Release your inner culture vulture at these FREE art exhibitions
By Steph Dye (follow Steph on Twitter: @HelloIAmSteph)
Thousands flock to London every year to experience the huge wealth of art in the capital. As a resident, you get the opportunity visit this hub of culture — home to some of the greatest galleries and artists in the world — on a regular basis. Unfortunately, this variety and quantity of exciting artwork often comes with a steep price tag but there is also a whole host of galleries and art exhibitions in London that are free to visit. What more reason do you need to get involved in the art scene?
So whether you know your Monet’s from you Manet’s and your Magritte’s from your Matisse’s or whether you just fancy something different to do in your lunch break: here are 10 great art exhibitions that you can visit in London for free this summer.
#1 | Alex Katz: Quick Light | Serpentine Gallery | Painting | Until 11th September
What is it?: Drawing work from both the last two decades and Katz’s most recent collections, this exhibition puts an emphasis on the 89 year old’s lesser known, abstract landscape work — seemingly fitting for the gallery’s green surroundings — as opposed to his more famous portraits of friends and family.
When is it?: Now- 11th September (Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-6pm).
Where is it?: Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, W2 3XA.
#2 | Mary Heilmann: Looking at Pictures | Whitechapel Gallery | Mixed Media | Until 21st August
What is it?: A retrospective of Heilmann’s work spanning the last five decades, this artist’s bold, colourful artwork appears as a tribute to the many years of experience and influence she has amassed. Abstract in form, the work speaks of both the rigidly architectural East Coast, where Heilmann lives, and also the vibrant, more organic West Coast, where she grew up.
When is it?: 8th June – 21st August (Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-6pm excl. Thursday, when the opening hours are extended to 9pm).
Where is it?: Galleries 1, 8 and 9, Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX.
#3 | Opening of the New Building at the Tate Modern | Permanent Gallery
What is it?: Sixteen years on from the unveiling of the Tate Modern in 2000, the new Switch House will be opened on the 17th June at the Southbank site. With the world’s first space devoted to live film, art and installations, the new building will offer 60% more space set over ten floors, extending the vision of The Tanks, upon which the new building is built upon.
When is it?: The Switch House is permanent fixture, opening on the 17th June.
Where is it?: Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 9EG.
For more details, check out our full length post on the opening.
#4 | Ragnar Kjartansson | The Barbican | Mixed Media | Until 4th September
What is it?: Internationally renowned as one of the world’s most exciting young artists, Kjartansson, hosting his first UK exhibition, brings theatre and cliché to his live performances, painting, sculpture and drawing. The exhibition is not only a witty take on Western culture but also a multi-sensory experience that visitors are unlikely to forget in a hurry.
When is it?: 14th July-4th September (Saturday-Wednesday, 10am-6pm; Thursday-Friday, 10am-9pm).
Where is it?: Barbican, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS.
#5 | Yayoi Kusama | Victoria Miro | Mixed Media | Until 30th July
What is it?: If you haven’t seen the torrent of selfies and instagrams of this artist’s mirror rooms since it opened in May, we can only assume you have been living under a rock. This collection, that spans the three Victoria Miro locations, contains both painting and sculpture that is preoccupied with the concept of infinity and pattern.
When is it?: Now-30th July (Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-6pm).
Where is it?: Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Road, N1 7RW and Victoria Miro Mayfair, 14 St George Street, W1S 1FE.
#6 | Edward Barber | Imperial War Museum | Photography | Until 4th September
What is it?: Stunning black and white photographs that document the anti-nuclear protest in Britain in the 1980s. These images, brought to crystal-clear quality with new digital prints, capture not only the poignant expressions of the activists but also the wit of the signage and art — a visual that looks forward to modern protests — for an exhibition that will strike a chord but will also bring a smile.
When is it?: Now-4th September (Monday-Sunday, 10am-6pm).
Where is it?: Imperial War Museum London, Lambeth Road, SE1 6HZ.
#7 | Jeff Koons: Now | Newport Street Gallery | Mixed Media | Until 6th October
When is it?: Love him or hate him, Jeff Koons is one of the most expensive living artists in the world. Therefore this free exhibition, which charts the history of his career — from pop-art paintings to his more recent sculpture works —is an unmissable opportunity, capturing, in it’s ode to consumerism, the fleeting, fragile nature of our passions and attentions.
When is it?: Now-16th October (Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-6pm excl. Saturday when the opening hours are extended until 10pm).
Where is it?: Newport Street Gallery, Newport Street, SE11 6AJ.
#8 | Emotional Supply Chains | Zabludowicz Collection | Mixed Media | Until 17th July
What is it?: A collaboration of works by a variety of different contemporary artists, all using different mediums to attempt a definition of identity in the transient age of social media and the internet.
When is it?: Now-17th July (Thursday-Sunday, 12pm-6pm).
Where is it?: Zabludowicz Collection, 176 Prince of Wales Road, NW5 3PT.
#9 | Light, Time, Legacy: Francis Towne’s Watercolours of Rome | British Museum | Painting | Until 14th August
What is it?: A series of 52 panoramic watercolours, each detailing a different landscape in 18th Century Rome. This exhibition marks the 200th anniversary of the artist’s, Francis Town, bequeathment of the paintings to the British Museum. Considered unimportant in his day, the stark, graphic qualities of his work may have been unappreciated at the time but take on a renewed significance to the contemporary viewer.
When is it?: Now-14th August (Monday-Sunday, 10am-5.30pm excluding Fridays, when opening hours are extended until 8.30pm).
Where is it?: Room 90, The British Museum, 44 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG.
#10 | Cory Arcangel: currentmood | Lisson Gallery | Photography | Until 2nd July
What is it?: Reading like a pictorial history of Arcangel’s browsing habits, this self portrait, composed of a variety of images, reflects the transient nature of mood and the fleeting attention spans of the ‘internet generation’. Combined with the white noise that is pumped out of speakers in every room, the viewer is likely to get the uneasy feeling that they have been ‘logged in’ for far too long.
When is it?: Now-2nd July (Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm; Saturday, 11am-5pm).
Where is it?: Lisson Gallery, 27 and 52 Bell Street, NW1 5BU.
Don’t fancy an exhibition for your culture fix? See what else is going on this June?
Or how about watching for film for a pound?