London art exhibitions 2023, from Donatello at the V&A to Sarah Lucas, and the new National Portrait Gallery


Spain and the Hispanic World: Treasures from the Hispanic Society Museum & Library

Portrait of a Little Girl, Diego Velazquez, c1638-42

/ The Hispanic Society of America

This exploration of Spanish and Hispanic art and culture from the ancient world to the early 20th century promises to be stunning. It will feature more than 150 objects, from paintings by El Greco, Zurbarán, Velázquez and Goya to sculptures, silk textiles, ceramics, jewellery, maps and manuscripts from Spain and Latin America.

Royal Academy, January 21 to April 10

Ukraine: Photographs from the Front Line

Photographs by the internationally renowned photojournalist Anastasia Taylor-Lind shed light not just on the present conflict but on the state of war that Ukranians have been living under since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. This powerful show documents the devastating reality of living amidst conflict and will include Ukrainian language translations of the exhibition text and image captions.

Imperial War Museum, February 3 to May 7

Action, Gesture, Paint: Women artists and Global Abstraction 1940-70

Elaine de Kooning, The Bull, 1959

/ Courtesy The Levett Collection © EdeK Trust

Rothko who? Pollock – pah! This new exhibition looks past the usual white male suspects to explore the rich history of women working with gestural abstraction in the aftermath of the Second World War, from big American names like Helen Frankenthaler and Lee Krasner to lesser-known, equally brilliant artists such as Mozambican-Italian artist Bertina Lopes and South Korean artist Wook-kyung Choi.

Whitechapel Gallery, February 9 to May 7

The Morgan Stanley Exhibition: Peter Doig

Peter Doig in his studio

/ Courtesy The Courtauld/Fergus Carmichael

A major exhibition of new and recent works by the British artist Peter Doig – including paintings and works on paper created since his move from Trinidad to London in 2021. It will be the first exhibition by a contemporary artist to take place at The Courtauld since it reopened and will shed light on the influence on the painter of earlier artists in the Courtauld’s collection, such as those by Cézanne, Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Pissarro and Van Gogh.

Courtauld Gallery, February 10 to May 28

Donatello: Sculpting the Renaissance

Donatello’s Pazzi Madonna

/ Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin

Arguably the first blockbuster of the year, this show feels like something of a coup for the V&A, as the first major UK exhibition to look at the talents of the Renaissance master Donatello. They’re calling him, “The greatest sculptor of all time”; I’m usually in the Bellini camp, but can’t wait to have my convictions put to the test. Swoon.

V&A, February 11 to June 11

Alice Neel: Hot off the Griddle

Carmen and Judy, 1972

/ © The Estate of Alice Neel

About blooming time this incredible modern portraitist, who described herself as “a collector of souls!, had a major UK show in a space this size. Called the “court painter of the underground,” her canvases celebrate the often marginalised: labour leaders, black and Puerto Rican children, pregnant women, eccentrics, civil rights activists and queer performers – much to the irritation of the FBI at the time…

Barbican, February 16 to May 21

Beyond the Streets London

Kenny Scharf, Closet #42 Bestest Ever

/ Photo by Charles White of JW Pictures. 2022

The first show to fill all the rooms of the Saatchi Gallery in eight years, this is an homage to the monumental moments from the worlds of graffiti, street art, hip-hop and punk rock as well as the artists who immortalised them. Featuring original art, rare ephemera, photography, immersive and site-specific installations, archival fashion, and ‘surprises’.

Saatchi Gallery, February 17 to May 9

Mike Nelson: Extinction Beckons

Mike Nelson, MAGAZIN Buyuk Valide Han, 2003

/ Mike Nelson, Courtesy the artist and 303 Gallery, New York; Galleria Franco Noero, Turin; Matt’s Gallery, London; and neugerriemschneider, Berlin

Cheery stuff from the epic installation artist in what promises to be a landmark exhibition in logistical terms, using over 50 tonnes of sand and over 5,000 metres of reclaimed wood. These materials will be used to create new versions of Nelson‘s psychologically-charged, labyrinthine worlds. Thank god for GPS.

