London’s must-visit museums and galleries are must-visit attractions precisely because of, first, the plethora of treasures they permanently contain and, second, because of the outstanding, revelatory and fascinating exhibitions they host. So then, here are the exhibits no London-bound art lover should miss right now…
The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection
(Tate Modern, Bankside SE1 9TG/ until 7th May)
And you only thought Elton John was a pop star, right? It turns out that he’s also quite the collector of timeless photographs. This display of more than 150 of the snaps from his collection span all the way from the 1920s up to the end of the ’50s and feature work from acclaimed photographers/ artists like Alfred Stieglitz, Berenice Abbott and Man Ray.
(Tate Britain, Millbank SW1P 4RG/ until 29th May)
Famed for his boldly colourful, idiosyncratic portrait style, British art’s David Hockney has, in fact, experimented, fine-tuned and matured over the decades and this timely exhibition demonstrates exactly how, comprising many of his most famous works across his 60-year career, some lesser known ones and several new efforts on public display for the first time.
America After the Fall
(Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly W1J 0BD/ until 4th Jun)
Speak to any art aficionado and they’ll likely be adamant that American fine art really took off from the 1930s onwards, with luminaries like Jackson Pollock and Edward Hopper picking up their brushes and expressing the world around them – often influenced by the Great Depression – in their own inimitable style. As such, this exhibition features works by both masters – and many more.
The American Dream: Pop to the Present
(British Museum, Great Russell Street WC1B 3DG/ until 18th June)
From the 1960s up to the present day, art and pop culture have been intertwined thanks to the pop art explosion courtesy of the legendary Andy Warhol and other early US proponents like Jasper Johns, Kara Walker and Ed Ruscha. If you’ve any interest in the pop art movement then this exhibition’s a must – even if, during your visit to the UK you’re based out of town (say, at a hotel near Heathrow Airport like the Park Grand London Heathrow hotel – after all, it’s easy as pie to travel from there into Central London!)
Michelangelo & Sebastiano
(National Gallery, Trafalgar Square WC2N 5DN/ until 25th June)
Many people are aware the Italian Renaissance great Michelangelo was responsible for both the incredible statue of David and the extraordinary Sistine Chapel ceiling, but few will know of the High Renaissance giant’s friendship and professional relationship with Sebastiano de Diombo. The latter actually collaborated with his great contemporary, which this exhibit vividly illustrates by displaying many of their joint works.
Painted Hall Ceiling tours
(Old Royal Naval College, King William Walk SE10 9NN/ until 10th September)
Finally, no fine art lover can afford to miss this – getting up, close and personal with the ceiling of the Painted Hall in Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College. Indeed, this masterpiece of late 17th Century propaganda is the biggest painted ceiling in the city and, as it’s currently undergoing renovation, visitors have – for a limited time – the opportunity to check it out in all its Baroque splendour. Spectacular!