Art Exhibitions In London To Check Out In 2023

Where to get your culture fix in the capital

From the Tates to the Royal Academy and the galleries of Mayfair and the Barbican, London is bursting with exciting art exhibitions at any time of year. Here are the shows not to be missed.

Click here to jump to the exhibitions coming soon to London

The Very Best Art Exhibitions To See In London

BLACK VENUS: Reclaiming Black Women In Visual Culture

Where? Somerset House (Strand, London WC2R 1LA)

When? 20 July–24 September 2023

Black Venus exhibition at Somerset House

Amber Pinkerton Photo Booth, Sabah, Girls Next Door, 2020, © Courtesy the Artist and ALICE BLACK

Pulling together the work of over 20 Black women and non-binary artists and curated by Aindrea Emelife, BLACK VENUS will open at Somerset House this summer, exploring the othering, fetishisation and reclamation of narratives around Black femininity. Expect over 40 contemporary (primarily photographic) artworks offering ‘a radical affront to a centuries-long dynamic of objectification, showcasing all that Black womanhood can be and has always been’. somersethouse.org.uk

Paul McCartney Photographs 1963-64: Eyes of the Storm

Where? National Portrait Gallery (St. Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE)

When? 28 June–1 October 2023

A photo taken from the upcoming Paul McCartney exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery

John and George, Paris. 1964 © 1964 Paul McCartney

With the highly anticipated reopening of the National Portrait Gallery comes a series of new exhibitions, including ‘Paul McCartney Photographs 1963-64: Eyes of the Storm’, which will reveal, for the first time, a series of photographs taken by The Beatles legend between December 1963 and February 1964, a window of time in which The Beatles were transitioning from a British sensation to a global phenomenon. npg.org.uk

Hannah Lim: Bestiaries

Where? Wilder Gallery (77 College Road, London NW10 5ES)

When? 14 September–7 October 2023

Hannah Lim's exhibition at Wilder Gallery

Singaporean and British heritage are bridged by Lim’s broad body of work at her autumn Bestiaries solo exhibition, spanning ornamental sculpture to wall-based works. Reimagining Chinoiserie, 10 snuff bottles and six paintings draw inspiration from Chinese mythology and its ‘bestiaries’, found in the likes of ‘The Classics of Mountains and Seas’ and Pu Songling’s ‘Tales of a Chinese Studio’. wilder.gallery

Yevonde: Life and Colour

Where? National Portrait Gallery (St. Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE)

When? 22 June–15 October 2023

A photo by Yevonde

Mask (Rosemary Chance) by Yevonde (1938, printed 2022-3), purchased with the Portrait Fund, 2021 © National Portrait Gallery, London.

In partnership with The CHANEL Culture Fund – and as part of the Gallery’s Reframing Narratives: Women in Portraiture project aiming to enhance the representation of women – Yevonde: Life and Colour will explore the life and career of pioneering London photographer, Yevonde Middleton, who spearheaded the use of colour photography in the 1930s. npg.org.uk

Christo: Early Works

Where? 4 Princelet Street, London E1 6QH

When? 6–22 October 2023

4 Princelet Street, London exterior view

The inaugural exhibition in the Gagosian’s new ‘Gagosian Open’ series of off-site projects takes Christo’s early works to Spitalfields. Curated by Elena Geuna the works – most of which are from the 1960s and 1970s, and speak to ideas of movement, migration, and preservation – will be set in unique dialogue with a Grade II–listed Georgian East End house, 4 Princelet Street. gagosian.com

Lagos, Peckham, Repeat: Pilgrimage To The Lakes

Where? South London Gallery (65 Peckham Road, London SE5 8UH)

When? 5 July–29 October 2023

A landmark exhibition exploring the connections between Lagos and Peckham, more than 10 Nigerian and British Nigerian contemporary artists are exhibiting at the South London Gallery, exploring transnational exchange, sense of place and the contemporary metropolis across sculpture, installation, photography and film. southlondongallery.org

Anthony Cudahy: Double Spar

Where? GRIMM (2 Bourdon Street, London W1K 3PA) and Hales Gallery (Tea Building, 7 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA)

When? 9 October–4 November 2023

Anthony Cudahy, Arthur Russell on the shore, 2023

Anthony Cudahy, Arthur Russell on the shore, 2023

Exploring queer identity and tenderness, Brooklyn-based painter Anthony Cudany is coming to London this autumn with ‘Double Spar’ named for an Icelandic quartz he encountered on his travels that can ‘double’ any image viewed through it. The exhibition similarly explores duality, with works in dialogue with one another across two spaces, based on friends and family captured in quiet moments and exploring the extraordinariness found in the everyday. grimmgallery.com / halesgallery.com

Gregor Sailer: The Polar Silk Road

Where? Natural History Museum (Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London SW7 5BD)

When? 26 May–24 November 2023

Artist and photographer Gregor Sailer’s first UK exhibition will explore the climate crisis’ impact on the Arctic, with melting ice opening shorter sea routes and creating new opportunities for trade and access to new raw material deposits via the so-called ‘Polar Silk Road’. Sailer’s exhibition will explore the new conflicts created by this melting, and document our complex relationship with the environment. nhm.ac.uk

UVA: Synchronicity

Where? 180 Studios (180 Strand, Temple, London WC2R 1EA)

When? 12 October–17 December 2023

Vanishing Point, 2023, part of the upcoming UVA Synchronicity exhibition

Vanishing Point, 2023 (c) UVA

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, UVA (or the United Visual Artists collective) will unveil its largest ever survey exhibition, taking over 180 Studios’ subterranean space. From newly commissioned work to collaborations, expect your perception of reality and human instincts to be challenged through mesmerising audio-visual artworks. 180studios.com

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Time Machine

Where? Hayward Gallery (Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XZ)

When? 11 October 2023–7 January 2024

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Earliest Human Relatives

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Earliest Human Relatives, 1994. © Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery.

