As England’s latest lockdown comes to an end (of sorts), there are plenty of things to see and do in London this December. Let’s make 2020 go out with an artistic bang!

NOTE: The information included in this article was correct at the time of writing (late November, 2020). Owing to changing regulations relating to COVID-19, readers are advised to check opening dates and arrangements using the links provided before making plans to visit the listed exhibitions.

1. Alex Katz: Soup to Nuts – The Sao Paulo Bienal Project (Online Exhibition)

Until 23rd December 2020 |

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Alex Katz, “Night House 2”, 2013. Oil on linen, 320 x 243,8 cm (126 x 96 in) (AKZ 1755). Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London · Paris · Salzburg © Alex Katz / ARS, New York 2020. Photo: Paul Takeuchi.

If you can’t make it to any of the physical events running this month, why not check out an online exhibition? Selected by Robert Storr, the works in this exhibition act as a synopsis of Alex Katz’ seventy-year career, touching on the artist’s key subjects: cityscapes, family, friends, fellow artists, poets, dancers and landscapes.

“As keen an observer of fashion in the streets and lofts of Manhattan as of the flora and fauna of his second home in rural Maine, Katz is a quintessentially Baudelarian artist, a spontaneous Manet-like realist when it comes to both the social and the natural world, a complete North American “Painter of Modern Life.” As such this show of [30 paintings] may fairly be regarded as a Katz feast ‘from soup to nuts.’” – Robert Storr (Brooklyn, New York, September 2020)

2. Edmund de Waal: library of exile

Throughout December |

9. Hartwig Fischer and Edmund de Waal at the opening of library of exile at the British Museum 2020 c. The Trustees of the British Museum

Hartwig Fischer and Edmund de Waal at the opening of library of exile at the British Museum 2020 © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Postponed from its original March-to-September scheduling, library of exile will be open to visitors at the British Museum throughout December – provided lockdown regulations allow the museum to open. The acclaimed installation by British artist and author Edmund de Waal features 2,000 books by exiled writers from Ovid to the present day.

“I very much hope we will be able to reopen in early December and welcome visitors back into the galleries. We’ll provide updates on our proposed reopening as soon as we can.” – Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum.

3. Tantra: enlightenment to revolution

Throughout December |

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A woman visiting two Nath yoginis, North India, Mughal, about 1750. ©The Trustees of the British Museum.

Dr Imma Ramos, curator of Tantra: enlightenment to revolution, said: “This major exhibition will capture the rebellious spirit of Tantra, with its potential to disrupt prevailing social, cultural and political establishments.” Dating from the seventh century AD to the present, the ritual objects, sculptures, paintings and prints in the Tantra: enlightenment to revolution exhibition come from all over the world. They represent elements of the Tantric philosophy which remain largely unknown or misrepresented in the west.

4. Steve McQueen Year 3

Throughout December |

Installation view 6 Steve McQueen Year 3 at Tate Britain © Tate

Steve McQueen Year 3 at Tate Britain © Tate.

The urgent issues of history, representation and identity are all addressed in the work of Steve McQueen, an artist celebrated for his powerful and uncompromising vision. This Tate Modern exhibition has been extended from its original Spring 2020 run due to the COVID-19 lockdown regulations, and presents the first survey of McQueen’s work in the UK for over 20 years, offering a timely moment to reflect on these times.

5. Architecture for Dogs

Throughout December |


Architecture For The Bichon Frise by Kazuyo Sejima. Photo: Hiroshi Yoda.

Japan House London is the first destination in Europe to exhibit Architecture for Dogs with a physical and virtual experience for guests. London’s first look at the renowned exhibition continues this month, with the gallery hoping to reopen its doors from Thursday 3rd December. This show encourages visitors to design their own architecture for dogs in order to fully immerse themselves in the project.

6. Arctic: culture and climate

Throughout December |


Cynthia McGowan, Assistant Collection Manager, installs the newly commissioned artwork Atigiit, Silapaat by Embassy of Imagination, youth art collective, Kinngait, Nunavut, Alaska, USA, 2020. Washi, Seikosen washi, handmade southeast Asian papers, ink. Commissioned for the Citi exhibition Arctic: culture and climate at the British Museum, October 2020. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

The Arctic has been home to resilient communities for nearly 30,000 years, cultures that have lived with the opportunities and challenges of one of the most dramatic environments on the planet. Looking through the lens of climate change and weather, Arctic: culture and climate at the British Museum is the first major exhibition on the history of the Arctic and its Indigenous Peoples.

7. Toyin Ojih Odutola

Throughout December |

11. Toyin Ojih Odutola A Countervailing Theory 2020

Toyin Ojih Odutola, A Countervailing Theory, 2020. Installation view, The Curve, Barbican, 11 August 2020 – 24 January 2021 © Toyin Ojih Odutola. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo: Tim Whitby / Getty Images.

An epic cycle of new work unfurls across the 90-metre long Curve gallery, exploring an imagined ancient myth conceived by artist Toyin Ojih Odutola. The Barbican is currently playing host to a new exhibition by the Nigerian-American artist, whose work explores the concept of drawing as a form of storytelling. Drawing on an eclectic range of historical and contemporary references, the extensive imaginary narratives of this exhibition invite the viewer to enter the artist’s vision of an uncannily familiar-yet-fantastical world.

8. Artemisia

From 3rd December 2020 |

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“Judith and her Maidservant” by Orazio Gentileschi, about 1608. Image courtesy of The National Gallery and The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo (NG.M. 020273).

The National Gallery is set to reopen its doors once again on 3rd December, and with it opens the Artemisia exhibition, rescheduled from April of this year. The inspiration for this exhibition is the National Gallery’s recent acquisition of Artemisia Gentileschi’s Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria (about 1615–17), the first painting by the artist to enter a UK public collection. This is the National Gallery’s (and the UK’s) first major monographic exhibition of the work of Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 – 1654 or later).

9. Claudia Hart, An Imaginary Ruin

From 3rd December 2020 |

Launching on 3rd December for its London premier, Gazelli Art House welcomes Claudia Hart to take over the lower ground exhibition space of their Dover Street gallery with her artwork, The Ruins. Hart has also used Mozilla Hubs to create a digitised “parallel universe” version of the exhibition set in a two-story scale model of Gazelli Art House, London, which will provide extended viewing when the physical exhibition is removed on 17th January.

10. Titian: Love, Desire, Death

From 3rd December 2020 |

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Titian, “Venus and Adonis”, about 1553-4. Oil on canvas, 186 × 207 cm. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid © Photographic Archive Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.

Another postponed exhibition awaiting the reopening of the National Gallery, this exhibition brings Titian’s epic series of large-scale mythological paintings, known as the ‘poesie’, together in its entirety for the first time since the late 16th century. The exhibition will reunite the recently conserved ‘Rape of Europa’ (1562) from the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum, Boston, with other works from the original cycle of six paintings: ‘Danaë’ (1551–3, The Wellington Collection, Apsley House); ‘Venus and Adonis’ (1554, Prado, Madrid); Diana and Actaeon (1556–9) and Diana and Callisto(1556–9), which is jointly owned by the National Gallery and the National Galleries of Scotland.

Article by Toby Buckley.

For more information about each exhibition and details on how and when you can visit, see the website for the institution, gallery or organisation involved.

The image shown at the top of the page is: No Dog, No Life! by Sou Fujimoto for Boston Terrier. Photo: Hiroshi Yoda. The artwork features in ‘Architecture for Dogs’ at Japan House, London.