United Kingdom

City Guide: London and its Contemporary Art Spaces and Exhibitions

London's most anticipated commercial art event is, arguably, the annual Frieze Art Fair. Featuring curated sections, talks programmes, and more than 160 of the world's most outstanding galleries, the week-long fair in October is the Frieze brand's prized flagship, even with editions in New York and Los Angeles. Over at Somerset House, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair takes place over five days. Recent editions have included a series of special projects, a forum, and a talks programme.

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But, of course, London is more than a pit stop for mega-collectors and star curators: it is home to countless artist-run initiatives and not-for-profits that have long formed the beating heart of the city's arts ecology. In South London, 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning focuses on supporting BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic, and Refugee) artists and curators in breaking through the art-world's racial and socio-economic barriers. For over 30 years, their aim has been to foster sustainability and an enduring sense of community. Turf Projects, the first contemporary art space run by artists in Croydon, has a similarly communal ethos behind its dynamic programme of exhibitions and public events. Founded in 2013 and located in two former retail units, Turf showcases the work of emerging and established, as well as local and international, artists.

Meanwhile, the itinerant b.Dewitt Gallery—a self-described 'entry point to the international art scene for U.K. based artists'—combines the responsiveness of an artist-run initiative with the ambition of a bricks and mortar gallery. In Islington, Cubitt fosters critical, peer-led activity including a locally-focused art education programme, while South London Gallery's collection and history, dating as far back as the 19th century, has proved no impediment to staying as relevant as its non-collecting counterparts.

In East London, Chisenhale Gallery has made its name over the years as a bellwether of contemporary art, commissioning new works by the likes of Rosalind Nashashibi, Ed Atkins, Amalia Pica, Park McArthur, and Hannah Black, during the formative stages of their careers. Similarly, Gasworks in Vauxhall is best-known for its solo exhibitions and public events—but its residency and studio programmes are just as worthy of acclaim. A half-hour away from Gasworks, you can experience Auto Italia's commissioned collaborations with emerging artists, many of whom go on to exhibit all over Europe. And across the city, in northwest London's Waterlow Park, LUX—Europe's largest distributor of artists' film and video—showcases the best in moving-image, including the work of several Turner Prize winners and nominees. Check out their latest offering before strolling through Waterlow Park en route to the nearby Highgate cemetery, where you will find the tombs of Karl Marx, George Eliot, and Malcolm McLaren.

For those in London from January through February, the international gallery exchange CONDO—where host galleries share their spaces with visiting galleries—brings together some of the world's most talked about artists. Founded in 2016 by Vanessa Carlos of Carlos/Ishikawa in Whitechapel, whose own roster of artists includes art stars Oscar Murillo and Korakrit Arunanondchai, CONDO has expanded to include Mexico City, New York, Shanghai, Athens, and São Paolo. Its list of participants—all worth visiting at any time of the year—reads like a veritable roll call of London's most exciting small- to mid-scale private galleries: Southard Reid, Arcadia Missa, Rodeo, Pilar Corrias (all in West London); Project Native Informant, Hollybush Gardens, Kate MacGarry, Emalin, Union Pacific, Modern Art, The Approach, Maureen Paley (all in East London); Green Grassi and The Sunday Painter (both in South London).

The annual Serpentine pavilion commission is possibly the trademark London art event, for which the gallery invites renowned architects to design temporary structures in Hyde Park. With collaborators like Herzog de Meuron, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, and SANAA, it is no surprise that the pavilion attracts as much international attention.

London's larger galleries and museums exert their own force with a revolving programme that ranges from early career to blue-chip. Head to The Photographers' Gallery to see the best in lens-based art, the Royal Academy for its crowd-pleasing exhibitions and annual summer show, or stop by The Barbican and experience the surrounding brutalist complex that is one of London's great architectural marvels. At Southbank Centre's Hayward Gallery, give yourself several hours to see one of its large-scale exhibitions before heading to the Institute of Contemporary Art, which has recently emerged as London's home of cutting edge film programming.

An experience of London's art world would be incomplete without a trip to Tate Britain or, the most popular modern art museum in the world, Tate Modern. For smaller crowds but no less stimulating shows, visit Camden Arts Centre, Serpentine Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery, or the recently inaugurated Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art (designed by Turner Prize-winning architects, Assemble). Finish with a trip to see the National Portrait Gallery's storied collection and Victoria & Albert Museum—home of epoch-making blockbusters such as Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty and David Bowie Is.


Current Exhibition | London
12 March–6 June 2020
Dom Sylvester Houédard

tantric poetries

Lisson Gallery View Exhibition
Dom Sylvester Houédard, ON THE ENCLOSED LEAF OUT PETITION TO TIME BEFORE THE NO ACT OF UN DOING (1967) (detail). Vinyl plastic laminate. 15.6 x 15.2 cm / 6 1/8 x 6 inches. © Dom Sylvester Houédard. Courtesy Lisson Gallery.
Current Exhibition | London
12 March–6 June 2020
Hugh Hayden

American Food

Lisson Gallery View Exhibition
Exhibition view: Hugh Hayden, American Food, Lisson Gallery, Bell Street, London (12 March–6 June 2020). © Hugh Hayden. Courtesy Lisson Gallery.
Current Exhibition | London
12 March–6 June 2020
Genesis Tramaine

Parables of Nana

Almine Rech View Exhibition

Exhibition view: Genesis Tramaine, Parables of Nana, Almine Rech, London (12 March—6 June 2020). Courtesy the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Melissa Castro Duarte.