Featuring work produced across the past five decades, Time Machine will feature selections from all of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographic series alongside lesser-known pictures to highlight his innovative, conceptual, philosophical and playful approach to the nature of representation and art, time and memory. southbankcentre.co.uk

Claudette Johnson

Where? The Courtauld Gallery (Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN)

When? 29 September 2023–14 January 2024

Painting by Claudette Johnson

Claudette Johnson, Figure with Figurine, 2019. Rennie Collection, Vancouver © Claudette Johnson. Image courtesy the artist and Holly Bush Gardens, London. Photo by Andy Keate.

At once intimate and powerful, Claudette Johnson’s drawings of Black women and men have made her one of the most significant figurative artists of her generation, pushing the boundaries to create the most authentic renderings of her sitters for over 30 years. Expect to see monochrome works in dark pastel contrasted with vibrant colours in gouache and watercolour. courtauld.ac.uk

Capturing The Moment

Where? Tate Modern (Bankside, London SE1 9TG)

When? 14 June 2023–28 January 2024

David Hockney, Portrait of an Artist

David Hockney, Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), 1972. © David Hockney Photo Art Gallery of New South Wales Jenni Carter

Head down to London’s Tate Modern to see the work of some of the world’s most iconic artists and photographers – from Lucien Freud to David Hockey, Andy Warhol to Alice Neel – drawn together under an exploration of the relationship between painting and photography, considering how the brush and lens continuously shape each other. tate.org.uk

The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Frans Hals

Where? National Gallery (Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN)

When? 30 September 2023–21 January 2024

Frans Hals, The Laughing Cavalier

The Laughing Cavalier, Frans Hals, 1624. © Trustees of the Wallace Collection, London

Presented with Credit Suisse, Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie is the largest exhibition devoted to Frans Hals’ work for more than 30 years. Over 50 of the Dutch artist’s works are gathering at the National Gallery from across the globe, from Toronto to Texas to the Wallace Collection down the road. The latter is one of Hals’ best known paintings, The Laughing Cavalier, which has sat in the Wallace Collection since the 1870s and is on loan for the first time for this exhibition. After its London debut, the exhibition will travel to Amsterdam and then Berlin. nationalgallery.org.uk

David Hockney: Drawing from Life

Where? National Portrait Gallery (St. Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE)

When? 2 November 2023–21 January 2024

A self portrait by David Hockney

David Hockney, ‘Self Portrait, 22nd November 2021’, Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 30″. © David Hockney. Photo Credit: Jonathan Wilkinson.

Staged for just 20 days before the pandemic forced the closure of the National Portrait Gallery (which then stretched into a three-year period of closure for refurbishment and redesign works), David Hockney: Drawing from Life will return to the Gallery in 2023, championing the artist’s work across six decades, particularly in the intimate portraits of five sitters – his mother, Celia Birtwell, Gregory Evans, Maurice Payne and the artist himself – in pencil, pen and ink, crayon, photographic collage, and digital iPad art. In its 2023 rendition, visitors can also expect the debut of a selection of new portraits created between 2020 and 2022. npg.org.uk

Taylor Wessing Photo Prize

Where? National Portrait Gallery (St. Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE)

When? 9 November 2023–25 February 2024

A photo taking from the Taylor Wessing exhibition

Peter & Sue from the series Modern Love by Curtis Hughes (April 2022) © Curtis Hughes.

After a three-year hiatus, the annual Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize will return to the National Portrait Gallery at the end of 2023, showcasing the work of both celebrated professionals and talented amateurs. npg.org.uk

Read all about this year’s exhibition here

Wildlife Photographer Of The Year

Where? Natural History Museum (Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London SW7 5BD)

When? 13 October 2023–30 June 2024

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is back for 2023, exploring the planet’s myriad habitats, from sprawling urban metropolises to the deep polar seas. With soundscapes, videos, experts and, of course, stunning photography, come face to face with species facing extinction, those saved from the brink, and see first hand how humans help and hinder the natural world. nhm.ac.uk

Discover Degas & Miss La La

Where? National Gallery (Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN)

When? 6 June–1 September 2024

In 2024, the National Gallery’s free-to-attend ‘Discover’ series will centre Degas’ 1879 painting Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando, a landmark impressionist painting starring circus artist Miss La La, or Anna Albertine Olga Brown. The exhibition will reveal new information about her life and career, while taking a closer look at Degas’ painting and his preparatory drawings of Brown in motion. nationalgallery.org.uk