Around the world in 10 exhibitions
From 10th century ceramics at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto to reactionary art in So Paulo, here's your guide to the best 2018 cultural events
There are a lot of social, political, economic, and ecological unknowns going into 2018. The future of art in the coming year, in contrast, is pretty much set in stone.
Visitors the world over have museum, biennial, and non-profits’ advance programming to thank: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, for instance, can schedule an exhibition as much as four years in advance.
A lot of these exhibitions require years of planning. There are loans from other museums and private collectors to negotiate, wall text and catalogues to write, shipping to arrange, and, often must crucial of all, special funding to secure to make the exhibition possible.
In short, in an increasingly tumultuous world, culture remains the one constant. For anyone in need of reassurance can head to any of these 10 most exciting exhibitions on the horizon this year and take heart.
‘Moriz Nähr: Photography And Modernism’ at the Leopold Museum in Vienna
24 August–29 October
It’s hard to overstate the convulsive urban and social change that Vienna was subjected to at the turn of the century. The jewel in the crown of the Hapsburg empire for long, its wedding-cake buildings and ornate cafés were subsidized in large part by the outlying “Crown Lands," which, by 1900, were beginning to make concerted efforts towards autonomy. Insulated as it was, Vienna began to feel the effects of change: its city fortifications came down, the middle class grew, and it ever-so-slowly began to embrace technology and modernism. Moriz Nähr (1845-1945), a pioneer of the photographic medium, was appointed court photographer to the archduke Franz Ferdinand, and thus was on-hand to capture the changes from the highest (and occasionally, lowest) levels. This will be a spectacular, not-to-miss exhibition of his oeuvre’s highlights.
The World Of The Fatimids’ at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto
10 March–2 July
The Fatimid dynasty’s staggeringly sophisticated caliphate reached its peak in the 10th and 11th centuries. Stretched along North Africa and the Middle East, its capital in what’s now Cairo, Egypt, fostered a boom in arts and sciences, eventually surpassing virtually any other contemporaneous civilization. The Aga Khan Museum’s show will include an array of delicate, intricate objects that include ceramic lusterware, rock crystal, and ivory.
‘Painted In Mexico, 1700-1790: Pinxit Mexici’ at the Met Fifth Avenue in New York
24 April–22 July
In a show that first appeared at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2017 as part of Los Angeles’ “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA," which explored Latin American art throughout the city, this show, a collection of more than 100 artworks, will travel to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art this year. Put in the context of the Met’s prodigious collection of European masterworks of the same period, the show will take on a new importance as questions of colonialism, international exchange, and art history are put in stark and fascinating relief
Gabriele Münter at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark
3 May–19 August
It’s always nice to be genuinely surprised by an artist you know nothing about. Given that very few people have ever heard of Gabriele Münter (1877–1962), let’s hope everyone else feels that way too. Münter co-founded the influential Expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter with Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Lyonel Feininger, and others, but her oeuvre actually spanned numerous styles and periods. With more than 130 works in total, this is one of the first exhibitions to re-examine (or for many, introduce) one of the most influential, if not talented, artists of the 20th century.
’Michel Sittow: Estonian Painter At The Courts Of Renaissance Europe’ at the National Gallery in Washington, DC
28 January–13 May
People have the tendency to assume that celebrity is a contemporary phenomenon, but the success of Michel Sittow (1469–1525), an Estonian artistic savant who was sought after by European heads of state, proves that celebrity goes back a long way. Thirteen of the artist’s known paintings will be assembled alongside those of one of his contemporaries, Juan de Flandes, in the museum’s West Building.
16th International Architecture Biennale in Venice
26 May–25 November
For the past three decades, Venice, Italy, has hosted an international architecture exhibition in the Giardini (a public park filled with pavilions hosted by countries around the world), and in its Arsenale, a massive, ancient warehouse where biennial organizers install exhibitions by architects and artists. While the biennale can have its slightly wonky, academic side, there’s always a dazzling, spectacular component to the show, too: Uncanny structures, unheard of materials, and new technologies are sure to make it a must-see. Plus, you’ll be in Venice, so how bad can it be.
‘The Great Spectacle: 250 Years Of The Summer Exhibition’ at the Royal Academy in London
12 June–19 August
Every summer for the past two and a half centuries, London’s Royal Academy of Art has put on a rambling, blockbuster show that highlights work by British artists. Historically there was so much art crowded on to the academy’s walls that it transcended a “salon-style" exhibition and came to resemble something closer to wallpaper. To mark the 250-year anniversary of the Summer Exhibition, the Royal Academy has created a retrospective that marks the exhibition’s highlights, both historical and contemporary—the show promises to run the gamut from Joshua Reynolds to Wolfgang Tillmans.
Daguerreotypes: Five Decades Of Collecting’ at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC
15 June 2018–2 June 2019
Daguerreotypes were the precursor to modern-day photography. The process, which was ubiquitous in the mid-19th century, involved exposing a treated silver plate to light through an early camera. The National Portrait Gallery has been collecting daguerreotypes for 50 years and to mark this, it has planned a large installation to commemorate the milestone. These aren’t just fascinating artworks; they are also stunning chronicles of the birth of modernism.
‘Uprisings’ at the Contemporary Art University Museum in Mexico City
24 February–29 July
Although this was planned well in advance, Uprisings, a sweeping show curated by the star French art historian Georges Didi-Huberman, feels awfully topical. Ostensibly a highly theoretical show, the exhibition features documentation of literal revolt—paintings, films, photographs, even engravings—set within the largest public institution in Mexico. For details, visit the museum website.
33rd São Paulo Biennial in São Paulo
7 September-9 December
Generally considered one of the most important contemporary arts events in South America, the São Paulo Biennial has a history of combining unknown artists with the type of discourse that the international contemporary art world knows and loves. Set in locations throughout the city and in a massive modernist pavilion designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the biennial comes at a delicate time for art in Brazil: last year, protestors shut down an exhibit of Queer Art in the city of Porto Allegre, claiming that the works by blue-chip artists such as Lygia Clark “promoted pedophilia". How organizers of São Paulo’s biennial tread an increasingly reactionary social line remains to be seen, but regardless, the show itself is not to be missed. Bloomberg