Features

16/11/21


What's On At Every London Art Gallery

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. Most 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 all the exhibitions you can visit now:


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


CENTRAL LONDON ART GALLERIES 

Bastian Gallery | Mayfair

A recently established twin to the Berlin gallery of the same name, shining a light on 20th century and postwar artists through a rotating series of solo exhibitions.

WHAT’S ON

Jeff Koons & Cy Twombly: Primal Gestures | Extended until 18th December

A pairing that allows the viewer to – as we understand it – unpick the commonalities between expressive and carefully replicated gesture in art. And is also just a great excuse to see work by two great artists at the same time.

Address: 8 Davies Street, London W1K 3DW | Opening Hours: Tues-Sat, 10am-6pm | Entry: Free, drop-in

The Courtauld Gallery | Strand

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. Read moreBook ahead

WHAT’S ON

Kurdistan in the 1940s | Until 30th May 2022 | Inc. in admission

Some 42,000 prints and negatives taken by the photographer Anthony Kersting were bequeathed to the Courtauld on his death in 2008. You won’t be able to see them all here, but you will find a fascinating collection of images taken on his travels throughout the Middle East in the 1940s and 50s, where he set out to make a record of the buildings and people of the region.

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, there’s a dazzling array of art on offer within its walls, and that of its neighbours. Its visual policy is painted with broad brush strokes, and previous exhibits have included everything from Van Gogh to Gormley – but recently it’s the recent which has taken centre stage. READ MORE

WHAT’S ON

Gerard Richter: Drawings, 1999-2021 | Until 12th December | Free

This 89 year old artist (still working) is best known for his paintings. But this free exhibition gives you an insight to another medium – his experimental drawings combining pencil, charcoal and pools of fluid watercolour.

Mixing It Up: Painting Today | Until 12th December | £12

What does modern painting look like? Spoiler alert: it’s quite a mix. And this exhibition brings together works by over 30 artists to demonstrate the diverse directions contemporary painters are taking today.

Address: Southbank Centre, 337-338 Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX | Opening Hours: Wed-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. With galleries, a theatre, and two cinemas you’re bound to find something, in some medium, that suits your fancy. READ MORE

WHAT’S ON

Channel B | Until 30th January 2022

A collection of audio-visual installations by the founding artists of Black-owned creative collective, Nine Nights. Together, they build a fascinating set that frequently comes alive with music and dance performances.

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

Mall Galleries | St James

A little green house on Pall Mall goes for £100, and a big red hotel will set you back £1000. Unfortunately, the work on offer here will cost a little bit more. Home to the Federation of British Artists, this Regency-style gallery has art for browsing, and for buying, with a real variety gracing its walls.

WHAT’S ON

Now closed for the Christmas break.

Address: The Mall, St. James’s, SW1Y 5AH | Opening Hours: Open daily, 10am-5pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions £5

Marlborough Gallery | Mayfair

A Mayfair gem founded in 1946 by a pair of Austrian émigrés who met as soldiers in the British Army. Originally specialising in Old Masters and Impressionist paintings, this modern gallery now shines a spotlight on boundary-pushing contemporary artists.

WHAT’S ON

Hughie O’Donoghue | Until 15th January 2022

An exhibition of the artist’s unique work inspired by a 1960s shipwreck, combining photography, paint, and unusual canvases from tarpaulins to sandbags.

Address: 6 Albemarle Street, W1S 4BY | Opening Hours: Weekdays 10am-5.30pm, Saturday 10am-4pm | Entry: Free

Modern Art – Central | St James

Sister gallery to the Modern Art in Old Street, this dinky viewing space opened its doors for the first time in 2020. As the name suggests, they’re concerned with artists from the 20th century onwards, running solo exhibitions for both emerging and established names.

WHAT’S ON

Richard Aldrich | Until 26th September

Sculptural, multi-media works from the abstract painter, exploring the idiosyncrasies of the human psyche.

Address7 Bury Street, St. James’s, SW1Y 6AL Opening Hours: Weds-Sat 12-6pm | Entry: Free

National Gallery | Trafalgar Square

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. 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. READ MORE

WHAT’S ON

Poussin and The Dance | Until 2nd January 2022 | £12

A focussed study of how the French painter drew on Renaissance artists and the art of Roman antiquity to depict movement and fluidity in his Bacchanalian romps.

