Well, it’s been a while since we were able to tell you about any of the art exhibitions happening in London right now.
So we thought we’d brush up.
This is a running list of all the major (and quite a few independent) art galleries in London, complete with reopening dates, new opening hours and the run-down on the latest exhibitions. Most galleries now 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. And bear in mind that you’ll need to wear a mask as you go round.
But enough of all that – art is back. Here are all the exhibitions you can visit now:
JUMP TO: CENTRAL | NORTH | SOUTH | EAST | WEST
CENTRAL LONDON ART GALLERIES
A temporary home for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts while their grand pile gets done up next door, BAFTA Piccadilly is hosting a free exhibition showcasing costumes, sketches, notes and other memorabilia from some of the most iconic winners of BAFTA awards over the years. You’ll see Villanelle’s voluminous pink dress from Killing Eve; initial concept drawings for the indie puzzle game Monument Kingdom; hair and make up designs from The Favourite; and notes made by Chiwetel Ejiofor as research for his award-winning performance in 12 Years A Slave.
Address: BAFTA Piccadilly, 194 Piccadilly, W1J 9LN | Opening Hours: Weekdays 8am-6pm, weekends 12-6pm | Entry: Free
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.
Atelier Picasso | 3rd September – 31st October 2020
André Villers, Picasso à la cigarette
Bastian’s upcoming exhibition gives you an insight into how the prolific artist worked, offsetting some of his lesser-seen pieces with furnishings from his Cannes studio and photographs of the artist at work.
Address: 8 Davies Street, London W1K 3DW | Opening Hours: Thurs-Sat, 11am-5pm | Entry: Free, drop-in
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.
Among The Trees | Until 31st October
38 artists go back to their roots in this multimedia exhibition celebrating trees, transporting you from Japanese islands to Israeli olive groves. Book ahead to visit.
Address: Southbank Centre, 337-338 Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX | Opening Hours: Wed-Sat 11am-7pm, Sundays 10am-6pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £14.50
ICA | Closed
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. Even if it’s just the second Rochelle Canteen restaurant. READ MORE
Cameron Rowland | Until 12th April
New York-based artist Cameron Rowland works with longform text, sculpture and installation to unearth histories for people of colour. This new work at the ICA – looking at how Britain profited from enslaved people in the 17th-19th centuries – is his first solo exhibition in the UK.
Check out screenings, talks and more HERE
Address: The Mall, St James’s, SW1Y 5AH | Opening Hours: Tue-Thurs 12pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-12am, Sun 12pm-11pm | Entry: £1/£5 for exhibitions
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.
Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours 208th Exhibition | Until 12th September
Steven Bragg, Soho New York 7
You don’t get to your 208th annual exhibition without being ruddy good. This exhibition showcases an impressive 400+ watercolour paintings, making it the largest of its kind in the world. Book ahead
Address: The Mall, St. James’s, SW1Y 5AH | Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 11am-5pm (7pm on Thursdays) | Entry: Free / Exhibitions £5
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.
Summer Exhibition | Until 13th September
A colourful, eclectic collection of paintings from a host of modern masters, from Frank Auerbach to Gillian Ayres. Drop-in.
Address: 6 Albemarle Street, W1S 4BY | Opening Hours: Weekdays 10am-5pm | Entry: Free
Sister gallery to the Modern Art in Old Street, this dinky viewing space has just opened its doors for the first time. As the name suggests, they’re concerned with artists from the 20th century onwards, running solo exhibitions for both emerging and established names.
Martha Jungwirth: Recent Paintings | Until 26th September
All painted over the last year, 80 year old Jungwirth’s new solo collection brings together huge, abstract pieces where oil paint is dramatically spattered, dashed and smudged across paper and mounted on linen. Book ahead
Address: 7 Bury Street, St. James’s, SW1Y 6AL | Opening Hours: Weds-Sat 12-5pm | Entry: Free
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
Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age | Until 20th September 2020
Once a protégé of Rembrandt, later a commercial artist producing over 900 portraits for the aristocracy, Maes’s instinctive style is explored in this collection of 50 paintings focussed on his love of capturing ‘behind-the-scenes’.
