Hattie Lloyd 14/04/23
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
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.
Gabriel Moses: Regina (Until 30th April) – There’s a lot of hype around Gabriel Moses, a London-based photographer with Nigerian heritage who, in his young career, has already worked with Pharrell and Adidas, and has been featured in the New York Times. This is his debut exhibition, displaying 50 photos and screening two short films which cap his career so far, across fashion, music and sport.
Address: 180 Studios, 180 The Strand, WC2R 1EA | Opening Hours: Daily, 10am-6pm | Entry: Exhibitions 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.
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 | Entry: Free
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.
The Morgan Stanley Exhibition: Peter Doig (until 29th May) – Not many would be brave enough to move back to London after living in the Caribbean for 20 years, but much-admired Scottish artist Peter Doig (once holder of the record for most) has unfinished business here. This exhibition hangs 12 new paintings (alongside the work of Doig’s impressionist heroes Cezanne and Van Gogh) that he’s completed since making the relocation.
Address: Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN | Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 10am-6pm | Entry: £9-13 (students & concessions free) / Exhibitions from £16
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.
Mike Nelson: Extinction Beckons (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
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.
Jesus Died For Us, We Will Die For Dudus! (until 4th 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
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.
The Ugly Duchess: Beauty and Satire in the Renaissance (until 11th June) – Gross to some, engrossing to others, many critics have struggled to put their finger on what Quentin Massey’s best-known satirical painting is actually about, and this exhibition (a one-room display) will attempt to decipher its meaning in greater detail, as well as the wider context of how beauty and appearances (particular with older women) were perceived in the Renaissance era.
After Impressionism: Inventing Modern Art (until 3th 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.
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.
Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2023 (until 11th June) – It’s one of the most prestigious awards you can win as a photographer and the competition for 2023 has now been narrowed down to the final four – Bieke Depoorter, Samuel Fosso, Arthur Jafa and Frida Orupabo – who each offer up their own unique takes to sensitive and often heavy subjects such as race, gender and sex in their nominated projects.
A Hard Man is Good to Find! (until 11th June) – This risqué exhibition gives new meaning to exposure in camera work, tracking 60 years of queer photography and the intricacies around the male physique. Abs for days…
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
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.
Style & Society: Dressing the Georgians (April 21st until 8th October) – Say what you want about the Georgians, but they knew how to dress and make any sort of outfit work (from the uniforms laundry maids would rock to the wig and embroidered suit combo that men wore in royal court), and this exhibition spotlights what’s a bit of an under appreciated style era in British history.
Address: Buckingham Palace, Buckingham Palace Road, SW1A 1AA | Opening Hours: Thurs-Mon, 10am-5.30pm | Entry: £17
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.
Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers (until 18th June) – The RA have tagged with Souls Grown Deep Foundation in Atlanta to show the work of a number of black artists (charting the mid 20th-century to today) living in the American south. Through the use of local materials and discarded scraps, they have created sculptures, drawings, quilts and more – many being shown in Europe for the first time – which project issues that continue to plague America (and the world as a whole) such as inequality and oppression.
Address: Burlington House, Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 0BD | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun, 10am-6pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from ~£15
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.
Whorled: Here After Here After Here (until 23rd April)
What in the whorled is in the courtyard of Somerset House… ? It’s not a prank courtesy London’s construction workers. Mumbai-based multi-disciplinary artist Jitish Kallat is connecting the capital with the cosmos through this 336-metre-long curled installation that mimics the appearance of UK motorway signage and tells you your distance from Mars, the Moon and Venice.
Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition 2023 (until 1st May) – Having flicked through 400,000 submitted images, taken from over 200 countries, it all comes to one. The winning image and the other nominees shortlisted for the prestigious photography prize will be up at Somerset House for the duration of April. Quite possibly the highest standard of camera work you will ever see… until next year.
Christine Sun Kim: Edges Of Sign Language (until 21st May) – A new commission from artist Christine Sun Kim, who draws upon her personal experience with deafness to look at how sound can dictate social environments, as well as exploring her connection with American Sign Language.
Address: Strand, WC2R 1LA | Opening Hours: Daily 10am-6pm | Entry: Free/£15+ for exhibitions
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.
Isaac Julien: What Freedom Is To Me (April 26th – 20th August) – It’s been a long time coming, too long, but Sir Isaac Julian is finally getting his first major survey in the UK, celebrating his highly influential work through a mix of films and large-scale video art installations that date back to the 1980s.
The Rossettis (until 24th September) – The Rossettis may have been involved in some messy love stories and triangles, but it made for good art and this exhibition is an ode to the outstanding drawings, paintings and poetry that came from their redhead-loving Pre-Raphaelite years.
