The best exhibitions to see in London in 2022

Crack open those new diaries, here’s our pick of the best exhibitions on show in London in 2022

Please note that you may need to book your ticket in advance and dates may sometimes differ from those shown here, so always check open dates, times and booking information before making a special journey.

Apsley House

drawing of woman in hat and dress

1st Duchess of Wellington, Sir Thomas Lawrence © Stratfield Saye Preservation Trust

At Apsley House, a new exhibition explores the complex relationship between Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), and the women who were closest to him. Wellington, Women and Friendship (April 1 – October 30) reveals an intimate picture of the duke’s social life through letters, portraits and more, and gives a new perspective on Wellington’s very private light which was thrust into the public’s attention following the Battle of Waterloo.

 

Barbican Centre

At the Brutalist Barbican Centre, Shilpa Gupta: Sun at Night (until February 6) is the first major London exhibition by the Mumbai-based artist. The installation, in The Curve gallery, is an immersive experience highlighting the issues of censorship and resistance. The installation comprises 100 microphones suspended above 100 metal spike, each piercing a piece of paper inscribed with a verse of poetry by a writer incarcerated for their work or beliefs.

https://www.barbican.org.uk/whats-on/2021/event/shilpa-gupta-sun-at-night

abstract painting with various earth toned outlined shapes

Gillian Ayres, Break-off, 1961. Tate, © The Estate of Gillian Ayres, courtesy of Marlborough Gallery, London, photograph © Tate

Offering a new perspective on art in Britain following the Second World War, Postwar Modern: New Art in Britain 1945 – 1965 (March 3 – June 26) explores how artist made sense of an entirely altered world. The exhibition features around 200 artworks from 48 artists, and explores how the uncertainty and aftershocks of a cataclysmic war gave rise to incredible richness of imagery, form and materials. The exhibitions highlights both the work of well-known figures, and lesser-known artists, including those who came to Britain as refugees from Nazism and female artists who have been overlooked.

https://www.barbican.org.uk/whats-on/2022/event/postwar-modern-new-art-in-britain-1945-1965

 

Bethlem Museum of the Mind

cartoonish drawing of a adult cat holding a kitten lovingly in its paws

Sweetness Coyed Love into its Smile Louis Wain. c.1935

Over in Beckenham there’s Bethlem Museum of the Mind, the museum of the famous Bethlem Royal Hospital which promotes understanding of mental illness, its treatment and recovery. To celebrate the release of the biopic of one of the hospital’s most famous patients, Animal Therapy: The Cats of Louis Wain (until April 14) brings together dozens of Wain’s works, enabling visitors to experience nature and animals through his eyes, glowing with life and energy.

See more in our preview, Animal therapy: the cats of Louis Wain at Bethlem Museum of the Mind.

https://museumofthemind.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/animal-therapy-the-cats-of-louis-wain

 

British Library

At the British Library, Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens (until February 20) explores the dramatic story behind the tremendous feud between the Queens, which culminated in the swift and bloody execution of Mary Queen of Scots. The exhibition highlights some of the library’s most exceptional 16th century manuscripts, and haunting objects which piece together a story of paranoia, conspiracy, spying, imprisonment and escape.

https://www.bl.uk/events/elizabeth-and-mary

A must-see for any Paul McCartney fan, Paul McCartney: The Lyrics (until March 13) showcases previously unseen material from the singer songwriter’s personal archive in a free display in the library Entrance Hall. From the Beatles to the present, the display includes highlights from the recently-published book Paul McCartney – The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present.

https://www.bl.uk/events/paul-mccartney-the-lyrics

a piece of paper with handwritten musical notes

Short canon by Beethoven, 1815 © British Library Board, Zweig MS 11, f. 1r. Photography by Justine Trickett

Exploring the creative genius of one of history’s greatest composers, Beethoven (until April 24) lets you meet the man behind the music through personal belongings including his tuning fork and the pocket notebook he used to capture his frustrated scribbles and eureka moments. The exhibition plots Beethoven’s journey in changing the course of music, and brings to light the personal challenges he overcame, from writer’s block to progressive hearing loss.

https://www.bl.uk/events/beethoven

a selection of destroyed hard drives and other electronic components

Smashed hard drives used by The Guardian to store Edward Snowden’s hard files © Guardian News & Media Ltd 2021

In spring, Breaking the News (April 22 – August 21) explores our relationship with the news and the role it plays within society. Shining a light on issues such as choice, interpretation and trust, the exhibition discusses the ethics involved in making the news, what makes an event newsworthy and how the channels the news is delivered to us has evolved over time. The exhibition brings together examples from five centuries of news publication in Britain from the British Library’s enormous collection, including historical and contemporary reports on everything from war and natural disasters to celebrity scandals.

Gold (May 20 – October 2) explores the beauty and power of gold across different cultures and faiths through time. Bringing together objects from more than 20 countries, including luxurious illuminated manuscripts, gold-tooled books and sacred texts, the exhibition tells the stories of the individuals who owned these extraordinary books and uncovers the masterful techniques required to work with such a precious material.

