Beyond Frieze: A Guide to East and West London

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Launch Slideshow

This is the time of year that London can be most rewarding for art-lovers. While there are plenty of wonderful exhibitions further afield, there are also incredible exhibitions within walking distance of Frieze as well. Here is a tour of both West and East London that takes in some of the highlights.


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Beyond Frieze: A Guide to East and West London

  • Private Collection, New York. Photo courtesy of the artist and Mike Bruce
    Rachel Whiteread, Line Up, 2007-2008.
    West London
    Tate Britain





    In a dramatic and yet somehow calming move, Whiteread has chosen to use Tate Britain’s north-east gallery undivided as a single open space, exposing Richard Llewelyn-Davies’s original architecture from 1979. Over three decades Whiteread’s sculpture, all of it cast from existing objects, has undergone a series of subtle evolutions. Early engagements with architecture and furniture reflect the artist’s interest in the built environment, and theaesthetic milieu of her London childhood. A series exploring boxes and packaging material recall the weighty ephemera of life that comes alongside bereavement. Lined up in a long vitrine, hot water bottles cast in materials ranging from dental plaster to beeswax reveal the artist’s sheer delight in the innate qualities of materials.

  • Courtesy of the ICA, London.
    Seth Price, Stills from Digital Video Effect: Chords, 2007.
    West London
    ICA , Seth Prince circa 1981





    The first major exhibition under the direction of Stefan Kalmár and chief curator Richard Birkett, Seth Price’s film and video works from the last two decades are shown throughout the ICA building. Over two decades, Price’s shifting practice has dallied with sculpture, installation, film, photography, the written word, painting and even clothing and sound. His engagement with new technologies builds up a layered portrait of our highly mediated contemporary life.


  • National Gallery, London. © The National Gallery, London.
    Jan van Eyck, Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife, 1434.
    West London
    National Gallery – Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites





    Purchased by the National Gallery in 1842, Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait had a particular influence on Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt and their contemporaries who were exploring how paintings could carry symbolic imagery. Dipping into the Gallery’s own history, the exhibition examines the way the Pre-Raphaelites drew on Van Eyck’s work in their use of colour and draftsmanship as well as the development of a new pictorial language.

  • Collection of the artist. Photo: Jamie Stukenberg, The Wildenstein Plattnr Institute, 2017.
    © Jasper Johns / VAGA, New York / DACS, London 2017.
    Jasper Johns, Painting with Two Balls, 1960.
    West London
    Royal Academy – Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth





    This thematic survey of Johns’s work explores the artist’s career-long engagement with familiar motifs – flags, maps, numbers, targets – as well as his investigation into the limits of painting. In re-presenting and re-visiting familiar forms, Johns questions how meaning is generated in perception – how a group of abstract forms coalesce into a field of representation. “Every time you look at something, you bring meaning to it,” says co-curator Edith Devaney, recalling Johns’s axiom: “Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it. Do something else to it.” These formal investigations are seeded with humour and humanity – Merce Cunningham’s footprint is visible in his 2007 aluminium revisitation of Numbers (1964), and with its divided canvas and collage elements Painting with Two Balls (1960) smuggles a smutty joke into an exercise in painting as sculptural object.

  • Photo courtesy of SUPERFLEX
    SUPERFLEX, I Copy Therefore I Am.
    East London
    Tate Modern : SUPERFLEX





    Details of Superflex’s installation for this year’s Hyundai Commission for the Turbine Hall remain under wraps until the formal unveiling on 2 October, so what to expect? While they have a playful reputation, the Danish collective is profoundly engaged in environmental issues, as well as breaking through divisions between the art world and the wider community. Expect a direct engagement with the public and a refusal to pander to the art world’s sense of self-importance.




    While at Tate Modern , don’t miss Soul of a Nation , which runs until 22 October.

  • Photo courtesy of SUPERFLEX
    SUPERFLEX, Still from the film Flooded McDonalds.
    East London
    Tate Modern : SUPERFLEX





    Details of Superflex’s installation for this year’s Hyundai Commission for the Turbine Hall remain under wraps until the formal unveiling on 2 October, so what to expect? While they have a playful reputation, the Danish collective is profoundly engaged in environmental issues, as well as breaking through divisions between the art world and the wider community. Expect a direct engagement with the public and a refusal to pander to the art world’s sense of self-importance.

  • © Thomas Ruff
    Thomas Ruff, Porträt (P Stadtbäumer), 1988.
    East London
    Whitechapel Gallery – Thomas Ruff: Photographs 1979 – 2017





    Starting with his earliest portraits in absentia Interieurs (Interiors, 1979–83), Thomas Ruff’s various distinct series over the course of his career have questioned photography’s documentary value. His Porträts (Portraits, 1986–91; 1998–), take the standardised language of passport headshots – universally recognised as ID markers – photographed and printed in a large format that reveals otherwise hidden information about the subject. His recent series press++ (2015–) uses archival material from US newspapers to show the degree of choice and selection behind the images used to illustrate news events.

  • Private Collection. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar
    Jean-Michel Basquiat, Glenn, 1984.
    East London
    Barbican Centre – Basquiat: Boom for Real


    The first major exhibition of Basquiat’s work in a British institution, Boom for Real is an energetic presentation that makes up for lost time. The show kicks off with the artist’s teenage graffiti works as SAMO© and early photocopied postcards, and follows his short career through his wooing of Warhol and engagement with the club and music scene to triumphant large canvasses packed with imagery drawn from the history of jazz music, Haitian voodoo, art history and self-portraiture. Basquiat emerges as a figure fizzing with ideas, strongly engaged with the world around him, from the constant buzz and noise of a TV set to Picasso paintings at the Museum of Modern Art.

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