12 Must-Visit Contemporary Art Galleries in London

London, renowned for its vibrant and dynamic art scene, is a treasure trove for contemporary art devotees. The city’s art galleries, ranging from iconic institutions to hidden gems, offer a diverse array of exhibitions that cater to all tastes. In this guide, we delve into 12 must-visit contemporary art galleries in London, each with its unique flair and offering. Whether you’re an art connoisseur or a curious visitor, these galleries promise an enriching cultural experience.

Almine Rech

Almine Rech Gallery, located in the Grosvenor Hill area of London, is a renowned contemporary art gallery with a global presence. Established by Almine Rech, the gallery initially opened its doors in Paris in 1997 and later expanded to include spaces in Brussels, London, New York, Shanghai, and Monaco. This expansion signifies the gallery’s commitment to fostering new generations of artists and a dedication to promoting a wide range of contemporary art. The London gallery showcases exhibitions featuring leading modern, post-war, and contemporary artists, contributing significantly to the city’s vibrant art scene. The gallery has hosted exhibitions by notable artists such as Jeff Koons and Jannis Kounellis, as well as representing artists like Allen Jones, Vaughn Spann, and Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe.

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Roby Dwi Antono at Almine Rech London- Photos by Melissa Castro Duarte

Castor Gallery

Castor Gallery, situated in the culturally rich Fitzrovia, stands out for its contemporary and innovative spirit. Since its inception in 2016, the gallery has become a pivotal part of London’s art scene. Its relocation to Fitzrovia in 2022 marked a significant step in making its diverse array of exhibitions more accessible to art lovers. Castor Gallery is a haven for emerging and mid-career artists, providing them with a platform to showcase their creativity.

To this day, the gallery has been home to artists like Grace Woodcock, whose sculptures redefine our understanding of planetary forces, and Des Lawrence, known for his meticulous blend of technology and portraiture. Up-and-coming artists like Tom Worsfold, Jane Hayes Greenwood, and Rafal Zajko have also found a voice here, showcasing the gallery’s commitment to nurturing new talent.

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Grace Woodcock: 23.5°, at Castor

Common Sense Gallery

Common Sense Gallery is a contemporary art gallery that stands out for its commitment to professional international representation for both emerging and established artists. While the main gallery is located in Vienna, Austria, Common Sense Gallery also curates exhibitions at selected art spaces worldwide. This gallery emphasizes a diverse representation of artists from various generations and cultural backgrounds, promoting dialogue across borders and fostering an inclusive environment for artistic exchange. Their focus on emerging artists and art school graduates is evident in their vibrant and experimental exhibitions, often described as vivid or luminous in color. Recent artists featured by Common Sense Gallery include Pauline Marcelle, Makiko Harris, Lauren Baker, and Tine Nedbo. The gallery’s programming revolves around themes such as humanity, inclusivity, diversity, and new age ideas, reflecting a dynamic approach to contemporary art.

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Makiko Harris ’Gem Paintings’ at Common Sense Gallery - photo by Ben Pipe

Danielle Arnaud

Danielle Arnaud Gallery, established in 1995, is a contemporary art gallery in London. It distinguishes itself by providing a platform for artists to develop their practices free from the constraints of market trends. This ethos is evident in its diverse program, which includes curated exhibitions, solo shows, and projects both within the gallery and in the public realm. The gallery, located on Kennington Road, operates on a model that emphasizes artistic freedom and innovation. One of its key features is the promotion of projects that transcend traditional gallery spaces, encouraging artists to engage with the public and wider environments. The gallery’s website features a selection of artists and their works, indicating the broad range of styles and mediums embraced by the gallery.