 

British Museum

Japanese illustration of two cats with leaves

Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), from Banmotsu ehon daizen zu (Illustrations for The Great Picture Book of Everything). Block-
ready drawing, ink on paper, Japan, 1820s–40s. Purchase funded by the Theresia Gerda Buch Bequest, in memory of her parents Rudolph and Julie Buch, with support from Art Fund. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Best known for the iconic Under the Wave off Kanagawa, popularly known as The Great Wave, the British Museum’s unmissable exhibition of newly rediscovered drawings by Katsushika Hokusai from an unpublished illustrated encyclopaedia called The Great Picture Book of Everything continues into the new year. In a global first, Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything (until January 30) presents these exquisite drawings, recently acquired by the British Museum, while shining a light on the last chapter of the artist’s career and life.

https://www.britishmuseum.org/exhibitions/hokusai-great-picture-book-everything

Marking 200 years of Peruvian Independence, Peru: a journey in time (until February 20) explores the country’s long and vibrant history, from the early indigenous people to the ill-fated Inca. The exhibition reveals how people have lived and thrived in a challenging environment which boasts some of the highest altitudes and driest deserts in the world, through ceramics, metals, textiles and ritual objects, as well as striking, large-scale photographs of iconic Peruvian sites, such as the Nasca Geoglyphs and Machu Picchu.

https://www.britishmuseum.org/exhibitions/peru-journey-time

a green disc jewellery with sun and moon motifs within it

• Nebra Sky Disc, Germany, about 1600 BC. Photo courtesy of the State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt, Juraj Lipták

The blockbuster exhibition The World of Stonehenge (February 17 – July 17) is set to delight museum visitors in 2022, with an in-depth and culture of one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, and the most sophisticated prehistoric stone circle. By transporting visitors back to the time of its creation 4,500 years ago, the exhibition reveals the secrets of the ancient stone monument and the interconnected world that existed around it.

See more in our preview, The objects that help us understand Stonehenge.

https://www.britishmuseum.org/exhibitions/world-stonehenge

From its roots in Yemen to the cultural phenomenon it is today, the history of coffee and coffeehouses is explored in Life in a cup: coffee culture in the Islamic world (until September 18). Presenting the beverage’s fascinating story, the exhibition explores coffee’s role in everyday life in the Islamic world.

https://www.britishmuseum.org/exhibitions/life-cup-coffee-culture-islamic-world

 

Camden Arts Centre

At the Camden Arts Centre, Allison Katz – Artery (January 14 – March 13) brings together a selection of the London-based artist’s works, which explore the relationship between painting and questions of identity and expression. Katz’s first solo show in a London institution, the exhibition serves as a kind of origin story, as images emerge through a personal enquiry into identity, name and place.

https://camdenartcentre.org/allison-katz-artery/

Julien Creuzet – ‘Too blue, too deep, too dark we sank…’ (January 14 – March 13) is a new installation commissioned especially for the gallery, in which the French-Caribbean artist explores the social realities of the Caribbean diaspora. Comprising music, video, poetry and sculpture – often contrasted with found materials – the artist explores the European Black experience and asks how Caribbean culture can and does exist now.

https://camdenartcentre.org/julien-creuzet/

 

Chisenhale Gallery

At the Chisenhale Gallery, painter, installation and performance artist Rachel Jones (March – May) shows her expressive pieces, which vary in scale and are united by shared symbols and textures. A new series of oil pastels captures symbolic and literal entry points to the interior self through heavily obscured teeth and the orifices they reside in.

https://chisenhale.org.uk/exhibition/rachel-jones/

 

Courtauld Gallery

Reopening following a three year transformation, the Courtauld Gallery kicks off its new exhibition programme with a trio of exciting exhibitions. Pen to Brush: British Drawings and Watercolours (until February 27) is the first in the gallery’s new Gilbert and Ildiko Butler Drawings Gallery, which features highlights from The Courtauld’s remarkable collection of British drawings and watercolours. This exhibition features works from the golden age of watercolour painting, including pieces by Turner, Constable and Dayes.

https://courtauld.ac.uk/whats-on/pen-to-brush-british-drawings-and-watercolours/

black and white photograph of a woman in traditional Kurdish dress

A Yazidi woman at the annual festival at Lalish, in Kurdistan, 18 October 1946. The Anthony Kersting Archive, Conway Library, Courtauld Institute of Art. Released under a CC BY-NC 4.0 licence

Kurdistan in the 1940s (until May 30) showcases the stunning photography of Anthony Kersting, who travelled across the Middle East in the 1940s ad 50s capturing the people and architecture. On display are 21 of his photographs documenting the Yazidi community in Kurdistan, as well as photographs of Erbil and the Isis-destroyed Mosque at Nebi Yunus.