Dürer’s Journey: Travels of a Renaissance Artist | Until 27th February 2022 | £20

This is the first major exhibition of the German artist Albrecht Dürer for nearly two decades. It traces his travels across the Alps, Italy and the Netherlands, showing how the culture he encountered there influenced his style, through a collection of drawings, paintings and letters gathered from galleries across the globe.

Kehinde Wiley: The Prelude |  Until 18th April | Free

Kehinde Wiley is best known for his portraits, placing people of colour in the settings or typical poses of Old Master paintings. Most famously, he painted Obama’s official presidential portrait for the Smithsonian (becoming the first Black artist to do so). For his latest work, however, he’s shifted his attentions to the tradition of landscape painting – and it’s all going on show here for free.

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

The Photographers’ Gallery | Soho

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. READ MORE

WHAT’S ON

Light Years: The Photographers’ Gallery at 50 | Until 1st February 2022

A neatly curated exhibit that deftly tells the story of the gallery itself, and the wider movements in photography, over the past half-century since its foundation.

Helen Levitt: In The Street | Until 13th February 2022

A fascinating glimpse into life on the streets of New York over a fifty year period, through the candid portraiture and artistic eye of Helen Levitt.

Helen Cammock: Concrete Feathers and Porcelain Tacks | Until 13th February 2022

A new film and installation project bringing together film, photography, performance and song to explore what it means to be part of a community in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

TPG New Talent 21 | Until 13th February 2022

An eclectic collection of works by emerging photographers who are being supported by the TPG New Talent mentoring programme.

Address: 16-18 Ramillies Street, W1F 7LW | Opening Hours: Tues-Sat, 10am-6pm (8pm Thurs/Fri), 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

Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace | Until 13th February 2022

We’re going to take a bet that Buckingham Palace has a pretty strong collection of what could be termed ‘masterpieces’. Here you’ll get a rare glimpse of works by the likes of Titian, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Rubens, Jan Steen and Canaletto.

Address: Buckingham Palace, Buckingham Palace Road, SW1A 1AA | Opening Hours: Thurs-Mon, 10am-5.30pm | Entry: £16

Royal Academy | Piccadilly

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 and lives on to this day as a privately funded institution training, and promoting, artists and art appreciation. The RA has moved with the ebbs and flows of artistic taste, and its annual summer exhibition showcases the best new art on the scene. Its exhibitions have ranged from Hogarth to Hockney, whilst its permanent collection samples something from throughout Art History.

WHAT’S ON

Summer Exhibition | Until 2nd January 2022 | £20-22

Slightly delayed for obvious reasons, the RA’s annual Summer Exhibition has a staggering 1,300 works on show; some from big names, like Michael Armitage and Phyllida Barlow RA; some self-taught, like Bärbel Lange and Marie-Rose Lortet; and many more submitted by creative members of the public who, seemingly, found themselves a lot of time on their hands last year…

Light Lines: The Architectural Photographs of Hélène Binet | Until 23rd January 2022 | £17

Binet has been called ‘the architect’s photographer’ by many, and this exhibition will make it abundantly clear why – through her lens, the lines and angles of stunning structures, from brutalist buildings to ancient churches, are beautifully captured.

Late Constable | Until 13th February 2022 | £19-21

Despite graduating from the RA Schools, Constable’s never had his own retrospective at the gallery. That’s being rectified now, and you can find oil sketches, paintings, drawings and even prints in this collection of his later work.

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

Somerset House | Strand

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

Beano: The Art of Breaking The Rules | Until 6th March 2022 | £16

You know an exhibition’s going to be good when it has an official shortbread partner (Walker’s, obvs). But this celebration of the iconic kids’ comics has enough to commend itself regardless – you’ll be able to pore over original drawings and sketches from the Beano archives, read about its creation, and see new pieces from contemporary artists like Phyllida Barlow, Martin Creed, and Simeon Barclay created in response to the comic’s spirit of rebellion.

We Are History | Until 6th February 2022

Photography, print and video are brought together in this exhibition featuring works by 11 artists with personal connections to Africa, South America and the Caribbean, exploring the relationship between colonial legacies and climate change.