Current Exhibition | London
7 March–31 May 2020
Group Exhibition

Bureau de Change

Campoli Presti View Exhibition
Exhibition view: Group Exhibition, Bureau de Change Curated by Raoul Klooker, Campoli Presti, London (7 March–31 May 2020). Courtesy Campoli Presti. 
Current Exhibition | London
6 March–30 May 2020
Group Exhibition

This Corrosion

Modern Art View Exhibition
Exhibition view: Group Exhibition, This Corrosion, Modern Art, Helmet Row, London (6 March–30 May 2020). Courtesy Modern Art. 
Current Exhibition | London
28 February–30 May 2020
Tim Stoner

Al-Andalus

Modern Art View Exhibition
Exhibition view: Tim Stoner, Al-Andalus, Modern Art, London (28 February–30 May 2020). Courtesy Modern Art. 
Current Exhibition | London
20 February–31 May 2020
Shirin Neshat

Land of Dreams

Goodman Gallery View Exhibition
Exhibition view: Shirin Neshat, Land of Dreams, Goodman Gallery, London (20 February–31 May 2020). Courtesy Goodman Gallery.
Current Exhibition | London
12 February–13 June 2020

Morandi, Balla, de Chirico and Italian Painting 1920-1950

Tornabuoni Art View Exhibition
Exhibition view: Morandi, Balla, de Chirico and Italian Painting 1920-1950, Tornabuoni Art, London (12 February–18 April 2020). Courtesy Tornabuoni Art. 
Current Exhibition | London
11 February–14 August 2020
James Turrell
Pace Gallery View Exhibition
Exhibition view: James Turrell, Pace Gallery, London (11 February–14 August 2020). © James Turrell. Courtesy Pace Gallery. Photo: Damian Griffiths.
Current Exhibition | London
17 January–30 June 2020
Peter Fischli / David Weiss

Should I paint a pirate ship on my car with an armed figure on it holding a decapitated head by the hair?

Sprüth Magers View Exhibition
Exhibition view: Peter Fischli / David Weiss, Should I paint a pirate ship on my car with an armed figure on it holding a decapitated head by the hair?, Sprüth Magers, London (16 January–30 June 2020). Courtesy Sprüth Magers. Photo: Stephen White.
Upcoming Exhibition | London
5 June–10 July 2020
Rana Begum
Kate MacGarry View Exhibition
Rana Begum, No. 793 (2018). Courtesy Kate MacGarry.
Upcoming Exhibition | London
5 June–31 July 2020
Alice Neel

There’s still another I see

Victoria Miro View Exhibition
Left: Alice Neel, My Mother (detail) (1930). Right: Alice Neel, My Mother (detail) (1952) © The Estate of Alice Neel. Courtesy The Estate of Alice Neel and Victoria Miro.
Upcoming Exhibition | London
12 June–31 July 2020
María Berrío
Victoria Miro View Exhibition
María Berrío in her Brooklyn studio (2019). Photo: Kyle Dorosz.
Upcoming Exhibition | London
9 July–15 August 2020
Group Exhibition

A Relationship of Parts: Christy Matson and Taylor Kibby

Timothy Taylor View Exhibition
Courtesy Timothy Taylor.
Upcoming Exhibition | London
6 October–17 November 2020
Fabienne Verdier

The Vortex Paintings

Waddington Custot View Exhibition
Courtesy Waddington Custot. 

Current Exhibitions In London

View All Past Exhibitions (686)
Contemporary art exhibition, Dom Sylvester Houédard, tantric poetries at Lisson Gallery, London
12 March–6 June 2020 Dom Sylvester Houédard tantric poetries Lisson Gallery, Lisson Street, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Hugh Hayden, American Food at Lisson Gallery, London
12 March–6 June 2020 Hugh Hayden American Food Lisson Gallery, Bell Street, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Genesis Tramaine, Parables of Nana at Almine Rech, London
12 March–6 June 2020 Genesis Tramaine Parables of Nana Almine Rech, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Bureau de Change at Campoli Presti, London
7 March–31 May 2020 Group Exhibition Bureau de Change Campoli Presti, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, This Corrosion at Modern Art, London
6 March–30 May 2020 Group Exhibition This Corrosion Modern Art, Helmet Row
Contemporary art exhibition, Tim Stoner, Al-Andalus at Modern Art, London
28 February–30 May 2020 Tim Stoner Al-Andalus Modern Art, Vyner Street
Contemporary art exhibition, Shirin Neshat, Land of Dreams at Goodman Gallery, London
20 February–31 May 2020 Shirin Neshat Land of Dreams Goodman Gallery, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Morandi, Balla, de Chirico and Italian Painting 1920-1950 at Tornabuoni Art, London
12 February–13 June 2020 Morandi, Balla, de Chirico and Italian Painting 1920-1950 Tornabuoni Art, London
Contemporary art exhibition, James Turrell, James Turrell at Pace Gallery, London
11 February–14 August 2020 James Turrell Pace Gallery, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Rana Begum, Rana Begum at Kate MacGarry, London
5 June–10 July 2020 Rana Begum Kate MacGarry, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Alice Neel, There’s still another I see at Victoria Miro, London
5 June–31 July 2020 Alice Neel There’s still another I see Victoria Miro, Wharf Road, London
Contemporary art exhibition, María Berrío, María Berrío at Victoria Miro, London
12 June–31 July 2020 María Berrío Victoria Miro, Wharf Road, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Fabienne Verdier, The Vortex Paintings at Waddington Custot, London
6 October–17 November 2020 Fabienne Verdier The Vortex Paintings Waddington Custot, London

Ocula Member Galleries In London

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Contemporary Institutions In London

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London In Ocula Magazine

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