See more in our preview, Anthony Kersting and the unseen photographs of 1940s Kurdistan.

https://courtauld.ac.uk/whats-on/kurdistan-in-the-1940s/

self portrait of Vincent Van Gogh wearing grey hat and blue jacket

Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890), Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat, September – October 1887, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

The Morgan Stanley Exhibition: Van Gogh Self-Portraits (until May 8) is the first exhibition to focus on Van Gogh’s self-portraits created during his extraordinary, though tragically short, career. More than 15 of the artist’s works are on display, from his early Self-Portrait with a Dark Felt Hat created in Paris in 1886 to one of his last, painted at the asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in September 1889, before his death the following year.

www.courtauld.ac.uk/vg-self-portraits

Design Museum

At the Design Museum, Waste Age: What Can Design Do? (until February 20) attempts to tackle the looming environmental disaster of waste – from fashion to food, electronics to construction, and even packaging – and asks whether design could be the answer to ending our throwaway culture. The exhibition highlights the scale of the issue through major new exhibits, while showcasing some of the visionary designers who are reinventing our relationship with waste, including Formafantasma, Stella McCartney and The Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

https://designmuseum.org/exhibitions/waste-age-what-can-design-do

painting in pinks of Amy Winehouse

Amy: Beyond the Stage (until April 10) celebrates the legacy and creativity of the musician and cultural icon, Amy Winehouse. Visitors can discover her creative process through her recordings and teenage notebooks as the exhibition reveals the story of her early career. On show are some of her most iconic outfits, handwritten lyrics and personal items, including her blue Daphne Fender Stratocaster guitar.

https://designmuseum.org/exhibitions/amy-beyond-the-stage

 

Dulwich Picture Gallery

abstract painting with multiple colours swirling in centre

Helen Frankenthaler, Madame Butterfly, 2000. One-hundred-two color woodcut © 2021 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / ARS, NY and DACS, London / Tyler Graphic Ltd., Mount Kisco, NY

At Dulwich Picture Gallery, Helen Frankenthaler: Radical Beauty (until April 18) celebrates the career of experimental abstract artist Helen Frankenthaler, one of the most important American abstract artists of the 20th century. The exhibition examines her trailblazing work in the printmaking movement, presenting her groundbreaking and expressive woodcuts which display both control and expressive spontaneity.

https://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/2021/may/helen-frankenthaler-radical-beauty/0

woman in green top reading piece of paper with baby lying on blankets to her side

Tom Hunter, Woman Reading Possession Order, 1997, from the series ‘Persons Unknown’, cibachrome print mounted on board, 29.7 x 21.0 cm, courtesy the artist Tom Hunter.

Reframed: The Woman in the Window (May 4 – September 4) explores the enigmatic motif of the ‘woman in the window’ which has been seen in artworks from ancient civilisations to the present day. The exhibition investigates the various meanings behind the motif, from empathy to voyeurism, and features work from a wide range of media from artists including Rembrandt, Rossetti, Louise Bourgeois and Rachel Whiteread.

https://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/2022/may/reframed-the-woman-in-the-window/

 

Estorick Collection

abstract artwork with red striped background, red and pink dotted quadrilateral and red circle and line

Red Cut, Taglio rosso, 1930. Watercolour on paper, 16.3 x 19 cm. Archivio Bice Lazzari, Rome

At the Estorick Collection the work of 20th century abstract artist Bice Lazzari goes on show. Bice Lazzari: Modernist Pioneer (January 14 – April 24) brings together 40 of her works, which were often inspired by music – which she studied prior to becoming a painter – and have a distinct lyrical quality. Largely unknown outside of Italy, Lazzari’s paintings made a significant contribution to Italian Art.

https://www.estorickcollection.com/exhibitions/bice-lazzari-modernist-pioneer

 

Fashion and Textile Museum

three models wearing bright 1960s clothing in front of psychedelic wall art

The Fool designs inside The Beatles Apple Boutique, 1967. Copyright Karl Ferris.

At the Fashion and Textile Museum, Beautiful People: The Boutique in 1960s Counterculture (until March 13) celebrates the role of the boutique clothing shops which helped spark a fashion revolution in the 1960s. The exhibition focuses on the radical clothing, inspired by deigns from Morocco and the Far East, sold by a handful of Chelsea boutiques, and explores era-defining stores such as Biba, Granny Takes a Trip and Ossie Clark. The show also features clothes worn by the biggest names of the era, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix.

https://www.ftmlondon.org/ftm-exhibitions/beautiful-people-the-boutique-in-1960s-counterculture/

Founded to preserve the craft of hand embroidery while supporting women’s independence through work, the Royal School of Needlework celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2022. 150 Years of the Royal School of Needlework: Crown to Catwalk (April 1 – September 4) brings together examples from the School’s 5,000-piece archive as well as from museums and collections across the UK to explore the depth and breadth of the craft – from commissions produced for the Royal Family to contemporary pieces by the RSN’s talented students.

https://www.ftmlondon.org/ftm-exhibitions/150-years-of-the-royal-school-of-needlework-crown-to-catwalk/

 

Foundling Museum

painting of ship in battle

William E D Stuart, The Battle of Trafalgar, c.1848 © Coram in the care of the Foundling Museum

Over at the Foundling Museum they delve into a first-hand account of the battle with the exhibition Fighting Talk: One Boy’s Journey from Abandonment to Trafalgar (until February 27). Penned by sailor George King whose story starts at the Foundling Hospital where he lived as a child and learned to read and write. We follow his incredible story through the Navy, from his impressment in 1804, to his experience during the Battle of Trafalgar and his eventual retirement at the Royal Naval Hospital in Greenwich.

https://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/events/fighting-talk-one-boys-journey-from-abandonment-to-trafalgar/

Alongside, the display Ship’s Tack (both until February 27) presents fragile ceramic sculptures and prints of paper boats, created by artist Ingrid Pollard. The pieces on show are Pollard’s response to George King’s story, and the Foundling Hospital’s relationship with Empire, trade and the Navy.

