The best art exhibitions to see in London during autumn/winter 2013

By Richard Moss | 03 September 2013 | Updated: 29 November 2013

Your guide to some of the best exhibitions in London during autumn and winter 2013...

an art deco style painting of a crowded beach scene
Charles Meere, Australian Beach Pattern, 1940. At the Royal Academy from September 21.© Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased 1965 © DACS 2013
A vibrant new season of art in the capital awaits gallery goers this autumn and winter season with a very lively time between now and Christmas. Here are some of the exhibitions and openings to look out for…

At The Royal Academy the artistic heritage of Australia (September 21 – December 8) comes under the spotlight via a 200-year-spanning-show that promises the UK's biggest ever survey of Aussie art.

They follow up with Daumier (October 26 2013 – January 26 2014) encompassing the paintings, drawings, watercolours and sculptures of the great French painter, focusing on his visions of Paris during the mid-19th century and a retrospective of the recycled sculptures of Bill Woodrow (November 7 - February 16).

There’s another first at Dulwich Picture Gallery where An American in London: Whistler and the Thames (October 16 2013 – January 12 2014) is the first major exhibition dedicated to Whistler’s time in the capital with drawings, sketches paintings and a selection of the famous 'Whistler Nocturnes'.

a photo of a large white smooth sculptural form
Serpentine Sackler Gallery© 2013 Luke Hayes
It’s a very busy time for The Serpentine Gallery, who re-launched as The Serpentine Galleries this autumn with two shows and a brand-spanking-new gallery space.

The inaugural exhibition in the newly opened Serpentine Sackler Gallery, a dramatic Zaha Hadid-designed transformation of the The Royal Parks' Magazine Building, was a site-specific gargantuan installation by Argentinian sculptor Adrián Villar Rojas (September 28 – November 10).

The follow up is even more dramatic, with Jake and Dinos Chapman: Come and See (opening November 29 2013 - February 9 2014), offering a major retrospective of just about everything we have come to know and love them for.

In the Serpentine main gallery, the first major London exhibition of the Egyptian artist Wael Shawky is a fitting accompaniment to the brothers grim - with grotesque marionettes that navigate the territory between truth and myth (November 29 2013 - February 9 2014).

Over at the V&A, they follow their record-breaking David Bowie Is with the sparkling, millennial-spanning showcase Pearls (September 21 2013 – January 19 2014), which includes the pearl drop earring worn by Charles I at his execution and a string of pearls that once adorned the neck of Marilyn Monroe.

If you want something a bit more immersive try Tomorrow courtesy of 'Fourth Plinthers' Elmgreen & Dragset (until January 20 2014). It is a weird, through-the-keyhole style installation that recreates the fictional interior of an elderly architect's apartment.

The V&A's Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700 – 1900 (October 26 2013 – January 19 2014) also offers a massive trawl of rarely seen treasures ranging from intimate works to 14-metre-long scroll paintings.

a Japanese painting of a woman in a kimono
Kitagawa Utamaro, Fancy free type (Uwaki no so), from the series Ten Types in the Physiognomic Study of Women (Fujin sogaku juttai), c. 1792-3© The Trustees of the British Museum
There's more Oriental art at The British Museum, whose Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art (October 3 2013 - January 5 2014) is a highly arousing overview of the art of erotic pleasure (parental guidance is advised).

The Wallace Collection, meanwhile, offers the The Male Nude: Eighteenth-century Drawings from the Paris Academy (until January 19) for your delictation - or sober consideration.

You can check out the contemporary Chinese scene over at the ICA courtesy of Zhang Enli, whose monumental Space Painting (October 16 – December 22) covers the floor and walls of the ICA theatre to create an immersive pictorial environment.

Elsewhere at the ICA, after clearing the floors of several tons of coal slag left behind by Lutz Bacher's: Black Beauty exibition (September 25 – November 17), the lower and upper galleries welcome the best of the art schools in Bloomberg New Contemporaries (November 27 - January 26) as chosen by Ryan Gander, Chantal Joffe and Nathaniel Mellors.

Returning to the theme of immersion, The Barbican’s Curve Gallery plays host to Turkish Painter Ayşe Irkmen, whose Intervals (September 24 2013 – January 5 2014) is an intriguing series of large-scale scenic paintings that move on an automated fly system to create a kind of performance in painting.

Like Curve’s popular Rain Room earlier this year, this one just might have them queuing round the building to get in.

In the main Barbican Art Gallery, the exciting exchange of ideas between artists and designers in the Pop age is the theme of the comprehensive Pop Art Design (October 22 2013 – February 9 2014), featuring all the players - from Peter Blake, Warhol and Lichtenstein to Judy Chicago, Richard Hamilton, Joe Tilson and many more.

Another designer is showcased in Hello, My Name is Paul Smith (November 15 2013 – March 9 2014) at The Design Museum, whose paean to the rise of the Nottinghamshire fashion supremo includes a faithful recreation of his notorious office, complete with all of its eccentric objects…

Over at Tate Modern, the big autumn-winter blockbuster is Paul Klee (October 16 2013 – March 9 2014), which promises a “revelatory” opportunity to explore and understand Klee’s art during the Weimar and Nazi periods.

