The best London art exhibitions to see in May 2024

Group shows, major career retrospectives, intimate viewings and avant-garde performances – London is abuzz with art exhibitions. Plan your next visit with our handy, frequently updated guide to the city’s best goings on.

London art exhibitions: what to see in May 2024

‘Portraits to Dream In’

National Portrait Gallery
Until 16 June 2024

black and white photographs

Untitled, from the Caryatid series by Francesca Woodman, 1980. Courtesy Woodman Family Foundation / DACS, London

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

Francesca Woodman and Julia Margaret Cameron may not be a natural duo, yet a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery has brought these two photographers together. Woodman’s art emerged during the rise of second-wave feminism and Post-Minimalism, her images haunted by the influence of contemporaries like Ana Mendieta and Deborah Turbeville. Cameron’s work, meanwhile, is distinctly Victorian. The soft focus of her photographs evokes a heavily Christian, English sensibility of feminine beauty; her female sitters often idealised as wives and mothers. Spanning a century and continents apart, there is no direct lineage between Cameron and Woodman’s photo-making – at least, not one Woodman ever directly references.

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