The Top Exhibitions To See In London: June 2024

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Last Updated 26 June 2024

The Top Exhibitions To See In London: June 2024

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Looking for an awesome London exhibition this June? Here's our roundup of must-see shows in the capital, plus a handful of additions from beyond London.

Aerial excellence: Discover Degas and Miss La La at The National Gallery

© Bibliothèque numérique de l’INHA

Time to look into Edgar Degas’ fascination with the circus performer, Miss La La, and her gravity defying performances. Explore the creative process behind his painting Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando, alongside an array of preparatory sketches that reveal Degas' dedication to capturing her extraordinary aerial feats and of the circus more generally, plus a focus on the life of Miss La La.

Discover Degas and Miss La La at The National Gallery, Sunley Room. 6 June - 1 September 2024, free.

Powerful photos: Zanele Muholi at Tate Modern

Courtesy of the Artist and Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York © Zanele Muholi

From beauty queens on a beach, to the scars of horrific hate crimes, Zanele Muholi's photography looks at the experiences of Black queer and trans persons in South Africa. It's a powerful political exhibition that celebrates this community, while exposing the horrific violence and stigma faced within the country. First displayed at Tate for a short run between lockdowns, the show has returned so more people can see it. When I first saw it in 2020 I felt all the emotions — reminded that human civilisation has a long way to go before it can live up to its name.

Zanele Muholi at Tate Modern. 6 June - 26 January, £18.

Immersive issues: Tavares Strachan at Hayward Gallery

Courtesy of Regen Projects Los Angeles, photo by Bryan Forrest

Through monumental sculptures, neon works, and mixed-media installations, Strachan reveals hidden stories and histories of bias, particularly those related to colonialism and racism — including figures from history that many of us may not know about. Challenging us through immersive elements in this major survey of his work, it's definitely one to see, especially given how he blew us away with his courtyard installation at the Entangled Pasts exhibition at Royal Academy of Arts.

Tavares Strachan: There Is Light Somewhere at Hayward Gallery. 18 June - 1 September, £18-£19.

All the art: Summer Exhibition at Royal Academy of Arts

© David Parry / Royal Academy of Arts

You know the drill by now: over a thousand artworks stacked floor-to-ceiling in the grand galleries of the Royal Academy of Arts (RA), in what is the calendar's most wildly esoteric show. You won't love everything — it's about winkling out what means something to you (as well as spotting the works by big name artists like Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry). The annual art bonanza has been going for over 250 years and if you're feeling particularly flush, know that most of the works are for sale, with some of the proceeds going towards the Royal Academy schools programme. This month the RA is also hosting an exhibition on the ground breaking Modernist art made in Ukraine between 1900 and the 1930s.

Summer Exhibition 2024 at Royal Academy of Arts. 18 June - 18 August, £22-£24.50.
In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine, 1900–1930s at Royal Academy of Arts. 29 June - 13 October, £17.

Japanese prints: Yoshida at Dulwich Picture Gallery

Courtesy Fukuoka Art Museum

The Yoshida family were an artistic Japanese dynasty, and this exhibition brings together works by them across three generations. Through woodblock prints, it traces the evolution of Japanese printmaking across two centuries, culminating in a new site-specific installation of cherry blossom by a living member of the Yoshida family. And who doesn't love cherry blossom?

Yoshida: Three Generations of Japanese Printmaking at Dulwich Picture Gallery. 19 June - 3 November, £tbc.

Tudor women: The Stories of Henry VIII’s Queens at National Portrait Gallery

Katherine of Aragon. © National Portrait Gallery.

Many of us learnt about Henry VIII at school, and the fates of his six wives from a catchy rhyme that, in hindsight, is pretty problematic. Perhaps taking a cue from Six The Musical, this exhibition shifts the focus to the women themselves, examining their lives using historic paintings, drawings and ephemera, contemporary photography, costume and film. It explores how they were depicted at the time, in pop culture — and how both fact and fiction have been used to shape their stories over time.

Six Lives: The Stories of Henry VIII's Queens at National Portrait Gallery. 20 June - 8 September 2024, £21.

Catwalk couture: Naomi in fashion at V&A

Photo: Marco Bahler.

Supermodels don't come more iconic than Naomi Campbell and V&A is charting her 40 year career from being scouted in Covent Garden aged 15 and being the first Black model on the cover of Paris Vogue, through to her advocacy work for social change. And of course, there's a glut of fashionable outfits, with over 100 looks by all the big name designers — and stunning snaps from the model's career by top photographers.  

NAOMI in fashion at V&A. 22 June 2024-6 April 2025, £16.

Play and politics: Francis Alÿs at Barbican

From Francis Alÿs'  Children's Games series. In collaboration with Julien Devaux and Félix Blume. Courtesy of the artist

Painting, drawing, video, photography: Francis Alÿs has worked with them all over the last 30 years, creating art that often has a geopolitical slant. This show includes his famed series 'Children's Games' where he shows there's a universal instinct for children to play using whatever objects they can find — even managing to crack smiles in war zones. Hope, Alÿs tells us, lies in future generations.

Francis Alÿs: Ricochets at Barbican Art Gallery. 27 June - 1 September, £17.

Lighting up the darkness: Anthony McCall at Tate Modern

Photo: Hans Wilschut, courtesy Sprüth Magers

You don't really know what can be done with light in the name of art until you step inside one of Anthony McCall's installations. Using mist and planes of light he creates spaces for us to step inside and interact with. It has the sense of making you feel trapped, even though there's nothing stopping you getting out. McCall's been creating immersive art long before it became a buzzword and this is very high on our must-see list this summer.

Anthony McCall at Tate Modern. 27 June 2024 - 27 April 2025, £14.

Short run exhibitions and events

Last year's BA degree show at City & Guilds London Art School. Work by Yasmine Rassouli.

To admire the cutting edge art of recent university graduates, head to the degree shows in Kennington for City & Guilds London Art School* (22-29 June, free), Battersea for the Royal College of Art (20-23 June, free), the Royal Academy of Arts for their schools show (14-30 June, free) and Coningsby Gallery for the University of West London graduates (11-14 June free).

Fans of portraiture: know that the Contemporary British Portrait Painters is holding its annual exhibition of works by over 50 artists in Brixton (11-18 June, free). Art in Mayfair includes a public sculpture trail (12 June-9 July, free), and the Chelsea Arts Society is holding its own annual summer exhibition (12-17 June, free). Over in west London, artists are opening up their homes, so you can see their art in a domestic setting (14-16 June, free).

Exhibitions outside London

Bharti Kher's work Animus Mundi. © Bharti Kher. Courtesy of the artist and Nature Morte. Photo © Jeetin Sharma

There are some great exhibitions to be found outside London this month including two in Yorkshire — Bharti Kher at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (22 June-27 April 2025, £9.50) centres the female body and experience through sculpture, addressing political issues around identity and gender. And Igshaan Adams at Hepworth Wakefield (22 June-3 November, £13) examines the impact of lived experiences and traumas on the human psyche, through his tapestries and delicate cloud sculptures we can walk through.

Courtesy Permindar Kaur. Photo: Richard Davies

Closer to London, at John Hansard Gallery in Southampton, Permindar Kaur looks at how society, family and education inform unique combinations of discrimination and privilege through her installations that place soft items next to sharper objects (8 June-7 September, free).

* The author of this piece is a trustee of City & Guilds London Art School.