Titian: Love, Desire, Death | Until 17th January 2021
The six paintings that Prince Philip of Spain commissioned from Titian are reunited from across the globe for the first time in four centuries. Inspired by the classical Greek myths included in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, they’re epic, sensuous paintings that are full of emotion.
Artemisia | 3rd October 2020 – 24th January 2021
This pioneering show brings together the works of 17th century artist Artemisia for the UK’s first major exhibition. Her masterfully rendered paintings put women, from biblical heroines to humble servants, centre-stage, and are shown here alongside recently uncovered letters, putting a voice to the artist for the first time.
Address: Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN | Opening Hours: Daily, 11am-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.
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
Jan Svoboda: Against The Light | Until 20th September
Starting out as a stage designer, Jan Svoboda became one of the most prominent avant-garde photographers of the mid-late 20th century. He was interested in pushing the boundaries of photography as a medium and the physical image – so expect lots of beautiful, mysterious monochromatic still lifes and photographs presented as a form of sculpture. Book ahead
Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2020 | Until 20th September
The four shortlisted projects for this annual prize are each displayed in their own room, and push boundaries in different ways. One photograph makes use of augmented reality to reveal an invisible crowd, while another room maps photographs onto paintings via an encoded telephone message. Book ahead
Address: 16-18 Ramillies Street, W1F 7LW | Opening Hours: Tues-Sat, 11am-7pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions £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.
George IVth: Art and Spectacle | Until 11th October 2020
Gouty, womanising, and shockingly bad with money, George IVth is the most easily caricatured of the historic English royals. But as this exhibition shows, he was also a highly influential tastemaker in art, design and fashion – and was one of the most conscientious art collectors of the entire royal lineage. Book ahead
Address: Buckingham Palace, Buckingham Palace Road, SW1A 1AA | Opening Hours: Daily 11am-6.30pm | Entry: £13.50
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.
Léon Spilliaert | Until 20th September
The Belgian artist receives his first ever solo show in the UK, bringing together 80 spellbinding drawings, from his enigmatic self-portraits to wispy, magical snapshots of his hometown, Ostend. Book ahead
Gaugin and the Impressionists | Until 18th October
This sprawling Impressionist trove has been loaned from Denmark’s Ordrupgaard Collection, featuring works by the likes of Monet, Renoir and Gaugin (many of which have never been seen in the UK before). But it’s one hot ticket – due to the reduced capacity of the gallery it’s already sold out. Sign up for updates on ticket releases
Address: Burlington House, Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 0BD | Opening Hours: Weds-Sun, 11am-5pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £12
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.
NOTE: The Courtauld Gallery is currently closed for major renovation works until Spring 2021. Watch this space.
Mushrooms: The Art, Design & Future of Fungi | Until 13th September | Free
Seana Gavin – Mindful Mushroom
Yeah! Mushrooms! Over 40 artists are displayed in this fungal collection, from Beatrix Potter to contemporary designers creating sustainable mushroom shoes. And yes, there’s a mushroom-themed gift shop at the end. Book your free ticket ahead
Address: Strand, WC2R 1LA | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 12-6pm | Entry: Free/£14+ 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). 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
Aubrey Beardsley | Until 20th September
Aubrey Beardsley was something of a bohemian prodigy, whose life and career were tragically cut short when he died of tuberculosis at 25. But in the six short years of his professional career, he created beautiful and arresting illustrations spanning the erotic, the decadent and the grotesque, which won him no end of opprobrium from his Victorian contemporaries. Book ahead
Address: Millbank, SW1P 4RG | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 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. 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
Steve McQueen | Until 6th September
Artist, director, screenwriter: Steve McQueen is one seriously talented man. And yet somehow this is his first major show in the UK in two decades. 14 of his most intriguing works of art are exhibited in this awe-inspiring exhibition, from a short film following workers down a gold mine shaft to a 42-hour loop of FBI documents detailing the surveillance of civil rights activist Paul Robeson. READ MORE | Tickets now sold out – check for any new releases here
Andy Warhol | Until 15th November | £22
A major exhibition on one of the most legendary artists of the 20th century. Expect to see iconic pieces like his classic pop art paintings of Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s soup cans; rarely seen work like his portrait series of drag queens and trans women; and the sheer playfulness of his Silver Clouds installation and multimedia extravaganza, Exploding Plastic Inevitable. READ MORE | Book ahead
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 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.
Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting For The East India Company | Until 13th September
Family of Ghulam Ali Khan – Six Recruits
A striking collection of portraits, botanical sketches and animal studies commissioned for the East India Company, showcasing the rarely credited talents of local Indian artists in compiling the company’s comprehensive studies in natural history. Book ahead
Address: Hertford House, Manchester Square, W1U 3BN | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-3pm | Entry: Free
NORTH 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.
Vivian Suter: Tintin’s Sofa | Until 5th April
Vivian Suter leaves her canvases outside in the jungle. Suitably marked by rain, falling leaves, and her three dogs (Bonzo, Nina and Tintin), she then recovers them to paint broad, vivid images. Suspended from the ceiling, this exhibition is like walking through a rainforest of canvas.
Athanasios Argianas: Hollowed Water | Until 5th April
Argianas isn’t just a sculptor. He’s also a talented composer. This exhibition displays works where visual and audio arts overlap, drawing on influences from Ancient Greece to Art Deco.
Address: Arkwright Road, London NW3 6DG | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-6pm (9pm Wednesdays) | 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.
Tullio Crali: A Futurist Life | Until 13th September
Another key figure of the Futurist artistic movement gets a sprawling retrospective here, focussing on his striking paintings inspired by flight and space, with multiple simultaneous viewpoints, dynamic perspectives and vibrant colours. Book ahead
Address: 39A Canonbury Square, N1 2AN | Opening Hours: Wed-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 12pm-5pm | Entry: £7.50/£5.50 (Concession)
London’s only public gallery dedicated to graphic art was founded by a man who undoubtedly etched his creations onto your childhood, Sir Quentin Blake. As Dahl’s illustrator, his work has found itself onto almost every bookshelf in Britain and a small collection of his drawings are on permanent display here in the House of Illustration, alongside visiting exhibitions. Set within the old granary buildings just north of Kings Cross, this museum is a dais to doodles – proving that even sketches have their place up on the wall. READ MORE
George Him: A Polish Designer for Mid-Century Britain | Until 10th May
If you haven’t heard of George Him, it’s time you got familiar with him. He was one of the many Jewish emigrés who had a huge impact on visual arts in postwar England, and this exhibition displays some of his most visually striking work, from propaganda posters to iconic adverts for Schweppes.
Tom of Finland: Love and Liberation | 6th March – 28th June
The UK’s first solo retrospective on gay cultural icon Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen), whose drawings influenced the aesthetics of Queen and the Village People even while working in a country where homosexuality was illegal.
Address: 2 Granary Square, King’s Cross, N1C 4BH | Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm | Entry: £7.50/£5.50 (Concession)
Pangolin | Open by appointment
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.
Geoffrey Clarke: Intuitionism | Until 19th September
Geoffrey Clarke – Adoration of Nature (1951)
A rare exhibition of Geoffrey Clarke’s striking abstract prints, often overshadowed by his primary work as a sculptor.
Address: Kings Place, 90 York Way, N1 9AG | Opening Hours: Open by appointment, Tues & Thurs 10am-4pm | Entry: Free
NOTE: You can currently see two exhibitions online: check out Isaac Julien’s Lessons of the Hour and Alex Hartley’s The Houses.
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.
Stan Douglas: Doppelgänger | Until 14th March
A video artwork simultaneously depicting two alternate realities, as two astronauts set off at the same time from parallel worlds, and return to find everything reversed. Also displayed are some of the artist’s photographs from his Scenes from the Blackout series, imagining the individual response to a city-wide loss of electricity in NYC.
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. Book a free ticket to visit
Works in Progress | Until 15th January 2021
Curators scoured the archives for this exhibition, showcasing rarely seen design drawings and sketches by William Morris, as well as his contemporaries and collaborators Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rosetti – better known as artists of the iconic Pre-Raphaelite movement.
Address: Lloyd Park, Forest Road, E17 4PP | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-5pm | Entry: Free
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.
Hot With Excess | 12th – 27th March
A season of performative art, showcasing the intersection between live opera and contemporary art. Expect 24-hour film footage accompanied by live opera, debates, and newly commissioned pieces of music.