https://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/events/ships-tack/

illustration of musicians playing instruments in Georgian dress

James Vertue, Harpsichord fin du 18me siècle, ca.1755, © Gerald Coke Handel Collection

Friends with Benefits: Musical Networking in Georgian London (until May 1) explores the close-knit world of the Georgian music scene, where making personal connections was just as important as making good music. The exhibition reveals how musicians had to be skilled entrepreneurs to make waves in the Georgian music scene, and musical competence was secondary to the arts of communication, self-promotion and time-management.

https://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/events/friends-with-benefits/

 

Freud Museum London

At the Freud Museum London, Code Name Mary: The extraordinary life of Muriel Gardiner (until February 6) celebrates the life of an extraordinary woman, Muriel Gardiner, and tells the incredible story of her tireless efforts to rescue German and Austrian refugees fleeing the fascist Austrian regime and the Nazis. The exhibition explores Gardiner’s life through family photo albums, unpublished documents and her autobiography, Code Name Mary.

https://www.freud.org.uk/exhibitions/code-name-mary-the-extraordinary-life-of-muriel-gardiner/

Following this, Freud and China (February 9 – June 26) reveals Freud’s connections to China and his interest in Chinese culture and objects. The exhibition delves into his previously little-known Chinese collections and explores Freud’s work, and the general study of psychoanalysis, in the context of Chinese art, history and culture.

https://www.freud.org.uk/exhibitions/freud-and-china/

 

Garden Museum

botanical drawing in colour of irises

Raymond Booth, Iris nicolai, 1990.

Situated in the historic former St Mary-at-Lambeth church, the Garden Museum explores The Botanical World of Raymond Booth (until February 6), a celebration of one of the greatest botanical artists of the twentieth century. The exhibition reveals never before seen paintings found in Booth’s studio and demonstrates the artist’s passion for nature and intense interest in plants.

See more in our preview, Garden Museum celebrates botanical art genius Raymond Booth.

https://gardenmuseum.org.uk/exhibitions/the-botanical-world-of-raymond-booth/

Part of a celebration of the gardening traditions and cultures brought to the UK by Caribbean people following the Second World War, Sowing Roots: Caribbean Garden Heritage in South London (until February 20) explores how the Windrush generation’s horticultural traditions and knowledge impacted their lives in the UK. Featuring photography, interviews, personal items and plants, the exhibition shares stories of the power and joy of gardening.

https://gardenmuseum.org.uk/exhibitions/sowingroots/

photograph of woman collaged with real flowers

Primrose Archer Dressed In Flowers From My Garden, Hackney, 2020 © Tim Walker Studio

Wild & Cultivated: Fashioning the Rose (March 16 – June 19) opens later in the year, delving into the world of fashion to uncover how roses have been used from the Victoria era to today. The exhibition brings together a selection of contemporary fashion from the likes of Alexander McQueen, Commes de Garçons, Stephen Jones and Lulu Guinness as well as 18th century garments, 19th century photography and botanical portraits of roses to explore how the flower symbolises themes of love, beauty, sexuality, sin, rites of passage, degradation, and death.

 

Heath Robinson Museum

Children in underwater school

© Heath Robinson Museum

Over at the Heath Robinson Museum, Heath Robinson’s Children’s Stories (January 15 – May 8) looks at the children’s stories that Heath Robinson both wrote and illustrated. The exhibition features artworks produced for his four children’s books: The Adventures of Uncle Lubin, The Child’s Arabian Nights, Bill the Minder and Peter Quip in Search of a Friend, and introduces you to the weird and wonderful cast of characters created by the artist.

https://www.heathrobinsonmuseum.org/whats-on/heath-robinsons-childrens-stories-2/

 

Natural History Museum

a black and white butterfly with red dots on a daisy flower

© Emelin Dupieux / Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year (until June 5) tells the story of our natural world through 100 powerful photographs capturing our planet’s fragility, power and beauty. Every year the prize showcases the world’s best wildlife photographers and allows us to view a planet increasingly under pressure through their fascinating and touching images. The photographs will be displayed alongside insights from Museum scientists and experts which give us a deeper understanding of the issues facing the natural world.

https://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/wildlife-photographer-of-the-year.html

Continuing the theme of a natural world in crisis, Our Broken Planet: How We Got Here and Ways to Fix It (until late summer 2022) is an evolving display discussing the consequences of our modern life and exploring the things we can do to make a positive impact. The thought-provoking display explores some of the biggest environmental issues facing the planet, from our overuse of plastic and artificial lighting to the damaging impact of growing vast quantities of sugar and the origins of COVID-19.

https://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/our-broken-planet.html

 

Photographers’ Gallery

At the Photographers’ Gallery, Helen Cammock: Concrete Feathers and Porcelain Tacks (until February 13) is a new film and installation project exploring ideas of community. By bringing together residents and community groups from Rochdale in Greater Manchester, Cammock explores how the Rochdale Principles – a set of ideals for the operation of cooperatives written in the mid 19th century and still highly influential in cooperatives around the world today – relate to Rochdale and its residents today.

https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/whats-on/helen-cammock-concrete-feathers-and-porcelain-tacks

