears, the Victoria & Albert is imposing, vast, and spans decades. With 145 galleries and over 5,000 years of art in its collection, it really is an encyclopaedia of design. Since its inception in 1852, the museum has always adopted a policy of “wide art”; attempting to inspire, dazzle, and entertain with its eclectic collection. Today is no different and you can travel the world and back without ever leaving the building (except to look at the courtyard).

WHAT’S ON

Africa Fashion (until 16th April) – A whistle-stop overview of Africa’s varied and wide-reaching influence on fashions around the world, with exhibits ranging from Moroccan avant-garde haute couture to century-old textiles and revived traditional dress.

Hallyu! The Korean Wave (until 25th June) – This blockbuster exhibition attempts to condense some of the vast cultural output of South Korea from the last seven decades into one show, and explore why K-Pop, K-Beauty and K-dystopian TV series have such global appeal.

Address: Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL | Opening Hours: Daily 10am-5.45pm (10pm Fridays) | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £12

 


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