The best exhibitions this week in London, from Philip Guston to Christo and Jeanne-Claude (Dec 21 to 28)

We pick the best art shows to enjoy this week

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COMUNE DI MILANO / Impressionists on Paper at the Royal Academy
Courtesy of the artist and the Royal Academy
Elizabeth Gregory5 minutes ago

With access to hundreds of museums and galleries a tube ride away, we Londoners are spoilt for choice when it comes to a fun day out. But sometimes the capital’s embarrassment of riches means it’s tricky to pick where to go.

Do you disappear into the National Gallery for an afternoon, pop by some of the independent galleries in Marylebone, explore East London’s exciting offerings, or wander around the Tate?

Look no further every week: here’s our pick of five extraordinary exhibitions to see in London right now.

Claudette Johnson: Presence

Claudette Johnson

British painter Claudette Johnson, a founding member of the UK’s Black feminist art movement, has spent her career depicting black women and men (often her friends and family) to make up for their absence from historical works. The Courtauld is now presenting a survey of her distinctive, richly-coloured and deeply moving works: “Due recognition has been a long time coming, but Johnson is soaring,” said the Standard’s five-star review.

Courtauld Gallery (closed December 25, 26), to January 14;

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Boundless

Christo and Jeanne-Claude during their Veiled VW Beetle campaign, Düsseldorf 1963, Photo: bpk / Charles Wilp
Courtesy of the artist and Saatchi Gallery

Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s fascination with wrapping objects in fabric, which began with shop windows and chairs in the Sixties, reached its climax in 2021 when they wrapped the entire L’Arc de Triomphe. This retrospective brings together illustrations, photographs and plans to look at the married couple’s seminal projects.

Saatchi Gallery (closed December 24-26) to January 22;

Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize

Showcasing the works of “talented young photographers, gifted amateurs and established professionals”, the Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize, which is returning to its home venue this year after its three year refurbishment, is always a huge treat and a chance to see what’s going on in contemporary portrait photography around the world.

National Portrait Gallery (closed December 24-26), to February 25;

Philip Guston

Philip Guston, The Line, 1978
The Estate of Philip Guston, courtesy Hauser & Wirth

Jewish leftist Canadian-American painter Philip Guston (1913-1980) spent his career responding to our reeling world, making haunting drawings, paintings and murals about racism, social upheaval, antisemitism and fascism. This extraordinary retrospective brings together many of his most important works, including his celebrated Sixties figurative paintings.

“That body of work is among the greatest in all of modern art,” said The Standard in its five-star review

Tate Modern (closed December 24-26), to February 25;

Impressionists on Paper

The Whitworth, The University of Manchester

In the maelstrom of modernity that was late 19th-century France, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists radically transformed what we think of as art – and in the process, lifted the status of works on paper from something chucked away, to artworks in their own right. This show features around 70 works on paper by leading artists whose innovation would change art forever.

Royal Academy (closed December 23-27), to March 10;