You’d be forgiven for thinking the Whitechapel Gallery sits in a slightly unusual spot amongst the curry eateries of Brick Lane and the border of the City at Aldgate. It has, in fact, occupied this site for over a hundred years. It is the only gallery in Britain to ever show Picasso’s Guernica, and has developed a reputation for introducing artists to the UK – the first major shows of Pollock, Rothko, Hockney, Kahlo and Freud were all at the Whitechapel. Turner Prize-winning artist Rachel Whiteread’s beautiful bronze leaf commission occupies the gallery’s facade. The latest exhibition celebrates the work of one of my favourite 20th century artists: Eduardo Paolozzi.
Recently the gallery’s had a bit of a revamp but retains its ethos of showcasing new artists alongside established acts. The gallery hosts one paying exhibition each year to keep it open, so check before you visit if you’re on a budget.
Aside from art there’s also a glorious café serving teas and snacks and a branch of Koenig Books (see the article)- one of my favourite London bookstores – where you can pick up beautiful art books at reduced prices.