Spring-time collection: The European art exhibitions you must see this season
Springtime is here. Buds are blossoming, and the weather is turning temperate enough that spending a weekend wandering around a city sounds delightful again, instead of an elaborate punishment.
Whether you’re already lucky enough to be based in one of Europe’s metropolitans or have a city-break trip planned, Spring means many major museums will usher in a new season of exciting programmes.
So whether you fancy a Picasso in Paris after a pain au chocolat or between beers in Berlin want to see a Basquiat, the Euronews Culture guide to the top Spring exhibitions has you sorted.
If you’re into French modernism and impressionism, look no further than one of Paris’ most esteemed galleries, the Musée d’Orsay. A dual exhibition puts the works of Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas side by side. Through direct comparison, mutual influence as well as the great differences become apparent in two painters who redefined a genre.
Over at Foundation Louis Vuitton, there’s a focus on some of the most influential pop artists of the 20th century coming in April. “BASQUIAT × WARHOL. PAINTING FOUR HANDS” puts the anarchic graffiti works of Jean-Michel Basquiat against the iconic pop art of Andy Warhol, as well as other key 1980s New York art scene necessities like Keith Haring in one of the most comprehensive studies of the pair’s work ever shown.
For fans of something a bit more design-based, there’s an exhibition of British architect Norman Foster’s work at the Pompidou Centre. And for Picasso fans, there’s always the Musée National Picasso which will house an exhibition of the cubist’s work curated by clothes designer Sir Paul Smith.
And for music and history lovers, check out the tribute to Nigeria's king of Afrobeats Fela Kuti at the Paris Philharmonic. With his groups Afrika 70 and Egypt 80, Fela helped introduce the world to increasingly complex symphonic and rhythmic constructions. The exhibition tells the story of this journey and allows visitors to delve deep and listen to the sound and sources of a truly unique artist.
Berlin’s premiere modern art gallery, The Berlinische Galerie, is closed until later in May as they are updating the lighting systems. When it opens up again on 25 May, it will house a new exhibition of contemporary work from local Berlin artist Nasan Tur. His experimental work condenses social gestures into striking miniatures.
Taking stock after a year of war in Europe, the Bode Museum is running an exhibition of Ukrainian art. It’s an intriguing combination of the gallery’s own collection of religious artworks and artefacts from Ukraine between the 3rd and 18th century, as well as contemporary works by Ukrainian artists living in the country today, many of which are reproduced through photography for logistical reasons.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
For anyone wanting a high-dose of culture, get yourself down to Amsterdam’s luscious Museumplein this Spring. The famous square houses many of the country’s best museums, including the national Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the modernity-focused Stedelijk Museum.
At the Rijksmuseum, a new show of Vermeer’s work has compiled more of the Dutch artist's paintings than ever put in one place before. Sadly, it’s completely sold out. But the Rijksmuseum website does have a charming virtual tour of the work given by the inimitable Stephen Fry. If you’re desperate to get your Vermeer hit, take the train down to Delft to see the master’s studio at Prinsenhof.
Photography fans should make their way over to Foam where there’s an exhibition of South African photographer Ernest Cole’s work, who documented life under apartheid.
We promised Picasso, so we’ll provide Picasso. At the Museo del Prado, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Picasso’s death, the Spanish national museum is putting on a selection of his works together with El Greco, the Greek painter whose role in the Spanish renaissance earned him his demonym nickname.
While other Madrid museums (La Casa Encendida, Casa de Velázquez, and Reina Sofia Museum) are all running other Picasso-themed exhibitions this Spring, for something completely different, head on down to IFEMA MADRID for an audio-visual tour of the past, present and future of Formula 1. Spanish sports fans fell in love with the motorsport when Fernando Alonso rose to prominence in the 2000s, but this exhibition promises anyone bored with the Guernica will have something thrilling to see.
At the Albertina in Vienna, one of the most comprehensive exhibitions will run until mid-May. Presenting six centuries of printmaking, “Dürer, Munch, Miró” is a retrospective of 15th century artists Martin Schongauer and Albrecht Dürer, 19th century masters Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Edvard Munch, up to the brilliance of Marc Chagall and Joan Miró. Not to be missed.
Walking around Florence and it’s impossible not to bump into a priceless piece of art. Most streets feel like they’d qualify for a place in a gallery in other cities. While a trip to the Uffizi is always wonderful, the city is also holding an exhibition of some more contemporary works this Spring.
The Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi has put together an exhibition of 70 contemporary works by Italian and international artists, including Maurizio Cattelan, Cindy Sherman, Damien Hirst, Lara Favaretto, William Kentridge, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Sarah Lucas and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye celebrating the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Collection’s 30th anniversary, “one of the world’s most celebrated and prestigious collections of contemporary art.”
Much like the Musée d’Orsay’s exhibition on key impressionists, The National Gallery in London has a similar focus. For “After Impressionism: Inventing Modern Art”, the museum has a collection of some of the key individuals in impressionism from between 1880 and 1914 including Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.
Get a bit of a taste of abstraction at the Tate Modern with an exhibition that takes Swedish painter Hilma af Klint’s work and puts it up against the primary colours of Piet Mondriaan’s work.
Finally, head on down to the newly opened Queer Britain Museum with its exhibition on LGBTQ+ history “We are Queer Britain”.