Helen Levitt: In The Street (until February 13) is a retrospective spanning 50 years of work by one of the most influential street photographers of the 20th century, Helen Levitt. From the 30s to the 90s, Levitt captured the communities in her home town of New York, documenting and revealing everyday life in the city’s varied neighbourhoods. Throughout the images, the influence from surrealism and silent film can be seen as she captures her subjects and their lives in unexpected theatricality.

https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/whats-on/helen-levitt-retrospective

The gallery’s four-part celebration of its 50th anniversary, Light Years: The Photographers’ Gallery at 50 (until February 13), comes to an end with its final theme focusing on the breadth of the photographic medium, and its use both aesthetically and scientifically to understand the role photography plays in society. The exhibition recalls shows from the gallery’s past sharing scientific photography and image-making techniques, such as holography and freeze-frame and explores the gallery’s exhibitions foretelling the eclipse of the analogue medium by digital technology.

TPG New Talent 2021 (until 13 February) also continues into the new year. The exhibition and mentoring programme identifies and supports the most exciting emerging artists working in photography today, and presents six projects chosen by Brazilian artist Rosângela Rennó and gallery Senior Curator Karen McQuaid.

 

Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery

Over at Sir John Soane’s dream country retreat, Pitzanger Manor & Art Gallery, Who Are We? Navigating Race, Class and the City (until February 13) is a radical exhibition revealing the how issues of race, identity and inequality are experienced by young people today. Through film, sculpture, fashion, painting and audio, the exhibition explores the challenging and complex realities faced by black and minority ethnic people in London.

https://www.pitzhanger.org.uk/whatson/race-class-and-the-city/

Soane Restored (until June 5) delves into the building’s history to reveal the fascinating story of how this almost intact example of Soane’s work has been restored to its original vision. Following three years of restoration, Soane’s country home has been brought back to its former gallery, with a particular focus on the decorative paint effects he used, the rebuilding of Soane’s spectacular conservatory and the restoration of original stone features.

https://www.pitzhanger.org.uk/whatson/soane-restored/

 

The Queen’s Gallery

At The Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace visitors can see some of the most famous paintings in the Royal Collection in Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace (until February 13). The exhibition features dazzling pieces from some of the world’s greatest artists, including Vermeer, Rembrandt, Titian and Canaletto and asks what these historic artworks have to offer to today’s audience and what qualities can still be valued and appreciated today.

https://www.rct.uk/collection/themes/exhibitions/masterpieces-from-buckingham-palace/the-queens-gallery-buckingham

four panel japanese folding screen with embroidered nature design

Iida & Co., Kyoto, Japan, Embroidered folding screen, c.1880–1900. Presented to King Edward VII on the occasion of his coronation in 1902 by Prince Komatsu Akihito, on behalf of the Meiji Emperor. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In the spring, Japan: Courts and Culture (April 8 – March 12 2023) brings together a splendid collection of Japanese art and design from the Royal Collection, which holds some of the most significant examples in the Western world. Offering a unique insight into the worlds of ritual, honour and artistry, the exhibition tells the story of three centuries of cultural exchange between the British and Japanese royal and imperial families.

https://www.rct.uk/whatson/event/989538/Japan:-Courts-and-Culture

 

Royal Academy of Arts

abstract photograph of building

Hélène Binet, Zaha Hadid Architects, Vitra Firestation, Weil am Rhein, Germany, 1993. Digital black-and-white silver-gelatin print, 80 x 80 cm. Courtesy ammann // projects. © Hélène Binet

At the Royal Academy of Arts, Light Lines: The Architectural Photographs of Hélène Binet (until January 23) exhibits the powerful and thought-provoking work of architectural photographer Hélène Binet who has worked for 30 years to capture historic and contemporary buildings. Around 90 of Binet’s photographs are on display, demonstrating her skill in interpreting and capturing architectural elements. Binet worked especially closely with architect Zaha Hadid, having captured almost all of the late architect’s projects.

https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/helene-binet

Late Constable (until February 13) also continues into the new year, celebrating the free and expressive brushwork of one of Britain’s best-loved artists during his late career. Covering the last 12 years of his life, the exhibition brings together watercolours, oils, drawings and prints in the first major retrospective of his work held at the academy that he graduated from and exhibited at regularly.

https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/late-constable

Francis Bacon: Man and Beast (January 29 – April 17) is a powerful exhibition spanning the artist’s 50 year career and focusing on how his fascination with animals both shaped and distorted his approach to representing the human body in his paintings. The show explores Bacon’s idea that man is never far from beast and that humans are like any other animal, and includes around 45 of his paintings, with highlights including his early works from the 30s and 40s and a trio of bullfight paintings never before seen together.

https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/francis-bacon

painting of woman in white dress standing

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl, 1862. Oil on canvas, 213 x 107.9 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington, Harris Whittemore Collection

Whistler’s Woman in White: Joanna Hiffernan (February 26 – May 22) explores the relationship between Whistler and his muse, model, lover and confidante. Joanna Hifferman met Whistler in London in the late 19th century and from there their personal relationship lasted for two decades. Many of Whistler’s paintings feature the red-headed Hiffernan and the influence of these revolutionary paintings can be seen in later artists’ works, form the Pre-Raphaelites to Kilmt.

