Whether you’re looking for on-the-rise artists or the Western world’s most esteemed Old Masters, London’s art trail never disappoints. Its landmark museums and galleries are strangers to no-one – but swap a day at the Tate for a clutch of lesser-known galleries, to experience the city’s creative flair from a cutting-edge, and often far less crowded angle.
Since its opening in 1967, Lisson Gallery has brought celebrated artists to the forefront of London’s art scene, with Anish Kapoor, Lee Ufan, Ai Weiwei and Richard Deacon just some of the internationally-acclaimed names to have made their mark within its clean, all-white interiors. Perfectly placed between Edgware Road station and Regent’s Park, it’s a must-visit for anyone making their rounds of Marylebone’s upscale boutiques and landmark museums.
Address: 67 Lisson St, Marylebone, London NW1 5DA
Wander east of the capital’s hip-and-happening Shoreditch to find this small gem of a gallery, hidden away in a warehouse-style building so discreet and nondescript, that anyone searching for it would almost certainly walk right past its door. A moment’s walk from Bethnal Green station and garden, its red-brick façade conceals fascinating interiors, however, as it shows off the ground-breaking multimedia works of contemporary artists, including Turner prize winners Wolfgang Tillmans and Gillian Wearing.
Address: 21 Herald St, London E2 6JT
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Founded in 1811, this quaint Dulwich hub is the world’s first purpose-built art gallery that houses more than 600 paintings to date. From the works of Rembrandt, Canaletto, Rubens and Fragonard across its permanent collection, to its fascinating themed exhibitions, talks and community-led learning programmes, it’s an institution within its local community and a landmark destination for fine art-lovers – yet retains its under-the-radar status, particularly by way of its location, tucked away near Dulwich Park in leafy southeast London.
Address: Gallery Rd, London SE21 7AD
Spread across a former furniture factory in Hoxton and a classic red-brick building behind Sotheby’s in Mayfair, Victoria Miro is perhaps best known amongst modern art fanatics for housing the playfully dotted sculptures of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Since its conception in the 1980s, it has also been graced by the works of Grayson Perry, Isaac Julien, Idris Khan, and more international names boasting varied portfolios of paintings, sculptures, photography and cinematic installations.
Address: 16 Wharf Rd, Hoxton, London N1 7RW
A London go-to for acquainting yourself with modern Italian art at its finest, the Estorick Collection opened in 1998 within the walls of a Grade II listed Georgian townhouse, to exhibit Futurist artwork alongside figurative art and sculptures from the late 1800s to the 1950s. Its carefully curated exhibitions are thoughtful and exemplary, with famous names such as Modigliani, Emilio Greco and Marcello Geppetti displaying the influence and power of Italian art and culture.
Address: 39A Canonbury Square, London N1 2AN
Hauser & Wirth
Though it has no fewer than nine venues across the world, set in everything from an impressive Gstaad chalet to a converted Somerset farm, Hauser & Wirth remains an independent gallery offering a refreshing take on contemporary art. Located in a sought-after central London location – the prestigious Savile Row – it presents the works of both emerging and established talent, with an impressive roster that includes Paul McCarthy, Fausto Melotti and Fabio Mauri. Expect spectacular diversity across the board – from the themes explored, to the mediums showcased, to the many origins and stories of its international artists.
Address: 23 Savile Row, Mayfair, London W1S 2ET
Situated between Piccadilly Circus and Green Park tube stations, Pace Gallery enjoys a central location in a wing of the Royal Academy of Arts. Founded in Boston in 1960, you’ll find its venues across New York, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, Palo Alto and Geneva – making it rather well-known amongst seasoned art followers, yet unknown enough for you to enjoy a relatively crowd-free day of art-viewing in the Big Smoke.
Address: 6 Burlington Gardens, Mayfair, London W1S 3ET
The Crypt Gallery
A goose bump-inducing site of historic wonder, the Crypt of St Pancras Paris Church has been used throughout its 200-year-old history as a burial site and air raid shelter, before its most recent transformation into a gallery space – leading the way for imaginative art venues in central London. Wander its vaulted underground pathways to explore its thought-provoking programme of 21st-century art exhibitions and immersive dance performances.
Address: Euston Rd, Kings Cross, London NW1 2BA
Large Glass Gallery
Open Wednesday to Saturday, this Caledonian Road hotspot offers a unique and innovative approach to its curation of contemporary art, with photography, sculpture and abstract paintings all featuring highly across its all-grey walls. Named after and inspired by the mind of Marcel Duchamp, it has housed the works of American visionary Sol LeWitt, Italian artist Guido Guidi and more, across a series of thoughtful thematic exhibitions since its opening in 2011.
Address: 392 Caledonian Rd, London N1 1DN