Top 10 Art Exhibitions To See In May 2016

By Londonist Last edited 18 months ago
Top 10 Art Exhibitions To See In May 2016

Every month, we look ahead to major London openings and select the 10 must-see art exhibitions. Here are our picks for May — another busy month.

See Mona Hatoum's vision of the world at Tate Modern

1. Mona Hatoum @ Tate Modern (4 May-21 Aug)

This first major survey of Lebanese-born artist, Mona Hatoum, covers 35 years of her work — from early radical performances and video pieces, to her sculptures and large-scale installations. Through the juxtaposition of opposites, such as beauty and horror, Hatoum engages us in conflicting emotions of desire and revolution, fear and fascination.

£16 (£14.50 without donation)

2. Painting With Light: Art and Photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the modern age @ Tate Britain (11 May-25 Sept)

Tate Britain presents the first major celebration of the connection between early photography and British art, including work from Pre-Raphaelite, aesthetic and impressionist painters. The show spans over 75 years, across Victorian and Edwardian ages, starting with the beginnings of photography, from pioneers such as Julia Margaret Cameron, through to work by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Whistler and Sargent. See the inspired and the inspiration side by side.

£18 (£16.30 without donation)

3. My Back To Nature: George Shaw @ National Gallery, Sunley room (11 May-30 Oct)

Former Turner Prize nominee George Shaw reveals the results of his two-year National Gallery residency as Associate Artist. Renowned for his highly-detailed approach, Shaw alludes to the theme of woodland in My Back To Nature, in his own imitable style — using his medium of Humbrol enamel, more commonly used to colour model aeroplanes.

Free entry

4. Sunken cities @ British Museum (19 May-27 November)

Submerged under the sea for a thousand years, two lost cities of Egypt were recently rediscovered. Their fascinating story is told for the first time at this British Museum exhibition. Thonis-Heracleium and Canopus lay at the mouth of Nile, preserved and buried beneath the Mediterranean, and Sunken Cities is a collection of their stunning objects, from colossal statues to intricate jewellery. See what these items reveal about political power and popular beliefs.

Tickets: £16.50

5. Now: Jeff Koons @ Newport street gallery (18 May-16 October)

This exhibition of the cheeky American pop artist's work is drawn from Damien Hirst's personal collection and displayed at his Newport Street Gallery. Known for his pieces skimming the borderline of good taste, Koons is heavily influenced by consumerism and known for his recreations of banal objects, such as his Balloon Dogs. Recent work has included the Popeye series and a collaboration with Lady Gaga.

Free entry

Jeff Koons bring his pop art twist to Newport Street Gallery

6. Photo London @ Somerset House (19-22 May)

Bringing together 80 of the world's leading galleries plus an exciting public programme, Photo London combines three major exhibitions, from Don McCullin, Sergey Chilikov and Craigie Horsfield, with commissions from Walter & Zoniel and Martin Parr. A full programme of talks on all aspects of photography from artists, curators and photographers, including Kate Bush, Nick Knight and Mary McCartney, completes the programme.

Tickets from £12

7. Jutland 1916 @ National Maritime Museum (20 May-November)

Marking the centenary of the first world war's largest battle, Jutland 1916: WWI's Greatest Sea Battle examines the action through content created with the grandson of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, the commander of the Grand Fleet. Visitors will discover the story of the battle, its beginnings and experience serving on British and German warships, through paintings, photographs, models and plans — many on display for the first time.

Free entry

8. Engineering the world @ V&A (21 May-9 Oct)

The V&A celebrates the unsung heroes of design that create and shape the built world, including a major retrospective of Sydney Opera House design engineer, Sir Ove Arup. Also enjoy the Elytra Filament Pavillion, Mind Over Matter — a display highlighting the impact of British engineering, and a packed events programme.

Tickets: £7

9. Yayoi Kusama @ Victoria Miro Gallery (25 May-3 July)

Spanning the gallery's three locations, this new exhibition from Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama features specially-created paintings, pumpkin sculptures and mirror rooms, in her most extensive presentation in the gallery to date. It's the first time Mirror Rooms have gone on view in London since her Tate retrospective of 2012.

Free entry

10. Peace signs @ Imperial War Museum (26 May-4 Sept)

The acclaimed documentary photographer Edward Barber captures the anti-nuclear protest movement in 1980s Britain in this new photography exhibition at the Imperial War Museum. Originally taken to gain publicity for the movement, Barber's body of work, Peace Signs, represents important social documentation of these protests. It appears alongside a newly-commissioned graphic installation entitled Mind Map Of Anti Nuclear Protest.

Free entry

Join the dots with Yayoi Kusama at Victoria Miro

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Art 16 @ Olympia (20-22 May)

The annual art fair is back at Olympia London for its fourth edition — and it's as eclectic as ever. From pieces by emerging artists, to expert talks, performances and even food residencies, this international art fair is the perfect weekend for any art lover.

Art16 is offering 2 for 1 on tickets, exclusive to Londonist readers. Book your tickets now and use the promo code 'LOND241' to get your discount.

Missoni Art Colour @ Fashion & Textile Museum (6 May - 4 September)

This first major exhibition about Missoni examines the sizeable influence of 20th century modernists such as Sonia Delaunay, Lucio Fontana and Gino Severini. Previously unseen textile designs and finished garments from throughout the company’s 60-year history will be displayed at the Fashion and Textile Museum, alongside masterpieces from the MA*GA Art Museum in Gallarate, Italy, where the company was first set up.

Tickets: £9

To find more about what's on in London, visit Londonist's Museum & Galleries and Art & Photography pages.

Last Updated 29 April 2016