London's best art and design exhibitions to see in 2022
London's best art and design exhibitions to see in 2022
Around almost every corner in London, there is a world-renowned cultural institution where you can satisfy your creative appetite, find inspiration or disappear into unknown histories. From world-class riverside galleries and architecturally inspiring theatres to family-friendly museums and augmented reality experiences – each acts as a gateway to a different part of the city.
Visiting the Tate presents a great opportunity to enjoy the Southbank or wander up to enjoy the bustle of Borough Market. A trip to the Barbican means you can soak up the Brutalist architecture of the iconic Barbican Estate, voted Britain’s ugliest building several times. The Design Museum sits just by London’s most majestic parks. But before getting we get too carried away with the geography of the streets, let’s have a look at the best of what’s hanging on the gallery walls in 2022.
What's on: See the world through the eyes of the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, who is known as the “princess of polka dots”. Her unique vision of endless reflections is capturing in the exhibition Infinity Rooms, an immersive installation presenting a vision of endless reflections (until 12th June 2022). It is shown alongside her earlier work, Chandelier of Grief, a room which creates the illusion of a universe of rotating crystal chandeliers. Tickets to Kusama’s mirrored rooms gets visitors access to all of the Tate Modern Collections. Plus, don’t miss Surrealism Beyond Borders, a landmark exhibition that reimagines the history of the art movement (from 24th February 2022 – 29th August 2022). Later in the autumn, the Tate Modern launches a comprehensive exhibition of the works by impressionist painter Cezanne.
While you’re there: With a roster of rotating exhibitions from 1900 to the present day, the Tate Modern is the perfect pitstop for an afternoon's ambling along the Thames. Housed in a renovated power station on the Bankside of the river, the recently renovated gallery is famed for its display of works from acclaimed artists around the globe, including Damien Hirst, Ai Weiwei and Olafur Eliasson. With exhibitions often sold-out months in advance, booking is strongly recommended. Don't miss a browse in its extensively stocked book shop and the impressive Turbine Hall – a favourite of all ages.
What's on: Embrace the life and work of revolutionary British designer and Design Museum founder, Sir Terence Conran, at The Conran Effect exhibition, celebrating what would have been his 90th birthday (until 6th February 2022). Conran reshaped design in Britain and was one of the country’s most influential tastemakers, particurly because of homeware produced by his retail arm Habitat. Ending in April 2022, there is also still plenty of time to see the Amy Winehouse retrospective Amy: Beyond the Stage, which celebrates the life and legacy of one of the greatest musicians of our time. The exhibitions provides a candid look at Amy’s life, through her notebooks, her outfits and handwritten pages of lyrics.
While you’re there: Devoted to contemporary design in all its forms from fashion through to architecture and graphics, the Design Museum was founded by Sir Terence Conran and recently relocated from its original Shad Thames site into the fold of Kensington's cultural quarter, where it joins the Royal College of Art, the Natural History Museum and the Serpentine Gallery among others. This Grade II listed building was developed by a team led by acclaimed architect John Pawson, with a top floor roof space dedicated to the permanent Design Maker User display featuring key objects from the museum's collection. Meanwhile, temporary exhibitions hold court on the ground floor, exploring everything from throwaway culture to space exploration – all with a lens trained on design. Swing by Searcy's in-house cafe for a quick refuel before a short stroll to Kensington Gardens.
What's on: Farbergé in London: Romance to Revolution (until 8th May 2022) explores the work of Carl Fabergé, master goldsmith and man behind the famed Russian firm. Exhibits include exquisite pendants, cigar boxes, a selection of celebrated Fabergé eggs and pieces from the royal collection. Opening later in the year, children (and adults alike) will love Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature – an exhibition celebrating the life and work of one of the best-loved children's authors of the 20th Century (from 12th February 2022). The exhibition includes some of Potter’s original watercolours – her animal subjects jacketed in blue and unjacketed in the wild – as well as manuscripts from her classic countryside tales.
While you’re there: Set in an imposing building that covers 12.5 acres, the Victoria & Albert Museum holds 145 galleries and boasts a permanent collection of over 2.3 million artefacts that span 5,000 years of creativity, with a slant towards fashion and art. Since opening in the late 1800s, its visiting exhibition programme has seen creations from fashion designers Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Givenchy and Christian Dior grace its vast rooms, as well as installations dedicated to the works of photographer Lee Miller, beloved children's author Beatrix Potter and award-winning architect Zaha Hadid. Entry is free, though you may want to book in advance for sought-after ticketed exhibitions. With a prime spot on South Kensington's Exhibition Road, it's a stone's throw from the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, meaning there's something for all of the family to enjoy in this little pocket of London alone.