Hayward Gallery, February 22 to May 7

The Ugly Duchess: Beauty and Satire in the Renaissance

Prepare to shed new light on one of the most unforgettable paintings in the National’s Collection: Quinten Massys’ An Old Woman (c.1513), which inspired John Tenniel’s illustrations forAlice in Wonderland in 1865. The show will place the picture in its original context, stressing its novelty as a pioneering work of secular and satirical art, and will interrogate the Renaissance’s attitudes towards older women and the currency placed – then as now – on women’s youth and appearance.

National Gallery, March 16 to June 11

Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers: Black Artists from the American South

Lonnie Holly, Keeping a Record of It (Harmful Music), 1986

/ ARS, NY and DACS, London

Around 64 works by 34 artists from the mid-20th century to the present, showcasing unique African American artistic traditions and methods of visual storytelling, with artworks whose subjects and materials often reverberate with the South’s painful history. A landmark show for Britain.

Royal Academy, March 17 to June 18

After Impressionism: Inventing Modern Art

A journey through the art of the late 19th and early 20th centuries created in cities such as Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels and Vienna, starting with the pioneering work of Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin and Rodin and taking us all the way to some of the most significant modernist works, ranging from Expressionism to Cubism and Abstraction.

National Gallery, March 25 to August 13

V&A Photography Centre Phase 2

Vera Lutter, Radio Telescope, Effelsberg, XV: September 12, 2013

/ Vera Lutter

Following on from the previously opened phase one of the museum’s dedicated centre of photography comes this new development. It adds four more gallery spaces exploring the history and use of the camera and displaying global contemporary photography and cutting-edge commissions as well as a dedicated reading room.

Portraits of Dogs: From Gainsborough to Hockney

David Hockney, Dog Painting 19, 1995 ©

/ Richard Schmidt/The David Hockney Foundation

This heart-warming exhibition postponed by the pandemic will finally open in March. Over 50 paintings, sculptures and drawings, from artists across the centuries including Gainsborough to Hockney, have been brought together to explore the art of dog portraiture, and celebrate man’s best friend.

The Wallace Collection, March 29 to October 15

Spring 2023

The Rossettis

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Lady Lilith 1866-1868, altered 1872-1873

/ Delaware Aer Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, 1935

This major exhibition will chart the romance and radicalism of the Rossetti generation – Dante Gabriel, Christina and Elizabeth (neé Siddal) – showcasing their revolutionary approach to life, love and art. A total of 150 paintings and drawings, as well as photography, design and poetry will create the first retrospective of Dante Gabriel Rossetti at Tate, as well as the first full retrospective of Elizabeth Siddal for 30 years. Christina and Dante Gabriel’s poetry will be interwoven with the artworks.

Tate Britain, April 6 to September 24

Hilma af Klint and Piet Mondrian

Hilma af Klint, The Ten Largest, Group IV, No. 3, Youth, 1907

/ Courtesy of The Hilma af Klint Foundation

Although they never met, the Swedish artist Hilma Af Klint and Dutch painter Piet Mondrian both invented their own languages of abstract art rooted in nature. At the heart of both of their artistic journeys was a shared desire to understand the forces behind life on earth, alongside an interest in new ideas in spirituality, scientific discovery and philosophy. This is a chance to see them together, and shed new light on the work of both.

Tate Modern, April 20 to September 3

Style and Society: Dressing the Georgians

Through more than 200 works of art from the Royal Collection – including paintings, prints, drawings, miniatures, books, jewellery, fans and textiles along with a variety of other types of decorative arts – this show will explore Georgian clothing (from the accession of George I in 1714 to the death of George IV in 1830), from the practical dress of laundry maids to the glittering gowns worn at court.

Royal Collection, April 21 to October 8

Isaac Julien

Isaac Julien, The Lady of the Lake (Lessons of the Hour), 2019

/ Isaac Julien. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

The first major exhibition for this most compelling of film artists, which charts his work from the early 1980s to the present day, drawing from film, dance, photography, music, theatre, painting and sculpture to explore themes of desire, history and culture.

