March is the new September. A time when the stresses of the last two months slide away. Seriously, what was that? We start to adopt a sort of back-to-school mentality; spring-cleaning from the inside out, inspiration sweeping over us and, now, planning ahead no longer seems like a laborious activity (never underestimate the mood-enhancing capabilities of a bit of sunshine and blossom on the trees). If you’re plotting your next culture fix, be sure to add these spring blockbuster art exhibitions to your diary - from Warhol mania at Tate Modern to Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Rooms.
What? Andy Warhol
Why? "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” Andy Warhol said. A premonition to the cult of the social media age? Perhaps. A figurehead of the New York art and social scene in the 60s and 70s, Warhol embraced celebrity culture like no one else, and changed modern art in the process. This major retrospective features some of his most ubiquitous works - including iconic pop images of Marilyn Monroe and Debbie Harry to Coca-Cola and Campbell’s soup cans - alongside works never seen before in the UK. A day out to celebrate the original influencer.
When? March 12th- September 6th, at the Tate Modern. Find out more here.
In the area? Hungry? Tate Eats has created an Andy Warhol menu. Aside from the pure, unadulterated #foodporn, the names of dishes are pretty genius too. Tuna Fish Disaster, anyone?
Why? Featuring over 150 works and tracing over six decades, this is the first major exhibition devoted to David Hockney’s drawings in over 20 years. Drawing From Life explores Hockney as a draughtsman from the 1950s to the present day - focusing on depictions of himself and a small group of sitters in his inner circle - from his muse, Celia Birtwell to his mother, Laura Hockney. Evocative and heartfelt.
When? Runs until 28 June 2020, at the National Portrait Gallery. Find out more here.
In the area? If you’re into the art of drawing, the Picasso and Paper exhibition at the Royal Academy is well worth a trip (it runs until mid-April) - featuring colossal collages and avant garde ballet costumes made out of paper (it’s as bizarre and brilliant in person as it sounds).
Why? Yayoi Kusama, the world's top-selling living female artist, is set to takeover your Instagram feed. Again. If you missed her work the last time around in London (and suffered major exhibit FOMO) this year-long exhibition will be a rare chance to experience two of the Japanese artist’s immersive mirror room installations, including Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life (one of Kusama’s largest installations to date, originally made for her retrospective at Tate Modern back in 2012). A word to the wise? Before entering, make sure your (slash long-suffering social media manager’s) phone is fully charged.
When? 11 May 2020 – 9 May 2021, at Tate Modern. Find out more here.
In the area? Book a table at cocoa-themed restaurant, Rabot 1745, in Borough Market (there’s chocolate in almost every dish), which is less than a 10-minute walk from Tate Modern.
Why? The art version of four double espressos. For those who want to give their senses a workout, this immersive exhibit which explores the hypnotic world of electronic music is a must-see/hear/watch. A space to discover the music genre’s global impact; by way of 3D live shows, large scale images of rave culture, a genre-spanning soundtrack by French DJ and producer Laurent Garnier to graphics from Peter Saville CBE.
When? April 1st - July 26th. Find out more here.
In the area? If you’re all about French and European cinema - or want to impress a date by pretending you do - catch a film at boutique cinema Ciné Lumière, founded in 1998 by Belle de Jour actress Catherine Deneuve. Le superb.
Why? Kehinde Wiley has painted everyone from The Notorious B.I.G. to Barack Obama and LL Cool J, to name a few. To mark his UK solo debut, the LA-native artist is showcasing exclusively female portraits for the first time. The paintings respond to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s acclaimed feminist text, The Yellow Wallpaper (which explores the disastrous consequences of denying women independence) and feature women that Wiley met on the streets of Dalston, East London.
When? Runs until May 25th, at the William Morris Gallery. Find out more here.
In the area? Make it a full Walthamstow day out. For a guilt-free retail fix, potter down to Gigi’s Dressing Room, a sustainable/vintage fashion and rental dress emporium. Afterwards, chow down some exceptionally good vegan, 100% plant-based curry at SpiceBox.
What? Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk
Why? The V&A’s bumper exhibitions are fast becoming more frenzy-inducing than Timothée Chalamet spottings at Paris Fashion Week. The institution’s latest opening explores the rich history of the kimono, from the 17th Century up to its present-day iterations for a new generation. It’s heavy on the pop culture references, featuring original Star Wars costumes, Björk's Alexander McQueen dress worn for her Homogenic album cover in 1997, one of Madonna’s most iconic 1990s looks, plus designs from the likes of Yves Saint Laurent to Jean Paul Gaultier.
When? Runs until June 21st, at the V&A museum. Find out more here.
In the area? Take in some live poetry (or just chill with vino and friends) at The Troubadour: the 1950s coffee house has seen the likes of Bob Dylan to Jimi Hendrix pass through its vintage doors. The perfect place to unwind, any evening of the week.
Why? Picture the scene: your dad’s in town and you have absolutely no idea what to do? Consider taking him to this exhibition, which explores how masculinities have been represented and constructed by film and photography since the 1960s.
When? Runs until May 17th, at the Barbican. Find out more here.
In the area? Don’t be put off by the name - The Quality Chop House - a former 19th-century working man's 'eating house’ turned dining room and wine bar – does not disappoint.
What? Steve McQueen
Why? Artist, director and screenwriter Steve McQueen’s innovative work is given the blockbuster treatment – once more - at Tate Modern. This marks the 12 Years a Slave filmmaker’s first major UK show in 20 years, since he won the Turner Prize in 1999, featuring 14 major works spanning film, photography and sculpture. You do not want to miss this.
When? Runs until May 11th, at the Tate Modern. Find out more here.
In the area? For all your street food desires, amble down to Mercato Metropolitano.