The must-see exhibitions of 2020 — Europe

The must-see exhibitions of 2020 — Europe

The kimono celebrated in London, Christo in Paris and new dates for the long-awaited Artemisia show — our updated guide to the must-see exhibitions in Europe this summer and beyond

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  • Caravaggio-Bernini: Baroque in Rome Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam,
    Extended until 13 September 2020

This excellent show (first seen at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna) looks at the beginnings of the European Baroque in Rome, focusing on works by the painter Caravaggio and the sculptor Bernini

In around 1600, Caravaggio developed the chiaroscuro style of dramatic contrasts between light and dark that introduced intense emotion and drama into painting. This is the starting point for a show that also includes magnificent works by his contemporaries, including Guido Reni and Artemisia Gentileschi. All visitors are now required to book an entry time when purchasing tickets in advance.

Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, Medusa, c. 1638-1648. On loan from Musei Capitolini. Photo Andrea Jemolo

Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, Medusa, c. 1638-1648. On loan from Musei Capitolini. Photo: Andrea Jemolo

Don’t miss… Bernini’s Medusa (c.1638-48), a magnificent marble sculpture that captures the dramatic transformation of Medusa into a monster.

Europe’s first major exhibition on the kimono traces its sartorial and social significance from the 1660s to the present day, both in Japan and the rest of the world.

Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk  brings together more than 300 works to reveal how the ultimate symbol of Japan is a dynamic and constantly evolving icon of fashion. It includes rare 17th- and 18th-century kimonos never seen before in the UK, theatre costumes, and contemporary examples created by Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, among others.

Fashionable brocade patterns of the Imperial Palace, woodblock print, made by Utagawa Kunisada, 1847-1852, Japan. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Fashionable brocade patterns of the Imperial Palace, woodblock print, made by Utagawa Kunisada, 1847-1852, Japan. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Don’t miss… an exquisite 17th-century portrait of Anna Elizabeth van Reede in a floral kimono by Dutch painter Gerard Hoet.

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  • Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Paris! Centre Pompidou, Paris,
    Extended until 19 October 2020

The late Bulgarian-born artist Christo (1935-2020) is celebrated for the audacious sculptures, installations and public projects he completed with his collaborator and wife Jeanne-Claude, including covering the Reichstag in Berlin in fabric.

One such project involves wrapping the Arc de Triomphe. The couple came up with the idea in 1962, but it is only now — nearly 60 years later — being realised in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou. In 2021, the monument on the Champs-Élysées will be enveloped in 25,000 square metres of silvery blue fabric made from recyclable polypropylene and 7,000 metres of red rope.

L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped  forms part of a major exhibition at the Pompidou, focusing on the couple’s work from their Paris period (1958-1964). It also features preparatory studies for their monumental public project, The Pont Neuf, Wrapped, 1975-1985. 

Christo, The Arc de Triumph (Project for Paris, Place de lEtoile – Charles de Gaulle) Wrapped. Collage 2018 in two parts. Pencil, charcoal, wax crayon, fabric, twine, enamel paint, photograph by Wolfgang Volz, hand-drawn map and tape. Photo André Grossmann. © 2018 Christo

Christo, The Arc de Triumph (Project for Paris, Place de l'Etoile – Charles de Gaulle) Wrapped. Collage 2018 in two parts. Pencil, charcoal, wax crayon, fabric, twine, enamel paint, photograph by Wolfgang Volz, hand-drawn map and tape. Photo: André Grossmann. © 2018 Christo

Don’t miss… the opportunity to see one of the world’s most recognisable landmarks wrapped by Christo. 

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  • Andy Warhol Tate Modern, London,
    Extended until 15 November 2020

Tate hasn’t staged a Warhol (1928-1987) exhibition for almost 20 years. It’s made up for it though, with a major retrospective charting the extraordinary life and work of the Pop art superstar.

The show explores the artist through the lenses of sexuality, death, migration and religion to reveal how Warhol marked a period of cultural and social transformation.

There are more than 100 works from across his career on display. Hanging alongside his iconic Pop images of Marilyn Monroe, Coca-Cola and Campbell’s soup cans are lesser-known works exploring themes of desire, identity and belief that emerge from Warhol’s biography. Among the star exhibits is the largest grouping of his 1975 Ladies and Gentlemen  series ever shown in the UK.

Andy Warhol (1928-1987), Debbie Harry, 1980. Private Collection of Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport 1961. © 2019 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc  Artists Right Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London

Andy Warhol (1928-1987), Debbie Harry, 1980. Private Collection of Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport 1961. © 2019 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc / Artists Right Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London

Don’t miss… Sixty Last Suppers, 1986. This outstanding example from the artist’s great final painting series is on view for the first time in the UK.

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  • Lygia Clark: Painting as an Experimental Field, 1948-1958 Guggenheim, Bilbao,
    Until 25 October 2020

Born in 1920 in Belo Horizonte in Brazil, Lygia Clark would go on to become one of her country’s most important modernist artists. For more than three decades she created works that encouraged physical and sensorial encounters, challenging the traditional relationship between artist, object and viewer. 

In celebration of the centenary anniversary of her birth, this focused show re-examines Clark’s formative years from 1948 to 1958, a pivotal decade in which she fluctuated between figuration and geometric abstraction. It charts Clark’s stylistic evolution in three distinct chapters, each addressing the most significant developments in her approach to form, colour and sense of order.

