Top Ten London Art November 2016

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Hello everybody

So, November’s list is a mix of new shows and those shows that are so impressive I’m listing them again. There’s such a diversity of styles and genres that I’m sure there is something for everybody here (or, at least I hope that there is). And budgets too. I’m noticing a creeping rise in exhibition prices and some of them are brushing the £20 mark now so there’s a few for those who want to enjoy art on a budget too.

See you next month.

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Modernist Photography from The Elton John Collection, Tate Modern

Did you know Elton John has one of the most impressive private collections of photography?  I think I remember reading somewhere that he even has a private gallery for a lot of the works within the grounds of one of his homes. Well, now we’re going to get a glimpse too as the Tate Modern has arranged for a large portion of this collection to be put on show – photographs from the 1920s to the 1950s. Such is the depth of Elton’s collection this this exhibition will show the story of modernist photography including greats such as Man Ray, Berenice Abbot, and Alexandr Rodchenko. Admission £16.50. Opens November 10th.

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Gavin Turk, Newport Street Gallery

Damien Hirst’s new gallery recently won the Stirling Prize for architecture. An impressive achievement and it certainly is a beautiful building. The Gallery itself is dedicated to presenting exhibitions drawn from Damien’s extensive collection of art. Only it seems, at the moment, that Damien primarily collects art made by white men as, following on from John Hoyland and Jeff Koons, we now have a retrospective on Gavin Turk. However, this exhibition promises to cover the length of Turk’s career, from his infamous blue plaque that he exhibited in his 1991 Royal College of Art degree show, to his take on Warhol’s Elvis prints, his recycled Magritte self-portrait, and his bronzes and sculptures. Opens November 23rd. Admission free.

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Picasso Portraits, National Portrait Gallery

Picasso was the greatest artist of the 20th century. In fact, he was by far the greatest artist of the 20th century. And, here, the National Portrait Gallery sets out to examine how the great man’s radical vision and talent overturned the conventions of portraiture, a usually sedate and classical form. Whether they’ve fully achieved that is questionable – arguably you’d need to pull a huge number of Picasso’s work together to examine the evolution of his thinking – but nevertheless, you can never regret spending time with any of his paintings and bronzes. Admission £17 but there is a special ticket offer every Friday with the first 100 tickets on sale for £5.

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Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s, Photographers’ Gallery

The scale of this photography show is mightily impressive – over 200 photographs on display from 48 artists. And all of it showcasing the new ground that was broken by female photographers in this era, and how they tackled big feminist themes such as representation of the female form, ownership, domesticity and sexuality. There are some famous names on show – hello Cindy Sherman, Hannah Wilke and the mighty Francesca Woodman (whose haunting works I could gaze upon for hours) but it’s also a great opportunity to see photos from less familiar names. Admission £4, free before 12 noon.

 1571-1610 Michelangelo Merisi, called Caravaggio Lombard Painting European Painting and Sculpture Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust Italian Unframed: 68 x 52 inches (172.72 x 132.08 cm) Framed: 77 ¼ x 60 7/8 x 4 inches (196.22 x 154.62 x 10.16 cm) 1604-1605 Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness

Beyond Caravaggio, National Gallery

Well, there’s one Master on display in the Picasso show and, around the corner at the National Gallery, there’s another. It’s hard to get galleries to lend out their Caravaggios as they are both precious items and valuable in terms of getting visitors through the doors. So with this in mind, the National Gallery has done well to obtain a few loans alongside the three in its own collection for this show which looks to examine the great man’s influence on his immediate peer group. Perhaps it shows up just how much better Caravaggio was in comparison with, well, everyone. But included in the display is Caravaggio’s wonderful St. John the Baptist on loan from Kansas, which is worth the price of admission alone. Admission £14.

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The Infinite Mix, 180 The Strand

If I could drag you all to see The Infinite Mix, I would. Just the thought of a show comprised entirely of video installations is enough to chill the blood, I know. But trust me on this one. Showcased in, what feels like an abandoned warehouse with the exposed brickwork and graffiti, ten works run on loop amongst a web of darkened interiors. Walking through corridors, you turn a corner to come face to face with everything from social documentary music videos on gun culture and Compton from Khalil Joseph and Kendrick Lamar, to a bright and breezy theatrical exploration of people crossing a New York street from Martin Creed. There are videos on Jamaican dancehall competitions, mortality, fictional professional mourners, and even a ghostly apparition of Maria Callas. Easily one of the shows of the year. Easily. Admission free.

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Abstract Expressionism, Royal Academy of Arts

Going toe-to-toe with The Infinite Mix for ‘Best Show in Town Right Now’ is Abstract Expressionism at the RA. This is a terrific show. Electric. It is challenging, exciting…just charged with energy. Some have observed it as macho – what with the Pollocks, Clyfford Still, de Kooning and the rest, I get that – but not only are women included too (Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler) but there’s also contemplation and reflection in monumental works from Mark Rothko. And the curation from the team at the RA is perfection. Enthralling and mesmerising from start to finish. Go, go, go. Admission £17.

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Helen Marten and Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Serpentine Galleries

This is the last month to see these two shows on installations and assemblages from two influential artists. In the main Gallery we have Marc Camille Chaimowicz, who created new work for the show, responding to the Gallery’s building and surroundings, and he’s also recreated an early work, Enough Tiranny, which first premiered in the same gallery back in 1972. It’s so uplifting, with its glitterballs, vases of flowers, lamps and live fish. It captures something of the breeziness of the Park outside too in its patterns of trees and foliage. And running alongside this in the Sackler Gallery is new work from Turner Prize-nominee, Helen Marten who blends sculpture, text and screen-printed paintings to create new installations that examine the ready-made world around us. Closes November 20th. Admission free.

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Anselm Kiefer, White Cube Bermondsey

I really am very excited about this. The huge RA retrospective on Anselm Kiefer back in 2014 is still fresh in the mind – a show I loved – and now White Cube is hosting a major exhibition of new work from Kiefer, which will occupy the all the gallery spaces. Works apparently include a selection of vast new paintings and large-scale sculptures. Kiefer rarely does anything small-scale so expect this to overwhelm. Opens November 23rd. Admission free.

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Robert Mapplethorpe, Alison Jacques Gallery

Right, this is a total must-see for me too. I’ll be queuing outside in the cold, if required! To coincide with what would have been the 70th Birthday of the iconic American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, Alison Jacques Gallery has invited Juergen Teller to curate an exhibition of Mapplethorpe’s work. It’s an exciting prospect; Teller is one of the most exciting photographers working today and there are obvious parallels between himself and Mapplethorpe.  It will be fascinating to see what selection he draws from his access to the entire archive of the Mapplethorpe Foundation.  Opens November 17th. Admission free.

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