Five must-see contemporary shows

Published 12 October 2012

To celebrate the opening of this year's Turner Prize, Britain's most controversial contemporary art event, we've chosen our favourite contemporary exhibitions across the country.

1. The Turner Prize, Tate Britain
50% off with National Art Pass

The shortlist for the 29th Turner Prize shows that the UK’s most notorious contemporary art event won’t go quietly into its 30s. Candidates range from a performance artist inspired by sex toys and Star Wars to a draftsman who’s created a fictional world in pencil and paper.

2. Liverpool Biennial, various venues
Free to all

The 2008 European Capital of Culture hosts the seventh edition of Britain’s largest contemporary arts festival, this year exploring the theme of hospitality. A highlight is The Source, a film installation by Doug Aitken exploring the origins of creativity through interviews with personalities from Jack White to Tilda Swinton.

3. Richard Hamilton: The Late Works, National Gallery
Free to all

Taking a break from its usual programme of Old Masters, the National Gallery is holding an exhibition of works by Pop artist Richard Hamilton, who died last year. Conceived especially for the National Gallery, the show’s centrepiece is his Balzac-inspired final painting, The Unknown Masterpiece.

4. Artist Rooms: Robert Mapplethorpe, Perth Museum and Art Gallery
Free to all

Mapplethorpe was one of photography’s most radical figures, combining an intuitive feel for composition with an unflinching attitude towards capturing the fringes of society. The portraits, still lifes and figurative works displayed in Perth showcase his mastery of form and light.

5. Art of Change: New Directions from China, Hayward Gallery
50% off with National Art Pass

Featuring silk worms, hosepipes, and a free stalker for every visitor, the Hayward Gallery’s latest show is guaranteed to take exhibition-goers out of their comfort zones. Eastern philosophy and radical art collide at this celebration of Chinese installation and performance art since 1980.

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