The best art and museum displays opening in London this summer

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After four long, dark months of lockdown, London’s art scene is back in our lives with a handful of brilliant exhibitions you can actually visit in person.

As lockdown eases, there will be plenty for culture lovers to indulge on: galleries and museums will reopen the shows that were forced to close in March, including top hitters from Andy Warhol to Picasso. 

They ‘re bound to be popular, so be sure to check first if you need to book a slot in advance, and wear a face covering. 

There are months full of art to look forward to, so take your pick from these exhibitions:

Titian: Love, Desire, Death

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With just a day at the National Gallery before it closed for lockdown, this Titian exhibition is having a second chance. Six Titian masterpieces reunite for the first time in 300 years. This exhibition focuses on these mythological works created by the artist in the 1550s and 1560s for Philip II of Spain, when the Venetian master artist was at the height of his artistic powers. Elsewhere in the gallery, painter Nicolaes Maes steps out of Rembrandt’s shadow in the Dutch Master of the Golden Age show (until September 20).

Until January 2021, National Gallery, nationalgallery.org.uk

Aubrey Beardsley

Beardsley was only 25 when he died in 1898, but achieved more than many of his artist peers did in a lifetime. Tate Britain’s show features his original ink drawings in the largest exhibition of its kind for 50 years, and the first display of his art at the gallery since 1923. Steve McQueen ‘s splendid Year 3 installation is also on exhibit in the gallery until 2021.

July 27-September 20, Tate Britain, tate.org.uk

Andy Warhol

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Andy Warhol’s instantly recognisable prints defined a century. The major exhibition at Tate Modern is one of the biggest events in the art calendar, with all of his best works – from Marilyn Monroe screen prints to Campbell’s Soup Cans – going on show. A significant proportion of the show will be devoted to his portraits of trans women and drag queens from the Ladies and Gentlemen series. Kara Walker’s Turbine Hall installation Fons Americanus has also been extended, on view until November 8.

July 27-November 15, Tate Modern, tate.org.uk

Portraying Pregnancy: from Holbein to Social Media

The first exhibition to explore the portrayal of the pregnant body in portraiture, over the course of 500 years, this Foundling Museum display features it all from Mary Tudor during her imaginary pregnancy to the now-iconic image of Beyoncé in front of a floral backdrop shared on Instagram.

Until August 23, Foundling Museum, foundlingmuseum.org.uk

Picasso on Paper

The Royal Academy’s marvellous main exhibition explores Picasso ‘s relationship with paper. The exhibition covers the artist’s 80-year career and includes 300 pieces, including studies for Guernica and a 4.8-metre-wide collage. In early August another show will take over – we’ll keep you posted.

Until August 2, Royal Academy, royalacademy.org.uk

Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi

Whether or not they’re to your tastes, mushrooms are incredible organisms. From food and psychedelics to the future of life, fungus makes the world go round. This show explores it all, looking at mushrooms through sculpture, recipes, illustration, textiles and architecture, featuring watercolours by Beatrix Potter.

July 16-September 13, Somerset House, somersethouse.org.uk

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography

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Photography and video highlight how masculinity has been portrayed since the 1960s in this exhibition, from social constructions to performative identities. “A straitjacket of limited gender definitions struggles to unburden itself,” says the Standard’s five star assessment of the show. Elsewhere in the house, the first-ever UK commission from artist Toyin Ojih Odutola (who has just unveiled a painting of Zadie Smith at the National Portrait Gallery), A Countervailing Theory, opens in the Curve.

July 13-August 23, Barbican Centre, barbican.org.uk

Radical Figures: Painting in the New Millennium

The Whitechapel Gallery springs back into life with a series of simultaneous exhibits. Radical Figures explores a new generation of artists who have taken a fresh approach to drawing. Ten artists, including Tschabalala Self, Tala Madani and Cecily Brown, portray the body on canvas to reflect on critical social issues. Elsewhere Carlos Bunga has produced his first major UK installation in Something Necessary and Useful

July 14-August 30, Whitechapel Gallery, whitechapelgallery.org

Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers

You can’t go out to a club, so the Design Museum is transforming itself into one. This exhibition presents the people, art , design, engineering and photography fundamental to shaping electronic music. A 3D presentation of Kraftwerk, the dance floors of Detroit, Chicago, Paris and Berlin and an installation that responds to sound all feature in a showcase that overwhelms the senses.

July 31-February 2021, Design Museum, designmuseum.org

Cao Fei: Blueprints

Early in the summer, the Serpentine Gallery opens with the return of Cao Fei’s Blueprints. The Beijing-based multimedia artist and filmmaker combines video, photography and numerous objects together in her site-specific installation exploring the era of rapid technology advancement.

August 4-September, Serpentine Gallery, serpentinegalleries.org

Derek Jarman: My garden’s boundaries are the horizon

Artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman ‘s home in Dungeness, Prospect Cottage, was recently saved by a massive fundraising effort. This exhibition is the first to center on his love of gardening, taking personal artefacts from the cottage out for the public to see, alongside his artwork and films.

Until September 20, Garden Museum, gardenmuseum.org.uk

Nightingale in 200 Objects, People & Places

With 2020 being the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale ‘s birth, the museum dedicated to the world’s most famous nurse is honouring her through 200 exhibits. A revolutionary health reformer, activist and one of history’s most influential women, the show looks at her life and unparalleled legacy.

Reopens August 1, Florence Nightingale Museum, florence-nightingale.co.uk