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London's Best Art Shows this October 2023

Women rule the art scene this autumn, with a major Sarah Lucas exhibition; Marina Abramović's first big UK show (which shockingly doubles as the first solo female exhibition at the RA's Main Galleries) and a glorious retrospective of style alchemist, Coco Chanel.

Tech continues to wield its power in this month's big shows, with mixed reality butterfly installations; optimistic AI shows exploring caring robots, and a gaggle of immersive exhibitions beckoning us to leap inside paintings by some of the most influential artists of the 20th Century.

So point your eyes here and then take them there

The Butterfly Trail at Outernet

Enter the world’s first mixed reality experience, where you can hold your own butterfly on the tip of your finger in a beautiful collaboration with Pixel Artworks. Visitors are guided through explorer Professor Peter Pelgrin’s Botanical Workshop and Glass House, an indoor jungle, where they can release magical, AR butterflies and trigger animations, using their smartphones. The installation uses groundbreaking tech against the vast canvas of Outernet’s four-storey, 16K wraparound screens - the most advanced in the world. And it’s open every day between 12pm and 6pm.

Outernet, Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 8LH. Until early 2024. Free.

The World’s Biggest Disney Exhibition

It all began with a mouse and now, 100 years later, a major new exhibition launches in London, inviting fans to experience the iconic characters, stories and experiences that touched the lives of audiences around the world. Disney100: The Exhibition arrives at London ExCel on 13 October, featuring 10 themed galleries bulging with more than 250 iconic props, costumes and treasures including the actual carousel horse that Dick Van Dyke rode in Mary Poppins, the glass slipper from Cinderella (2015), the Iron Man helmet from Avengers: Infinity War, original artwork from One Hundred and One Dalmatians and the red dress from the 2021 Cruella film. The 20,000 sq ft beast of a show has 14 interactive installations and themed galleries allowing you to dive into classics like Snow White and Encanto as well as the new additions to the Disney family, like Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel movies.

Disney100: The Exhibition. ExCeL London, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, London E16 1XL. Tickets on sale now, starting from £16.50 off-peak for children. 13 October 2023, until 2024.

Sarah Lucas : Happy Gas

The work of the brilliantly bold and irreverent Brit Art icon, Sarah Lucas is celebrated in a major exhibition at Tate Britain.

The show will bring together more than 75 works spanning four decades of her career, exploring the human body, mortality and the terribly British experiences of sex, gender and class. As well as her greatest art hits, like the raunchy hosiery sculptures, giant sandwich and chairs made from tits, it will also feature ten completely new sculptures made in the past few years.

Tate Modern, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG. 28 September - 14 January

Marina Abramović

The doyenne of performance art, Marina Abramović finally brings her first major UK show to the Royal Academy - the first solo show by a woman in the RA’s Main Galleries. Her most famous works include inviting audience members to freely interact with her - resulting in a loaded gun being pointed at her head - and living without food in a gallery for 12 days. This exhibition looks back at her 50-year career, embracing pain, exhaustion and possible death, via archive footage and with four of her most famous works being recreated by performance artists trained in the Marina Abramović method.

Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD. 23 September - 1 January 2024

Gabrielle Chanel : Fashion Manifesto

The V&A will launch the first UK exhibition dedicated to the work of French couturière, Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel, charting the establishment of the House of CHANEL and the evolution of her iconic design style, which continues to influence the way women dress today.

Covering her career from the opening of her first millinery boutique to her final collection in the Seventies, the show will feature more than 180 looks, jewellery and accessories, exploring her legacy and the way she redefined fashion forever.

V&A, Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL. 16 September - 25 February

Rebel: 30 Years of London Fashion

This landmark collaboration between the British Fashion Council and The Design Museum celebates the 30th anniversary of BFC’s NEWGEN program, supporting emerging fashion talent. The show celebrates the work of designers like Christopher Kane, Erdem, Molly Goddard and Wales Bonner, who transformed the world of fashion. Highlights of the show - featuring more than 100 iconic garments - include Bjork’s swan dress and a replica of Sam Smith’s inflatable latex suit famously worn to this year’s BRITs. The Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High St, London W8 6AG. 16 September - 11 February 2023.

AI: Who's Looking After Me?

If you’re not awake at night, worrying about robots taking over the world, are you even human?

This show might allay some of your concerns, by offering a refreshingly optimistic spin on AI.

The exhibition delves into the positive impact it is having on our lives now and in the near future, across healthcare, dating, travel and law.

It includes self-driving cars, AI romance experiments, a robotic arm that cares for cats and learns about their needs and Wesley Goatley’s eerie installation, featuring twenty malfunctioning and abandoned Alexa Voice Assistants singing to each other and telling stories about the world that created them.