Address: Strand, WC2R 1LA | Opening Hours: Sat, Sun & Tue 10am-6pm, Wed-Fri 11am-8pm | Entry: Free/£15+ for exhibitions

Tate Britain | Pimlico

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). Expect to see all the big names from 1500 to the present day; Turner, Constable, Bacon, Blake, and Emin. Quite the knees-up. Book free entry to the main gallery

WHAT’S ON

Life Between Islands | Until 3rd April 2022 | £16

The Tate Britain’s latest exhibition has opened to rave reviews. It looks back on the past 70 years of British-Caribbean art, showcasing works by around 50 artists across all kinds of media, from painting and sculpture to reportage photography, film and fashion. The result is a breathtaking survey of both the joyous and fraught experiences of Caribbean-descended communities in Britain.

Hogarth and Europe | Until 20th March 2022 | £18

This sprawling exhibition brings together the work of Hogarth and his contemporaries in cities like Venice, Paris, and Amsterdam to see how they used their art to make witty and insightful social commentaries of 18th century society.

Heather Phillipson | Until 23rd January | Free

If you’d like to bamboozle your mind with remixed imagery, colour and pure absurdity, Heather Phillipson’s the artist you need – her free installation at the Tate Britain is a wild explosion of sound and vision that she’s calling a ‘pre-post-historic environment’.

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

Tate Modern | Bankside

Tate Modern London museums

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. It 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. The old turbine hall dwarfs its visitors and holds specially commissioned, larger-than-life exhibits. READ MORE | Book free entry to the main collection

WHAT’S ON

Anicka Yi: In Love With The World | Until 16th January 2022 | Free

The concept behind Anicka Yi’s installation in the Turbine Hall is essentially ‘hey, what would co-existing with intelligent machines look like?’ – and apparently it looks like strange, inflatable jellyfish robots floating around the six-storey height space, releasing scents from Bankside history. Book a free timed entry ticket here.

Lubaina Himid | Until 3rd July 2022 | £16

The staging of the Turner prize-winning artist’s sprawling retrospective has been criticised by some as being ‘mildly disappointing’. But while the exhibition may not tie together to create a strong enough statement in itself, this is still a great opportunity to immerse yourself in Himid’s colourful, charged work, addressing topics from colonial legacies to gender.

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

Wallace Collection | Marylebone

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 a 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

Frans Hals: The Male Portrait | Until 30th January 2022 | £14

Hals’ famous pic of The Laughing Cavalier is displayed for the first time with some of his other portraits of solo male sitters (at various stages of chuckling).

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

NORTH LONDON ART GALLERIES

Camden Arts Centre | Camden

Camden Arts Centre London Art Galleries

What began as a local Arts scheme providing the Hampstead community with classes in everything from painting to pottery, grew, over the past 50 years, into an internationally acclaimed centre for the arts. Housed on the leafier side of Swiss Cottage this enclave of ever rotating, multi disciplinary artistry is a small and quaint affair with an onsite bookshop, cafe, and garden to boot.

WHAT’S ON

Phoebe Collings-James – A Scratch! A Scratch! | Until 23rd December

This exhibition showcases the work the artists produced in just a six month residency, encompassing sonic landscapes, sgraffito clay paintings and sculpture.

Adam Farah – What I’ve Learned From You and Myself | Until 23rd December

A multimedia exhibition exploring self-reflection through the media of – amongst others – sculpture, poppers, peppers and iPods.

Zeinab Saleh – Softest Place on Earth | Until 23rd December

Completing this trilogy of exciting emerging artists is Zeinab Saleh, whose hazy charcoal drawings are inspired by everyday occurrences and home video tapes.

Address: Arkwright Road, London NW3 6DG | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 11am-6pm, occasional late openings | 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

Estorick Collection Uncut | Until 19th December | £7.50

To celebrate the gallery’s full reopening after all the lockdowns, the entirety of the Estorick Collection will be on show throughout the six gallery rooms, including pieces by Umberto Boccioni, Amedeo Modigliani, and Giorgio Morandi.

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

Pangolin | King’s Cross

Dedicated totally to the three dimensional, the Pangolin details the historic development of British sculpture as well as showcasing the, ahem, cutting-edge of modern contemporary work.

William Tucker | Until 23rd December

This presents all-new work by the Royal Academician William Tucker, inspired by sculptures he first made 50 years ago. His striking geometric reliefs seem to shift between two and three dimensions, like optical illusions.

Lynn Chadwick | Until 15th January 2022

Mid-century sculptor Lynn Chadwick was often criticised for being out of touch – but this meticulously researched exhibition seeks to draw on contemporary cultural references to explore how they may have subconsciously influenced his style.

