London arts: The best art, theatre, dance and concerts to see this week

Jessie Thompson

Calling all art lovers: it's a big week for blockbuster exhibitions in London.

All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life

A major new exhibition at Tate Britain explores how a generation of artists expressed the reality of life through paint. Works by Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon will be on display alongside contemporaries such as Paula Rego and Frank Auerbach, showing how they worked to create intimate representations of human figures.

February 28 - August 27, Tate Britain;

Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins

A new exhibition at the Barbican brings together the work of photographers who made the disenfranchised seen. From the homeless to the queer community, these images helped to construct an identity for those who were on the fringes of society. Diane Arbus, Mary Ellen Mark, Pieter Hugo and Philippe Chancel are amongst the photographers included.

February 28 - May 27, Barbican Art Gallery;

Fanny & Alexander

Stephen Beresford brings Ingmar Bergman’s masterpiece to the stage with a new adaptation marking the centenary year of the film auteur’s birth. Everything changes for siblings Fanny and Alexander when their father dies and their mother remarries a humourless bishop, and their wider family intervene as things turn bleaker. Penelope Wilton stars in the production, which is directed by Max Webster.

Until April 14, Old Vic;

Not I

Samuel Beckett’s Not I is a notoriously wordy onslaught that is difficult to perfect - and Jess Thom has Tourettes, meaning she sometimes makes noises that she can’t control. She takes on Beckett’s work in order to explore neurodiversity and who gets to perform. It’s a theatrical experience that’s not to be missed.

February 28 - March 17, Battersea Arts Centre;

Picasso auction at Sotheby's

A rarely seen work by Picasso is going under the hammer at Sotheby’s this week, and there’s one big question on everybody’s lips: how much will it go for? Painted in 1937, it depicts his lover Marie-Thérèse Walter, and the artist kept it until his death in 1973 when it was bought by the current seller.

February 28, Sotheby's;

Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography

In a week of blockbuster exhibitions, the National Portrait Gallery are exploring the moment when photography began life as an artform of its own. The exhibition will look at the work of groundbreaking pioneers, including Lewis Carroll, who were fed up with stiff Victorian portraits and wanted to discover the camera’s potential to create beautiful images.

March 1 - May 20, National Portrait Gallery;

Summer and Smoke

Tennessee Williams’ 1948 follow-up to A Streetcar Named Desire didn’t get a London production until 2006, so this revival is quite a rare thing. Patsy Ferran and Matthew Needham star in a Rebecca Frecknall’s version at the Almeida, with Tom Scutt on design duties.

Until April 7, Almeida Theatre;


What do you do when you live amongst systems you don’t trust? Broken relationships and capitalism are under the microscope in this two-hander at the Gate, directed by Jude Christian.

Until March 17, Gate Theatre;