Japanese illustration of a frog with a stick lecturing two frogs sat on a log

Kawanabe Kyōsai, Frog School, early 1870s. Album leaf: ink and light colour on paper, 19.4 × 29.8 cm. Israel Goldman Collection, London. Photo: Ken Adlard

https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/whistler-woman-in-white

In the spring, Kyōsai: The Israel Goldman Collection (March 19 – June 19) is the first UK exhibition of Japanese painter Kawanabe Kyōsai in almost 30 years. Bringing together examples from one of the finest collections of the artist’s work in the world, the exhibition explores the important master painter, who has been overlooked for decades outside of Japan but whose witty and energetic work is now celebrated and has a huge influence on manga and tattoo art today.

https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/kyosai

 

Saatchi Gallery

Bob Marley playing football

Image credit: Adrian Boot

At the Saatchi Gallery fans of the musician won’t want to miss the global debut of Bob Marley: One Love Experience (February 2 – April 18). The exhibition is a unique and immersive journey through Marley’s life and career exploring his passions, influences and enduring legacy. Visitors can experience Marley’s catalogue in a live listening experience, explore his achievements through giant art installations, journey through the multi-sensory One Love Forest and delve into the personal joys of one of the world’s most beloved musical and cultural icons.

https://www.saatchigallery.com/exhibition/bob_marley

 

Science Museum

black and white photograph of Yanomami Shaman

Chaman Yanomami en rituel avant la montée vers le Pico da Neblina, État d’Amazonas, Brésil, 2014 © Sebastião Salgado / nbpictures

At the Science Museum, Amazônia (until March) is a breath-taking exhibition of photography by Sebastião Salgado taken in the Brazilian rainforest. Presenting over 200 black and white photographs taken over a seven year period during which the artist worked with twelve different indigenous communities, the exhibition explores Salgado’s view of the rainforest as a crucial tipping point in the fight against climate change.

https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/see-and-do/amazonia

disk shaped metal sundial calendar on display in a museum space

Byzantine sundial-calendar, 400-600 CE, featuring a list of latitudes in ancient Greek © Science Museum Group

Ancient Greeks: Science and Wisdom (until June 5) takes us back in time to see how the Ancient Greeks laid the foundation for our understanding of the universe today. The exhibition uncovers how Ancient Greek thinkers strove to make sense of the world around them – from the stars in the sky to the animals in the sea – and presents new research to help us further understand this ancient civilisation.

https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/see-and-do/ancient-greeks-science-and-wisdom

Serpentine Galleries

installation view of artworks by Hervé Télémaque in an art gallery

Hervé Télémaque: A Hopscotch of the Mind (Installation view, 7 October 2021 – 30 January 2022) Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Celebrating the career of Haiti-born French multidisciplinary artist Hervé Télémaque (until January 30) the Serpentine Galleries presents highlights from his playful and unique portfolio of painting, drawing, collage and assemblage. Drawing a line between the realms of personal and political experience and the complex relationships between image and language, Télémaque’s work spans six decades.

https://www.serpentinegalleries.org/whats-on/herve-telemaque/

In spring the gallery presents an immersive, supernatural and sensory installation by experimental artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (Spring 2022). Gonzales-Foerster’s work often explores the relationships between bodies and space, drawing on literature, film, architecture and pop culture.

https://www.serpentinegalleries.org/whats-on/dominique-gonzalez-foerster/

 

Sir John Soane’s Museum

digital illustration of high street in vibrant pinks with elephants, lights and brightly patterned buildings

The Promenade through Enfield Town, Sachini Jayasena

Sir John Soane’s Museum kicks off its 2022 programme with The Architecture Drawing Prize (January 20 – February 19), the fifth instalment of award which seeks to find the best in architectural drawing today. The prize exhibition presents all of the shortlisted entries from architectural artists working around the world.

https://www.soane.org/exhibitions/architecture-drawing-prize-2022

Architectural fantasy drawing comprising large brickwork arches, a staircase, vases and columns

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, capriccio, c.1745-50

In spring Hidden Masterpieces (March 9 – June 5) offers a rare opportunity to see the finest examples from Soane’s collection of drawings, normally kept under lock and key. Possibly the first comprehensive collection of architectural drawings in the world, Soane’s drawing collection features works by prominent architects, Italian Renaissance drawings and illuminated manuscripts.

https://www.soane.org/exhibitions/hidden-masterpieces

Alongside, visitors take also take in Friend, I Can No Longer Hear Your Voice… a short film by contemporary artist Anne-Marie Creamer which accurate reconstructs the bedchamber of Soane’s wife Eliza. The room is a lost space in the museum, which was formerly the home and workplace of Sir John Soane. Eliza’s bedchamber, which was preserved by Soane for 19 years following his wife’s sudden and tragic death in 1815 is brought to life through CGI, photogrammetry and a haunting soundtrack.

https://www.soane.org/exhibitions/anne-marie-creamer-dear-friend-i-can-no-longer-hear-your-voice

 

Somerset House

Dennis the Menace and Gnasher carrying a large abstract artwork with boys in the background saying 'that horrible object won't even win the booby prize!'