Address: Kings Place, 90 York Way, N1 9AG | Opening Hours: Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm | Entry: Free, book ahead to visit

Victoria Miro | Islington

Representing 40 established and emerging artists, Victoria Miro is one of the largest commercial spaces 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 personally for the gallery.

WHAT’S ON

Paula Rego: The Forgotten | Until 12th February 2022

Following the major exhibition at Tate Modern, this collection looks at Rego’s surreal paintings throwing a spotlight onto those who are stigmatised by society.

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

William Morris Gallery | Walthamstow

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

Young Poland | Until 30th January 2022 | Free, suggested donation £5

Amazingly, this is the first exhibition to take a dedicated look at the Arts & Crafts movement in Poland, which flourished between 1890 and 1918 despite the upheaval of invasion and occupation.

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

The Stand-Ins: Figurative Painting from the Collection | Until 19th December

A diverse collection of paintings featuring people, from 19 talented artists whose styles span from the abstract to realism.

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

 

SOUTH LONDON ART GALLERIES

Dulwich Picture Gallery | Dulwich

The oldest public art gallery in England, this imposing Regency triumph stands proud in well-to-do Dulwich. Home to an impressive collection of historical works, this is a classic gallery experience. Expect Dutch paintings of cows on bridges, splendid nudity in reenactments of Greco Roman mythology, and a handful of Italian masters. READ MORE

WHAT’S ON

Helen Frankenthaler: Radical Beauty | Until 18th April 2022

This is the first major UK retrospective for the abstract expressionist Helen Frankenthaler, whose beautiful, pioneering woodcuts are displayed here alongside a couple of casual Monets for comparison.

Address: Gallery Road, SE21 7AD | Opening Hours: Wed-Sun 10am-5pm | Entry: £16.50/£8 (concessions)/£5 18-30s

Fashion & Textile Museum | Bermondsey

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

WHAT’S ON

Beautiful People | Until 13th March 2022

This one’s dedicated to the bright young things of the 60s and the psychedelic fashions of Chelsea’s counterculture boutiques. There’s about a hundred outfits on show – some of which were worn by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones – all showcased in recreations of classic stores like Biba, Dandie Fashions and Granny Takes A Trip.

Address: 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF | Opening Hours: Tues-Sat 11am-6pm | Entry: £12.65/£10.45/£11.55 (students/concessions) – free for under 12s

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

Richard Estes: Voyages | Until 12th December

If you’re just hankering for some super impressive, realistic painting, this is where to go. Richard Estes is best known for his New York landscapes, but this brings in paintings inspired by his travels across around the world – even Antarctica.

Address: Newport Street, SE11 6AJ |  Opening Hours: Wed-Sun 10am-5pm | 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.

WHAT’S ON

Your Ship Has Landed | Until 6th March 2022

Set designer Lydia Chan is collaborating with digital artists Songyee Kim and Thibault Evrard to create an AR experience set in a vivid sci-fi environment filled with alien forms.

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

Shut The Club Down | Until 27th February 2022 | Fire Station Galleries

This dinky display is a love letter to two of Peckham and Camberwell’s clubs in the 1990s: pioneering indoor rave venue Lazerdrome, and artist incubator Imperial Gardens.

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

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 (or asylum depending on your view of the work), but this institution of the ever fractious art scene is well worth a wander.

WHAT’S ON

Mason’s Yard: Magnus Plessen: Hope Love Helium | Until 8th January 2022

Paintings inspired by emerging quantum theories of natural structures, and their parallels in human connection.

Address: WCB: 144-152 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ | WCMY: 25-26 Mason’s Yard, SW1Y 6BU | Opening Hours: Weds-Sun 11am-6pm | Entry: Free

 

EAST / THE CITY GALLERIES

The Barbican | Open now

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

WHAT’S ON

Noguchi | Until 8th January 2022 | £18

A retrospective of the pioneering Japanese American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who believed “everything is sculpture.” And his work’s even been carried into the conservatory here, where you can see cloud-like lanterns suspended from the ceiling (book separately).

Shilpa Gupta: Sun at Night | Until 6th February 2022 | Free

This is Mumbai-based artist Shilpa Gupta’s first major London show. Her work centres around issues of censorship, and the headline act of the show is a room filled with 100 microphones, each of which hang above a metal spike piercing a fragment of poetry written by someone who was detained in jail for their writing. It’s deeply moving, and you can catch some of her newest work here, too. Open daily, 11am-7pm

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

Chisenhale Gallery | Bow

Sat inside a 1930s veneer factory, Chisenhale Gallery produces and commissions contemporary art in the heart of the East End. Its focus is on emerging and under-represented artists, so expect the new and the different in this champion of the people.

