Hattie Lloyd 03/06/23
The Best Exhibitions on Now | London Exhibitions Guide June 2023
They’re always making an exhibition of themselves.
And in London we’re lucky to have an amazing array of museums and art galleries staging an ever-evolving roster of retrospectives, new commissions and fascinating deep dives into the world of art, history, and sometimes both at the same time. So we’ve put together a list of our favourite exhibitions on in London right now; from K-Pop and dog portraiture to charming immersive renditions of the apocalypse and a deep dive into milk…–
Of course, you can also see the permanent collections at most of these museums for free – take a look at our guide to the best museums in London, or for something a little different, the most unusual museums in London.
LAST CHANCE TO SEE:
Souls Grown Deep Like Rivers| Royal Academy
Souls Grown Deep Like Rivers showcases the unique artistic traditions & storytelling methods of African American artists from the southern United States, featuring a great many artists who had no formal training, no access to traditional art materials, and no gallery space to exhibit. Many of them had to show their work in their own yards. Whether the Royal Academy is a step up or a step down for them is up for debate…
Details: Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers: Black Artists from the American South is at the RA until 18th June 2023. Tickets are available now for £15 (£13 without donation) and you can get them right here.
Maria Bartuszová| Tate Modern
The innovative Slovak artist revolutionised sculpture with her approach of hand-made plaster casting, using balloons to create natural-looking forms resembling nests, hives and bubbles. Which is lovely to look at – though people must have felt like walking on eggshells in her studio.
Details: Maria Bartuszová at Tate Modern has been extended until 25th June. Tickets cost £16, and can be booked HERE.
Hallyu! The Korean Wave| V&A
This blockbuster exhibition at the V&A 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. And it does a pretty good job of such a colossal task, with outfits worn by BTS and costumes from Squid Game, high-fashion interpretations of the traditional hanbok, dazzling sculptures, film clips, and more.
Details: Hallyu! The Korean Wave is on at the V&A until 25th June 2023. Tickets cost £20, and you can book HERE.
Yinka Ilori: Parables For Happiness| Design Museum
Even if you’ve not seen his name attached to it, you’ve probably already seen Yinka Ilori’s art. The British-Nigerian artist has been responsible for injecting joy into all kinds of public spaces over the past few years – from street crossings and pavements to laundrettes made out of Lego – and this free display at the Design Museum explores why his bold, colourful style is so irresistible, and the process behind his work, with over 100 vibrant exhibits to check out.
Details: Yinka Ilori: Parables For Happiness is on display at the Design Museum until 25th June 2023. It’s free, just turn up.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year | Natural History Museum
Treefrog pool party by Brandon Güell
It seems like the last year was enough to cause the world’s wildlife photographers to snap. And the best of those snaps will be on show at the World Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards. Now in its 58th year (!), the judges have trawled through tens of thousands of entries from 100+ countries before landing on the winning images, which are displayed on special lightboxes (alongside dozens of runner-up shots) in the Natural History Museum’s exhibition…
Details: Wildlife Photographer of the Year is showing at The Natural History Museum until 2nd July 2023. Tickets are £17, and you can get them here.
Ai Weiwei: Making Sense | Design Museum
Artist. Activist. Humanitarian icon. Ai Weiwei has worn a lot of hats, but until now he hasn’t really been a designer – so he’s stepping into new territory for his show at The Design Museum. You’ll get to see a lineup of special pieces commissioned solely for the show, all of which explore materialism and its relationship to ancient Chinese artefacts, urban development, and craftsmanship. Trust us, it all makes sense.
Details: Ai Weiwei: Making Sense is on at the Design Museum until 30th July 2023. Tickets cost £15, and you can book here.
After Impressionism: Inventing Modern Art| National Gallery
Image: André Derain, ‘The Dance / La Danse’, 1906 (Detail) © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2023 / photo courtesy of the owner
So uh… what happened after impressionism? Spoiler alert: it’s in the title – modern art, aka cubism, abstraction, expressionism and the rest. But these isms didn’t just turn up one day out of nowhere, they were shaped and progressed by the likes of Monet, Van Gogh and Cézanne, and this exhibition takes you on a trip down memory lane with paintings from all the old legends, who helped usher art into an exciting new period between the years of 1886 and 1914.
Details: After Impressionism: Inventing Modern Art is showing at National Gallery until 13th August 2023. You can find out more, and get tickets (£24 from Mon-Fri & £26 from Sat-Sun) right here.
Evelyn De Morgan: The Gold Drawings| Leighton House
Image: © 2023 The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Evelyn De Morgan’s art is full of symbolic imagery, from spiritualism to feminism, and she also had a rather off-piste artistic practice. Leighton House has acquired 14 of the pre-raphaelite painter’s evangelical gold drawings – drawings that apparently haven’t been on public display since 1889 – and put them all in one dark room for you to see. The drawings are on grey woven paper and are thought to have been created with a homemade highlighter ingeniously made from crushed up gold pigments. The results are to say the least… golden.
Details: Evelyn De Morgan: The Gold Drawings is on at Leighton House until 27th August. Entry is included with admission to the house (£11) – you can find out more info here.
Milk | Wellcome Collection
Yep, the Wellcome Collection‘s latest exhibition is all about milk. And it’s a surprisingly more profound subject than you might think – it variously incorporates white supremacy, breastfeeding, mass industry, colonisation and empowerment through reclamation. Plus, there’s a whole wall of cow-shaped jugs.