Art Now: Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings (until 7th May) – Six traditional frescos and a graphite drawing from London duo Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings, who are currently in the hot seat for the Tate Britain’s free exhibition series Art Now, designed to promote the UK’s most promising young artists.
Address: Millbank, SW1P 4RG | Opening Hours: Daily, 10am-6pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £16
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.
Maria Bartuszová (until 25th June) – 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…
Cecilia Vicuña: Brain Forest Quipu (until 16th April)
On first sight, Chilean artist/activist Cecilia Vicuña’s towering two-sculpture installation in the Turbine Hall, ‘Brain Forest’, is hard to wrap your head around, but these long, suspended ropes of fabric (that have also been made with mudlarked materials from the Thames and are soundtracked by bird and folk song) are concealed with a powerful motive: the continual damage inflicted on the planet and how indigenous communities and the natural world are disintegrating as a consequence.
Hilma Af Klint & Piet Mondrian: Forms of Life (April 20th – 3rd September) – Two of the truly great abstract artists are having a mix of their best and rarely-displayed work shown side-by-side at Tate Modern. It’s almost like two exhibitions for the price of one…
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
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.
Portraits of Dogs: From Gainsborough to Hockney (until 15th October) – Sorry cat people, this one’s for the dog lovers. While these days, dog owners might take selfies on their smartphones with their often unsuspecting canine companions, the esteemed painters of yore used to go one better and paint them…
Address: Hertford House, Manchester Square, W1U 3BN | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 10am-5pm | Entry: Free / £14 for exhibitions
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.
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
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.
Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation (until 28th May) – 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)
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.
Kudzani-Violet Hwami: A Making of Ghosts (until 13th May) – Hwami, Zimbabwean-born, is topping a lot of today’s one-to-watch lists (she’s the youngest artist to participate in the Venice Biennale) and here at her second exhibition at Victoria Miro, she’s pairing her evocative paintings with personal photos – some large scale and wall-based, others suspended – both of which ‘reflect on aspects of grief and the action of memory’.
Address: 16 Wharf Road, N1 7RW | Opening Hours: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm | Entry: Free
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.
Ashish: Fall in Love and Be More Tender (until 10th September) – Ashish Gupta’s fearless garments aren’t just fashion statements, but political and social ones too. He’s one of most exciting designers working in fashion today and his bold collections have been seen on the stars like Beyonce, Rihanna and Taylor Swift. This is his first major retrospective, looking at his last 20 years in the industry with over 60 designs on display…
Joy and Solace: Frank Brangwyn and Music (until 10th September) – 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
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.
Mother Art Prize (until 25th June) – After 630 entries from 36 countries, we’re down to the last 21 arty mums. The exhibition, however, isn’t only about recognising the best art made by mothers, it’s also about promoting, supporting and shifting perceptions around women who juggle creative careers with parental duties.
Invites: Catinca Malaimare (until 30th April) – Romanian-born London-based artist Catinca Malaimare’s first solo show features an installation described as ‘an industrial roller conveyor belt on movable wheels’ where two choreographed performers clad in vintage motorcycle gear embark on an ‘imagined ritual’, which explores our close relationship with photographic tools and screens.
Address: 176 Prince of Wales Road, NW5 3PT | Opening Hours: Thurs-Sun 12-6pm | Entry: Free
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.
Berthe Morisot: Shaping Impressionism (until 10th September) – Impressionist exhibitions are pretty commonplace at London’s art galleries – especially ones applauding the males (Monet, Cezanne and co). Exhibitions dedicated to women in impressionism are less so… so it’s big news that Berthe Morisot (one of the movement’s founders) is getting her first major survey since 1950, appreciating her life and legacy with 30 of her best paintings.
Address: Gallery Road, SE21 7AD | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-5pm | Entry: £15
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.
Andy Warhol: The Textiles (until 10th September)
Image: ©2022 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by DACS, London
We all know about Warhol’s talent for painting cans of Campbell’s soup, but something we’re less privy to is the textile work he did before he became famous. This exhibition will display 45 of his textile patterns from the 1950s…
Pauline Caulfield Textile Works: 1968-2023 (until 10th September) – Pauline Caulfield started off as a painting student at Chelsea School of Art before finding her niche in the textile print room at the Royal College of Art. Now the London textile artist finds herself at the Fashion and Textile Museum for three months with 15 works (fans, chasubles and fabrics) that showcase her illuminative and versatile style which often features ecclesiastical motifs.
Address: 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF | Opening Hours: Tues-Sat 11am-6pm | Entry: £12.65
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.
Currently closed, upcoming exhibitions to be announced
Address: Newport Street, SE11 6AJ | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-6pm | Entry: Free
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.
