The last time I was in London was exactly one year ago. And since I am having London blues these days, I figured I could write about contemporary art galleries to help me cope.  
As I told here, London is one of my favorite cities. But I have to be honest, I only started to explore its contemporary art scene quite recently. It was in fact 4 years ago, in 2016.
At that time I was collaborating with a client for a gallery in Mayfair, and that is when I first got to explore a few London galleries.

Fast forward to last year, when I finally had the chance to treat myself to a full artsy weekend in the British capital. I have been to London a million times ever since I was a kid, and I have visited pretty much all the museums. But galleries are far more dynamic, they change locations, open new ones, and all in all I never had the time to fully explore this side of the city. 

In a couple of days, I made up for all the years spent ignoring London galleries and ended up binge-visiting all the major ones, mostly across Mayfair. It was a glorious weekend, with a lot of amazing art, good friends, great exhibitions, and so much fun. The type of weekend getaway I would recommend when you need that little extra help to get through life. 

So while we wait to travel back there and enjoy London’s exciting contemporary art galleries, I decided to give you a list of my favorite ones. Keep reading and find out who they are! 

White Cube Bermondsey | Photo Epha3 Lab from London | CC BY

White Cube 

The first gallery to mention is White Cube, perhaps the most important contemporary art gallery in London and one of the top galleries in the world. After all, it is the quintessential gallery, encompassing all the signature features of a modern gallery, starting with its name. 
The gallery has two locations in London and a third location in Hong Kong. They first opened in 1993, with a small space on Duke Street, and later moved to hip Hoxton Square in 2000. The gallery is famous for launching many representatives from the Young British Artists group, such as Tracy Emin or Damien Hirst. Right now they have a space on Mason Yard, St James’s, and another one in Bermondsey, opened respectively in 2006 and 2011. Their exhibitions are of top quality and the gallery works with some of the greatest artists alive, and many of my favorites, such as Emin, Anselm Kiefer, and Danh Vo. The two branches are not close one to the other, but they are definitely worth the Tube ride.

White Cube Bermondsey
144-152, Bermondsey St, Bermondsey, London SE1 3TQ

White Cube Mason’s Yard
25-26 Masons Yard, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6BU

Info and opening hours:


Unsurprisingly, Gagosian is another gallery that made it to my top 5 list. The gallery doesn’t really need any introduction, as they are undoubtedly among the most important galleries in the world. In London, they have 3 different spaces, two in the very heart of Mayfair and one near King’s Cross.

The location I like the most is the one on Grosvenor Hill, right in the middle of posh and stylish Mayfair. This location is a giant free-standing cube, opening in the middle of historic buildings and posh boutiques. When you step inside, you find a light-filled, white cube with some of the greatest artists and artworks you’ll ever see on display. I love this location because it is unlike any other around the area. Despite it being an area quite full of galleries, Gagosian stands out for its New York style. The gallery reminds me of the ones Gagosian has in Chelsea and that creates a nice contrast with other galleries nearby, like Sprüth Magers or Tornabuoni.

Gagosian Grosvenor Hill
20 Grosvenor Hill, Mayfair, London W1K 3QD

Gagosian Britannia Street
6–24 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JD

Gagosian Davies Street
17-19 Davies St, Mayfair, London W1K 3DE

Info and opening hours:

Massimo De Carlo

Another gallery in Mayfair I love, but with a completely different vibe from Gagosian, is Massimo De Carlo. The gallery, which is originally from Milan, is among my favorites in Italy. They have 2 spaces in Milan, one in London, one in Hong Kong and they recently opened a project space in Paris. The gallery works with top international artists, as well as Italians. They have a very international approach, which makes them one of the most interesting galleries in Italy. In London, they have a beautiful space inside a historic building. The exhibition spaces have that typical Mayfair feeling, with hardwood floors, white walls, decorated ceilings, and beautiful chandeliers. It always gives me the feeling of being in a contemporary Oscar Wilde’s setting, and I must admit I totally love it. 

Massimo De Carlo London
55 S Audley St, Mayfair, London W1K 2QH

Info and opening hours:

Sadie Coles HQ

Another gallery with multiple locations, Sadie Coles HQ has a nice space on Davies St and a bigger one on Kingly Street, right between Carnaby St and Regent St. It was originally opened in 1997 by Sadie Coles, and it quickly turned into the forefront of the Young British Artists movement, working often and closely with Sarah Lucas among others. The gallery earned quite a name over the years, so much that in 2014 Sadie Coles was listed as one of ‘the most powerful people in the art world’ by The Guardian.
Nowadays, they have an incredible roster of international artists, both established and emerging, that they exhibit in their London galleries. The one in Mayfair is a small, glass-walled space, that you can easily visit while gallery-hopping around the area. The one on Kingly St on the other hand is much bigger, housed inside a former nightclub and right in the middle of the bustling Soho area.

Sadie Coles HQ
1 Davies St, Mayfair, London W1K 3DB

Sadie Coles HQ
62 Kingly St, Soho, London W1B 5QN

Info and opening hours:

Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, England | LeHaye / CC BY-SA

Whitechapel Gallery

The last place I would like to mention among my favorite contemporary art galleries in London is the Whitechapel Gallery. It is not a commercial gallery, like the other ones I mentioned, but it is definitely among the most important ones in London. It was opened in 1901 as one of the first publicly funded galleries for temporary exhibitions in the city and for over a century now it has served as a focal point for modern and contemporary art in London. 

The original building, designed by Charles Harrison Townsend, had a major refurbishment in 1986 and in 2009 expanded into the former Passmore Edwards Library building, doubling the overall gallery size. Over the years it has exhibited the greatest masters of the XX century and still displays the work of the most prominent artists. Just to give you an idea, the gallery exhibited Pablo Picasso’s Guernica in 1938, while later it hosted the first UK exhibition by Mark Rothko in 1961. It is now among the most representative exhibition spaces in London, open year-round to host exhibitions by artists such as Elmgreen & Dragset, Thomas Ruff, Sarah Lucas, Sophie Calle, Nan Goldin, or David Hockney, just to name a few. They also have a great calendar of events, lectures, workshops, and a nice cafe. 

Whitechapel Gallery
77-82 Whitechapel High St, Shadwell, London E1 7QX

Info and opening hours:

Cover image by Alex Block on Unsplash