Top 10 Contemporary Art Galleries in London: New Visions and Possibilities

Top 10 Contemporary Art Galleries in London | The South London Gallery
The South London Gallery. Photo: Andy Stagg

Renowned for its legacy, London is celebrated for its thriving contemporary art scene. The city draws visual artists from around the globe eager to present their work. Both local and international audiences come to the city to indulge in the abundance of outstanding exhibitions.

A plethora of London galleries are redefining the traditional gallery concept with their unique characteristics. Ranging from the sacred halls of venerable institutions to the edgy energy of evolving venues, they collectively boost the hip art scene in London.

The diverse and dynamic London contemporary art scene is one worthy of venturing into. There is something for every taste, with the city offering some of the most important and forward-thinking galleries that have shaped its fabric and made it the artistic hub it is.

Top 10 Contemporary Art Galleries in London | Tate Modern
Tate Modern. Photo: Andrea De Santis

Tate Modern

Tate Modern is situated at the heart of London, in the Bankside area. The institution holds some of contemporary art world’s most exceptional exhibitions.

In 2000, the massive Bankside Power Station, a former industrial building, was transformed into an art shrine. This audacious architectural makeover blends industrial style with contemporary architecture to create a striking backdrop for the extensive collection housed within the museum.

 At Tate Modern, Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind is running through September 1, 2024. Visitors are welcomed by more than 200 artworks, including videos, music, installations, educational pieces, soundtracks, and photographs. The show presents a novel perspective on language and art taking on a multimedia identity.

Capturing The Moment, on view through April 28, 2024, examines the ways artists blur the lines between painting and photography. Works by famous artists such as Andreas Gursky, Pauline Boty, Andy Warhol, and Gerhard Richter are presented.

Expressionists: Kandinsky, Münter, and The Blue Rider is running through October 20, 2024. The Blue Rider is a group of friends and close collaborators. It explores the extremely unique creatives that comprised The Blue Rider, ranging from Alexander Sacharoff’s freestyle performance to Franz Marc’s fascination with colour. An important part of the movement was performed by the female artists.

Top 10 Contemporary Art Galleries in London | Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA)
ICA. Photo: Rob Battersby

Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA)

The institute showcases an abundance of innovative works in diverse media. Through its commissioning projects and residence programs, the ICA supports both established and up-and-coming artists.

The likes of Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, and Tracey Emin, members of the 1990s Young British Artists (YBAs) movement, were all associated with the ICA in the early stages of their careers. Through various opportunities for exhibitions and support, the group helped launch their careers.

ICA is currently hosting Aria Dean: Abattoir. Running through May 5, 2024, this new object-based work and site-specific video installation investigates the fundamental link that exists between modernization and death.

The Serpentine. Photo: Francesco Zivoli

The Serpentine Galleries

The Serpentine and the Serpentine Sackler Gallery remain to be two of London’s most prestigious art institutions. They host intriguing contemporary art exhibitions year-round.

The Serpentine Gallery is famous for being converted from a tea store and gaining new life as a specialised exhibition venue when Queen Victoria unveiled it in 1934.

An ongoing tradition since year 2000 allows visitors to experience a temporary pavilion by a renowned UK architect each summer. Backed by sponsors, and situated next to the Serpentine Gallery, the project attracts attention across the globe every year.

Serpentine Galleries’ annual summer party is one of the most praised social events of London. Back in the day, Princess Diana’s party presence attracted a great deal of media attention. Especially in 1994 when she donned the now-famous “revenge dress,” elevating the galleries and Serpentine’s purpose.

Taking place at Serpentine South between April 12 and September 1, 2024, the solo exhibition showcasing Yinka Shonibare’s African batik fabrics, woodcuts, sculptures and pictorial quilts explore cultural identity and post-colonialism.

From October 4 to January 5, 2025, Lauren Halsey’s immersive installations and standalone pieces will celebrate the changing signs and symbols of her neighborhood.

At Serpentine North, Judy Chicago: Revelations, between May 22 and September 1, 2024, features groundbreaking works challenging the norms of male dominant landscapes of the art world from a feminist perspective.

At Serpentine North, Infinite Ecologies Serpentine Marathon festival is taking place in July 2024. The marathon that encourages acts and stories, explores connection and responsibility toward Earth’s diverse life-forms.

Top 10 Contemporary Art Galleries in London | The South London Gallery
The South London Gallery. Photo: Andy Stagg

The South London Gallery (SLG)

William Rossiter established the South London Gallery (SLG) in the 19th century, and it all began with a vision. Rossiter, who also founded the South London Working Men’s College in 1868, envisioned a place where everyone would be able to access art and education.