Tate Britain, April 27 to August 20

Luxury and Power: Persia to Greece

Gilt silver rhyto

/ The Trustees of the British Museum

Through exquisite objects from across the world, from Afghanistan to Italy, Bulgaria to Turkey, this show will explore the relationship between luxury and power in the Middle East and southeast Europe between 550 BC and 30 BC. This was a period when the Persian empire of ancient Iran clashed with the cities and kingdoms of Greece before it was conquered by Alexander, king of Macedon, AKA Alexander the Great.

British Museum, May 4 to August 13

St Francis of Assisi

This wil be the first major art exhibition in the UK to explore the life and legacy of Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), for whom the current Pope is named. The art and imagery of Saint Francis from the 13th century to today will examine how his spiritual radicalism, his commitment to the poor, his love of God and nature, as well as his striving for peace between enemies and openness to dialogue with other religions, make him a figure of enormous relevance to our times.

National Gallery, May 6 to July 30

Summer Exhibition 2023

The world’s biggest open-entry exhibition returns for another year, this time co-ordinated by the celebrated British painter David Remfry. Remfry’s Summer Exhibition will explore the theme Only Connect, taken from the famous quote in Howards End by EM Forster.

Royal Academy, June 12 to August 20

Capturing the Moment

Gerhard Richter, Two Candles, 1982

/ Gerhard Richter 2022 (0153)

A unique chance to explore how some of the greatest modern painters and photographers of our time worked alongside each other using two distinct mediums, this show brings together significant works from the Tate collection and Yageo Foundation Collection spanning the past 100 years, and the work of 39 artists, from Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Alice Neel, to Hiroshi Sugimoto, Jeff Wall, Louise Lawler and Candida Höfer.

Tate Modern, June 15 to January 28

Dear Earth: Art and Hope in a Time of Crisis

Inspired by artist Otobong Nkanga’s suggestion that “caring is a form of resistance”, this pioneering exhibition will highlight the ways in which artists including Agnes Denes, Andrea Bowers, Otobong Nkanaga, Hito Steyerl and Jacqueline Imani Brown, among others, are helping to reframe and deepen our responses to the climate crisis, hoping to inspire joy and empathy and a re-enchantment with the world.

Hayward Gallery, June 21 to September 3

Carrie Mae Weems

Untitled (Woman & Daughter with Make Up). Kitchen Table Series, 1990

/ Carrie Mae Weems. Courtesy of the artist, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York / Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin

Widely considered to be one of the most influential American artists working today, Carrie Mae Weems is celebrated for her exploration of identity, power, desire and social justice through work that challenges representations of race, gender, and class. Highlighting her diverse and radical practice, this first major UK survey brings together an outstanding selection of photographs, films, objects and installations spanning over three decades, most of which have never been seen before in the UK.

Barbican, June 21 to September 3

National Portrait Gallery reopens

After several years and one hell of a building job (not to mention having to hand back a chunk of Sackler cash) finally the National Portrait Gallery reopens to the public, with a comprehensive redisplay of the Gallery’s Collection from the Tudors to today, which will be displayed in beautifully refurbished galleries, and the restoration of the Grade I listed building and many historic features.

June 2


Whitney Houston performing at Wembley Arena, May 5, 1988

/ David Corio

From the opera goddesses of the Victorian era to today’s global megastars, this show will celebrate the power and creativity of iconic performers, exploring and redefining what it means to be a diva and how this has been subverted or embraced over time across opera, stage, popular music, and film. Featuring fashion, photography, design, costumes, music and live performance, it looks at how the performer has intersected with society and driven change through their voice and art.

V&A, June 24 to April 7

A World in Common: Contemporary African Photography

Kudzanai Chiurai, We Live in Silence IV, 2017

/ Courtesy the artist and Goodman Gallery

Bringing together a group of artists from different generations, this exhibition will address how photography, film, audio, and more have been used to reimagine Africa’s diverse cultures and historical narratives, exploring the many ways images travel across histories and geographies via themes of spirituality, identity, urbanism and climate emergency.

Tate Modern, July 6 to January 14

Spies, Lies and Deception

Deception has always been used in wartime to gain an advantage over the enemy and protect our secrets. But in the grey area between war and peace, is deceit acceptable? And should we spy on our friends as well as our enemies? This major exhibition at IWM London will look at the tricks, lures and espionage that make up the secret world of deception.