Address: 176 Prince of Wales Road, NW5 3PT | Opening Hours: Thurs-Sun 12-6pm | Entry: Free
SOUTH LONDON ART GALLERIES
An unusual little gem in Bermondsey, where work from emerging artists is displayed inside a whitewashed house, complete with fireplaces and radiators. Here you’ll find contemporary art at the cutting edge; from mixed-media portraits to site-specific installations.
Feeling For Murmuration | 6th-28th March
A seven-strong artists’ collective come together to convince us that maybe the world isn’t entirely doomed after all.
Address: 45 Grange Road, SE1 3BH | Opening Hours: Thurs-Sun 3-7pm | Entry: Free
NOTE: You can now see the British Surrealism exhibition online.
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
British Surrealism | Until 17th May
Faceless mannequins, impossible landscapes and weird-looking figures – born out of postwar uncertainty, Surrealism was one of the most radical movements in British art. Here, the Dulwich Picture Gallery brings together over 100 pieces from big names and lesser-known artists in a setting that’s as eccentric as its subject.
Address: Gallery Road, SE21 7AD | Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm | Entry: £16.50/£8 (concessions)
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.
Out of the Blue: Fifty Years of Designers’ Guild | Until 21st February 2021
One of the UK’s most influential home design companies gets its own dedicated retrospective, filled with rare archival prints and never-before-displayed artwork that demonstrates the changing tastes in interiors over the past five decades. Book ahead
Address: 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF | Opening Hours: Weds-Sat 11am-4pm | Entry: £9.90/£7/£8.80 (students/concessions) – free for under 12s
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, first exhibition of 2020 TBA.
Address: Newport Street, SE11 6AJ | Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm | Entry: Free
Something in Greenwich Peninsula that isn’t the O2! 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.
Emmanuelle Moureaux: Slices of Time | Until 27th September
Stunning, kaleidoscopic installations of suspended numbers fill this exhibition, inspired by the nearby Meridian line (which sets our GMT time zone). Plus, you can contribute to the window display by adding your own significant dates. READ MORE | Book ahead, or view online
Address: The Gateway Pavilions, Peninsula Square, London SE10 0SQ | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun, book ahead | 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. Book ahead
Sophie Cundale: The Near Room | Until 13th September
Sophie Cundale – The Near Room (2020)
A fascinating new film by artist Sophie Cundale, in which a boxer recovering from a near-fatal knock-out finds his hallucinations entangled with a queen suffering from Cotard Delusion, a rare disorder that reproduces the sensation of death. Book ahead
Abbas Zahedi: How to Make A How From A Why? | Until 13th September
Sculptures and installations from the SLG’s most recent postgraduate artist in residence, accompanied by a soundscape inspired by lamentation rites. Book ahead
Address: 65-67 Peckham Road, SE5 8UH | Opening Hours:Weds-Sun 11am-6pm | 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 (or asylum depending on your view of the work), but this institution of the ever fractious art scene is well worth a wander.
Mason’s Yard: Georg Baselitz: Darkness Goldness | 4th September – 14th November
An unsettling but captivating collection of stark black and gold paintings, depicting limp, lifeless hands. Book ahead
Online: Take a look at three online exhibitions by Antonia Showering, David Altmejd and Babel here | Until 10th September
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
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
Toyin Ojih Odutola: A Countervailing Theory | Until 24th January 2021 | Free
Toyin Ojih Odutola, ‘Introductions: Early Embodiment’
Nigerian-American artist Odutola showcases her stunning drawings in her first major UK exhibition, inspired by her own imagined ancient myths and legends. The whole collection is accompanied by a soundscape from Peter Adjaye. Free, book ahead
Address: Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | Opening Hours: Weekdays 12-7pm, weekends 11am-7pm | Entry: Free/Exhibitions from £15
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.
Imran Perretta: the destructors | Until 15th March
A short film commissioned by the Chisenhale that explores the experience of young British Muslim men growing up in the wake of 9/11, and the sense of trust they are denied by the state.