It is London’s oldest contemporary gallery, but it faced difficulties in the 20th century, including closures during both World Wars. Nevertheless, SLG continued to be committed to its purpose, presenting both its expanding permanent collection and temporary shows.

SLG’s unique architecture, combining Victorian and contemporary elements, reflects the Gallery’s evolution and heritage. Mentioning evolution, in 2023, the Gallery underwent a major refurbishment, enhancing its spaces and accessibility features.

It was formerly the home of the famous Camberwell School of Art, which graduated illustrious students including Lucian Freud and David Hockney. The SLG has arranged ground-breaking exhibits, such as Gilbert & George’s first solo display in the United Kingdom.

SLG will showcase Acts of Resistance: Photography, Feminisms and the Art of Protest, in collaboration with the V&A. Current global events, including the anti-rape demonstrations in Bangladesh, Roe v. Wade, and demonstrations against the regime in the wake of Mahsa Amini’s death will be discussed.

Knees Kiss Ground is an exhibition by SLG’s very own Motunrayo Akinola, the 13th Postgraduate Artist in Residence at the South London Gallery, that explores spirituality and belonging via common items. Both exhibitions are running through June 9, 2024.

Top 10 Contemporary Art Galleries in London | Saatchi Gallery
Saatchi Gallery. Photo: Matthew Booth

Saatchi Gallery

When advertising magnate Charles Saatchi founded the gallery in 1985, it displayed his own personal collection, which was kept in a warehouse in North London. Early shows centred on Young British Artists (YBAs) such as Damien Hirst and US minimalism, propelling both the gallery and the YBAs to global prominence.

The Grade II* listed former Duke of York headquarters, created by Victorian architect George T. Hulse, is home to the Saatchi Gallery. The gallery areas exhibit a distinctive fusion of contemporary works alongside historical ones, resulting in a vibrant ambiance.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants – A Celebration of Dutch Female Artists is running through May 12, 2024. The exhibition aims to inspire cooperation and unity among female artists, drawing inspiration from historical Dutch artists like Rachel Ruysch and Saar de Swart.

Beyond Fashion, on view between May 31 and Sept 8, 2024, features the creations of renowned fashion photographers worldwide. The collection presents how fashion photography delves into the intricacies of our existence, our desires, and challenge the limits of imagination.

Innovation in Eco-Photography and Film, between May 26 and July 28, 2024, highlights four photographers and filmmakers renowned for their innovative eco-conscious practices. The artists address the ecological crises with a blend of political commentary and artistic expression.

Top 10 Contemporary Art Galleries in London | Whitechapel Gallery
Whitechapel Gallery. Source: Whitechapel

The Whitechapel Gallery

An epicentre of creativity, the Whitechapel is situated in the historic East End, where a visual feast takes place, amid the bustling streets of Whitechapel. The Whitechapel has a reputation for being among the first publicly funded galleries of London to host temporary exhibitions ever since its opening in 1901.

Enhancing East Londoners’ access to culture was the motivation behind establishing the gallery, founded by social activists Canon and Henrietta Barnett.

Running till May 26, 2024, Edge Effects is a participatory project that was launched with a regular program of artist residencies with elementary and secondary schools located in Newham, East London. With an emphasis on nature, observation, and interaction, workshops in school gardens and classrooms have embraced a gradual approach, driven by permaculture principles.

The Whitechapel also showcases Dreams Have No Titles by Zineb Sedira, running through May 12, 2024, with the gallery’s exhibition space transformed into a series of film sets to host the exhibition that combines various mediums of film, sculpture, and photography. Initially created for the French Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022, the artist’s biography with activist films is presented with avant-garde film production.

Andrew Pierre Hart’s latest commission: Bio-Data Flows and Other Rhythms – A Local Story draws on Whitechapel’s long history as a haven for migrant and diasporic groups, investigating such connections between sound and painting. The exhibition will run through July 7, 2024.

Top 10 Contemporary Art Galleries in London | White Cube
White Cube in St James. Source: St James’s London website

White Cube

Recognized for its stark white spaces cocooning a bold artistic vision, the White Cube, with its various locations in London (Bermondsey and Mason’s Yard), as well as in New York, Hong Kong, Paris, and Seoul, embraces the white cube design that has been synonymous with the brand, but modifies programming and architecture to fit the local environment. By actively participating in significant art fairs such as Frieze London and Art Basel Hong Kong, the White Cube has achieved worldwide recognition.

Jay Jopling, an art dealer, founded the gallery in London in 1993, and over the first ten years of its extensive exhibition schedule, no artist was exhibited more than once. The White Cube represents over 60 international artists with prominent names including Tracey Emin, Luc Tuymans, and Hiroshi Sugimoto alongside up-and-coming talent.