Darryl Daley: What You See Here / What You Hear Here (until 11th June) – This year’s Young Artist commission at NOW has gone to Darryl Daley, a filmmaker born in South London with Afro Caribbean heritage, and he’s created four films connected to theme of home (moving homes, the old memories you leave behind and the new ones you make), that are all part of a homage to his grandmother.
Address: The Gateway Pavilions, Peninsula Square, London SE10 0SQ | Opening Hours: Tues-Fri, 10am-7pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm | Entry: Free
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.
John Costi: Found Football Difficult (until 18th June)
Image: Brynley Odu Davies
John Costi might have a bit of trouble impressing on the football pitch (the title is based on a remark from one of his old school reports), but he has considerably less difficulty making mesmerising multi-sensory art. His takeover of the SLG invites guests to interact with some of his childhood memories that span from learning traditional Cypriot dance to smelling scents from popular colognes of the early ’00s, the wider context of it being to think about men’s mental health.
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
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.
Gilbert & George: The Corpsing Pictures (until 20th May) – Calling themselves ‘two people, but one artist’ Gilbert & George are basically joined at the hip, and their double act schtick has been a prominent part of British art since the ‘60s. Their latest exhibition hangs a new set of their signature quick-witted photo-art and is said to be ‘the most profoundly personal and confrontational pictures they have ever created’. It also coincides with the opening of their own museum in Spitalfields, The Gilbert & George Centre.
Samuel Ross: LAND (until 14th May) Designer and founder of fashion label A-COLD-WALL*, Samuel Ross, has incorporated elements of sculpture and abstract painting into his solo show at White Cube Bermondsey, which aims to examine black diaspora experience in post-modern Britain.
Marguerite Humeau: Meys (until 14th May) – Marguerite Humeau’s new immersive installation ‘explores themes of connectivity and the collective as a response to the impending, self-inflicted extinction of the human species’. Naturally, it’s at White Cube…
Mimi Lauter: Ruach (until 14th May) – The Los Angeles-based artist has a fresh batch of eye-catching work – painted in both oil and soft pastel – titled ‘Ruach’ (which in Hebrew means spirit, breath or wind) and she’s left them with White Cube Bermondsey for you to ogle over the next month.
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
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.
Alice Neel: Hot Off The Griddle (until 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.
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
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.
The Big City (until 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
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.
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 31st May) – 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 (until 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
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.
Ai Weiwei: Making Sense (until 30th July)
Image credit: Rick Pushinsky
The Design Museum is the site for world-famous Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei’s first ever exhibition entirely dedicated to design. Makes sense.
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
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
This royal palace sitting pretty in the middle of Kensington Gardens is loaded with history (it’s where Queen Victoria grew up), but the gilded apartments – at least, the ones that aren’t now home to Wills and Kate – make for a stunningly lavish backdrop to suitably regal exhibitions…
Crown to Couture (until 29th October)
This new blockbuster exhibition partners celebrities’ red carpet gowns with the ostentatious costume of the 17th century royal court. You’ll see stunning couture worn by the likes of Lizzo, Beyoncé and Audrey Hepburn alongside the dazzling jewels of Queen Victoria, and the kinds of Georgian dresses that make walking through a doorway seem a challenge.
Address: Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, London W8 4PX | Opening Hours: Open Wed-Sun, 10am-6pm | Entry: Included with admission to the palace (£25.40)
©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.
Evelyn De Morgan: The Gold Drawings (until 27th August) – Leighton House has 14 gold drawings on display from Evelyn De Morgan, made between 1884 and 1902. De Morgan would crush up gold pigments, turn them into homemade crayons and inscribe her symbolic imagery – often commenting on various social and political topics like feminism, love and peace – on dark paper. If you’ve never seen her art before… This is a golden opportunity.
Address: 12 Holland Park Road, W14 8LZ | Opening Hours: Wed-Mon 10am-5:30pm | Entry: £11
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.
Beyond The Streets (until 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
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.
Grenfell by Steve McQueen (until 10th May) – A painful and revealing recording of Grenfell Tower, filmed from a helicopter by the Oscar-winning director six months after the devastating flames engulfed the building and took the lives of 72 people. Its purpose: to act as a reminder of the awful tragedy (and injustice) that took place.
Address: Kensington Gardens, W2 3XA | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-6pm | Entry: Free
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).
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.
Donatello: Sculpting the Renaissance (Until 11th June 2023) – Donatello’s having a *ahem* renaissance at the V&A. This show being the first in the UK to completely hone in on his work – from the bronze to the marble to the terracotta – displaying around 130 of the Italian legend’s carvings and compositions, which should give you some idea as to why he’s regarded as the greatest sculptor of all time.
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
Looking for more inspiration? Take a peek at our 101 London Date Ideas
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