The Best Art Exhibitions in London (2017)

I’m neither an art historian, nor a collector (well not yet anyways). I’ve never received a formal education in art, yet it’s a subject which I’m incredibly passionate about.

Whether exploring the Impressionist Gardens or transcending boundaries between art, design, nature and technology – I never lose an opportunity to immerse myself in the new world which it opens up to. It’s an interest which has only developed over time, courtesy the myriad of museums, galleries, installations, art fairs and pop-ups which London is so famed for.

If you’re keen on art too, then you might enjoy this running round-up of key exhibitions on view in 2017. I’ll be regularly updating it with memorable encounters and experiences, so do bookmark this post as one to revisit!

Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains, V&A

A Wall braced with giant inflatables (including one of a schoolmaster)… The striking silver head sculptures from The Division Bell… A hologram recreating the iconic prism from The Dark Side of the Moon… and telephone booths that transport you through the decades.

It could only be the Mortal Remains of Pink Floyd.

The new exhibit at the V&A is as groovy as it is meticulously detailed, chronicling the extraordinary journey of this cult English rock band – from their humble days playing in the underground clubs of London to sell-out concerts.

It charts their personal stories (expect to see the cane used on Barett and Waters at their school in Cambridge) and the influences which shaped their focus on art and design. Fans will be particularly thrilled to pour over the archives showcasing the band’s guitars, hand-written lyrics and letters, while the individual audio head-sets engagingly set the context through accompanying music and interviews.

The final flourish is a dramatic screening of Pink Floyd’s Live 8 performance of Comfortably Numb, which is not unlike a mini-concert in itself… all within the hallowed walls of this heritage museum.

Dates: until Sunday, 1 October 2017

V&A, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL

Michelangelo and Sebastiano, National Gallery

A wander along the arched corridors of the National Gallery is always an enriching experience, but there’s reason to visit now more than ever. For the first time in history, an exhibition is seeking to explore the creative collaboration between one of the greatest artists of all time, Michelangelo, and the lesser-known but no less-influential Italian master, Sebastiano del Piombo. 

While Michelangelo’s works are revered for their monumental and sculptural quality, Sebastiano’s approach displays the rich poetry of the Venetian forms during the Renaissance period. Combined, their unique partnership yields a sense of spiritual solemnity and almost restrained emotionalism… It’s both, an educational and highly evocative experience!

Dates: 15 March – 25 June 2017

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN

Howard Hodgkins: Absent Friends, National Portrait Gallery

It’s worth your while to pop around the corner to the National Portrait Gallery too, where the last major work by contemporary British artist Howard Hodgkin, painted right before his recent death at the age of 84, is on view.

The abstract piece is but one of the vast collection of Hodgkin’s portraits, featuring his friends, fellow artists, collectors and indeed lover, through intensely rich colours and poetic brushstrokes, and by exploring the role of memory.

I’ll be the first to confess that it took me a few circles around each painting to fully grasp Hodgkin’s unique visual language… But by the time I left (a good few hours later), I did so having broadened my understanding of the different forms of representation, beyond the norms of what is traditionally accepted as conventional.

National Portrait Gallery, St. Martin’s Pl, London WC2H 0HE

Dates: 23 March – 18 June 2017

David Hockney, Tate Britain

From his time living in L.A. to the romantic poetry of Yorkshire landscapes and innovative approach to iPad art, this all-encompassing retrospective offers an in-depth lens into the influences and inspirations driving the development and evolution of Hockney’s iconic style… Spanning sixty years, the exhibit showcases a comprehensive collection of paintings, drawings, prints, photography and video; and is simply unmissable.

Dates: 9 February – 29 May 2017

Tate BritainMillbank London SW1P 4RG

Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932, Royal Academy of Arts

This vividly expressive – and at times, poignant – exhibition at the R.A. offers a fascinating lesson in the history of the Russian Revolution, from when the Tsarist rule ended in 1917 through to the rapid rise of Communism.

The initial sense of optimism reflects powerfully in the creative freedom manifested in Russian Art by artists such as Chagall… only to be suppressed by the imposed ideals of Socialist Realism, which was more aligned with the Communist vision.

Dates: 11 February — 17 April 2017

Royal Academy, Main Galleries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 0BD

America After the Fall, Royal Academy

History lessons at the Royal Academy continue with a collection of artworks from the 1930s America, which capture the uncertainty, social turmoil and Economic depression of the time.

From portraying the origins of the American Dream to an eternal nostalgia for the rural past, we found the walk-through to be an incredibly thought-provoking experience… The highlight of course being the rare opportunity to view Grant Wood’s American Gothic, up-close (this is the first time the painting has left North America).


Dates: 25 February — 4 June 2017

Royal Academy, The Sackler Wing, Burlington House, Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 0BD

Transcending Boundaries, PACE Gallery

This immersive installation from Team Lab (a group of ultra-technologists inspired by both ancient Japanese Art and contemporary forms of anime) remains one of the most unique and entrancing experiences I’ve had in a while.

Blurring the boundaries between conceptual and physical realities, the exhibition transports viewers seamlessly between the realms of art, technology, design and the natural world. Butterflies flutter ethereally across the walls, while flowers pour out continuously from a digital waterfall (each is uniquely different) or bloom across you if you stand still.. each element is interactive, responsive and utterly enchanting.

This really is a must-visit. Tickets are entirely booked out, but it’s worth popping your name on their waitlist in case any spots open up.

Dates: Jan 25, 2017 – Mar 11, 2017

Pace Gallery, 6 Burlington Gardens London W1S 3ET

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  1. Planes & Champagne

    What a great round-up Ayushi! I must admit to never being into art in the past but it’s definitely growing on me with time 🙂 I would love to see the Russian art exhibition if it’s still on when I return to London

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