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The Best Art Exhibitions in London

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The Best Art Exhibitions in London

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Topics: Art / Art / Culture / Design / Exhibitions / Free Things to Do in London / London /
       

Looking to soak up some culture in the capital? The search ends here. Read our round up of the best art exhibitions in London, featuring contemporary classics, abstract showcases and breathtaking photography…

The Best Art Exhibitions in London

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    Turner and the Thames: Five Paintings

    Turner’s House

    Head to Twickenham to see five original J.M.W. Turner works, showcased in a new exhibition at his London home. Turner and the Thames: Five Paintings features a selection of rare oil sketches seldom seen by the public, all depicting scenes close to his house near the Thames – from Isleworth to Windsor. The paintings were all created from Turner’s boat, which he acquired while living in Isleworth so he could record first-hand impressions of the river, an inspiration for Turner throughout his life. Unusually, the five pieces in this exhibition – which are on loan from Tate – are painted in mahogany veneer, and it’s thought Turner may have made them using parts of recycled furniture. The house is an artwork in itself too, having been designed by Turner for him and his father to live in back in the 1800s. 11 January – 29 March; turnershouse.org

    Photo: J.M.W. Turner, Sunset on the River

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    Andy Warhol

    Tate Modern

    Delve into the fantastical world of Andy Warhol at the Tate Modern’s highly anticipated 2020 retrospective. From his iconic pop images dedicated to Marilyn Monroe, to the Ladies and Gentlemen series (exhibited for the first time in 30 years) and an array of unseen pieces, this is an eclectic must-visit exhibition for Warhol enthusiasts world-wide. 12 March – 6 September; tate.org.uk

    Photo: Andy Warhol, Marilyn Diptych

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    TUTANKHAMUN: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh presented by Viking Cruises

    Saatchi Gallery

    Discover ancient Egyptian treasures and fascinating world heritage artefacts at the Saatchi Gallery’s latest exhibition, TUTANKHAMUN: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh, which marks the 100th anniversary of the unearthing of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh’s tomb. Until 3 May 2020; tutankhamun-london.com

    Photo: Gilded Wooden “Ostrich Hunt” Fan/IMG

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    Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi

    Somerset House

    If you thought there couldn’t possibly be an entire exhibition dedicated to the mighty shroom, think again. Somerset House is set to host a one-of-a-kind showcase exploring and celebrating fungi in all its wondrous forms, featuring the work of more than 40 renowned artists, designers and musicians including artist Cy Twombly, beloved author Beatrix Potter and composer John Cage. 31 Jan – 26 Apr 2020; somersethouse.org.uk

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    The Enchanted Interior

    Guildhall Art Gallery

    Delight in the works of over 50 established artists in The Enchanted Interior, an artistic exploration of the historic impression of women in ‘enclosed and ornate spaces’. A fusion of paintings, photography, film and more, from the Pre-Raphaelites to present day examine the concept of the ‘gilded cage’ in this thought-provoking exhibition. 13 March – 14 June 2020; cityoflondon.gov.uk
    Photo: Albert Moore, Pomegranates, 1866, Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London
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    Beyond Borders

    Unit London

    This unique exhibition brings together 14 artists who respond to the current socio-political instability faced by the world today. In a celebration of diversity and togetherness during a turbulent time, familiar themes such as love and fear are explored alongside questions of quantum physics and contemplation of humans’ relationship with history. Until 11 January 2020; theunitldn.com

    Photo: Masks (2019), Les Rogers

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    Paul Freud: The Edge of Abstraction

    The Royal Exchange

    Experience British artist Paul Freud’s captivating abstract artworks within the historic setting of London’s 16th Century Royal Exchange, hosted by Alinea Law Members. The great-grandson of revolutionary neurologist and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, Paul Freud’s expressive collection of works spans 20 years, incorporating the creative use of lightfast, colourfast inks, and oils on canvas. Until 1 April 2020. Viewings must be arranged by appointment. Call 0207 101 4242 to book now. 

