The Top Ten Independent London Art Galleries
by Nicola Kavanagh (March 2012)
We have all been hearing about how the arts are having a difficult time at the moment; funding has been cut and donations are down but art is a hardy beast and often thrives in troubled times. So if the doom and gloom is getting a bit much, go along and support one of London’s independent galleries and discover a whole world of inspired creativity and community. From modernist sensationalism to masterly classics, London has one of the richest art pools in the world, and was of course the pioneer in bringing fine art to the public. So don’t delay, go forth and prepare to be amazed, challenged and rewarded in equal measure!
Showing below are all 10 records in "The Top Ten Independent London Art Galleries"
Undoubtedly Britain’s finest gallery, this megalith spans every genre and period in contemporary art. Their considerable collection (approximately only about 10% of which is on display at any one time) is a master class in an egalitarian approach to art. Everyone of the modern era is represented, from modern minimalist photographers to 19th century post-modernist classics. Lose yourself here, it is an education!
65 Peckham Road, London
South London gallery has been a pioneer of integrating art into the lives of suburban, less-privileged communities. Its exemplary work has seen sustained projects with local schools and council estates open up the art world to youngsters and show them that art is for everyone. Add to that an impressive roster of exhibitions, artist’s lectures and gourmet café, it is well worth the trip down South.
Kensington Gardens, London
The Serpentine is the glossy, A-lister of London’s galleries. With their infamous pavilions and glittering gala balls one could be forgiven for thinking that art plays a secondary role here. Au contraire, their dedication to pushing artistic boundaries is exhilarating and their regular talks, events and family days complement varied exhibitions challenging social issues and stimulating debate.
Chesterfield Walk, Blackheath, London
The Wernher Collection is an eccentric’s dream. Amassed during the lifetime of diamond magnate Julius Wernher (1850-1912), it is a veritable feast of human artistic ability. The collection ranges from early religious paintings by the great European masters to Renaissance jewellery, Byzantine miniature carved ivories and all manner of tapestries, sculptures and porcelain. A rare treat for the grand-folks.
Duke of York's HQ, Kings Road, London
Self-confessed art addict Charles Saatchi has created a temple for contemporary art. He is the master of zeitgeist and often introduces artists to the world before they are known elsewhere, and often before the world is ready for them. For insight into the cutting edge pay a visit to one of their breath-taking and sometimes mindboggling exhibitions. Expect to leave with more questions than answers.
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London
This iconic and rebellious gallery is a pioneering project that prides itself on presenting the most adventurous and innovative works that artists have to offer. You don’t even have to enter the gallery to enjoy the spirit of eccentricity as the outside spaces are often festooned with quirky installations. Pair this with the Southbank’s cool, creative vibe and you have a very happening day out!
The oldest of the Tate siblings, this gallery has been making artworks available to the public since 1897. If you want to understand how art reached its current, sometimes incomprehensible, manifestations, then Tate Britain offers a visual history of art from 1500 to the present day. With possibly the greatest collections of classics in the country, this should be the first stop for art beginners.
80/82 Whitechapel High Street, London
Founded in 1901 in East London, the Whitechapel gallery almost defies definition. Over the years it has played host to some of the art world’s most seminal events including Abstract Expressionist legend Mark Rothko’s debut solo exhibition. Today the gallery hosts a wealth of insightful and sensitive installations from writers in residence programmes to guest-curated galleries and astute social commentary.
272 Island Row, Limehouse, London
Following in the trend of independent East End art hubs, the Limehouse gallery is situated in London’s docklands – a surprisingly up-and-coming creative area. The gallery is purely contemporary and, rather uniquely, shows works that are predominantly made from bronze or stone and is affiliated with a bronze foundry which operates on the nearby Limehouse basin, a perfect choice for the off-beat connoisseur.
Gallery Road, Dulwich, London
The building in which the pictures are housed is almost as stunning as the artworks themselves. Inside the purpose-built ‘chapel’ of art lives one of the country’s oldest collections of art, amassed largely in just five short years between 1790 and 1795. But the gallery is very much in touch with the present and also boasts an award winning education department encouraging the appreciation of fine art for everyone.
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