AI: Who's Looking After Me? Science Gallery, Great Maze Pond, London SE1 9GU. Until 20 January 2024

V&A's Blockbuster DIVA Exhibition

Drop your mic, polish your sequins and sashay over to the V&A for DIVA, its latest, blockbuster exhibition. More than 250 personal items, including 60 outfits are on display from legends including Sir Elton John, Cher, Prince, Marilyn Monroe and Grace Jones. Many of these will be on show to the public for the first time. The new show celebrates the drive, power and creativity of some of the most iconic divas, past and present, and how they shaped popular culture. Highlights include celeb designer Bob Mackie’s creations for Cher, Tina Turner and Pink; the Oscar-winning, fringed black dress rocked by Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot and Sir Elton’s Louis XIV inspired 50th birthday look, complete with powdered wig and train. Fans can also admire the diamanté-studded wellies and couture, pink Julien MacDonald gown worn by Dame Shirley Bassey for her 2007 Glastonbury set.

Head here for more info. DIVA, V&A Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL. 24 June - 30 April 2024. Tickets £20

BBC Earth Experience

Travel the world and seven continents in one, visually delicious immersive experience through the hit BBC series, Seven Worlds, One Planet. With bespoke narration from Sir David Attenborough himself and hosted at Earl’s Court's purpose-built Daikin Centre, you will experience the incredible diversity of the seven continents through multiple, multi-angle, 360-degree screens, meeting the extraordinary animals which inhabit them. The event - suitable for all age groups - also boasts breakout zones where you can dive into the depths of Water World, marvel at the sweeping landscapes of the Vista Stage, and test your bravery by getting close to creepy crawlies in the Micro Life zone.

BBC Earth Experience. The Daikin Centre, Earl’s Court, Hammersmith, London SW6 1TR. Until 7 January 2024. Adult £28.50 children under three go FREE

Gilbert & George: The Paradisical Pictures

Everybody’s favourite, besuited art duo, Gilbert and George launched their own museum on April Fool’s Day, around the corner from their London home and studio.

The pair have transformed a former, Spitalfields brewery into the three-storey Gilbert & George Centre, and in keeping with their “art for all” mission, the venue will be completely free .

The grand, emerald iron gates (designed by the pair) will open every Friday to Sunday, for visitors to enjoy three exhibition spaces, a research centre and film room all dedicated to the duo’s art, which they have been making for more than 50 years, since meeting at St Martin’s School of Art.

The Paradisical Pictures exhibition The Paradisical Pictures exhibition, presents 35 of their trademark, stained glass window-inspired images, depicting the pair in psychedelic, “heavenly places.”

The Gilbert & George Centre, 5a Heneage Street, London E1 5LJ.

Opens every Friday - Sunday. FREE.


Immersive art experiences are beckoning us to leap into paintings all over the world, but Frameless is art immersion on steroids. Situated in Marble Arch, it is the largest, permanent multi-sensory experience in the UK. Boasting four, themed galleries - Beyond Reality, Colour In Motion, The World Around Us and The Art Of Abstraction - with some of the world’s greatest works of art exploding across the walls, floors and ceilings of a 30,000 sq ft space. You can step inside more than 43 masterpieces by 28 artists, including Kandinsky, Monet, Van Gogh, Klimt, Munch, Monet, Rembrandt, Dali and Cezanne with musical scores accompanying each brushstroke.

Frameless, Marble Arch, London W1H 7FD, UK

Van Gogh Exhibition: The Immersive Experience

This immersive juggernaut has been touring the world, welcoming more than 5 million visitors.

And it has found a new home at London’s Spitalfields.

Lose yourself in the iconic brushstrokes of more than 300 works, in this light and sound spectacular featuring two storey projections, plus a drawing studio and VR experience exploring his life and inspirations.

You can even enjoy a beautiful piano show from pianist Lara Melda while admiring Van Gogh’s work through cutting-edge 360° digital projections.

Van Gogh Immersive Experience, Commercial Street, London E1 6LZ, UK. Until 30 October.

David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (Not Smaller & Further Away)

Using large-scale projection in a remarkable new, immersive gallery space, David Hockney takes us on a personal journey from LA to Yorkshire, through 60 years of his art, with a specially composed score by Nico Muhly and commentary by the artist himself. Lightroom’s vast walls and revolutionary sound system enable us to experience the world through the eyes of one of the most influential artists for the 20th Century, from the Sixties to the present day.

David Hockney Lightroom Show, 12, Lewis Cubitt Square, London N1C 4DY, UK. Until 1 October.

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms

The Instagram-friendly Infinity Mirror Rooms have no doubt saturated your social media pages for the past few months. But if you’re late to the party, the run has been extended until June to check out one of the most talked about shows of the past year.

The immersive installations of endless reflections include Kusama's Chandelier of Grief, a room which creates the illusion of a boundless universe ofrotating crystal chandeliers.

A small presentation of photographs and moving image – some on display for the first time – provide historical context for the global phenomenon that Kusama’s mirrored rooms have become today.

Tate Modern. Bankside, London SE1 9TG, UK. Until 28 April 2024.

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