London for art lovers
Founded in 1947 and located on The Mall, the ICA is a cultural and artistic hub, it boasts a wide selection of exhibitions and contains galleries, a theatre, two cinemas, a bookshop and a bar. Its experimental and open-minded approach to art has attracted a variety of people over the years. Visit before 17th March to catch ‘Juergen Teller: Woo’, by checking out the German photographer’s work, which features the likes of Kate Moss, Vivienne Westwood and Lily Cole. For further details, go to www.ica.org.uk.
Located in Silk Street, the Barbican offers an array of different forms of art, in such varied genre as dance, film, music, theatre and the visual arts. Its sheer diversity makes this a fabulous venue for both classical and contemporary art, plus it is also home to both The London Symphony Orchestra and The BBC Symphony Orchestra. When these guys are playing at home, you will not want to miss them. Make a date soon, because running between 14th February and 9th June is ‘The Bride and the Bachelors: Duchamp with Cage, Cunningham, Rauschenberg and Johns’. An awesome show, it combines both art and performance and it examines the relationship that Duchamp had with composer John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham and visual artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. It is a rich tapestry indeed. For more details, go to www.barbican.org.uk
The National Gallery
Everybody enjoys a bargain and, as entry to The National Gallery is completely free of charge, this famous space right at the very heart of London, beside Trafalgar Square, is well worth alighting from a bus to visit. An outstandingly iconic gallery, it contains Western European paintings from the 13th and 19th centuries and features work from the likes of Van Gogh, da Vinci, Botticelli and Renoir, to name but a few. If you wish to brush up on the classics, this is the place to go. However, you might enjoy a date for the diary and taking place between 26th June and 8th September is ‘Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and Leisure’. The exhibition brings together Vermeer’s three paintings: Young Woman Standing at a Virginal, Young Woman Seated at a Virginal and Guitar Player. Accompanied by his composed musical pieces, this is the first time all three paintings will be displayed together. It is the event that languorousness was meant for. For further details, go to www.nationalgallery.org.uk
Part of the Southbank Centre, the Hayward is in a grey concrete building that looks painfully bland but that holds a whole host of artistic gems that are sure to lift spirits to new heights. Mainly known for displaying the works of some of the most innovative artists, the Hayward also organises and hosts projects and talks, both within the gallery and at other destinations, so it pays to keep in touch with its website. Previously, it has presented the works of Dan Flavin and Tracey Emin, which kind of ensures that this love or hate concrete building becomes a ‘must visit’ location. In fact, should you stop by before 28th April, you will experience ‘Light Show’, in which illumination is used as an artistic medium. Jenny Holzer’s word projections and Conrad Shawcross’s kinetic machines guarantee that this an intriguing and unique display that will captivate you. For more information, go to www.haywardgallery.org.uk
Royal Academy of Arts
Founded in 1768, the Royal Academy of Arts is one of the nation’s, let alone London’s most famous art galleries. Based in Piccadilly, in the centre of town, it is uniquely independent and funded privately by artists and exhibitionists. As one of the oldest galleries in London, it holds some of the finest temporary showcases, while also containing historical artefacts, such as Queen Victoria’s paint box. One of its key attractions this year is running from now until 14th April, ‘Manet: Portraying Life’ is being hosted at the RA. Dedicated specifically to Manet’s marvellous portfolio of work, it brings together his artistic efforts from across Europe, Asia and the USA. Showcasing over 50 of his paintings, portraits of the controversial artist’s family and his friends can be spotted among the collection. For further details, go to www.royalacademy.org.uk
National Portrait Gallery
If you happen to be in the vicinity of Trafalgar Square, the well known National Portrait Gallery is jampacked with portraiture and offers visitors the largest collection of portraits in the world. In fact, it features the faces of so many famous personalities, from William Shakespeare to our many kings and queens. An especial treat this year, between 7th February and 26th May, is ‘Man Ray Portraits’, which features 150 of the influential artist’s photographic portraits for the first time ever. Of course, photography is an amazing medium and you can check out his career highlights, notably from capturing the likes of Pablo Picasso and Lee Miller on celluloid. For more details, go to www.npg.org.uk
Tate Britain holds the title of harbouring the largest collection of British art in the world. Situated in Millbank, it features work from 1500 right up to the present day and holds the largest collection of JMW Turner’s work in the world. This expressionist landscape and romantic painter is worthy of viewing alone, except that Tate Britain has so much more on offer. Also part of the Tate collection, on the banks of the Thames, is Tate Modern, a modern art gallery displaying contemporary works. If you want something really special to pore over, from 26th June to 20th October ‘Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life’ is being displayed. Presenting Lowry’s wondrous landscapes for the first time since his death, his work portrays life for the working classes in mid-twentieth century Britain and highlights the French influence on industrial Britain. Turn to page 72, if you would like to read more about the Lichtenstein retrospective. For further details, go to www.tate.org.uk
Drawn together by the munificence of the Saatchi family, this Chelsea hotspot focuses on contemporary art and hosts the works of both young artists and international painters, much of whose work is rarely shown anywhere else in the UK. As a means of providing an insight to the lesser known artists, the Saatchi opens your eyes to innovative and adventurous new talent.
On a local level, the venue is soon to be renamed as The Museum of Contemporary Art, although its previous residents, both Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, prove it has a reputation that most definitely lives up to its name. Although named ‘Gaiety is the Most Outstanding Feature of the Soviet Union’, which is a massively ironic exhibition that is currently on show until 5th May, it contains a lot of new art from Russia. The irony arises from many of its more powerful pieces that show horrendous images of Russian life, emphasising its political history and old Communist ways. For more information, go to www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk
London’s secret galleries
Banner Repeater Platform 1
Hackney Downs Railway Station
Situated at Hackney Downs railway station, by platform one, this gallery means that visitors can even arrive directly at the venue by train. Founded in 2009, by Ami Clarke, it features text-based works and printed materials. Talks and discussions are also held frequently. The show is open 8am-11am Tuesday to Friday and 12 midday-6pm Saturday, and 12 midday to 6pm Sunday (during exhibitions). For more information, go to www.bannerrepeater.org.
The Old Police Station
114-116 Amersham Vale
Hardly the first place you might contemplate housing artworks and providing a haven to artists, an abandoned police station in Deptford provides DIY spaces for painters to display and create their art. This centre has 42 art studios and a cell for exhibitions. It also operates a radio station and provides useful space for band rehearsals, meaning that you can practice your art no matter what genre it is. Plus, every last Friday of the month it holds after-hours gallery gatherings. It is great fun and is a slightly different environment to your usual drinking surroundings. For further details, go to www.theoldpolicestation.org
49-59 Old St
Having moved from both Brixton and Farringdon over its 20 years of existence, Cabinet Gallery is currently tucked away in Old Street. This ‘supersecret’ gallery has shown the likes of Enrico David and Mark Leckey over the years but it shies away from publicity. The best way to keep up to date with its listings is through a subscription on the website, although, even there, the details can remain vague. For further details, go to www.cabinet.uk.com