London is well known for being a cultural hub for many different art forms. Its rich mix of diversity, economic wealth and areas of rapid development means that over the years there have been many artists from many disciplines swarming to the area. Not only this, but as a very large city, many artists have come out of it, having been inspired by the stimulating surroundings of the capital. In turn this has meant that the city has had to cater to these artists, with schools relating to their discipline opening up around the city. One of the most prominent of these disciplines is that of visual art. Unlike theatre and music there is usually no performance involved and therefore the space at which to view it is almost like a museum, where as an audience member you can spend as much or as little time as you want around the pieces. This has meant that as schools such as Central St Martins, Chelsea and Slade have risen to prominence, many talented artists have begun to find their feet there. The galleries in London cater to, are often curated by and showcase many of the alumni from these schools whilst also reaching out into the wider international art world. The galleries mentioned below are all open to the general public and are some of the best places in London, if not the world, for guests at the Grand London Lancaster Gate Hotel to find out about both classical and contemporary art.
National Portrait Gallery
Located near Charing Cross Station, the National Portrait Gallery is one of the largest collections of multimedia portraits of historical and famous British people. The range of artists whose works are on show has risen to almost 200,000 and includes portraits of William Shakespeare and Queen Victoria as well as art by William Hogarth and William Scrots. It is not just classical paintings in the National Portrait Gallery, there are many photographs of celebrities such as Judi Dench by photographers as prominent as Polly Borland. What’s more, it is free entry to visit the National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.
In itself, the Barbian Centre is a piece of art. The fact that the architects Chamberlain Powell and Bon’s concrete structure is based on the brutalist architecture movement and is part of a complex multi floored system of galleries, performance spaces, cinema screens and café areas means that the design is worth marvelling at in itself. The art galleries in the Barbican hold and celebrate many internationally renowned contemporary artists who work over a range of mediums. These include the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Sophie Clements. The works include installations, performance art, photography and art film.
The Tate Modern is free entry and is located next to the River Thames, Bankside near Blackfriars tube and train station. The gallery holds one of the largest collections of modern art in the world, with the national collection of British art dating from 1900 to the present day. The gallery itself is located in an amazing repurposed power station and when finding the gallery spaces, visitors will traverse the echoing corridors and exhibitions within the main hall which has walk through just fewer than 5 million people a year. The gallery plays host to artists such as Picasso, Paul Klee and Roy Lichtenstein. There are also temporary exhibitions, a restaurant and café as well as a gift shop within the Tate Gallery.
Newport Street Gallery
One of London’s hidden gems the Newport Street Gallery was founded by iconic British Artist Damien Hirst. The collection shows some of his private collection whilst also acting a place to showcase other contemporary artists work. The gallery is located just between Vauxhall and Elephant and Castle station and is tucked away in Newport Street. The gallery has in the past hosted works by artists such as Gavin Turk and Frances Bacon. The exhibition space is made up of six different rooms, making it the perfect venue at which to showcase contemporary artists as you can take a retrospective on their lives in a concise and precise fashion. On top of this the gallery also holds a brilliant restaurant which incorporates Damien Hirst’s art work.
The Saatchi Gallery was opened by Charles Saatchi in 1986 as a way to showcase his private collection. After the success of his advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, Charles Saatchi decided to promote the up and coming artists of Britain, who included the likes of Damien Hirst and Jenny Saville. These Young British Artists became the focal point of the gallery and to this day the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea showcases some of the best in contemporary modern art. Not only this but the Saatchi Gallery is free entry and the nearest tube station is Sloane Square.