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Freya Gabie, Duet, Dissonant Landscapes partially erased black and white photographs 32 x 62 cm (framed), Danielle Arnaud Gallery

Emalin London

Emalin London is a contemporary art gallery recognized for its avant-garde approach. Founded by Leopold Thun and Angelina Volk, it has established a reputation for showcasing a diverse range of emerging international artists. The gallery’s dynamic program often includes bold and innovative themes, appealing to a young and dynamic audience. Located in East London, Emalin London has expanded its presence by opening a second location in Shoreditch, showcasing an array of contemporary artworks in an 18th-century Grade II-listed building known as the Clerk’s House. This expansion reflects the gallery’s commitment to nurturing new talent and contributing to the vibrant art scene in London.

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Emalin, The Clerk’s House - Photo by Sirui Ma

Hayward Gallery

The Hayward Gallery, a part of the Southbank Centre in central London, is a notable contemporary art gallery known for its adventurous and large-scale exhibitions. Opened in July 1968, this iconic Brutalist building has been a significant player in London’s contemporary art scene, presenting works by some of the world’s most renowned artists.

Over the years, the gallery has hosted exhibitions by Anthony Gormley, Tracey Emin, Bridgette Riley, and Louise Bourgeois, among others. Besides solo shows of major artists, the Hayward Gallery is known for its thematic group exhibitions, exploring various key themes and genres in contemporary art. Visitors can also enjoy a café and a shop at the gallery, offering a range of artist-designer collaborations, unique items, and art books. The gallery underwent significant renovations from 2015 to 2018, enhancing its architectural and exhibition capabilities.

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Carlos Cruz-Diez, Chromosaturation (1965-2013). Installation view- Light Show, Hayward Gallery, 2013. Photo- Linda Nylind

Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery

Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, established in 2012, has quickly become known for its dynamic representation of a diverse roster of innovative international artists, both emerging and established. The gallery’s multicultural curatorial approach reflects its commitment to fostering close relationships with museums and curators globally. Kristin Hjellegjerde, drawing on her international background, aims to nurture new talent by offering artists a platform to reach local and global audiences. The gallery collaborates with curators, collectors, developers, and architects to create unique and innovative exhibition concepts.

The gallery has expanded beyond its London roots, opening a space in Berlin in April 2018 and a second location in London at London Bridge. Additionally, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery established a summer space in a converted shrimp factory in Nevlunghavn, Norway, and later in an 18th-century German castle at Schloss Görne. In 2023, the gallery expanded to the United States with a permanent space in West Palm Beach, Florida. The London Bridge gallery will be undergoing renovation, with a temporary relocation to Tower Bridge.

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LOTTE KEIJZER, STAINLESS TO HEAVEN, 2023. Acrylic, pencil and sand on canvas (150 x 150 cm). Chloro Galore, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Wandsworth.

Serpentine Galleries

The Serpentine Galleries in London are renowned for their contemporary art exhibitions and architecture. Comprising two galleries, Serpentine South and Serpentine North, they are situated in the beautiful Kensington Gardens. Serpentine South, established in 1970, has hosted exhibitions by prominent artists like Henry Moore, Andy Warhol, Rachel Whiteread, and Damien Hirst. Serpentine North, opened in 2013 and designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, was initially a gunpowder store built in 1805. Both galleries present a diverse program of art and architecture, aligning with the changing seasons. The Serpentine also organizes the annual Pavilion architectural commission, a temporary structure designed by an architect who has not previously built in the UK. This initiative has featured designs by renowned architects like Oscar Niemeyer, Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, and Bjarke Ingels over the years.

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Barbara Kruger, FOREVER Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, September 16, 2017–January 20, 2018 Courtesy the artist and Sprüth Magers Photo: Timo Ohler

South London Gallery

The South London Gallery (SLG) was established in 1891 by philanthropist William Rossiter with a mission to bring art to the people of South London. The gallery, located on Peckham Road, has evolved to include additional spaces such as the Fire Station, Art Block (a space for local children and families on Sceaux Gardens estate), and an artist-designed garden. The SLG focuses on presenting contemporary art and ideas and is dedicated to showcasing new work by British and international artists, often giving a platform to those who have rarely or never had solo shows in London institutions.