Dennis and Gnasher, 1993. Courtesy of Beano

Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules (until March 6) takes you into the pages of the beloved and iconic British institution that is the Beano. The exhibition brings you face to face with the Beano gang to explore how the comic has inspired generations of rulebreakers and features contributions from a host of rebellious artists of today.

https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/whats-on/beano-art-of-breaking-the-rules

We Are History (until February 6) is a new group exhibition by nine artists with connections to the Caribbean, South America and Africa. The work on show gives a different perspective on humanity’s impact on the planet and explores the complex interrelations between today’s climate crisis and legacies of colonialism.

https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/whats-on/we-are-history

In Somerset House’s Gallery 31, a space dedicated to showing the work of the institution’s resident artists there’s Gallery 31: Temporary Compositions (until March 20). The exhibition features works by Abbas Zahedi, Phoebe Davies, Joe Namy and Sonya Dyer across film, sound, sculpture and textiles and highlights how each artist in the own way explores collective experiences and different ways of being and being together.

https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/whats-on/gallery-31-temporary-compositions

 

South London Gallery

At the South London Gallery Shut The Club Down (until February 27) takes us back in time to the Peckham and Camberwell of the 1990s to explore the dance music and nightlife culture through two iconic venues, Peckham Lazerdrome and Imperial Gardens. The display explores how these two spaces were pivotal in the dance music scene: Peckham Lazerdrome was one of the first London nightclubs to bring the rave scene indoors and Imperial Gardens helped kick-start the careers of emerging London artists.

https://www.southlondongallery.org/exhibitions/shut-the-club-down/

Showcasing the work of 75 emerging and early career artists, Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2021 (until February 20) aims to give a platform and visibility to artists through an open submission. Selected by a panel of internationally renowned artists, Hew Locke, Tai Shani and Michelle Williams Gamaker, the exhibition demonstrates the incredible breadth and depth of contemporary art of today.

https://www.southlondongallery.org/exhibitions/bloomberg-new-contemporaries-2021/

 

Tate Britain

paitning of young couple in stately room with a figure carrying money and ledger walking away

William Hogarth Marriage A-la-Mode: 2, The Tête à Tête, 1743-45 © The National Gallery, London

At Tate Britain, Hogarth and Europe (until March 20) explores how William Hogarth and his contemporaries documented the dramatic change in European society and culture in the mid-18th century. Though Hogarth’s greatest works and those of his peers across the continent, the exhibition explores how artists created vivid and compelling depictions of the idiosyncrasies of society.

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/hogarth-and-europe

black and white photograph of a row of young men and boys on a seesaw

Vanley Burke Young Men on a Seesaw in Handsworth Park 1984. Courtesy Vanley Burke Archives

Celebrating 70 years of art by Caribbean artists who made their home in Britain, Life Between Islands: Caribbean-British Art 1950s – Now (until April 3) spans painting, film, photography, fashion and sculpture. Revealing the breadth and impact of Caribbean-British art, the exhibition explores how Caribbean people forged new lives and identities in the wake of World War Two, and in doing so influenced and inspired British artists.

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/life-between-islands

An important and influential figure in 19th century painting, for 2022 the gallery has a major retrospective of Walter Sickert (April 28 – September 18). Examining Sickert’s radical and distinctive approach, the exhibition uncovers how his theatrical boundary-pushing paintings strengthened artistic connections between Britain and France and helped shape modern British art.

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/walter-sickert

Later in the year, large-scale installations by Cornelia Parker (May 18 – October 16) come to the gallery to mesmerise visitors with their commentary on our relationship with the world. Some of Parker’s most iconic suspended works are joined by her embroidery, films and paintings in an exhibition which expands past the gallery space and into the permanent collection where it joins pieces that have inspired the artist over her career.

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/cornelia-parker

 

Tate Modern

At Tate Modern, A Year in Art: Australia 1992 (until Autumn) responds to a pivotal year in Australian history during which High Court ruling overturned terra nullius – the declaration that the land belonged to no-one, used by the British to colonise the land in the 18th century. The exhibition explores how artists have recognised the relationship that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have with their land and examines the long-lasting impact of colonialism and the issues this causes in Australian society today.

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/year-art-australia-1992

chandeliers reflected in a mirror room, giving the impression it goes on forever

Yayoi Kusama, Chandelier of Grief 2016/2018. Tate. Presented by a private collector, New York 2019. © YAYOI KUSAMA. Courtesy OTA Fine Arts and Victoria Miro. Photo © Tate (Joe Humphrys)

Yayoi Kusama’s hugely popular immersive installation continues into summer, inviting you to experience infinite space. Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms (until June 12) is a rare opportunity to experience two artworks: Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life and Chandelier of Grief, both of which give the experience of existing in a seemingly endless space.

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/yayoi-kusama-infinity-mirror-rooms

Lubaina Himid (until July 3) is a large-scale exhibition debuting new works and presenting selected highlights from the Turner Prize winning artist’s influential career. Playing a pivotal role in the UK’s Black British arts movement, Himid initially trained in theatre design and has gained international recognition for her figurative paintings, which explore overlooked and invisible aspects of history and of contemporary everyday life.

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/lubaina-himid

surrealist painting showing woman in bathing costume, sea, zeppelin, boat, factory, lighthouse and fishes

Koga Harue Umi (The Sea) 1929. The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. Photo: MOMAT/DNPartcom

Things get weird in the gallery in February with Surrealism Beyond Borders (February 24 – August 29), an exhibition exploring the Surrealism movement and how it has impacted on artists’ work around the world. Taking a new look at the movement, which is usually discussed through the lens of 1920s Paris, the exhibition rewrites the history of Surrealism, and how it has enabled artists to challenge authority and imagine a new world.

