China’s Biggest-Ever Picasso Show + 9 Other Major Art Exhibitions to See Beyond the Western World in 2019

Meanwhile, treasures from Taipei make a rare trip abroad and Duchamp is feted across Asia in a sprawling presentation of his work.

Terracotta warriors from the burial complex of China’s Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Photo by Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images.

As the first week of 2019 draws to a close, staff at museums across the world are returning to work to put the finishing touches on major loan exhibitions that have been months, if not years, in the planning.

The Musée Picasso in Paris, a prolific lender across Europe, is pulling out all the stops for a major loan show in China at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. Meanwhile, an eight-strong squad of ancient terracotta warriors, the storm troopers of China’s soft power over the past three decades, head to Melbourne—and that’s not all. Below, take a look at the exhibitions that will make waves across the world in 2019.


Awakenings: Art and Society in Asia 1960s–1990s” at National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea

Chang Chao-Tang, Panchiao (1962). Courtesy the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

WHAT: Eighty artists and 140 works will be included in this international exhibition of contemporary Asian art reflecting on the social, cultural, and political changes that took place across the continent between the 1960s and ’90s. Three themes—”Radical Questionings,” “Artists and the City,” and “New Solidarities”—will give context to a period of immense historical change resulting from the Cold War, the rise and fall of dictatorships, the war in Vietnam, democratization, and globalization. The show is co-organized with Tokyo’s National Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery Singapore, with support from the Japan Foundation Asia Center.

WHERE: National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, 313 Gwangmyeong-ro, Gwacheon-si, Gyeonggi-do 13829, Korea

WHEN: January 31 through May 6


“Heaven and Earth in Chinese Art” at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

Portrait of the Hongzhi Emperor (detail), Ming dynasty (1368–1644). Courtesy National Palace Museum, Taipei.

WHAT: Because Taiwan has been concerned about mainland China’s longstanding claims that they should be returned to Beijing, treasures from the National Palace Museum in Taipei rarely travel abroad. That’s what makes this single-venue exhibition of 80 works—including paintings, calligraphy, illustrated books, bronzes, ceramics, jade, and wood carvings—at the Art Gallery of New South Wales all the more special. For the first time, star objects including a Qing dynasty (1644–1912) meat-shaped stone will travel to Australia—all thanks to the Australian government’s scheme to protect cultural objects on loan, which guarantees everything will be returned to Taipei’s Palace Museum.  

WHERE: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery Road, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

WHEN: February 2 through May 5


“Material Insanity” at the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden, Marrakesh

Frances Goodman, Roiling Red (2018). Courtesy SMAC Gallery.

WHAT:  This group show of works by contemporary artists of African descent centers on how culture influences an artist’s use of materials. More than 30 artists, including Ibrahim Mahama (Ghana), Hassan Hajjaj (Morocco), Frances Goodman (South Africa), and Cyrus Kabiru (Kenya), who makes mixed-media masks, are scheduled to be represented. The show also includes new site-specific installations. 

WHERE: Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden, Al Maaden, Sidi Youssef Ben Ali 40000 Marrakesh, Morocco

WHEN: February 26 through September 22


“Glow Like That” at K11 Atelier, Hong Kong

Larry Bell, Untitled Trapezoid Improvisation (1983). Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Genevieve Hanson.

WHAT: This is the inaugural show in Hong Kong’s new $2.6 billion art and design district, Victoria Dockside, timed to coincide with Art Basel Hong Kong. The show is curated by Venus Lau, the K11 Art Foundation’s artistic director, and includes luminescent works by international artists Larry Bell and DeWain Valentine, as well as Chinese contemporary artists Zhang Enli and Chen Wei. It promises to explore “the concept of luminescence and the current zeitgeist of ‘glow’ in relation to centuries-old ideals of the form and human existence.”

WHERE: K11 Atelier, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

WHEN: March 16 through May 13


“Vienna on the Path to Modernism” at the National Art Center, Tokyo

Egon Schiele, Self-portrait (1911). Copyright Wien Museum. Photo by Peter Kainz.