Lygia Clark, Untitled, 1952. Oil on canvas. 54.5 x 81.5 cm. Joâo Sattamini Collection, on loan to the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói
© Cortesía Asociación Cultural “The World of Lygia Clark”
X.2019.187

Lygia Clark, Untitled, 1952. Oil on canvas. 54.5 x 81.5 cm. Joâo Sattamini Collection, on loan to the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói © Cortesía Asociación Cultural “The World of Lygia Clark” X.2019.187

Don’t miss…Clark’s mesmerising paintings made between 1953 and 1956. It was in these works that Clark first challenged the spatial conventions of the two-dimensional surface. 
 

In 2018 the National Gallery in London acquired Artemisia Gentileschi’s Self-Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandriathe first painting by the great 17th-century artist to enter its collection. Two years on, it presents the first major exhibition of her work in the UK. 

Central to this long-awaited show of around 35 works will be a grouping of her best-known paintings and self-portraits — to include Self-Portrait as a Lute Player — and more recently discovered works. It’s gratifying that the daughter of the more famous Orazio Gentileschi will finally receive the long-overdue recognition she deserves.

Self-Portrait as a Lute Player, about 1615-18. Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford. Charles H. Schwartz Endowment Fund (2014.4.1). © Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Self-Portrait as a Lute Player, about 1615-18. Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford. Charles H. Schwartz Endowment Fund (2014.4.1). © Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Don’t miss... the recently restored Self-Portrait as Catherine of Alexandria, painted in around 1615-17, which alludes to Artemisia’s trial following her rape at the age of 17 by her painting teacher, Agostino Tassi.

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  • Otobong Nkanga: There's No Such Thing as Solid Ground Gropius Bau, Berlin,
    Until 13 December 2020

For almost 20 years Nigerian-born, Belgium-based artist Otobong Nkanga has explored the intimate relationship between the human body and the landscape on which it moves. Her work also looks at notions of borders and ownership, politics of empire and environmental damage.

Last year, Nkanga was the Gropius Bau’s artist in residence. Now she returns with a solo show of multi-disciplinary work that reflects on the tension between exploitative extraction processes and structures of care and repair. It will also examine the ways in which natural resources are subject to regional and cultural analysis.

Otobong Nkanga, Taste of a Stone, 2020. Site-specific installation, boulders, gneiss, granite, iceland lichen, inkjet prints on limestone, marble pebbles, movements, plants. Installation view Otobong Nkanga Theres No Such Thing as Solid Ground, Gropius Bau, Berlin, 2020. © Otobong Nkanga, photo Luca Giradini
Otobong Nkanga, Taste of a Stone, 2020. Site-specific installation, boulders, gneiss, granite, iceland lichen, inkjet prints on limestone, marble pebbles, movements, plants. Installation view Otobong Nkanga: There's No Such Thing as Solid Ground, Gropius Bau, Berlin, 2020. © Otobong Nkanga, photo: Luca Giradini

Don’t miss... Taste of Stone, above, a site-specific installation that is at once a landscape of historical and geological traces, and a space for social encounters.

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  • Tracey Emin/Edvard Munch: The Lonliness of the Soul Royal Academy, London,
    15 November 2020 to 28 February 2021

‘Not in a million years did I ever think that I’d show with my hero Munch… I’m lucky!”, Tracey Emin told The Art Newspaper  in 2019. ‘It’s everything I ever wanted as an artist.’ 

This major exhibition explores Emin’s long-standing fascination with the Norwegian Expressionist, whom she has long seen as a ‘friend in art’, and their shared preoccupation with the complexity of the human psyche. In doing so, it reveals the extent of Munch’s influence on Emin’s creative process — notably in Homage To Edvard Munch and All My Dead Children (1998). The film work opens with a naked Emin in a foetal position on the edge of Oslo Fjord in Asgardstrand, where Munch painted several of his most celebrated works, including The Bridge  and The Dance of Life

Emin recently described being paired with Munch for the exhibition as ‘like a dream’: ‘I've been in love with this man since I was eighteen’.

Tracey Emin, It - didnt stop - I didnt stop, 2019. Acrylic on canvas. 152 x 183.5 x 3.7 cm. Photo © HV-studio Courtesy the Artist and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels
Tracey Emin, It - didnt stop - I didnt stop, 2019. Acrylic on canvas. 152 x 183.5 x 3.7 cm. Photo © HV-studio Courtesy the Artist and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels

Don’t miss... It – didnt stop - I didnt stop (2019), a poignant nude executed in expressionistic brushstrokes and Emin’s signature palette of dusky blues and pinks.

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  • Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Fly in league with the Night Tate Britain, London,
    18 November 2020 to 9 May 2021

London-born Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is widely considered one of the most important figurative painters working today. She came to prominence with her mysterious, enigmatic portraits of fictitious people, which are conjured from a composite archive of found images and her own imagination. As such, her figures exist outside of specific time and place, allowing viewers to project their own interpretations. 

This solo exhibition brings together around 80 works spanning almost two decades that chart the artist’s distinctive style — notably her spontaneous brushstrokes, dislocation of subject and dusky palette contrasted with flashes of brightness. It will also explore the central role of writing in Yiadom-Boakye’s practice. ‘I write about the things I can’t paint and paint the things I can’t write about,’ she once said.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Condor and the Mole, 2011. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London. © Courtesy of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Condor and the Mole, 2011. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London. © Courtesy of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

Don’t miss... Citrine by the Ounce (2014), an intriguing portrait of a man, his gaze down-cast, in a white sweater and black jacket, against a background plane of bright yellow; and Condor and The Mole (2011), above. ‘Although they are not real I think of them as people known to me,’ the artist has said of her subjects. ‘They are imbued with a power of their own; they have a resonance — something emphatic and other-worldly.’