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    Li Lei: Poetic Abstraction

    3812 Gallery

    Shanghai-based artist Li Lei is bringing his expressive abstract images to St. James’s 3812 Gallery in a spectacular solo exhibition titled Poetic Abstraction, in which the artist’s diptych series Calm Contemplation will be showcased to the UK for the first time. Using integrated brush strokes and layers of vibrant and contrasting colours, Lei’s intriguing and aesthetic artworks convey his personal perceptions and feelings. Until 18 January 2020; 3812gallery.com

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    JEW: Photographs by John Offenbach

    The Jewish Museum

    John Offenbach’s photography explores the nature of what it means to identify as Jewish today. From religious to secular, rich to homeless, criminal to lawful, 34 individuals are brought together to show the diverse faces of Jewish people from myriad walks of life, presented through striking, large-scale portraits. In regards to the exhibition’s startling title, Offenbach faced initial resistance, but insisted “A large part of the project was to re-own that word – it shouldn’t be seen as an insult”. Until 19 April 2020; jewishmuseum.org.uk

     

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    Jacqueline de Jong: Resilience(s)

    Pippy Houldsworth Gallery

    Now 80, Jacqueline de Jong has lived an extraordinary life, from escaping the Nazis in WWII to playing a key role as one of only two women in the politically radical Situationist International movement. Her first solo exhibition in the UK showcases work from the 1980s and early 1990s, bringing together the key works from the artist’s celebrated Upstairs Downstairs and Paysages Dramatiques series. Exuberant, carnal, violent and contradictory, Resilience(s) manifests the defiance and adaptability inherent to de Jong’s painting. Until 18 January 2020; houldsworth.co.uk

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    Discover London: Local Hidden Gems and Beautiful Places

    ME London

    If you’re not already familiar with @prettycitylondon, the popular Instagram page inspiring us to look around at the capital’s considerable charms, it’s about to become a lot more visible. Discover London’s local spots, colourful mews and picturesque corners through the first ever #PrettyCityLondon photography exhibition at the ME hotel’s Marconi Lounge. Until 27 January 2020; melondonhotel.com

     

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    ABBA: Super Troupers The Exhibition

    The O2

    Take a chance on journeying out to the O2 to enter the world of the chart-topping Swedish pop sensation, narrated by BBC broadcaster, writer and activist Gemma Cairney. Showcasing instruments, film, behind-the-scenes photographs and – of course – spectacular ’70s costumes, the exhibition traces the band’s personal and professional history, lending each of their iconic eight albums an immersive room. An innovative take on the well-known ABBA story, it also explores the wider socio-political backdrop against which ABBA’s music was released. Until 31 August 2020; theo2.co.uk

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    Bloomberg New Contemporaries

    South London Gallery

    Damien Hirst, Chris Offili, Gillian Wearing and David Hockney: many of the artists previously exhibited at New Contemporaries throughout its long history – it turns 70 this year – have gone on to become some of the art world’s biggest talents. In what’s looking to be a great year, the exhibition showcases 45 of the most exciting emerging artists graduating from UK art schools at the South London Gallery. Until 27 January 2020; newcontemporaries.org.uk

    Image: I Thought I Would Sit Here and Look Out Over the Fjord for the Last Time (2018) Samuel Fordham

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    Henrik Uldalen: Lethe

    JD Malat Gallery

    South Korean-born, Norwegian-raised artist Henrik Uldalen’s first solo exhibition captivated millions all over the world. His second, at Mayfair’s J D Malat gallery, promises to be just as impressive. Through his arresting portraits, the artist explores the dark sides of life, nihilism, existentialism, longing and loneliness, juxtaposed with fragile beauty. Until 11 January 2020; jdmalat.com

     

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    Masculinities: Liberation through Photography

    Barbican Art Gallery

    This major photo exhibition explores how masculinity is experienced, performed, coded and socially constructed through the medium of photography and film, from the 1960s to today. Featuring work from over 50 international artists, from the star-studded likes of Richard Avedon and Robert Mapplethorpe to younger, lesser-known talents like Sam Contis, it highlights the way photography and film have played key roles in shaping today’s perceptions of masculinity. 20 February – 17 May 2020; barbican.org.uk

     

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    Michael Clark

    Barbican Art Gallery

    A radical figure in Britain’s cultural history, choreographer and dancer Michael Clark is noted for his fusion of the classical and contemporary, form punk to ballet. This exhibition presents film, photography and material from Clark’s practice, together with his legendary collaborations across visual arts, music, fashion and film. The exhibition was commended by the 2019 Sotheby’s Prize for innovation and curatorial excellence. 12 June – 30 August 2020; barbican.org.uk