WHAT’S ON

Rindon Johnson | Until 6th February 2022

A new commission in collaboration with NYC’s SculptureCenter, ranging from video projected within the gallery visualising weather data from the North Atlantic ‘cold blob’, to sculpture floating on the canal outside.

Address: 64 Chisenhale Road, E3 5QZ | Opening Hours: Wed-Sun 12am-6pm | Entry: Free

Guildhall Art Gallery| The City – Closed for maintenance until April 2022

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. Book ahead

Address: Guildhall Yard, EC2V 5AE | Opening Hours: Daily 10.30am-4pm | Entry: Free, but book ahead

Maureen Paley | Hackney

Paley was a bit of a pioneer in the contemporary art scene, being the first to exhibit in London’s East End. Now representing over 40 individuals, her gallery showcases their work and makes for a varied stroll through some of the UK’s most exciting and decorated contemporary artists. There are two Turner prize winners and even more nominees on show. Which should turn heads.

WHAT’S ON

Chioma Ebinama: A Spiral Shell | Until 19th December

Ebinama’s explorative paintings are inspired by wide-reaching aesthetics and ideologies, ‘from West African cosmology to folk art of the global South, to the visual language of Western religion and Eastern spiritual traditions.’

Address: 60 Three Colts Lane, London E2 6GQ | Opening Hours: Wed-Sun 11am-6pm | Entry: Free

Modern Art | Old Street

A gallery running frequent exhibitions – frequently running three displays at a time – it’s a beautifully minimalist space that plays host to all kinds of abstract and provocative contemporary art, supporting a roster of emerging sculptors, photographers and painters.

WHAT’S ON

Karlo Kacharava: People and Places | Until 25th April

The influential Georgian artist created an incredible body of work in his short life, set against the backdrop of the Soviet Union of the 80s and post-Soviet 90s. This exhibition is one of the most comprehensive ever staged, and effectively introduces his work to the UK.

Address: 4–8 Helmet Row, London EC1V 3QJ | Opening Hours: Wed-Sat 12-6pm | Entry: Free

Nunnery Gallery | Bow

An eclectic East London venue dedicated to showcasing the work of local artists, and incubating new talent through residencies and workshops. Surrounded by artists’ studios, it’s set in an old 19th century convent, and has an excellent café for mulling over the exhibits with an Allpress coffee.

WHAT’S ON

Bow Open Show 2021 | Until 19th December

Nell Brookfield

Curated by gal-dem founder Leyla Reynolds, this exhibition showcases the work of 24 local artists from Bow Arts Studios responding to the title ‘Aboutface: regroup, reorganise, reimagine.’

Address: 181 Bow Road, E3 2SJ | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun, 10am-4pm | Entry: Free

Whitechapel Gallery | Whitechapel

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; and currently it displays a mix of modern and contemporary masters.

WHAT’S ON

Phantoms of Surrealism | Until 12th December | Free

When people think surrealism, they often think of purple giraffes eating bagpipes Salvador Dali. But the fact is that he did not invent the art form, and a great many of his predecessors have gone un-celebrated. Until now. The Whitechapel Gallery is putting on a show examining the pivotal role of women as both artists and as behind-the-scenes organisers within the surrealism movement in Britain in the 1930s. Works by Sheila Legge, Claude Cahun, Ithell Colquhoun, and Diana Brinton Lee are all showcased, and they are incredible…

This Is The Night Mail | Until 2nd January 2022 | Free

A selection of magical, nocturnal paintings from the Christen Sveaas collection in Oslo, hand-picked by artist Ida Ekblad in response to a W. H. Auden poem from 1936.

Yoko Ono: Mend Piece | Until 2nd January 2022 | Free

An interactive piece by the famous Japanese artist and activist, which encourages you to meditate on the role of individuals in changing the world by quietly fixing broken bits of pottery. READ MORE

Theaster Gates: A Clay Sermon | Until 9th January 2022 | Free

Work from over two decades is brought together in this exploration of clay and its spiritual significance in Christian scripture. Expect hand-thrown pots, Afro-Mingei sculpture (previously exhibited at White Cube), and a curated selection of historic ceramics from other collections, including the V&A.