White Cube Gallery
What's on: Nature lovers will flock to A New Nature, an exhibition displaying the timeless works of Isamu Noguchi that build organic environments from industrial methods (from 4 February – 27 March 2022). Or check out In-Between, an exhibition by Chinese artist Wang Gongxin which explores the cultural connections between light and mindsets (from 19th January 2022 – 19th February 2022). Domus Stay guests get exclusive access to the White Cube Gallery, get in touch with our team to arrange a tour.
While you’re there: An absolute must for contemporary art lovers, the White Cube Gallery is renowned for spotting new talent and has been credited for giving many of the groundbreaking Young British Artists (YBAs) their first solo shows, including Tracey Emin and Gavin Turk. Located in South East London's Bermondsey Street, the gallery is owned by Jay Jopling and was converted from a 1970s warehouse into 58,000 square ft of modern space, making it one of the first museum-quality commercial galleries in the world. Post-viewing, take your pick of the best restaurants that line this stretch of road, or head to the other side of The Shard to sample the delights of Borough Market.
Whitechapel Art Gallery
What's on: Not to be missed is Simone Fattal’s Finding a Way, a display of her famed ceramics which explore both a physical and spiritual metamorphosis (until 15th May 2022).
While you’re there: East London has been a hotbed of creativity for decades and the Whitechapel Art Gallery remains a touchstone for contemporary art in this buzzing creative quarter. Its walls have exhibited works from ranging from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko (hosting his first UK exhibition in 1961) and Jackson Pollock, as well as artists of today including Gilbert + George, Sophie Calle and Lucien Freud. In 1964, its New Generation show featured Bridget Riley, David Hockney and Patrick Caulfield and is credited for introducing Pop Art to the general public. Don't miss their First Thursdays programme – a collaboration with 150 other east-end galleries on the first Thursday of every month that sees free exhibitions, events, talks and private viewings during late-night openings. After your visit, head towards Shoreditch via Brick Lane, also known as London's curry mile thanks to its thriving Indian food scene.
What's on: Look to the future with Our Time on Earth – an immersive exhibition of art, science, design, music and philosophy that aims to transform the conversation on climate emergency by presenting radical possibilities for the future of all species; from 5th May - 29th August 2022. Closing in January, there are just a couple more weeks of the Isamu Noguchi exhibition, which brings together over 150 ground-breaking pieces by the Japanese-American sculptor.
While you’re there: While Brutalist buffs will marvel at the architecture alone, inside the Barbican's cocoon-like cluster of buildings sits theatre venues and gallery spaces galore, plus a public library, restaurants, a cinema and the Barbican Hall – home to the London Symphony Orchestra. This vast warren of rooms is indicative of the Barbican's desire to champion the art scene across all mediums and the cultural centre is famed for its festivals dotted throughout the year. Take a tour of the glasshouse conservatory or if warmer weather permits, picnic on the lakeside terrace surrounded by tropical plants and cloistered by the other worldly residential tower blocks of the Barbican estate, stretching skyward.
Best of the rest:
Elsewhere around the capital, check out Francis Bacon: Man and Beast at the Royal Academy, an exploration of the Irish artist’s fascination with man’s primal instincts and how a fascination with animals changed the way he represented the human body and mind. The exhibition runs from January until April. From February to March, you can enjoy an exhibition dedicated to Van Gogh’s self-portraits at the recently renovated Courtauld Gallery. Towards the end of the year, head to The National Gallery on Trafalgar Square for a landmark exhibition of Lucian Freud’s most important work from a career that spanned seven decades. December would have been Freud’s 100th birthday and the extraordinary collection of his works includes ‘Girl with Roses” from the 1940s and ‘Reflection with Two Children’ from the 1960s.
If comic books are your passion then head to Somerset House, where BEANO: The Art of Breaking the Rules looks at the UK’s longest-running children’s comic until 6th March 2022. On the other hand, if nature truly inspires you, then the Natural History Museum’s display of the entries for Wildlife Photographer of the Year are as astounding as always. The photographs are up until 5th June 2022.