London Art Exhibitions 2021 A Month By Month Guide

Exhibition guide 2021


Well, the exhibitions schedule for 2020 didn’t quite go as planned. But here is an idea of what exhibitions to expect in 2021. Obviously, this is all subject to change due to the ever-evolving Covid pandemic. Highlights to look forward to are Paula Rego at Tate Britain, Helen Frankenthaler at Dulwich Picture Gallery, Durer at National Gallery and Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser at V&A.

Please note the list will be amended and updated as soon as new information becomes available.

Exhibitions For March

Liverpool Biennial

20 March – 6 June 2021

various venues around Liverpool

The 11th edition of Liverpool Biennial: The Stomach and the Port will take place from 20 March – 6 June 2021. This edition was originally scheduled to take place in 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Taking place every two years across the city’s public spaces, galleries and historic buildings, the Biennial commissions artists to make and present work in the context of Liverpool. The festival is underpinned by a year-round programme of research, education, residencies, projects and commissions.


Royal Academy of Arts

Tracey Emin Edvard Munch,Royal Academy of Arts
Tracey Emin / Edvard Munch, Royal Academy of Arts

Tracey Emin/Edvard Munch: The Loneliness of the Soul

From reopening until 1 August 2021

The Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries, Royal Academy of Arts

Michael Armitage RA
Michael Armitage,The Paradise Edict, 2019

Michael Armitage

22 May – 19 September 

Royal Academy of Arts

Michael Armitage is a Kenyan-born artist who works between Nairobi and London. His colourful, dreamlike paintings are loaded with provocative perspectives that play with visual narratives and challenge cultural assumptions, exploring politics, history, civil unrest and sexuality.

David Hockney, Royal Academy of Arts
David Hockney, No. 323, 13th May 2020.

David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020

23 May – 1 August 2021 in Main Galleries

Reinstalled  – 8 August – 26 September in The Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries

Royal Academy of Arts 

In the midst of a pandemic, David Hockney RA captured the unfolding of spring on his iPad, creating 116 new and optimistic works in praise of the natural world.

Unearthed: Photography’s Roots

From re-opening to 30 August 2021

Dulwich Picture Gallery

The first exhibition to trace the history of photography as told through depictions of nature, revealing how the subject led to key advancements in the medium, from its very beginnings in 1840 to the present day. It brings together over 100 works by 35 leading international photographers, many never seen before.


Jean Dubuffet Barbican Art Gallery
Jean Dubuffet, Barbican Art Gallery


Jean Dubuffet: Brutal Beauty

17 May – 22 August 2021

Barbican Art Gallery

An exhibition celebrating French artist Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985), one of the most singular and provocative voices in postwar modern art.

Eileen Agar Whitechapel Gallery
Eileen Agar, Erotic Landscape, 1942

Eileen Agar: Angel of Anarchy

19 May – 29 August 2021

Whitechapel Gallery

A major retrospective of the work of Eileen Agar (1899-1991). Throughout her nearly 70-year career, Agar synthesised elements of two of the twentieth century’s most significant artistic tendencies: Cubism and Surrealism. The exhibition explores how these early inspirations rapidly developed into her very personal style that offered a moving commentary on society over a period of tremendous social change.

Tate Modern

The Making of Rodin, Tate
The Making of Rodin, Tate Modern

The EY Exhibition: The Making of Rodin

NEW DATES: 18 May – 31 October 2021

Tate Modern

Working at the turn of the 20th century, Auguste Rodin created sculptures with an expressiveness and emotion rarely seen before. This major exhibition offers a unique insight into Rodin’s processes, highlighting the crucial role of plaster in his practice. The exhibition evokes the informal atmosphere of the studio, where you will discover lesser-known pieces and new aspects of his most iconic works.

Zanele Muholi

Re-opening on 17 May until 31 May 2021

Tate Modern

Zanele Muholi is one of the most acclaimed photographers working today, and their work has been exhibited all over the world. With over 260 photographs, this exhibition presents the full breadth of their career to date.

Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room Tate Modern
Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room Tate Modern

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms

Tate Members only from 18 May 2021, Public from 14 June 2021 – 27 March 2022

Tate Modern

Tate presents a rare chance to experience two of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms. These immersive installations will transport you into Kusama’s unique vision of endless reflections.

Tate Britain

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye,Tate Britain
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye,Tate Brita

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Fly In League With The Night

Re-opening on 17 May until 31 May 2021

Tate Britain

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is a British artist and writer acclaimed for her enigmatic portraits of fictitious people. This exhibition brings together around 80 works from 2003 to the present day in the most extensive survey of the artist’s career to date.

