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The Best Art Exhibitions in London

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From the Tates to the Royal Academy and the galleries of Mayfair and the Barbican, London is bursting with exciting art exhibitions at any time of year. Now that cultural institutions are allowed to reopen with safety measures in place, here are the shows not to be missed.

The Best Art Exhibitions in London

 

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Lizard, 2019, Damien Hirst

Sunshine

Claridge’s ArtSpace

Launched to coincide with this year’s Frieze London, Claridge’s has opened a new gallery. The first exhibition showcases a collection of works by Damien Hirst, long-time friend of the hotel, including a series of the artist’s pipe cleaner animals and examples of his colour chart series. Designed by John Pawson, ArtSpace is one of the largest galleries in Mayfair, and will next year house a café and art store alongside the exhibition space. The programme for 2022 will soon be announced, with a different curator for each show alongside a series of interactive talks and events. claridges.co.uk

Image: Lizard, 2019, Damien Hirst

Connor Brothers, Maddox Gallery

A Load of Fuss About F*** All

Maddox Gallery

Maddox Gallery’s new show celebrates ten years of artistic duo The Connor Brothers (James Golding and Mike Snelle) with their largest exhibition to date. For the first time, this will map out their artistic journey from its conception to the present day, showcasing many of their popular series such as Pulp Fiction and True Love Stories, alongside more recent works.

15 October – 3 November 2021, maddoxgallery.com

Image: An Unquiet Mind by The Connor Brothers, 2021, Courtesy of Maddox Gallery

Richard Young: Nightclubbing in Studio Fifth Floor

Richard Young: Nightclubbing in Studio Fifth Floor

Harrods

Star-studded party shots from celebrity photographer Richard Young are on display as part of a month-long celebration of technology at Harrods. Running in collaboration with Leica, Nightclubbing in Studio Fifth Floor is inspired by iconic Manhattan nightclub Studio 54, a hotspot for the rich and famous. The show features images from Young’s new book, Nightclubbing, a collection of snaps taken over the years from the ‘70s to the ‘00s.

store.leica-camera.com

Image by Richard Young

Rob and Nick Carter's Yinka Shonibare Robot Painting

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2021

Royal Academy of Arts

Returning this September is the Royal Academy’s acclaimed Summer Exhibition, this year featuring over 1,300 works selected by coordinator Yinka Shonibare alongside a panel of artists. The theme for 2021 is ‘Reclaiming Magic’, with works from the likes of Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Michael Armitage, Jade Montserrat, Hew Locke, Rita Keegan and Alvaro Barrington. A highlight is the Yinka Shonibare Robot Painting by Rob and Nick Carter (represented by Ben Brown Fine Arts), which is the world’s first artwork to go from blank canvas to finished painting without being touched by human hands.

22 September 2021 – 2 January 2022, royalacademy.co.uk

Image: Yinka Shonibare Robot Painting by Rob and Nick Carter 

Peter Blake, Queen Elizabeth II

Pop Goes The Arts Club: The World of Peter Blake

The Arts Club

Often billed the godfather of British pop art, Peter Blake is perhaps best known for creating the album cover for The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967. His work is being honoured in a new show at The Arts Club, featuring his recent portrait series Girl with a Disney Tattoo, plus depictions of Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan Markle and his long-time pop icon Marilyn Monroe.

27 September 2021 – 15 January 2022, theartsclub.co.uk

Image: Peter Blake, Queen Elizabeth II (Radio Times Diamond Jubilee Royal Souvenir Cover), 2012, Courtesy Waddington Custot

No Time to Die – Behind the Scenes

No Time to Die – Behind the Scenes

Leica Gallery

The new Bond film was initially due to be released in April 2020, but it’s been pushed back multiple times. This September, though, the wait is over – and to celebrate, Leica is launching a new Q2 “007 Edition” camera alongside a photography exhibition at the Leica Gallery London. The show brings together behind-the-scenes photographs shot on Leica cameras, taken by long-time producer Michael G. Wilson, Daniel Craig, and photographers Nicola Dove and Greg Williams.

10 September – 15 October 2021, store.leica-camera.com

Image: Nicola Dove, NO TIME TO DIE is an EON Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios film. © 2021 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Art in Mayfair

Art in Mayfair

This autumn Mayfair will be transformed into an open exhibition spanning art, fashion and culture. Running in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Arts, Art in Mayfair sees many of the area’s top stores – including Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Bugari – creating art-inspired window installations in celebration of the Royal Academy of Arts’ 253rd Summer Exhibition. British artist Gary Hume, meanwhile, has been commissioned to design a series of flags, which will be suspended above Bond Street throughout the show. A number of cultural and art-led in-store events, plus showcases and pop-ups will also be taking place around Mayfair.

2 September – 17 October 2021, bondstreet.co.uk

Derek Boshier, K Pop, 2021

Icarus and K Pop

Gazelli Art House

Works from LA-based pop-art pioneer Derek Boshier are going on show at Mayfair’s Gazelli Art House this autumn, featuring two series made of vibrant acrylic paintings on canvas as well as black and white drawings on paper. Launching to coincide with Frieze London, the show blends Greek mythology with South Korean mainstream entertainment.

7 October – 13 November 2021, gazelliarthouse.com

Image: Derek Boshier, K Pop: King of Mask Singers, 2020

Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, Exhibition Hub

Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience

Missed out on tickets to the Van Gogh experience in Kensington Gardens? Fear not: another immersive show dedicated to the artist is opening at The Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch. A 20,000 square foot light and sound spectacular, the exhibition is designed to bring you into the world of Van Gogh, complete with a unique VR interaction which guides you through a day in the life of the artist.