Details: Milk runs at the Wellcome Collection until 10th September. Admission is free; find out more here.
All The Flowers Are For Me | Kew Gardens
All the Flowers Are for Me – Anila Quayyum Agha © RBG Kew
Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum Agha likes to think outside the box. Specifically, about the walls surrounding the box, which, thanks to a combination of light and intricate metalwork, become shrouded in stunningly beautiful patterns inspired by Islamic art. One of her large scale sculptures (and a smaller, new commission) will be on show in the galleries at Kew Gardens’ this year, alongside an exhibition of 25 botanical drawings made by artist Sue Wickison as she travelled around the Middle East documenting plants referenced in the Qur’an.
Details: Both exhibitions are on show at Kew Gardens until 17th September 2023. Admission is included in your Kew Gardens ticket – find out more, and book, HERE.
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Rooms | Tate Modern
Tate Modern is celebrating its 20th birthday with a two-year exhibition dedicated to Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, known for her obsessive fascination with, er, polka dots. The exhibition includes two of Kusama’s world famous Infinity Rooms: The Chandelier of Grief is a mirrored room filled with rotating chandeliers that give the feeling of being in a vast, glittering universe, and The Infinity Mirrored Room is filled with hundreds of coloured LEDs that create a feeling of floating in a boundless stretch of star-studded space.
Details: Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Rooms is showing at the Tate Modern until 30th September 2023. Tickets (£10) are hard to come by, so you’ll need to keep a hawk-like eye on the site right here, or sign up for ticket notifications here.
David Hockney: Bigger & Closer Not Smaller & Further Away | The Lightroom
Hot tip! Invest in neck braces. Because as of this month people are going to be craning their heads up at frankly unnatural angles in order to take in the entirety of David Hockney’s new, illuminated, four storey tall exhibition. Call it immersive if it makes you happy, but the fact is that this thing is gigantic, and will utterly envelope people in vibrantly hued artworks…
Details: David Hockney: Bigger & Closer Not Smaller & Further Away is showing at The Lightroom in King’s Cross until 1st October 2023. You can find out more, and get tickets at the website right here.
Portraits of Dogs | The Wallace Collection
What do the likes of Gainsborough, Ward and Hockney all have in common? A love of dogs. And sure, they were all great painters too. Whatever. The important thing is their mutual love of our canine companions, which this exhibition at The Wallace Collection – possibly the most adorable show going on at London’s art galleries right now – is here to demonstrate.
Details: Portraits of Dogs is on at The Wallace Collection until 15th October. Tickets cost £14, and you can book here.
Crown to Couture | Kensington Palace
The wavy garms of the Met Gala are nothing new – as you’ll see at Kensington Palace’s blockbuster exhibition that pairs 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.
Details: Crown to Couture runs at Kensington Palace until 29th October. Tickets are included with admission to the Palace (£25.40) and can be booked here.
Titanosaur | Natural History Museum
Just one of its legs weighed more than an elephant. It was longer than a blue whale. Its heart was the size of a cow. The Patagotitan was such an unfathomably large animal it almost defies belief. And the Natural History Museum have created a special exhibition all about it, putting a full-size model of one on display for the first time in Europe…
Details: Titanosaur is on at the Natural History Museum until 7th January 2024. Tickets cost £16, and you can book here.
Evelyn Hofer | The Photographers Gallery
Image: Courtesy of Estate of Evelyn Hofer and Galerie m, Bochum, Germany
A New York Times art critic once dubbed Evelyn Hofer as ‘the most famous unknown photographer in the world’ and seeing as though this will be German-American photographer’s first solo exhibition in the UK, that’s not entirely off the mark. Hofer was known, or is now known, for her images which find the spectacular in the seemingly unspectacular; scenes from everyday city life, and the Photographer’s Gallery has nabbed 100 of them taken over the course of 45 years…
Details: Evelyn Hofer is showing at the Photographers Gallery from 23rd June – 24th September 2023. Tickets cost £6.50 (£8 at the door) and are available at the site here.
Johny Pitts: Home is Not a Place | The Photographers Gallery
Image: Johny Pitts
In a rented Mini Cooper with his friend and poet Roger Robinson, the photographer undertook a quest around the British coastline – from Southampton up to Newcastle and Edinburgh, and back down to Southend-on-Sea – to understand more about what it means to be Black in the UK, outside of London; the results of which are documented in images at this engrossing touring exhibition, currently at the Photographers Gallery.
Details: Johny Pitts: Home is Not a Place is showing at the Photographers Gallery from 23rd June – 24th September 2023. Tickets cost £6.50 (£8 at the door) and are available at the site here.
Fouad Elkoury: Preserving Time | The Photographers Gallery
Image: Courtesy of Fouad Elkoury and The Photographers’ Gallery
Lebanese photographer and filmmaker Fouad Elkoury’s snaps are tough to digest – not that they should be eaten or anything, but they centre around The Middle East and the conflicts that have often preoccupied the region; showcasing a wide-range of emotions from utter devastation to resilience and even the brief if fleeting moments of hope and happiness.
Details: Fouad Elkoury: Preserving Time is showing at The Photographers Gallery until July 9th 2023. Entry is free
Like culture? Like being indoors? Check out our guide to London’s best cinemas.
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