Tate Britain Commission: Heather Phillipson

NEW DATES: 17 May 2021 – 23 January 2022

Tate Britain

Every year Tate Britain invites an artist to create an exciting new commission for the grand spaces of the Duveen Galleries at the heart of the building. In 2020 the commission will be by British artist Heather Phillipson.


Bags: Inside Out
19 May 2021 – 16 January 2022

The UK’s most comprehensive exhibition dedicated to the ultimate accessory. From designer handbags to despatch boxes, vanity cases to military rucksacks, the exhibition will explore our longstanding fascination with the bag. Featuring innovative designs from Mulberry to Karl Lagerfeld, bags carried by Vivien Leigh to Sarah Jessica Parker, the heritage of Hermès to the streetwear of Off-White, and an exclusive look inside the world of the factory and atelier; Bags: Inside Out provides an unprecedented look at this global obsession.


Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser V&A
Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser, V&A


Alice: Curiouser & Curiouser

22 May – 31 December 2021


Exploring its origins, adaptations and reinventions over 157 years, this immersive and theatrical show charts the evolution of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland from manuscript to a global phenomenon beloved by all ages.

Epic Iran

NEW DATES: 29 May – 12 September 2021


Epic Iran will explore 5000 years of art, design and culture, bringing together over 300 objects from ancient, Islamic and contemporary Iran. It will be the UK’s first major exhibition on Iranian art and culture in 90 years that presents an overarching narrative from 3000 BC to the present day. From sculpture, ceramics and carpets, to textiles, photography and film, the exhibition will comprise rarely seen objects from the V&A alongside international loans and significant private collections, including The Sarikhani Collection.

Igshaan Adams: Kicking Dust

19 May – 25 July 2021

Hayward Gallery

First solo exhibition in the UK of South African artist Igshaan Adams (b. 1982). The artist’s cross-disciplinary practice combines aspects of weaving, sculpture and installation whilst exploring concerns related to race, religion and sexuality.

Matthew Barney: Redoubt

19 May – 25 July 2021

Hayward Gallery

An exhibition of the renowned artist and filmmaker’s latest body of work. The exhibition, the artist’s first major museum show in the UK in over a decade, presents a group of monumental sculptures, and more than forty engravings and electroplated copper plates. Also included is the UK premiere of Barney’s new eponymous film.

James Barnor Serpentine Galleries
James Barnor Serpentine Galleries

James Barnor: Accra/London – A Retrospective

19 May – 22 October 2021

Serpentine Gallery

The first major survey of British-Ghanaian photographer James Barnor, whose career as a studio portraitist, photojournalist and Black lifestyle photographer spans six decades and records major social and political changes in London and Accra.

Thomas Becket: Murder And The Making Of A Saint

20 May – 22 August 2021

British Museum

Marking the 850th anniversary of the brutal murder of the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, this special exhibition presents Becket’s tumultuous journey from a merchant’s son to an archbishop, and from a revered saint in death to a ‘traitor’ in the eyes of Henry VIII more than 350 years later.

Nero, British Museum
Marble bust of Nero. Italy, around AD 55,

Nero: The Man Behind The Myth

27 May – 24 October 2021

British Museum

The exhibition explores the true story of Rome’s fifth emperor informed by new research and archaeological evidence from the time, challenging the biased historical accounts written after Nero’s death that have shaped his legacy.

This major exhibition will feature over 200 objects, charting the young emperor’s rise to power and examining his actions during a period of profound social change in regions from Armenia in the Near East, to Britain, and across mainland Europe. Drawn from the British Museum’s world-class collection alongside rare loans from Europe, most never seen in the UK before, the exhibition includes humble graffiti next to grand sculpture, precious manuscripts, objects destroyed in the fire of Rome, priceless jewellery and slave chains from Wales, telling the story of rich and poor alike.

Conversations with God: Jan Matejko’s Copernicus
21 May – 22 August 2021

National Gallery


Paula Rego, Tate Britain
Paula Rego, Tate Britain

Paula Rego

NEW DATE: 7 July – 24 October 2021

Tate Britain

The largest and most comprehensive retrospective of Paula Rego’s work to date

Since the 1950s, Paula Rego has played a key role in redefining figurative art in the UK and internationally. An uncompromising artist of extraordinary imaginative power, she has revolutionised the way in which women are represented.

Sophie Taeuber-Arp,Tate Modern
Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Tate Modern

Sophie Taeuber-Arp

15 July – 17 October 2021

Tate Modern

Sophie Taeuber-Arp was one of the foremost abstract artists and designers of the 1920s and 30s. Her multidisciplinary work has enduring influence, inspiring innovative artists and designers around the world.