Opens 29 July, vangoghexpo.com

Image: Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, Exhibition Hub

Marcus Hodge

Marcus Hodge

Osborne Studio Gallery

A new collection of works from Marcus Hodge will explore the world of the horse, inspired by the artist’s travels around the world. The paintings are unified by a common theme: festivals and religious gatherings where animals either play a part or stand by as part of the spectacle – from the Marwari horses of Rajasthan to the international circus horses of Monaco.

5 – 27 October 2021, osg.uk.com

Image: Marcus Hodge, Bay Horse in Jodhpur

Chiswick House & Gardens

Bring Into Being

Chiswick House & Gardens

This year will see Chiswick House & Gardens transform from public space into cultural hotspot, thanks to a new programme of eclectic artist commissions and events. Head there this spring to see three new art installations: an eight channel site-specific soundscape by Ghanaian-British electronic musician and sound artist Peter Adjaye, a durational installation by Jaimini Patel and an artwork from Mark Wallinger titled British Summer Time. The programme has been curated by Mariam Zulfiqar as a way of inviting new and pre-existing audiences to connect with the iconic venue.

27 May – 31 October 2021, chiswickhouseandgardens.org.uk

Sheila Legge, Phantoms of Surrealism

Phantoms of Surrealism

Whitechapel Gallery

On a summer’s day in 1936, a mystery woman dressed in a wedding dress paraded around Trafalgar Square with her head covered in red roses as a tribute to Salvador Dali. It was later revealed as artist Sheila Legge, appearing as ‘the phantom of Surrealism’ to launch the London International Surrealist Exhibition. Now, Whitechapel Gallery is bringing together works, press cuttings and scrapbooks from the original exhibition in a new archive show. It features artists such as Eileen Agar, Ruth Adams, Claude Cahun and Sheila Legge herself.

19 May – 12 December 2021, whitechapelgallery.org

Image: Sheila Legge as Surrealist ‘Phantom’, 1936. Photographed by Claude Cahun.

Beano exhibition, Somerset House

Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules

Somerset House

Somerset House’s major 2021 autumn art exhibition will celebrate the world’s longest running comic, Beano, on its 70th anniversary. Launching this October, Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules is set to feature original comic drawings alongside works from leading artists and designers such as Heather Philippson, Bedwyr Williams and Hardeep Pandhal.

21 October 2021 – 6 March 2022, somersethouse.org.uk

Image: Bash Street Kids, 1982, courtesy of Beano

Art of Banksy

The Art of Banksy

50 Earlham Street

Following tours everywhere from Tel Aviv to Miami, the world’s largest touring exhibition of Banksy artworks is coming to Seven Dials, featuring a vast array of prints, canvasses and sculptures from the mysterious political activist.

artofbanksy.co.uk

Image: Art of Banksy London Ltd.

David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020 artwork images

David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020

Royal Academy of Arts

During the first lockdown, David Hockney created a series of artworks on his iPad at his home in Normandy. The 116 works – which Hockney ‘painted’ on the iPad then printed onto paper – chart the unfolding of spring from beginning to end, a celebration that nature continues to blossom in the darkest of times. Almost exactly a year later, the collection is being displayed as part of a new exhibition at The Royal Academy, standing as a reminder of the constant renewal and wonder of the natural world.

23 May – 26 September 2021, royalacademy.org.uk

Image: David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020 artwork images.

Alice in Wonderland exhibition, V&A

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser

The V&A

After being postponed last summer, one of the most anticipated art exhibitions in London is set to debut this month. This is the V&A’s Alice in Wonderland-themed exhibition: an immersive show that takes visitors on a trip down the rabbit hole with an extravaganza of Alice-related fare – from the original concept art for Disney’s 1951 animated version to Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter outfit.

22 May – 31 December 2021, vam.ac.uk

Image: Johan-Persson, 2011.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Room

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms

Tate Modern

Prepare to be dazzled at Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms, another highly anticipated London art exhibition of 2021. Going on display at Tate Modern this May after being postponed from its original date last year, the exhibition will feature two spectacular installations. The first is Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled With The Brilliance of Life, which was showcased in the Tate’s Kusama retrospective back in 2012. The second is Chandelier of Grief, a room which creates the illusion of a boundless universe of rotating Swarovski crystal chandeliers. You can expect queues round the block for this one – but it’s on display for a year, so there’s time for everyone to experience the magic.

18 May 2021 – 12 June 2022, tate.org.uk

Image: Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled With The Brilliance of Life, Yayoi Kusama.

Image: Johan-Persson, 2011.

Helen Frankenthaler, Freefall

Helen Frankenthaler: Radical Beauty

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Opening ten years after her passing, a new exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery will showcase the woodcuts of abstract artist Helen Frankenthaler. Works range from her first woodcut East and Beyond (1973), created on multiple blocks to avoid negative space, and her later triptych Madame Butterfly (2000), which measures over two metres in length and will occupy an entire room in the exhibition.

15 September 2021 – 17 April 2022, dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

Image: Helen Frankenthaler, Freefall, 1993. Courtesy of 2020 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / DACS / Tyler Graphics Ltd., Mount Kisco, NY.

 

Main image: Greg Williams, NO TIME TO DIE is an EON Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios film. © 2021 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

READ MORE:

The Best Art Exhibitions in the UK / Virtual Art Exhibitions