If you couldn’t give a Magritte about London’s art scene and would rather watch paint dry over actual paintings, there are plenty of photography exhibitions taking place right now where you can get your culture kicks.
From one of Vogue’s finest fashion photographers to a legend in the music world, 2020 is full of great curations. If politics and history are more your bag, there are also a number of thought provoking exhibits raising conversations about the world we live in. Check out our favourites that are on now…
If you grew up turning the pages of Vogue you’ll be familiar with the fantastical world of Tim Walker. His surrealist, theatrical fashion shoots took readers to magical Alice in Wonderland-esque worlds or fairytale woodland realms, albeit with haute couture clothes and supermodels.
Walker has shot everyone from Kate Moss to Cate Blanchett and is without a doubt one of the most important fashion photographers of a generation.
The exhibition at the V&A will take a look at Walker’s extraordinary creative process, not just through photos, but film, clothing and special installations, too. Plus, for fashion diehards, a series of 10 new Walker images will also be on show.
When: On now until Sunday 22nd March 2020
Where: Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL
Bringing together over 300 works by over 50 international artists, Masculinities: Liberation through Photography at the Barbican explores the ways in which masculinity is experienced, performed, coded and socially constructed, from the 1960s to the present day.
As ideas of masculinity and what it means ‘to be a man’ are changing dramatically the world over, expect themes of patriarchy, power, queer identity, race, sexuality and class.
Not only is the work aesthetically beautiful but it raises so many questions about the times we live in.
When: 20th February – 17th May 2020
Where: Barbican Art Gallery, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS
Make sure you take the opportunity to visit the National Portrait Gallery one final time before it closes for a three-year refurbishment later this year. It will also give you the chance to view the major new exhibition exploring the extravagant, glamourous and inside world of Cecil Beaton’s ‘Bright Young Things’ of the ‘20s and ‘30s.
The iconic photographer is best known for snapping the Royals – he was long the official photographer for The Queen (if you’ve watched The Crown you’ll know) – but his more avant-garde work comes from pictures of this friends – basically posh boys and girls gone rogue.
Expect an assortment of deliriously eccentric, glitteringly fabulous images.
When: 12th March – 7th June 2020
Where: National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE
The Tate Modern are currently showing the most comprehensive retrospective of 1930’s photographer and artist Dora Maar and there’s just enough time to still catch it before it ends.
Running until 15th March 2020, the provocative selection of photomontages capture how ahead of her time Maar was, from the controversial and often abstract conversations they inspire to the sheer innovation of her craft.
When: 20th November 2019 – 15th March 2020
Where: Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
This charming and entirely free exhibition is essentially one giant, epic school portrait of London’s Year 3 pupils and while they might look like your bog-standard, slightly awkward but nevertheless cute class pics, they are in fact created by Turner Prize-winning and Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen.
McQueen invited every Year 3 pupil in London to have their photograph taken by a team of specially trained Tate photographers, spanning state primaries, independent schools, faith schools, special schools and home-educated pupils. The result is a huge, single large-scale installation of tens of thousands of Year 3 pupils and it’s utterly charming. One to take the kids to for sure.
When: 12 November 2019 – 3 May 2020
Where: Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG
Who are we and what are our stories? Questions that are sure to rise from the evocative exhibition in the Photography Department at the National Portrait Gallery.
Take your time to mull over some of the world’s most famous musicians, actors, activists and political figures, as well as people who don’t usually get their voice, or in this case their face, in front of the camera.
When: 5th October 2019 – 28th June 2020
Where: National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE
This collection of powerful and poignant photographs looks at Britain and its changing place in the world. Ranging from the end of the Second World War to the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979, the exhibition explores an altering time when many of Europe’s empires collapsed in Africa and Asia, the oppressive times of the Civil Rights and Cold War era. Plus, a changing Britain reshaped by immigration and deindustrialisation.
It was also a period of a golden age for photography, with illustrated press bringing real life stories to life through the morning paper. Not one just for the history and politics buffs, but anyone who wants to take a deeper look at how modern Britain has been shaped.
When: 30th June – 27th September 2020
Where: Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG
Remember the photo of the two little mice squabbling on the London Underground? Well that’s the winner of this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year award, showing at the Natural History Museum.
The image, titled ‘Station Squabble’ was taken by Sam Rowley and fought of an whopping 48,000 submissions. Catch it and many more at the exhibition until 28th June 2020.
When: 18th October 2019 – 28th June 2020
Where: The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, Kensington, London SW7 5BD
This thought provoking collection of John Offenbach images features 33 large-scale portraits of the diverse faces of Jewish people. The project was born after Offenbach travelled across 12 different countries, from Ethiopia to Ukraine, Argentina to China, to document and dispel the myth that there is only one type of Jew.
The portraits are beautiful in their own right but also challenge the way Jewish people are thought of and represented in the modern world.
When: 15th November 2019 – 19th April 2020
Where: Jewish Museum London, Raymond Burton House, 129-131 Albert Street, London NW1 7NB
Thought the Royal Albert Hall was all about award shows and gigs? It’s not.
To celebrate the release of new feature length documentary, Show Me The Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall, the iconic London landmark will be showcasing a selection of legendary music photographer Marshall’s rarest and most celebrated photographs.
Thought of as a maverick with a camera, he immersed himself in the world of his subjects, granting him up close and personal access to create some of the most recognisable images in the music world.
It’s really rather a case of who hasn’t he snapped rather than has – think Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Miles Davis, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix.
An absolute must for music fans, but be aware that it’s only accessible on three specific dates.
When: Saturday 1 February, 10am-1:30pm
Saturday 22 February, 10am-1:30pm
Saturday 29 February, 10am-1:30pm
Where: enter via Door 12, The Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2SP