Darren Almond has an exhibition running through May 4, 2024, featuring a multi-media display of painting, video, sculpture, photography, and installation—with time and length as well as historical and personal memory. Georg Baselitz is also making an anticipated comeback after eight years with a new selection of paintings.

Top 10 Contemporary Art Galleries in London | Hauser & Wirth
Hauser & Wirth in Mayfair. Source: Hauser & Wirth website

Hauser & Wirth

In the Mayfair district, the gallery is home to the North and South Galleries. Each gallery offers a different atmosphere; the South Gallery has a sleek, contemporary ambiance, while the North Gallery resides in the historical Somerset House.

The lower levels of the Goode Building, a significant historic Grade II* listed landmark of Victorian architecture created by Ernest George and Peto Architects between 1875 and 1876, houses the new home for art and artists.

In addition to exhibiting international artists, they work with galleries such as Nicola Vassell Gallery to highlight British talent. Some of their notable collaborations include Tate Modern and the Guggenheim Museum.

With over ninety artists in their roster, the gallery is the embodiment of diversity. They represent established names such as Nicole Eisenman and Cindy Sherman, as well as emerging talents like Emma Amos and Rashid Johnson.

Harmony Korine: Aggressive Dr1fter Part II, running between May 9 and July 17, 2024, showcases paintings inspired by his film ‘Aggro Dr1ft’, premiered at the Venice Film Festival, utilizing infrared cameras. Korine’s filmic and painting practices are merged to create mesmerizing works that challenge the concepts of ‘high’ and ‘low’ art.

Isa Genzken: Wasserspeier and Angels, on view between May 9 and July 17, 2024, presents the artist’s 2004 work “Wasserspeier and Angels” to reexamine the sociopolitical concerns of today. Genzken’s work reflects the changes in society after the fall of the Berlin Wall and 9/11.

Top 10 Contemporary Art Galleries in London | Lehmann Maupin
Lehmann Maupin in South Kensington. Source: Lehmann Maupin website

Lehmann Maupin

After participating in various art fairs and events in London, Lehmann Maupin established its permanent home in a Georgian townhouse, 1 Cromwell Place.

Through a number of programs, Lehmann Maupin London actively contributes to the local art scene. Past partnerships have included the Whitechapel Gallery and the ICA London.

The gallery also hosts numerous panels and workshops, making itself both a centre of art and education. Artists like Mandy El-Sayegh, whose exhibition The Amateur accompanied a Parrish Art Museum tour, or Delphine Diallo, spoke about her works during Frieze Week 2022.

The exhibition of Tammy Nguyen, A Comedy for Mortals: Purgatorio, through April 20, 2024, will be her first solo exhibition in the UK. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri serves as the inspiration for Purgatorio, the second show in a three-part series that includes new paintings, pieces on paper, and a sculptural artist book.

Top 10 Contemporary Art Galleries in London | Carlos/Ishikawa
Carlos/Ishikawa. Source: Carlos/Ishikawa website


If you are looking for breaking norms, look no further than Carlos/Ishikawa. Since its founding in 2011, Carlos/Ishikawa’s program has focused on thoughtful, ambitious shows that provide views from many artists on political, social, and cultural issues. The gallery is centred around transnational artists whose approaches are frequently diverse, interdisciplinary, and experimental.

The gallery has worked with a wide variety of well-known artists throughout the years, such as Steve Bishop, Tosh Basco, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Pilvi Takala, Rose Salane, and Stuart Middleton. Their shows have won praise from critics for their provocative subjects and creative displays.

The gallery itself, a converted Victorian schoolhouse, gives the exhibition experience a distinct feel. Carlos/Ishikawa has further cemented their place in the international art scene by taking part in esteemed art fairs such as Frieze London and Art Basel Hong Kong.

On view through April 20, 2024 The Human Model by Stuart Middleton presents an ethereal maze made out of duvets and a multi-directional sound installation. In the next room are two giant kebab skewers carrying everyday items and questioning the value we ascribe to them.

Honouring the Historical, Embracing the Contemporary

London stands out as a vivid and lively metropolis that is teeming with invention, creativity, and cultural variety. The contemporary art galleries represent the double identity of London as a city that keeps up with the changing world while retaining its proud historical roots.

Young artists create murals in the shadows of its historical giants, while established institutions present ground-breaking shows that question the status quo. From the contemporary settings of Hauser & Wirth and Lehmann Maupin to the historical walls of Whitechapel Gallery, both renowned and up-and-coming artists in various media find a stage on which to present their ideas.

Beyond physical locations, galleries actively engage visitors through panels, workshops, and online tools, showcasing this fusion of tradition and contemporary vibrancy.

London’s position as a leader in contemporary art in the twenty-first century is being cemented as it continues to reshape and reinvent the global art scene.


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