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/surrealism-beyond-borders

 

Two Temple Place

photo of an African woman adding decoration to the outside of a pot

Photograph of Ladi Kwali taken by W.A. Ismay. Image courtesy of York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)

At the beautiful Two Temple Place, Body Vessel Clay (January 29 – April 24) tells the story of a ground-breaking Nigerian potter, Ladi Kwali, who reinvigorated the ancient art of pottery and paved the way for a new generation of contemporary women potters in Africa. The exhibition spans 70 years of ceramics, starting with Ladi Kwali’s relationship with British Studio pottery in the 1950s and continues through the decades to showcase both a rich history of pottery and experimental new works created by Black women working with the medium today.

https://twotempleplace.org/events/visit-body-vessel-clay/

See more in our preview, Body Vessel Clay: Black women, Ceramics and Contemporary Art.

 

UCL Art Museum

At UCL Art Museum there’s Slade 150: Testing Ground (until June 10), which explores the 150 year history of the Slade School of Fine Art and how students and staff alike have worked experimentally to create innovative prints and plates, leading to a rich archive of alumni works. The exhibition thanks all of those who have studied or worked at the art school since its inception in 1871, and celebrates the joys and challenges of tackling new approaches and encountering new situations.

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/culture/whats-on/testing-ground-exhibition

 

V&A

a green faberge egg with lid revealing a miniature palace and portriats of children decorating the outside which is also features gold leaf

The Alexander Palace Egg, Fabergé. Chief Workmaster Henrik Wigström (1862-1923), gold, silver, enamel, diamonds, rubies, nephrite, rock crystal, glass, wood , velvet, bone, 1908 © The Moscow Kremlin Museums

Over at the V&A, Fabergé in London: Romance to Revolution (until May 8) gives visitors the chance to see some of the delights from the famous Russian luxury brand. Focusing on the importance of the little-known London branch and showcasing more than 200 objects – some of which have never entered the UK before – the exhibition explores the global fascination with goldsmith Carl Fabergé and his opulent creations.

https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/faberge

See more in our preview, Fabergé eggs leave the Kremlin for V&A exhibition.

A beloved author of some of the world’s most enduring children’s books is celebrated with Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature (February 12 – September 25). The exhibition tells the story of her life and includes rarely seen personal items including her letters, family photographs, manuscripts and scientific drawings. Through over 240 objects, the playful show charts her journey from London to the Lake District, reveals her love for science and skill for scientific illustration and uncovers how she became one of the best loved children’s authors.

https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/beatrix-potter-drawn-to-nature

black and white photograph of man combing his quiffed hair

Chris Steele-Perkins, GB. ENGLAND. Bradford. Market Tavern. 1976.© Chris Steele-Perkins/Magnum Photos

In the spring, Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear (March 19 – October 9) celebrates masculine attire and appearance, exploring how both menswear and masculinity have changed and been refashioned over the centuries. The exhibition presents around 100 looks over three of the museum’s galleries, from historic treasures from the V&A’s collection to contemporary looks, and explores the varied interpretations of masculinity from the Renaissance to today.

https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/fashioning-masculinities-the-art-of-menswear

 

Vestry House Museum

At Vestry House Museum the history of dance music in the UK is explored in Sweet Harmony: Radio, Rave & Waltham Forest, 1989-1994 (until May 25). The exhibition focuses on a five year period in which some of the biggest dance music genres – such as acid house, garage and drum and bass – emerged in quick succession, and explores the contribution made by young people living and working in the London Borough of Waltham Forest. The exhibition brings together research which uncovers, celebrates and preserves this previously undocumented stories from this period in he borough’s history.

https://vestryhousemuseum.org.uk/whats-on/sweet-harmony-radio-rave-waltham-forest-1989-1994/

 

Whitechapel Gallery

Simone Fattal: Finding a Way (until May 15) exploits the kiln-like qualities of Whitechapel Gallery’s gallery space in a new commission showcasing large-scale ceramic figures. Fattal draws on sources including war, ancient religions and mythologies as her five charismatic ceramic figures embark on their own spiritual metamorphoses through an ancient landscape created by the artist through black and white etchings drawn from Fattal’s childhood memories of Damascus and sculpture reminiscent of ancient artefacts.

https://www.whitechapelgallery.org/exhibitions/simone-fattal-finding-a-way/

 

William Morris Gallery

cha;k drawing of a girl in a tiarta making lace framed by a piece of lace

Karol Kłosowski At Bobbin Lacemaking (Legend), undated. Chalk on paper. Image courtesy Private Collection by Descent from the Artist.

At William Morris Gallery, Young Poland: An Arts and Crafts Movement (until January 30) is the first major exhibition to explore the decorative arts and architecture of Young Poland (Młoda Polska), an extraordinary cultural movement that flourished in response to Poland’s invasion and occupation by foreign powers. The exhibition brings together over 150 works spanning furniture and textiles to Christmas decorations and paper cuttings.

See more in our preview, William Morris Gallery introduces the stunning decorative arts of Young Poland.

https://www.wmgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions-43/young-poland

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