WHAT: Fin de siècle Vienna comes to Tokyo in an exhibition that traces the cultural achievements of the late 19th century back to the second half of the 18th century. The roots of Modernism and the Viennese Secession are the focus here, placing the work of Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos, and the Wiener Werkstätte in a wider perspective. Around 400 works are to be presented, including more than 70 paintings, numerous examples of decorative arts, graphics, and textiles. Highlights include Klimt’s Portrait of Emilie Flöge (1902).

WHERE: National Art Center, Tokyo, 7 Chome-22-2 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo 106-8558, Japan

WHEN: April 24 through August 5


“The Essential Duchamp” at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

Marcel Duchamp, Fountain (1950, replica of 1917 original). Philadelphia Museum of Art. © Marcel Duchamp/ADAGP. Licensed by Copyright Agency.

WHAT: This exhibition is set to be the deepest dive into all things Marcel Duchamp that the Asia-Pacific region has ever seen. The show began its roaming journey at Tokyo’s National Museum last fall to mark the 50th anniversary of the artist’s death, and then headed to Seoul’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in December (where it is open through April 7). It makes its final stop in Australia, completing an ambitious international collaboration between the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which loaned 150 works for the exhibition, and museums in Asia.

WHERE: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery Road, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

WHEN: April 27 through August 11


“Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality” at the National Gallery of Victoria

The 2,200-year-old terracotta army is seen at the Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum in 2005. Photo by China Photos/Getty Images.

WHAT: Eight warrior figures, two imperial army horses, and two replica bronze chariots from China’s famed group of terracotta warriors will go on view in Australia this May. The figures, which come from an historic archaeological find uncovered in China in 1974, and which date from the Qin dynasty (221–206 BC), are actually returning to Melbourne nearly 30 years after they were first shown there in 1982. The exhibition will be on view alongside “The Transient Landscape,” an exhibition of works by Chinese gunpowder artist Cai Guo-Qiang. 

WHERE: National Gallery of Victoria, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne Victoria 3006, Australia

WHEN: May 24 through October 13


“Picasso: Birth of a Genius” at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing

Mother and Child. (Fall 1907). Musée national Picasso-Paris. © Succession Picasso 2018

WHAT: This exhibition spans nearly three decades of Picasso’s career (between 1893 and 1921) through 103 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, making it “the most significant exhibition of work by Pablo Picasso ever to take place in China,” according to the museum. The show draws heavily from the collection of the Musée national Picasso-Paris and was highlighted by French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe in a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in June, where Philippe noted that the show is an example of the strong bilateral cultural agreement between the two countries.

WHERE: Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, 4 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang Qu, Beijing Shi, China

When: June 15 through September 1


“Shiota Chiharu: The Soul Trembles” at Mori Art Museum

Chiharu Shiota, Burnt piano, burnt chair, black wool (2008). Installation view of “State of Being,” Art Centre Pasquart, Biel/Bienne, Switzerland, 2008. Photo by Sunhi Mang.

WHAT: The Berlin-based artist Chiharu Shiota, who is known for her powerful red-and-black thread installations, is spinning her web across the Mori Art Museum this year. The show is set to be her largest-ever solo presentation, and will trace her career back twenty years primarily through six large-scale installations. Other works in the show include sculptures, video footage of performances, photographs, and drawings.

WHERE: Mori Art Museum, 52F/53F, Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan

WHEN: June 20 through October 27


“School of Paris” at the Louvre Abu Dhabi

Louvre Abu Dhabi, The World in Perspective, (2017). © Louvre Abu Dhabi. Photo by Marc Domage.

An installation view of works at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. © Louvre Abu Dhabi. Photo by Marc Domage.

WHAT: The Louvre Abu Dhabi is making the most of its access to the Centre Pompidou’s collection to present this exhibition about Paris in the first half of the 20th Century. The show examines how, from 1900 until the start of World War II, a host of foreign artists—including Spaniards such as Picasso and Juan Gris, the Americans Man Ray and Lee Miller, the Russian-born Naum Gabo, and Romanian sculptuor Constantin Brancusi—turned the city into the world capital of Modernism.

WHERE: Louvre Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE

WHEN: 12 September through 7 December


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