The gallery’s program is diverse, featuring group shows that bring together works by established and lesser-known artists. The SLG is also known for its live art and film program and has hosted significant exhibitions by artists like Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Gary Hume, Damien Hirst, Mat Collishaw, Gilbert & George, Anselm Kiefer, Gavin Turk, Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, and others.

SLG’s commitment to education and community engagement is evident in its extensive programming, which includes workshops, artist-led projects, and school visits. The gallery’s outreach extends to various creative projects that promote community cohesion, such as a peer-led young people’s forum and a program for looked-after children funded by BBC Children in Need.

The gallery operates as a registered charity, relying on support from various sources, including Arts Council England, Southwark Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, Freelands Foundation, individual donors, and artists. Admission to the SLG is free for everyone, making it an accessible venue for experiencing contemporary art.

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Pope.L Hospital, South London Gallery, 2023. Photo Andy Stagg. Courtesy of the Artist.

Tate Modern

The Tate Modern in London is an iconic institution in the world of modern and contemporary art. Housed in the former Bankside Power Station, the gallery boasts a diverse collection, including works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Salvador Dalí. Its extensive collection of art spans multiple forms, from painting and sculpture to performance and film. The Tate Modern is also known for its innovative exhibitions and educational programs, making art accessible to a broad audience. It’s part of the Tate network, which includes Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St Ives, each dedicated to promoting the understanding of art.

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Philip Guston The Line 1978 Promised gift of Musa Guston Mayer to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York © The Estate of Philip Guston, courtesy Hauser & Wirth

White Cube

White Cube, a prominent contemporary art gallery in London, was founded by Jay Jopling in 1993. Known for its significant role in shaping the Young British Artists movement, White Cube has expanded its reach globally with locations in Mason’s Yard and Bermondsey Street in London, as well as in Hong Kong, New York, and Paris. The gallery’s Bermondsey location, housed in a former 1970s warehouse, is noted for being one of Europe’s largest commercial art galleries upon its opening in 2011.

The gallery represents many contemporary artists, including David Altmejd, Michael Armitage, Christine Ay Tjoe and Gilbert & George to name a few.

White Cube also showcases its artists’ works at various international art fairs like Art Basel, FIAC, Frieze, and others. The gallery has been involved in various innovative projects, including ‘Correspondence and more’, an off-site project in Aspen, and has held significant exhibitions like Antony Gormley’s ‘Body Politic’.

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Antony Gormley ‘Body Politic’ at White Cube Bermondsey - © Antony Gormley. Photo © White Cube (Theo Christelis)

Zabludowicz Collection

The Zabludowicz Collection in London, founded by Anita and Poju Zabludowicz, was known for its progressive and adventurous approach to contemporary art. Situated in a converted church at 176 Prince of Wales Road, the gallery offered a space for exhibitions, performances, residencies, and events. Over its 16-year run, the Zabludowicz Collection became notable for championing new work by young artists and for its non-commercial, often technologically innovative exhibitions. It gained a reputation for early engagement with VR technology and hosted a range of unique exhibitions. Despite its closure in December 2023, the collection will continue to exist without a physical space, focusing on loaning works to international exhibitions.

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Shana Moulton, MindPlace ThoughtStream, 2014 (still)

Navigating London’s Contemporary Art Scene

London’s diverse landscape of contemporary art galleries is a living testament to the city’s rich artistic heritage and forward-thinking spirit — each gallery, from the globally renowned Tate Modern to the innovative Emalin London, plays a pivotal role in showcasing the myriad facets of contemporary art.

These galleries are not just exhibition spaces but vital platforms where both emerging talents and established artists intersect, fostering a dynamic dialogue within the art community.

Whether you’re a long-time art follower or a curious first-time visitor, for art enthusiasts and visitors alike, these galleries offer unique lenses through which to view the contemporary art world.

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