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11 of the Best Current Art Exhibitions in London

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11 of the Best Current Art Exhibitions in London

Including Modigliani, Basquiat and Wim Wenders


Looking to soak up some culture in the capital? The search ends here; read our round-up of the best of the current art exhibitions in London. So whether it’s contemporary classics, shoppable pop-ups or a date with the masters that you crave, you’ll find it here.  

Current Art Exhibitions in London

Modigliani Exhibition, Tate Modern

Modigliani at the Tate Modern

The 20th century’s most strikingly original painter of nudes, Modigliani’s works were banned in his lifetime. Contemporaries were shocked by his brazen approach to the female form. Paintings of his friends and lovers are to be assembled from across the globe this winter at Tate Modern to display his unique talent. 23 Nov to 2 April.

‘Nocturnes’, a solo show by Pam Glew

nocturnes pam glew

Contemporary British artist Pam Glew uses the Kimono as a symbol of strength to introduce the Samurai as the ‘Woman Warrior’, where ghostly images of female faces appear through the layers of the fabric. Most recognised for playing with our notion of the identity of women, Glew’s latest exhibition reignites her dialogue around themes of sustainability vs waste, light vs dark and beauty vs deconstruction. 9 December – 15 February. 

Basquiat at the Barbican

Basquiat at the Barbican

© Edo Bertoglio, courtesy of Maripol
Artwork: © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

The Barbican will be hosting the first large-scale exhibition of Jean-Michel Basquiat, with over 100 pieces of his work ranging from paintings to rare film and everything in between. Dubbed a real maven of the downtown scene, being self-taught gave Basquiat the freedom to take on a multitude of different mediums, which made him quickly become a well-known creative force, leading to collaborations with the likes of Andy Warhol. Tickets £16. Exhibition from 21 September 2017 – 28 January 2018. 

Chaïm Soutine Exhibit, The Courtauld

Chaïm Soutine at The Courtauld

Arriving from Russia in 1913, Chaïm Soutine became one of Paris’s many broke and overlooked artists until an American collector bought 50 of his works. One of his obsessions was the working men of the restaurant trade. The Courtauld in London showcases his bright and fleshy portraits of these neglected characters. 19 Oct to 21 Jan.

Kehinde Wiley: In Search Of The Miraculous

Kehinde Wiley
The Fog Warning (Jasmine Gracout), 2017 Oil on canvas
272.3 x 394cm
(107 1/4 x 155 1/8in)

Kehinde Wiley
 The Fog Warning (Jasmine Gracout), 2017 Oil on canvas
272.3 x 394cm
(107 1/4 x 155 1/8in)

In his latest show In Search Of The Miraculous, Wiley aims to push his social critique (and process) to new territory. Departing from the singular portrait style he is best-known for, the collection includes classical romanticism and maritime allegorical painting, including a series of seascape paintings with men battling waves at sea. This series sees the artist reinterpreting seascapes by J.M.W. Turner, Winslow Homer and Hieronymus Bosch. Wiley also presents a three-channel artist film to accompany the collection, investigating subjects of ‘migration, madness and isolation in contemporary America’. Kehinde Wiley: In Search Of The Miraculous is at Stephen Friedman Gallery until 27 January 

 Gerald Scarfe at The House of Illustration

Gerald Scarfe at The House of Illustration

Better known for his scathing political cartoons, Gerald Scarfe has another string to his bow. The House of Illustration presents his stage and screen designs, which range from the The Nutcracker to Pink Floyd’s 1982 film adaption of The Wall. Until 21 Jan.

Michael Morpurgo at the V&A

War Horse V&A

Joey at the V&A

More than 20 years after Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse was first published, the stage version rocked to success at the National Theatre- a production seen by over seven million people worldwide. Five years later, Steven Spielberg’s adaptation created a cult film from the original- a blockbuster. Now the V&A’s Bethnal Green wing celebrates the author’s 40-year career with Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories. The puppet Joey, the War Horse himself, will be guest of honour alongside handwritten drafts penned in orange exercise books and even a replica of Michael’s writing caravan. All intriguing components of the legacy of War Horse. 22 July to 25 February.

May Morris: Art & Life

May Morris Tapestry Room

For over a century May Morris’ contribution to the decorative arts has been somewhat overshadowed by her father William Morris. Now she finally gets the recognition she deserves in an exhibition at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, which ties together her work across embroidery, wallpaper and jewellery design. 7 October to 28 January.

Egypt Uncovered: Belzoni and the Tomb of Pharaoh Seti I

Egypt Uncovered

For the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Pharaoh Seti’s Tomb by Giovanni Battista Belzoni, the Sir John Soane’s Museum is hosting an exhibition to showcase the lesser-known story behind the discovery of the Tomb. Belzoni, an engineer in Egypt, previously a circus strongman first discovered the tomb on the 17 October 1817. Not only did he find the remains of Seti I in an alabaster carved sarcophagus, but also thousands of hieroglyphs and wall paintings in remarkably good condition, even with some of the painters’ brushes and paints left over. In the centre of the museum, the sarcophagus will go on display with a 3-D digital scan of itself by Factum Arte. Until April 15.      

Wim Wenders’ Polaroids at the Photographers’ Gallery

Wim Wenders

A filmmaker known for his whimsical shots and moody landscape scenes, it is only natural that Wim Wenders’ exhibition Instant Stories is a dreamy journey into his mind. He was a very productive creative force for decades, making films first in his native Germany, where he articulated Europe’s post-war anxiety. It was later in America when his polaroids appeared. In one, Wenders was driving along the freeway in LA and heard about John Lennon’s death on the radio. He pulled over and took the photograph, then cried uncontrollably. Until 11 Feb.

Rachel Whiteread, Tate Britain


Tate Britain is celebrating 25 years of the groundbreaking artist, Rachel Whiteread. She is famous for her use of industrial materials in creating evocative sculptures, big and small (having been the first woman ever to win The Turner Prize in 1993 we can certainly expect big things). Her new exhibition will have big, immersive statements about space and sculpture. It’s a must-see. Until 21 January 

 More culture: The London Diary


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Rebecca Cox