Simone Fattal: Finding A Way | Until 15th May 2022 | Free

This commission is Fattal’s first solo exhibition in the UK, and ranges from ceramic art to etchings, watercolours and bronze sculpture, all themed around ideas of ascension and emancipation.

Address: 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX | Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 11am-6pm | Entry: Free (book ahead) / Exhibitions from £9.50/£7.50 concessions

 

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. READ MORE

WHAT’S ON

Waste Age: What Can Design Do? | Until 20th February 2022 | £12.50+

This fascinating exhibition looks at how design can shape a more sustainable future, from smart upcycling to using new natural materials – there’s even a table made from leftover agave leaves from tequila distillation.

The Conran Effect | Until January 2022 | Free

A free display to celebrate the life and work of the designer (and Design Museum founder) Sir Terence Conran, who would have turned 90 this year.

Amy: Beyond The Stage | Until 10th April 2022 | £14.50

A tribute to the talent of the late singer and musician Amy Winehouse, with original outfits she wore on stage, handwritten lyrics, photographs, and her blue Daphne Fender Stratocaster guitar. READ MORE

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 | Still closed

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. Whether it’s a growing art form or just an aberration on our city streets, it certainly packs a punch and 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… READ MORE

WHAT’S ON: Main gallery only.

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

Leighton House Museum and Art Gallery | Still closed

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 Leighton himself; so expect to cast your eye over lavish oil panoramas of Greek myths, lords and ladies, and ecclesiastical scenes. READ MORE

WHAT’S ON: Main gallery only.

Check out talks, events and workshops HERE.

Address: 12 Holland Park Road, W14 8LZ | Opening Hours: Weekends 10am-5:30pm | Entry: £9/£7 (Concessions)

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. READ MORE

WHAT’S ON

Liminal | Until 12th December | Free

This exhibitions showcases over 70 portraits by the London-based Italian artist ALO, who defines his highly recognisable style as ‘urban expressionism’.

London Grads Now 21 | Until 16th January 2022 | £5-8

Want to see some brand new art? Well, it doesn’t get newer than this – every piece at the Saatchi’s new headline exhibition has been produced by a London art school graduate. The 150+ works on show span all kinds of media, mood and style, and you never know – you might be looking at a future Picasso.

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

Serpentine Galleries | Open now

These two contemporary galleries connect thanks to a snaking bridge that crests the Serpentine – hence the name. In celebration of their idyllic, Eden-esque setting, every summer the gallery commissions a temporary outdoor pavilion – although this year, for obvious reasons, the terrace is getting a breather. 

WHAT’S ON

Hervé Télémaque: A Hopscotch of the Mind | Until 30th January 2022 | Free

Télémaque was born in Haiti, moved to New York in 1957, then settled in Paris in 1961 – and his art, drawing on the Pop cultural movement as well as comic books, expressionism and surrealism, is a colourful and fascinating reflection of his own varied life.

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

V&A | South Kensington

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). READ MORE | Book free entry

WHAT’S ON

Alice: Curiouser & Curiouser | Until 31st December | £20

v&a best exhibitions

Something about Lewis Carroll’s stories about a girl who falls down a rabbit hole, shrinks to 10 inches and then meets a megalomaniac Queen served by a pack of anthropomorphic playing cards just seems to stick in people’s heads. And this blockbuster show at the V&A attempts to serve up just a slice of the cultural offshoots it has inspired, from the fashion of Vivienne Westwood and recipes by Heston Blumenthal to films, ballet, theatre and art. You’ll even see the makings of a nonsensical genius, with doodles from Carroll’s own schoolbooks. Also you can play hand-illustrated, virtual reality croquet. READ MORE

Bags: Inside Out | Until 16th January 2022 | £12

If anyone’s going to have a good handle on bags, it’s the V&A. They’re paying tribute to carriers of all kinds – from iconic designer handbags to historic purses and government despatch boxes, with insightful analysis of form and function.

Fabergé in London | Until 8th May 2022 | £18

The Russian goldsmith Carl Fabergé really cracked the world of luxury crafts. His famous eggs are just one part of what he created, and here you can see luxurious cigar boxes, jewellery and trinkets, whose world renown meant the firm were able to open a London branch in 1903.

Address: Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL | Opening Hours: Wed-Sun 10am-5.45pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £12

 

Last updated: 8th December 2021 | Main image: Your Ship Has Landed/Lydia Chan at NOW Gallery


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