London has often been cited as being one of the hubs of art in the modern world, unsurprising due to the extensive wealth of galleries, both permanent and temporary that seem to spring up in all parts of the city. Whether you’re in the historic National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square or in the lobby of a Hotel in a Brewery in London City, there’s always art flooding the streets and buildings of London.
But the question is, where would a visitor in London go to find the best in British Art? With so many international exhibitions at galleries like the Tate Modern, this month including the iconic works of Japanese Hokusai, the Edo period print maker behind the Great Wave, London can be tricky to navigate in terms of both classic and contemporary home grown artists. With so much on offer, we’ve given a low down of some of the best and most unique British work. For guests at the Montcalm at the Brewery London City, you’re already in a prime location for unique art, with Barbican and Shoreditch just a short walk away, but for original British wackiness, you may have to look further afield.
National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery is renowned for being the hot spot for works of various mediums which represent important and famous British people from throughout history. The National Portrait Gallery was opened in 1856, when it was the first gallery for portraits only in the world, before it relocated to its current location at St Martins Place off Trafalgar Square. It is here where visitors can find portraits of such figures as William Shakespeare, the Duchess of Cambridge, photos and portraits of Queen Elizabeth II as well as figures from popular culture such as Dame Judi Dench, the members of the rock band Blue as well as painters such as David Hockney and Grayson Perry. For those loking for something truly unique, the National Portrait Gallery held the video piece showing David Beckham sleeping, by Sam Taylor Wood.
Newport Street Gallery
On the subject of contemporary British Artists, the hidden gem of the Newport Street Gallery between Elephant and Castle and Vauxhall is one of the best places to find works by the YBA’s. The YBA’s or Young British Artists are a group of artists based in Britain who began to exhibit together in the late 1980’s and are loosely affiliated with Conceptual Artist Damien Hirst. The Newport Street Gallery, owned by and displaying from the private collections of Damien Hirst himself have in the past featured work by artists like Gavin Turk and Francis Bacon. The Gallery is free to enter and was opened in 2015, inside of which is his pharmacy inspired restaurant and personal offices.
The Tate Britain is a gallery which celebrates art by British artists dating back to Tudor times. At the current housing in Pimlico, West London, visitors can see works spanning as broad as J W Turner to David Hockney. The gallery was opened in 1897 and was founded by Sir Henry Tate. The classic architecture includes a Portico Dome designed by the late Victorian Architect Sidney RJ Smith and alongside it’s counterpart the Tate Modern, is spectacular not only for its collections but for its innovative design as a building.
Alongside the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery focuses not on portraits, but on collections which were bought by the British Government. For people looking for more historically traditional pieces of art then the National Gallery is the prime location. Its main exhibitions being mainly free, the gallery holds works by international artists from throughout history. These include the works of Vincent Van Gogh and Jan Van Eyck as well as British artists such as John Constable and George Stubbs.