8 Must-See Exhibitions In London

23rd August 2017 Gemma Curtis London Life, News and Events

Student in art gallery

London is home to so many museums and galleries that sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Visiting exhibitions in London is one of the best (and sometimes free) ways to soak up the culture while making new friends. Here are the ones not to miss right now, so utilise one of your free afternoons or weekends and get arty!

Queer British Art at Tate Britain (until 1st October)

Celebrating 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England, the exhibition explores artwork from 1861-1987. The gallery says the exhibition ‘explores how artists expressed themselves in a time when established assumptions about gender and sexuality were being questioned and transformed.’

Queer British Art features work which has themes of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) identities and showcases works by David Hockney, Dora Carrington and Duncan Grant to name a few. Student tickets cost £14.50.

Related: Guide To The Best Unknown Theatres In London

The World of Anna Sui at The Fashion and Textile Museum (Until 1st October)

A bold name in fashion and pop culture, Anna Sui’s work is celebrated in this retrospective exhibition – the first of its kind in the UK. This is one of the best ways to look back at the American designer’s work and a must-see for fashion students.

‘The World of Anna Sui features over 100 looks from the designer’s archive, presenting a roll call of archetypes from Surfers and School Girls to Hippies, Mods and Punks’ according to the museum. Student tickets are only £6 so be sure to catch this before it ends!

Anna Sui exhibition posters
Image courtesy of the Fashion and Textile Museum

Gregory Crewdson: Cathedral of the Pines at The Photographer’s Gallery (Until 8th October)

The first showing of this exhibition coincides with the first time the Photographer’s Gallery have shared their three spaces with the work of a single artist. The collection of photos in Crewdson’s series displays human subjects in natural environments. The subtext that calls out in these photographs made the Guardian describe the collection as ‘sombre, foreboding and inward-looking.’

While this may not sound all that exciting, the images are hugely endearing. Creative writing students could look to this as inspiration for their first big seller! And the best part? The museum is free to enter before midday and free for 18-year-olds.

Related: 7 Alternative Ideas For Your Friday Night

Sculpt at Kew at Kew Gardens (Until 15th October)

Calling all sculpture-lovers! This Autumn you’ll have the chance to see some unique artwork set in the gorgeous Botanic Kew Gardens. Handmade in Britain describes the exhibition as ‘an exceptional opportunity to enjoy beautiful figurative, abstract and modern sculptures in a range of media including ceramics, bronze, glass and woodwork.’

The exhibition is included in your ticket price for Kew Gardens which is £14. Make a day of it and explore the whole gardens for some relief from your studies and some natural inspiration.

Kew Gardens

Matisse in the Studio at The Royal Academy of Arts (Until 12th November)

As the name suggests, this collection displays the things that inspired Henri Matisse throughout his career as an artist. It includes objects he painted or that stimulated his work in some way, from Thailand, China and various places in Africa.

‘This sumptuous exhibition offers a rare glimpse into the artist’s collection, as well as the paintings, sculptures and drawings it inspired’ says the museum. As Matisse is such a renowned artist, it’s rare you’d get to see a collection like this again in the near future, so make sure you check it out while you can! Tickets cost £14.

Dalí / Duchamp at The Royal Academy of Arts (7th October – 3rd January)

Another huge must-see exhibition from this gallery is a collaboration of two of the greatest 20th-Century artists – Dalí and Duchamp. The collection looks at works from both artists which share lots of similar themes despite their distinctive styles. It also explores the artists’ friendship and the ideas that brought them together in making art.

The RA says ‘Presented as a conversation taking place through art, this focused exploration offers fresh ways of looking at two figures, radically revising their familiar places in art history’. Tickets cost £15.

Read more: International Students: How To Embrace London Life

Basquiat: Boom For Real at The Barbican (21st September – 28th January)

This collection of over 100 pieces brings to light the exciting work of Jean-Michel Basquiat from the Downtown New York art scene of the 70s and 80s. Perfect for lovers of contemporary and street art, this exhibition delves into the inspiration behind this self-taught artist.

In The Barbican’s words, ‘This is the first exhibition to focus on the artist’s relationship to music, text, film and television, offering new research that will enable some of his most acclaimed paintings and drawings to be understood as never before’. Tickets cost £10 and pre-booking is essential.

Basquiat exhibition
Image courtesy of the Barbican

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion at The V&A Museum (Until 18th February)

Fashionistas will flock to this collection of work from Spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga. Featuring more than 100 hand crafted pieces, this exhibition is a beautiful display of some of the most famous fashion items from the past century. There are also related workshops and even a course that delves into the history of fashion in more detail.

Fashion, design and photography students would be foolish to miss the chance to see this collection. Tickets cost £12 and booking is advisable.

So, make the most of your free time, see these exhibitions in London and be inspired by these artists’ work!

Gemma Curtis

Gemma Curtis

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