Looking for an awesome London exhibition this November? Here’s our roundup of must-see shows in the capital plus a bonus one from further afield. Furthermore, 10 modern artists created great things.
1. Creativity in Confinement: Koestler Arts at Royal Festival Hall
This yearly art show features artwork created by people in prisons and young offender institutions. It shows how art can be a positive way for those in the criminal justice system to express themselves.
Poet Joelle Taylor put together this year’s exhibition, selecting from more than 8,000 pieces. It highlights the creativity and skills of artists who don’t usually get to display their work in regular galleries. It’s always a visit that leaves you feeling inspired.
Koestler Arts: In case of Emergency at Royal Festival Hall. 2 November – 17 December 2023, free.
2. Hockney’s Back: David Hockney at National Portrait Gallery
David Hockney’s wonderful “Drawing from Life” exhibition was interrupted by the pandemic, but it’s back for another round. Hockney does an amazing job capturing the personalities of the people he paints, whether it’s simple sketches or large paintings.
The exhibition has been updated to include new works, such as the controversial portrait he made of Harry Styles in a cardigan. But it’s not just Hockney at the newly renovated National Portrait Gallery; they’re also displaying some excellent portrait photographs in the annual Taylor Wessing photo portrait prize section.
David Hockney: Drawing from Life at National Portrait Gallery. 2 November 2023 – 21 January 2024, £21.
Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize 2023 at National Portrait Gallery. 9 November 2023 – 25 February 2024, £8.50.
3. Time Travel: Unreal at James Freeman Gallery
We begin with photography, where three artists guide us through time. Emily Allchurch combines architectural styles from various countries and historical eras to create her unique version of the Tower of Babel. Meanwhile, Liane Lang revisits statues dedicated to women, adding surreal and symbolic elements through her paintings.
Suzanne Moxhay transports us to a future where nature reclaims buildings, crafting eerie and unsettling scenes. It’s a compelling mix of three artists whose work we’ve long appreciated.
Unreal at James Freeman Gallery. 2 – 25 November 2023, free.
4. Asian History: Burma to Myanmar at The British Museum
This significant exhibition traces the history of Myanmar, also called Burma, over the past 1,500 years, from its influential days as a superpower to its time as a repressive regime. It uses art and historical objects to narrate the tale of Myanmar’s crucial role in Asian trade routes, leading up to its colonization by the British in the 19th century.
Myanmar has been in the news for its troubling treatment of minority ethnic groups lately, so this exhibition offers an opportunity to explore the country’s history and understand how it has shaped its current situation.
Burma to Myanmar at The British Museum. 2 November 2023 – 11 February 2024, £16.
5. Feminist Art: Women in Revolt at Tate Britain
Over 100 female artists’ creations have been gathered to display the wide range of artwork produced in Britain from 1970 to 1990. This exhibition explores themes like the women’s liberation movement, domestic life, punk culture, and the presence of Black and South Asian Women Artists.
Considering that the representation of women in art collections worldwide still falls behind that of men, this exhibition is a positive celebration of British women artists.
Women in revolt! Art and activism in the UK 1970-1990 at Tate Britain. 8 November 2023 – 7 April 2024, £17.
6. Art & War: Blavatnik Galleries at IWM London
Interested in how artists react to conflicts? You won’t find a better source than the expansive new exhibition halls at the Imperial War Museum, showcasing more than 500 artworks produced from 1914 to the present.
This collection includes pieces from famous artists like Henry Moore and Paul Nash from the past, as well as contemporary artists like Steve McQueen and kennardphillips. It’s a remarkable collection, and the best part is, it’s free to explore at the museum.
Blavatnik art, film and photography galleries at IWM London. Opens from 10 November 2023, free.
7. It’s a Wrap: Christo and Jeanne-Claude at Saatchi Gallery
Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who were both partners in life and art, gained fame for their huge art installations, like covering the Reichstag in plastic or creating a pyramid of barrels that floated on the Serpentine.
The Saatchi Gallery now offers us an inside look at these ambitious projects, revealing how they were executed. The exhibition also features art from other contemporary artists. Simultaneously, the gallery is presenting a show of exceptional figurative painter Andrew Salgado’s works and “If Not Now, When?” a collection of pieces by 29 female sculptors.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Boundless at Saatchi Gallery. 15 November 2023 – 22 January 2024, £12.
Andrew Salgado: Tomorrow I’ll be Perfect. 16 November 2023 – 7 January 2024, free.
If Not Now, When? 15 November 2023 – 22 2024 January, £10.
8. Metal Men: Antony Gormley at White Cube, Bermondsey
Gormley excels in taking the basic idea of a figurative sculpture and prompting us to ponder its meaning. Whether it’s placed in the ocean, hung from the ceiling, or positioned on a rooftop (many of his sculptures are found throughout London), Gormley’s work encourages contemplation.
At White Cube in Bermondsey, you can explore over 250 of Gormley’s recent creations. These include body shapes in various positions and concrete “bunkers for one” that are molded to preserve the human form within, inviting us to peer into the inner darkness they contain.
Antony Gormley: Body Politic at White Cube, Bermondsey. 22 November 2023 – 28 January 2024, free.
9. Dancers and Flowers: Impressionists on Paper at Royal Academy of Arts
Impressionism is universally adored, and that’s a fact. It’s perhaps the most beloved style of painting. While artists like Degas, Cezanne, Morisot, and Van Gogh are famous for their paintings, this collection of 77 paper artworks directs our focus to smaller, more personal pieces, showcasing lesser-known gems.
Impressionists on paper: Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec at Royal Academy of Arts. 25 November 2023 – 10 March 2024, £19.
10. Mechanical Creatures: Tim Lewis at Flowers Gallery
Tim Lewis takes abandoned objects and uses them to craft sculptures that blend animals and humans, making them move in ways that are both funny and unsettling.
In this case, he’s made an echidna from Christmas trees, a metal snake that disassembles and comes back together, and a lemur-like creature that’s mostly a skeleton except for its head. His previous creations include a bear that can draw, and an emu with an opera glove for a head. They’re all wonderfully strange and fascinating.
Tim Lewis: The forest visits at Flowers, Cork Street. 30 November 2023 – 6 January 2024, free.
In November, there are plenty of exciting art exhibitions in London. From showcasing art created by people in prisons at Koestler Arts to the return of David Hockney’s artwork at the National Portrait Gallery. You can also explore the history of Myanmar at The British Museum and feminist art at Tate Britain.
The Imperial War Museum displays art related to conflicts, Saatchi Gallery features monumental projects by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and Antony Gormley’s sculptures invite reflection. The Royal Academy of Arts presents Impressionist art on paper, and Tim Lewis brings mechanical creature sculptures to life at Flowers Gallery. So, there’s a lot to discover and get inspired by this November.