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Top 5 Virtual Art Exhibitions 2021: London

For the art starved aficionados among us, Vanessa Silvera lists her favorite virtual art experiences


As locales remain shut and with winter in full-swing, predictably most of our time is being spent indoors and plugged into our screens. If you are a fellow art aficionado, you are probably struggling to remember the last time you set foot in a museum or a gallery. However, as art institutions adapt to the circumstances, there has been a notable surge in online exhibitions and viewing rooms. While these are no substitute for the in-person experience, they provide a safe and convenient alternative to accessing art, no matter where you might be in the world. Now without further ado, here are my top five picks for virtual exhibitions based in London.

Image(s): Somerset House

Somerset House

Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi

Possibly one of the most unique exhibitions I have come across is Somerset House’s Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi (2020). As you can probably deduce, the show features a diverse range of works by over 40 artists, designers, and musicians, depicting fungi in all its glory. According to its organizers, the exhibition aims to “celebrate the remarkable mushroom, and all the progressive, poetic and psychedelic wonder it evokes.” Some highlights include illustrations by children’s book author Beatrix Potter, sketches by the artist Cy Twombly, and even a shoe made entirely of mushrooms! Kristel Peters’s ‘Mycoschoen’ (above) explores the potential of mycelium, the vegetative part of fungi, as a sustainable material in design and manufacturing. The six-minute virtual tour is free and accessible through the link below.

Image(s): Vanity Fair

The Design Museum

Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers - The Virtual Tour

Upon its opening to the public last July, this ground-breaking show had the press and audiences alike raving. A crossover between a museum exhibition and a big city night club, this virtual tour is perfect for those of us who miss blowing off steam on the dance floor. This multi-sensorial experience includes exclusive interviews from several big names in electronic music, mesmerizing audio-visuals, and live performances, such as Weirdcore for Aphex Twin and Smith & Lyall for The Chemical Brothers, all from the comfort of your own home. In addition to flashing strobe lights and catchy beats, this show also emphasizes the genre’s political dimension and its role as a space for creative expression for marginalized groups. To get in on the hype, tickets are selling for £7 each and are free for members. Available to stream until 3 May 2021.

Image(s): The Tate

Tate Modern

Andy Warhol

Since the U.K. first went into lockdown, the Tate has upped their digital content to ensure the public continues to get their fix of art and culture. Content ranges from podcasts to courses and workshops to online viewing rooms and more. One of its most popular exhibition guides is for their major retrospective on American artist Andy Warhol– and for good reason. The show contains many of his iconic screen prints of Campell’s soup cans and Hollywood stars as well as works never seen before in the U.K. While a lot of his practice dealt with mass consumerism and advertising, Warhol also portrayed members of the LGBTQ+ community, including himself in drag. The virtual tour commences with a short talk giving a brief overview of the exhibition, followed by twelve virtual rooms exploring the pop icon’s life and career.

Image(s): Country & Town House

Royal Academy of Arts

Tracey Emin / Edvard Munch: The Loneliness of the Soul

If you are ready to have your mind blown, then look no further than this landmark exhibition organized by the Royal Academy of Arts. For the first time, the work of contemporary British artist Tracey Emin is showcased alongside 18 carefully-selected oils and watercolours of Norwegian Expressionist painter Edvard Munch, on loan from Oslo’s Munch Museum. Since Emin was a young adult, Munch’s work strongly resonated with her, recognizing him as ‘a friend in art.’ Although divided by time and geography, born exactly 100 years apart, both artists interrogate the range and complexities of human emotion. Addressing universal themes of loneliness, longing, grief and loss, they embrace their personal pain and trauma to create compelling, gut-wrenching artistic masterpieces.

Image(s): Hauser & Wirth

Hauser & Wirth

Charles Gaines: Multiples of Nature, Trees and Faces

If conceptual art is more up your alley, then this is the exhibition for you. On 29 January 2021, Hauser & Wirth launched the U.K.’s first solo exhibition of work by American artist Charles Gaines. The show consists of two of his critically acclaimed series, ‘Numbers and Trees’ and ‘Numbers and Faces’. Through a unique formula of colors and numbers, Gaines deconstructs and analyzes ideas of objectivity versus subjectivity, multi-ethnic and multi-racial identities, and diversity and representation. The prestigious London gallery also has a wide selection of online exhibitions on other artists including, but not limited to, Louise Bourgeois, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Sir Don McCullin, and Arshile Gorky and Jack Whitten.

Honorable Mentions:

JD Malat Gallery

Ed Moses: Whiplines, Waterfalls and Worms

4 February - 10 March 2021

Michael Hoppen

Lucien Hervé: the photographer with the soul of an architect

11 February - 13 March 2021

Cecilia Brunson Projects

Karin Lambrecht: Winter

12 February - 30 April 2021

Japan House London

Anno’s Journey: The World of Anno Mitsumasa


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