Don't Miss These Mouthwatering Exhibitions in London

From the 'Prince of Painters', Rubens, to powerful photographs taken in the aftermath of war, head to these new exhibitions in London.

Visit these top exhibitions in London, from Rubens at the Royal Academy of Arts to archival royal photographs at the Queen's Gallery.

Rubens And His Legacy (Royal Academy of Arts, 24 January-10 April)

Today’s magazines are dominated with images of stick-thin models, but in Rubens’ era it was all about the sensual curves of women. He became so famous for these paintings that the term ‘Rubenesque’ was created to describe his pictures of full-figured women. In the Royal Academy Of Art’s exhibition, Rubens And His Legacy, his masterpieces are given the limelight they deserve.

Dubbed the 'Prince Of Painters’, Ruben's works also demonstrate how he influenced painters over the past four centuries, from Rembrandt to Picasso and the post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne. Divided into six main themes—power, lust, compassion, elegance, poetry and violence—many works show hunting and battle scenes, such as the epic painting, Tiger, Lion And Leopard Hunt. 

The talk Body Image: Provocations In Art (30 Jan) sees feminist commentator Germaine Greer, artist Grayson Perry and Professor Mary Beard discuss the role that art has in communicating body image. Curator Arturo Galansino says: "'Groundbreaking' is a word that gets used a lot, but this exhibition really is—it’s never been done before." 

Adventures Of The Black Square (Whitechapel Gallery, 15 January-6 April) 

Theo Van Doesburg, Colour Design for ceiling and three walls ..., 1926 - 1927, at Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK
Van Doesburg's interior designs, typical of the Dutchman's architectural drawings (©Theo Van Doesburg, Colour Design for ceiling and three walls 1926-1927)

When Huey Lewis And The News sang Hip To Be Square, they could have easily been talking about the Whitechapel Gallery’s latest exhibition Adventures Of The Black Square. The show brings together more than 100 works by 80 modern and contemporary artists including Carl Andre, Dan Flavin and Gabriel Orozco, and traces a century of abstract art from 1915 to today. The thought-provoking display explores art’s relationship with revolutionary social change. Highlights include a wall filled with photographs of the radio towers of Moscow and Berlin by Aleksandr Rodchenko. For those interested in art and history, this is a must.

Gold (Queen’s Gallery, to 22 February) 

Gold has always been associated with royalty, so it comes as no surprise to find the exhibition Gold taking place at The Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace. There are 50 spectacular items on display that range from paintings to sculptures, including an 18th-century tiger’s head made of gold and rock crystal, and the Rillaton Cup from a Bronze age burial ground dating back to around 1,7000 to 1,5000 BC.

Also at the Queen’s Gallery, take a look at the photographic exhibition, Cairo To Constantinople—Early Photographs of the Middle East which depicts a four-month journey taken by Prince of Wales in 1862 through the Middle East—a significant era for Victorian Britain to witness this region. Both exhibitions are on until 22 February.

Maggi Hambling: Walls Of Water (National Gallery, to 15 February)

Maggi Hambling, National Gallery, London, UK
Maggi Hambling's works are influenced and inspired by her early experiences of watching waves up close in her native Southwold, on the UK's south coast (©Maggi Hambling)

'I want to make you feel as if you’re there while it’s being created—as if it’s happening in front of you,' said Maggi Hambling when she was asked about her water-themed paintings for Walls Of Water at The National Gallery. The collection of eight vast pieces is inspired by Hambling’s experience of growing up in Southwold, Suffolk, and visiting the beach to experience, up close, the crashing waves. There is a real sense of immediacy to the paintings, which use striking colours and, at seven feet tall, are domineering works of art.

Conflict, Time, Photography (Tate Modern to 15 March)

This powerful exhibition at Tate Modern marks the centenary of World War I by profiling conflict through photographs, taken at critical points in our history. Powerful events include the end of the American Civil War and the aftermath of the 1945 atomic bombs that fell on Japan. In an unusual theme, the photos are ordered depending on the time after the event they were taken, whether it was moments, days or decades later. For example there are photos taken seven months after the end of the first Gulf War, and one taken seconds after Hiroshima. The works are done by international photographers including Don McCullin and Shomei Tomatsu.