Imperial War Museum, autumn

Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto

L-R, Suit by Gabrielle Chanel, Paris,1969; suit, Paris, 1966, worn by Lauren Bacall; Coat, Paris, 1961, worn by Anne Gunning

/ Victoria and Albert Museum

The first UK exhibition dedicated to the work of French couturière Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel will chart the evolution of her iconic design style, from the opening of her first millinery boutique in Paris in 1910 to the showing of her final collection in 1971. Featuring over 180 looks, seen together for the first time, as well as jewellery, accessories, cosmetics and perfumes, the exhibition will explore Chanel’s pioneering approach to fashion design, which paved the way for a new feminine elegance and continues to influence the way women dress today

V&A, September 16 to February 25

Marina Abramović

The Serbian performance artist’s first major survey in the UK will bring together over 50 works spanning her entire career, including performance works within the galleries. It will explore how Abramovic has reflected on the temporal nature of performance art by extending its impact through its traces: photographs, videos, objects, installations and re-performances of her works by young performers. It will be bonkers, and you mustn’t miss it.

Royal Academy, September 23 to December 10

Sarah Lucas

Pauline Bunny, 1997

/ Sarah Lucas

One of the most enduring artists of the YBA era, Sarah Lucas is internationally celebrated for her bold, brash and provocative use of materials and imagery. Using ordinary objects in unexpected ways, she has consistently challenged our understanding of sex, class and gender over the last four decades.

Tate Britain, September 28 to January 14

Philip Guston

Painting, Smoking, Eating, 1973

/ The Estate of Philip Guston

The long-awaited survey show for the celebrated American abstractionist finally arrives, exploring how his paintings, which shifted from the abstract to the near-cartoonish (and occasionally nightmarish) social and political upheavals of the late 1960s, bridged the personal and the political, the abstract and the figurative, the humorous and the tragic.

Tate Modern, October 5 to February25


This major group exhibition, which you’ve got to hope to God is done with a deft touch, explores the relationship between gender and ecology, highlighting the systemic links between the oppression of women and the degradation of the planet.

Barbican, October 5 to January 14

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Time Machine

This comprehensive survey of work by the internationally renowned artist and photographer will include work produced over the past five decades and feature selections from all of Sugimoto’s major photographic series, as well as lesser-known works that illuminate his innovative, conceptually-driven approach to making pictures.

Hayward Gallery, October 11 to January 7

Imperial War Museum Blavatnik Art, Film and Photography Galleries

The new Blavatnik Art, Film and Photography Galleries will explore how artists, photographers and filmmakers together bear witness to, document and tell the story of conflict, and demonstrate how artistic interpretation can uniquely shape our understanding of war. New acquisitions will be exhibited alongside renowned works from IWM’s existing collection, including Gassed by John Singer Sargent, They Shall Not Grow Old by Peter Jackson and Steve McQueen’s Queen and Country.

Late 2023

Women in Revolt!

Helen Chadwick’s In the Kitchen (Stove), 1977

/ © The Estate of the Artist. Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery, London and Rome

The first of its kind, this major survey of work by over 100 women artists working in the UK from 1970 to 1990 will focus on a diverse range of artists and media to explore and reflect on issues and events such as the Women’s Lib movement, the fight for legal change, maternal and domestic experiences, Rock Against Racism, Greenham Common and the peace movement, the visibility of black and South Asian women artists, Section 28 and the AIDs pandemic.

Tate Britain, November 2 to April 7

Impressionists on Paper: Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec

In the maelstrom of modernity that was late 19th-century France, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists radically transformed what we think of as art – and in the process, lifted the status of works on paper from something preparatory that you left in a studio or chucked away, to artworks in their own right. This show features around 70 works on paper by leading artists whose innovation would change art forever.

Royal Academy, November 25 to March 10

New Contemporaries

The call for submissions has been made (open to January 9, if you’re interested) for the annual exhibition that supports emerging art practice from Britain’s established and alternative art study programmes. After a rigorous two-part selection process, artists will feature in a carefully curated touring exhibition that takes the temperature of the best emerging art of the day.

Camden Art Centre, December 15 to April;


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