Over the past few years, London’s art scene has exploded, challenging New York and Berlin for the title of “Art Capital of the World.” New galleries and exhibits are constantly opening, and every year the city’s Frieze Art Fair is a can’t-miss event for the international art community. And if you’re planning a trip to London this year, you’re in luck because some truly amazing art exhibitions are coming to the city’s museums and galleries!
This year, you can catch the Royal Academy‘s exhibit of the most recent landscapes and experimental art of Britain’s own and beloved artist David Hockney who has recently returned home from a 30-year hiatus in Los Angeles. At the National Portrait Gallery, a retrospective of over 100 realistic portraits and unfinished work by painter Lucian Freud–who sadly passed away last summer–will open next month. Also next month, the Tate Britain will be open an exhibit of over 150 works by Picasso that explores his special connection with Great Britain. And in April, the Tate Modern will present a retrospective of British artist Damien Hirst’s work, featuring his famous pickled shark and diamond skull.
Meanwhile, smaller London art galleries also have an exciting year planned. John Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono will be exhibiting her multimedia and performance artwork at the the Serpentine Gallery this summer. Also, Rachel Whiteread will be using the facade of the Whitechapel Gallery as her own personal canvas as she decorates it with a “tree of life” motif. And artist Jeremy Deller’s brings to the Hayward Art Gallery his socially conscious artwork, including his event-film that re-enacts a 1984 battle between striking miners and police.
And if you work up an appetite wandering around these galleries, there’s plenty of places to stop in for a bite nearby. At the Tate Modern Restaurant, you can relax with some contemporary cuisine and a glass of wine while taking in some truly extraordinary views of the city. If the weather’s nice, you should head over to the Wallace Restaurant located in the Wallace Collection’s sculpture garden for some seasonal French dishes and fresh air.
For a place to stay near the galleries, might we recommend a short-term London apartment in the Mayfair section of London. From there, it’s a shot trip to both the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Academy, and getting around London to the other galleries is a breeze.
2012 London Art Exhibit Picks | Major Art Galleries
David Hockney: 21 Jan-9 Apr at the Royal Academy
Lucian Freud: 9 Feb-27 May at the National Portrait Gallery
Pablo Picasso and Modern British Art: 15 Feb-15 Jul at the Tate Britain
Damien Hirst: 5 Apr-9 Sep at the Tate Modern
2012 London Art Exhibit Picks | Smaller Art Galleries
Jeremy Deller: 22 Feb- 13 May at the Hayward Art Gallery
Yoko Ono: 19 Jun-23 Sep at the Serpentine Gallery
Rachel Whiteread Frieze: June 2012 at the Whitechapel Art Gallery
Where to Eat
Tate Modern Restaurant, Sumner Street, Bankside, London SE1 9TG.
Wallace Restaurant, The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN.
Where to Stay
Mayfair Apartment, located in the historic Shepherd Market area of London