Address: 64 Chisenhale Road, E3 5QZ | Opening Hours: Wed-Sun 12am-6pm | Entry: Free
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
Main gallery only: book your free ticket in advance
Address: Guildhall Yard, EC2V 5AE | Opening Hours: Weekends 10.30am-5pm | Entry: Free, exhibitions from £10
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.
No current exhibitions.
Address: 21 Herald Street, London E2 6JT | Opening Hours: Wed-Sun 11am-6pm | Entry: Free
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.
Tim Stoner: ‘Al-Andalus’ | Until 25th April
Vast, abstract paintings inspired by the landscape of Andalucía, where Stoner lives and works. He views his paintings as ‘palimpsests’ – works that he repeatedly returns to, partially destroys and remakes over several years. Which means that you can go around the gallery using the word ‘palimpsest’.
Address: 50 – 58 Vyner Street, E2 9DQ | Opening Hours: Wed-Sat 11am-6pm | Entry: Free
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.
Haidée Drew: Rhythm | Until 29th March
A series of abstract sculptures and (literally) reflective artworks designed to inspire a sense of calm and presence as you observe, all inspired by ‘the day’s natural rhythm.’
Lightboxes & Lettering | Until 29th March
An exhibition celebrating the history of printing in the East End, with fascinating photographs, oral histories from print workers, and of course some beautiful handprinted posters, signs and leaflets.
Address: 181 Bow Road, E3 2SJ | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun, 10am-4pm | Entry: Free
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.
Carlos Bunga: Something Necessary and Useful | Until 6th September
Arresting sculptures crafted from cardboard and upcycled furniture, in an especially commissioned exhibition of the Portuguese artist. Free, book ahead
Gary Hume explores the Hiscox Collection | Until 3rd January 2021
Artist Gary Hume curates his own personal pick of paintings in the Hiscox Collection – a whopping 1000 paintings which have been amassed by insurance company Hiscox. So unless you spend a lot of time frequenting their offices around the world, this is a rare opportunity to see pieces by artists including Picasso, Hockney and Miró.
Address: 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX | Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 11am-6pm (9pm Thursdays) | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £9.50/£7.50 concessions
WEST LONDON ART GALLERIES
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
Electronic: From Kraftwerk to the Chemical Brothers | Until 14th February 2021
A thumping, kaleidoscopic trip through the history of electronic music, from its 80s origins with bands like Kraftwerk, through to the amazing graphics of the Chemical Brothers’ gigs; plus interviews, memorabilia, and futuristic audio-visual installations. Book ahead (and bring your own wired headphones)
Address: 224-238 Kensington High Street, W8 6AG | Opening Hours: Mon-Wed 10am-6pm, Thurs-Sun 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. 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.
WHAT’S ON: Currently main gallery only.
Address: 284 Portobello Road, W10 5TE | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-6pm | Entry: Free
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: Currently 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)
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
London Grads Now | 3rd – 25th September | £3
Thanks to the pandemic, a whole slew of graduating young artists found themselves unable to put together a final show. So the Saatchi’s stepping in, showcasing work from the brightest young things graduating from the likes of Slade School of Art, UAL and Goldsmiths. Book ahead
Address: Duke of York’s HQ, Kings Road, SW3 4RY | Opening Hours: Thurs-Sun 10am-6pm | Entry: Free/Exhibitions from £24.50
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.
Cao Fei: Blueprints | Until 13th September
The first solo UK show of artist Cao Fei, spanning new and existing works inspired by the march of technology and the hyper-urban landscapes of her native Beijing. Surreal and dystopian, her artwork spans video and photography to virtual and augmented reality, which you can experience in a model of her studio kitchen. Book ahead – September tickets released shortly
Address: Kensington Gardens, W2 3XA | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-6pm | Entry: Free
V&A | Open now
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
Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk | Until 25th October 2020
A stunning exhibition celebrating the kimono, where you’ll see beautiful hand-stitched garments from Japan’s Edo Period alongside the many contemporary garments it’s influenced, from catwalk designs to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s costume in Star Wars.
Address: Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL | Opening Hours: Thurs-Sun 11am-7pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £12
Last updated: 2nd September 2020 | Main image: Cao Fei at the Serpentine Gallery
Looking for more inspiration? Take a peek at our 100 London Date Ideas