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London's best art exhibitions to visit in 2021

First things first, let me introduce you all to my new blog! A keen writer as a child, I instead pursued the path of art and design after I finished school and never got back into writing again (apart from the odd essay here and there). This blog will provide a platform to write about all my design-related interests, inspirations and new work, and I hope you enjoy joining me along the way.

I am a proud owner of a National Art Pass and of course the past year has been such a miserable time for art galleries and museums. I have not used my pass since December 2019 and this pains me so! I sadly missed out on Andy Warhol at the Tate Modern due to the gallery's closure for the majority of its running time. I am not a London resident but I usually visit the city once a month for a good dose of inspiring artwork. We still have one more month to wait until we'll have this pleasure again so I wanted to share my round up of some of the wonderful exhibitions we have to look forward to this year.

David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020

Royal Academy

23 May - 26 September 2021

(No. 1 on my list)

No. 241, 23rd April 2020. iPad painting © David Hockney

The great thing about David Hockney, even as an 83 year-old, he is embracing modern life and using just an iPad to carry on creating engaging artwork. During the beginning of the 2020 pandemic, Hockney captured the stages of Spring by creating 116 new digital paintings. Drawn from his home in Normandy, the pieces show a clear love of the natural world. Each work has been printed onto large-scale paper which will allow you to see every mark he has created on the much smaller iPad screen.

Sophie Taeuber-Arp

Tate Modern

15 July - 17 October 2021

Sophie Taeuber-Arp. Composition of Circles and Overlapping Angles. 1930. Oil on canvas. 19 ½ x 25 ¾” (49.5 x 64.1 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Riklis Collection of McCrory Corporation. Photo: The Museum of Modern Art, Department of Imaging and Visual Resources. © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Swiss artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp was one of the pioneers of abstraction and a leading member of the Dada movement, coming into prominence during the 1920s and 1930s. Like many great female artists during the 20th century, her perhaps more well-known husband, Jean (Hans) Arp, unfairly received more recognition. The exhibition will showcase a large collection of her principal works from major collections in Europe and the US which spans textiles, painting, sculpture, set design, architecture, dance and performance.

Van Gogh Alive

Kensington Gardens

4 June - 26 September 2021

Image: Publicity

The immersive exhibition which everybody is talking about is now coming to London! I sadly missed its run in Birmingham in 2020 so I will prioritising my visit this year. The multi-sensory experience has travelled to over 65 cities worldwide and dazzled with its beautiful, giant displays of the Dutch artist's work and specifically designed fragrances to match throughout. The viewer is transported into a world of Van Gogh's colourful paintings, set to a classical score. A 25,000 ft2 purpose-built venue has been built in Kensington Gardens for this summer, making this a Covid-secure and family-friendly experience.

Book tickets now at:

Eileen Agar: Angel of Anarchy

Whitechapel Gallery

19 May - 29 August 2021

Erotic Landscape, 1942, collage on paper, 255 x 305 mm, private collection © The Estate of Eileen Agar. Photograph courtesy Pallant House Gallery, Chichester © Doug Atfield

Eileen Agar was a British painter and photographer who became one of the leading artists in Surrealism in Britain during the 1930s. Her work spanned painting, collage, photography and sculpture, combining imagery of classical art, the natural world and eroticism in abstracted compositions. This bold and exciting exhibition will bring together 150 of her works from public and private collections.

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser

The V&A

TBC - 31 December 2021

Zenaida Yanowsky as The Red Queen in Christopher Wheeldon's ballet Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The Royal Ballet © ROH, Johan Persson, 2011. Sets and costumes by Bob Crowley

This exhibition will be one loved by children through to adults and is set to be one of the cultural highlights this summer, previously scheduled for summer 2020. Another immersive exhibition, Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser will display the evolution and adaptations of 'Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland' over 157 years. Included in the exhibition will be concept art for Disney's 1951 animated version, costumes from Tim Burton's 2010 version and original illustrations from Lewis Carrol's story.

After 2020, I for one have come away with regrets of being hesitant to do certain things or visit certain places when we were able to do so. I do not want to miss out on anything in the coming months and I hope we will all make the most of what is available to us. Go visit that exhibition. Go visit that friend. Go book that weekend away. Make this year a more memorable one for all the right reasons.


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