Equally revelatory to many European eyes will be Tate’s Mira Schendel (September 25 2013 – January 19 2014) – a rare outing for the late Brazilian artist who is said to have "reinvented the language of European Modernism" in post war Brazil.

Another great German artist is celebrated at The Courtauld Art Gallery, which delivers a highly focused and impactful exhibition in Young Dürer: Drawing the Figure (October 17 2013 – January 12 2014) – an examination  of the figure drawings of the young Albrecht during his ‘Wanderjahre’ when he traveled widely and was exposed to a range of new experiences.

a sculpture of a semi naked woman in stockings in black leather stilleto boots trussed up on the floor to provide a chair
Allen Jones, Chair 1969. Art Under Attack at Tate Britain from October 2.© Tate © Allen Jones
Over at Tate Britain, Art Under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm (October 2 2013 – January 5 2014) is the first exhibition to explore the history of physical attacks on art (many of them by artists, let it be said...) in Britain from the 16th century to the present.

It’s a momentous autumn for the Millbank gallery, which re-opened the doors of its Millbank entrance on November 19 as part of an elegant transformation that delivered new learning spaces, an archive gallery and The Whistler Restaurant, with its famous Rex Whistler mural, The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats (1926-7).

The gallery's exhibition programme sees the year out with the Saatchi-sounding Painting Now: Five Contemporary Artists (November 12 2013 – February 9 2014), which gives public and critics alike plenty to chew on as they contemplate the disparate talents of Tomma Abts, Gillian Carnegie, Simon Ling, Lucy McKenzie and Catherine Story.

Fans of twentieth British century painting shouldn't miss the Ben Uri's Uproar! The first Fifty Years of the London Group (until March 2 2014) with a roll call that takes in everyone from Agar, Armitage, Bevan and Bomberg to Nash, Nevinson, Pasmore and Piper.

For steampunks and those with a Victorian take on things the Guildhall Art Gallery’s genius take on the British obsession with the Victorian period, Victoriana: The Art of Revival (September 7 – December 8) is another must.

A major examination of this strange phenomenon, it includes graphic design, film, photography, ceramics, taxidermy, furniture, textiles and fine art – all of it produced during the past 20 years.

It wouldn't be a proper season without JMW Turner and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich has a belter in Turner and the Sea
(November 22 - April 21)
, which delivers stunning sunsets, storms and shipwrecks by the deck load.

Portraiture is to the fore at The National Gallery, where striking portraits of Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka take centre stage in Facing the Modern: The Portrait in Vienna 1900 (October 9 2013 – January 12, 2004).

Powerful paintings are also promised at the National Portrait Gallery, where Elizabeth I and Her People (October 10 2013 – January 5 2014) explores a remarkable reign through Elizabethan lives and portraiture.

Piercing portraits of the photographic are the order of the day in the NPG’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition, (November 14 2013 – February 9 2014).

At The Photographers’ Gallery, Home Truths: Photography, Motherhood and Identity (October 11 2013 – January 5 2014) aims to challenge long-held stereotypes while addressing issues such as gender roles, domesticity, the body and the identity of individuals within the family unit.

A new, haunting black paper silhouette installation takes up residence at Camden Arts Centre courtesy of American artist Kara Walker (October 11 2013 – January 5 2014), who also showcases her watercolours, large graphite works, text pieces and video works – all of them suffused with the highly charged themes of power, repression, slavery, violence, history, race and sexuality.

Some of these themes are explored at South London Gallery, where Oscar Murillo (September 20 – December 1) empties the contents of his studio into the main gallery space for a riot of canvases, drawings, sculptures and films. This is followed by Uri Aran’s first solo exhibition in the UK (December 11 2013 - February 23 2014) with a new body of filmworks, drawings, sculpture and photography instigated during his stay in the gallery's flat.

At Whitechapel Gallery, Sarah Lucas: Situation (October 2 – December 15) adds flying penises to her mix of erotic delights and sexual sculptures in a show the gallery describes as a “dazzling celebration of polymorphous sexuality.”

While you're there you will of course encounter French Algerian artist Kader Attia’s immersive, multi-media installation Jacob’s Ladder (until Autumn 2014) a towering floor to ceiling cabinet of curiosities that promises a glimpse of infinity.

Finally, keep an eye out for arty goings on at The Science Museum, where a new Media Space gallery (from September 12) is showcasing art and photography with a science/art bias, begining with Only In England: Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr (until February 7 2014).

See all the London Art exhibitions listings on Culture24 (launches in a new window).

You might also like:

The best UK art exhibitions to see outside London during autumn/winter 2013


The Chapman Brothers at the Serpentine crucify Ronald McDonald for benefit of the KKK

Sex, pleasure and wish fulfilment: Japan's shunga art at the British Museum

The Young Dürer gets ahead of his time with 15th century drawings at the Courtauld

Painting Now: Five Contemporary Artists at Tate Britain

Bill Woodrow brings recycled objects and themes to ecological show at Royal Academy


Latest comment: >Make a comment
One of the best exhibitions of 2013 is the Madge Gill: Medium & Visionary exhibition at Orleans House Gallery. This free retrospective brings together over a hundred stunning works by the UK's leading outsider artist - many of which have never been shown to the public before.

There is still time to see it - it ends on 26 January 2014.

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