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Top art exhibitions in London

Don't miss out on the best London art exhibitions on now and in the coming months, from immersive installations to retrospective collections.

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Catch the best art in the capital with must-see current exhibitions in London or plan ahead for future shows, which range from contemporary art and photography, to sculpture and classic works. There are many free exhibitions in London to enjoy; while some of the best exhibitions in London require pre-booked tickets.

Victoria: A Royal Childhood and Victoria: Woman and Crown at Kensington Palace

Painting of a young Queen Victoria in a white dress as part of Victoria 2019 exhibition at Kensington Palace
Drahonet’s Queen Victoria, when a Girl, 1832. Credit: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019. Image courtesy of Royal Collection Trust.
Mark the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth by visiting Victoria: A Royal Childhood and Victoria: Woman and Crown at Kensington Palace. Step back in time as you explore the rooms where Victoria spent her formative years. Then make your way to the Pigott Gallery, to look at the private woman behind the public monarch, as well as her later life and legacy. Book nowOngoing

Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life at Tate Modern

Person walking through a spiral installation as part of Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life exhibition at Tate Modern
Olafur Eliasson's Your spiral view installation, 2002, stainless steel, mirror, steel. Credit: Jens Ziehe, Boros Collection, Berlin. Copyright: Olafur Eliasson. Image courtesy of Tate Modern.
Experience the immersive world of Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, whose thought-provoking installations play with the way we perceive the world. In 2018, he attracted thousands of visitors to Tate Modern by bringing chunks of melting glacier ice next to the Thames as a pertinent reminder of global warming. He's now back with a major survey of his career so far: Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life. Until 5 Jan

Mark Leckey: O’ Magic Power of Bleakness at Tate Britain

A road crossing beneath a motorway bridge, illuminated at night, with graffiti on the walls.
Mark Leckey b.1964 Dream English Kid, 1964 – 1999 AD 2015 (still) Courtesy of the artist © Mark Leckey. Image courtesy of Tate.
Be amazed by sound and video as they intertwine in Mark Leckey’s immersive exhibition at Tate Britain. Study a life-size replica of a motorway bridge, which sets the scene for an audio play inspired by folklore and the artist’s own teenage experiences; and experience two of the Turner Prize winner’s most famous video pieces. Until 5 Jan

The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Gauguin Portraits at National Gallery

A self-portrait of Paul Gauguin with Christ in the background.
Paul Gauguin, Self Portrait as Christ, 1890-1891. Oil on canvas 38.1 x 45.7 cm. Musée d'Orsay, Paris Acquired by the Musées nationaux with the participation of Philippe Meyer and a Japanese patron, coordinated by the newspaper Nikkei, 1994 (RF 1994-2) (RF 1994 2) © RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / René-Gabriel Ojéda. Image courtesy of National Gallery.
Discover how Gauguin revolutionised portraiture at the first ever exhibition devoted to his portraits. Through its display of more than 50 paintings, sculptures and drawings, the National Gallery’s Gauguin Portraits looks into how the artist added personality to his subjects, uncovers how Picasso and Matisse were inspired by him, and delves deeper into his life in Polynesia. Until 26 Jan

Pre-Raphaelite Sisters at National Portrait Gallery

A painting of a lady, laying face up in a pool, surrounded by plants.
Elizabeth Siddal is the model in Ophelia by John Everett Millais, 1865-66. Private Collection. Pre-Raphaelite Sisters is at the National Portrait Gallery from 17 October 2019 to 26 January 2020. Image courtesy of National Portrait Gallery
Study the female side of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, as the works of 12 women artists, models and muses are put in the spotlight at the National Portrait Gallery. While Rossetti and Burne-Jones are widely celebrated, the lives and works of Evelyn de Morgan, Effie Millais, Elizabeth Siddal and Joanna Wells are less known. Find out more through paintings, manuscripts, photographs and personal items. Until 26 Jan

Bridget Riley at Hayward Gallery

A geometric painting by Bridget Riley featuring many  colourful quadrilaterals.
Bridget Riley High Sky, 1991 Oil on canvas 165 x 227 cm © Bridget Riley 2018. All rights reserved. Image courtesy of Southbank Centre.
Chart the career of Bridget Riley in a rare retrospective of the Op Art pioneer’s work. Full of perceptual, optical works, the Hayward Gallery’s exhibition follows key periods in the artist’s career, from the distinctive black-and-white paintings and the three-dimensional Continuum of the 1960s, to recent wall paintings commissioned specifically for the gallery. Until 26 Jan

Lucian Freud: The Self-portraits at Royal Academy of Arts

A self-portrait of Lucian Freud, looking up at the artist, with two small children in the bottom left.
Reflection with Two Children (Self-portrait), 1965 Oil on canvas, 91 x 91 cm Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid © The Lucian Freud Archive / Bridgeman Images. Image courtesy of Picselect.
See how Lucian Freud’s self-portraits evolved throughout his career, from a linear style to more playful depictions and his signature works showcasing more characterful features. The Royal Academy of Arts curates rarely seen works from private collections alongside unfinished works, drawings and sketchbooks spanning seven decades of the Berlin-born painter’s career. Until 26 Jan

Rembrandt's Light at Dulwich Picture Gallery

Rembrandt van Rijn's painting, Philemon and Baucis, showing four people gathered around a table, with a swan and a burning fire.
Rembrandt van Rijn, Philemon and Baucis, 1658, oil on panel transferred to panel, National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Study how Rembrandt used light to great effect through 35 iconic paintings, etchings and drawings. Retold in a cinematic style with help from cinematographer Peter Suschitzky, Dulwich Pitcture Gallery's Rembrandt Light exhibition includes works spanning the period of 1639 to 1658 – see the first UK appearance of Philemon and Baucis, as well as the atmospheric A Woman Bathing in a Stream. Until 2 Feb

Dora Maar at Tate Modern

A model floats outstretched in water, which is dappled with sunlight, in a black-and-white photograph.
Model in Swimsuit 1936 Photograph, gelatin silver on paper 197 x 167 mm The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019. Image courtesy of Tate.
Be inspired by more than 200 of Dora Maar’s surrealist photographs in the first ever UK retrospective of her work, at Tate Modern. The artist's famed advertising images sit alongside street photography, nude studies and rarely-seen post-war documentary photographs, paintings and commissions; while her eight-year wartime relationship with Picasso is also put into focus. Until 15 Mar

Harry Potter Graphics at House of MinaLima

An envelope for an acceptance letter into Hogwarts, addressed to Harry Potter.
House of MinaLima: Harry Potter and Hogwarts acceptance letter. Image courtesy of the House of MinaLima.

Head to the House of MinaLima in London’s West End and surround yourself with props and artworks from the Harry Potter films. See original wizardry items, graphics and objects by Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, the designers behind the Harry Potter movie artworks. Ongoing

For more exciting exhibitions, check out our pick of the best museum exhibitions in London. And with so many top shows to see, why not make a weekend of it or stay for longer?

If you're visiting soon, find more events and activities going on this weekend, discover more events and exhibitions on today or time your visit for major events each month. Make sure to download the visit London app to use while in the capital.

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