Helen Frankenthaler, Dulwich Picture Gallery
Helen Frankenthaler, Dulwich Picture Gallery


Helen Frankenthaler: Radical Beauty
15 September 2021 – 17 April 2022

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Frankenthaler (1928–2011) is recognized among the most important American abstract artists of the 20th century, widely credited for her pivotal role in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field painting. She experimented tirelessly throughout her six-decade-long career, producing a large body of work across multiple mediums. Opening ten years after her death, this exhibition shines a light on the artist’s groundbreaking woodcuts, which appear painterly and spontaneous with expanses of colour and fluid forms. It will reveal Frankenthaler as a trailblazer of the printmaking movement, who endlessly pushed possibilities through her experimentation.


Summer Exhibition

22 September – 2 January 2021

Royal Academy of Arts

The Royal Academy’s annual Summer Exhibition, the world’s largest open submission contemporary art show, is now in its 253rd year. It provides a unique platform for emerging and established artists to showcase their works to an international audience, comprising a range of media from painting, printmaking and photography, to sculpture, architecture and film.


Poussin and the Dance
9 October 2021 – 2 January 2022

National Gallery

Poussin’s paintings of dance are unique. He brings to life the Classical world of gods and mortals with wild and riotous movement but, the chaos on the canvas does not reflect the meticulous and inventive process that allowed him to capture bodies in motion.

In this exhibition, Poussin’s paintings and drawings of dance will be shown alongside the antique sculpture he studied, inviting you to trace the evolution of his ideas from marble to paper to paint.

Late Constable

30 October 2021 – 13 February 2022

Royal Academy of Arts

The exhibition will explore Constable’s late career, from 1825 until his unexpected death in 1837, through his paintings and oil sketches as well as watercolours, drawings and prints. It will be arranged in chronological order exploring the extensive cross-fertilisation of his ideas between different media.


Hogarth and Europe

3 November 2021 – 20 March 2022

Tate Britain

For the first time, this exhibition will bring together Hogarth’s greatest works with those of his peers across the continent – including Francesco Guardi in Venice, Chardin in Paris and Cornelis Troost in Amsterdam – to suggest the cross currents, parallels and sympathies that crossed borders.

Durer National Gallery

Dürer’s Journeys: Travels of a Renaissance Artist

NEW DATES: 20 November 2021 – 27 February 2022

National Gallery

The first major UK exhibition of German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer in nearly 20 years.

Through paintings, drawings, prints, and letters, this exhibition follows Dürer’s travels across Europe, bringing to life the artist himself, and the people and places he visited.

Fabergé in London: Romance to Revolution

20 November 2021 – 8 May 2022


Fabergé in London: Romance to Revolution is the first major exhibition devoted to the international prominence of the legendary Russian goldsmith and the importance of his little-known London branch. With a focus on Fabergé’s Edwardian high society clientele, it will shine a light on his triumphs in Britain as well as a global fascination with the joyful opulence of his creations. Showcasing over 200 objects across three main sections, the exhibition will tell the story of Carl Fabergé, the man, and his internationally recognised firm that symbolised Russian craftsmanship and elegance. Unknown to many, it will explore the Anglo-Russian nature of his enterprise with his only branch outside of Russia opening in London in 1903.


Lubaina Himid, Tate Modern
Lubaina Himid, Tate Modern

Lubaina Himid

25 November 2021 – 22 May 2022

Tate Modern

This large-scale exhibition will debut recent work and include selected highlights from Turner Prize-winning artist Lubaina Himid’s influential career. Taking inspiration from her interest in theatre, the exhibition will unfold in a sequence of scenes designed to place visitors centre-stage and backstage.


Art from Britain and the Caribbean

1 December 2021 – 3 April 2022

Tate Britain

This exhibition will explore work by artists from the Caribbean who made their home in Britain, alongside other British artists who have also made work addressing Caribbean themes and heritage. It celebrates how people from the Caribbean have forged new communities and identities in post-war Britain – and in doing so have transformed British culture and society.

Kehinde Wiley at the National Gallery (working title)

10 December 2021 – until 18 April 2022

Sunley Room

National Gallery

For his first collaboration with a major UK gallery, Wiley will depart from portraiture to explore artistic conventions and modes of representation in the European landscape tradition – mountainous, coastal, sublime, transcendental – through the media of film and painting.


Please note the following exhibitions have been postponed:

Francis Bacon: Man and Beast
Royal Academy of Arts
Postponed until 29 January – 17 April 2022

Marina Abramović
Royal Academy of Arts
Postponed until 2023. New dates to be announced in due course.

Impressionist Decorations: The Birth of Modern Decor

National Gallery

postponed indefinitely (was due to open in September 2021)