Europe’s 10 Best Museum Shows in 2015

Take your diaries out.

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Ushio Shinohara, Doll Festival (1966)Photo: © Ushio Shinohara courtesy of Tokyo Gallery+BTAP
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Pierre-Leguillon, Museum of Mistakes collection. The New York Times Magazine/Part 1, September 20, 1970 (cover photograph: Werner Wolff)Photo: Pierre Leguillon via WIELS
Pierre-Leguillon, Museum of Mistakes collection. The New York Times Magazine/Part 1, September 20, 1970 (cover photograph: Werner Wolff).
Photo: Pierre Leguillon via WIELS.
Dora Maurer, Seven Rotations 1 -6 (1979)Photo: Courtesy Whitechapel Gallery, London
Dora Maurer, Seven Rotations 1 -6 (1979).
Photo: Courtesy Whitechapel Gallery, London.
Image of Lynda Benglis originally published in Life, February 1970Photo: Henry Groskinsky © Life Inc. Courtesy the artist and Cheim & Read, New York
Image of Lynda Benglis originally published in Life, February 1970.
Photo: Henry Groskinsky © Life Inc. Courtesy the artist and Cheim and Read, New York.
Film still from Ed Atkins’ Ribbons (2014) Photo: ©Ed Atkins courtesy of Cabinet, London and Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin
Film still from Ed Atkins’ Ribbons (2014).
Photo: ©Ed Atkins courtesy of Cabinet, London and Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin.
Isa Genzken, Schauspieler (2014) at Museum der Moderne SalzburgPhoto: Rainer Iglar courtesy Daniel Buchholz, Berlin
Isa Genzken, Schauspieler (2014) at Museum der Moderne Salzburg.
Photo by Rainer Iglar courtesy Daniel Buchholz, Berlin.
Sigmar Polke, Girlfriends (Freundinnen) (1965/66)Photo:© 2013 Estate of Sigmar Polke / ARS, New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn via: The White Review
Sigmar Polke, Girlfriends (Freundinnen) (1965/66).
Photo:© 2013 Estate of Sigmar Polke / ARS, New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn via: The White Review.
Alicja Kwade, O.T. (2013)Photo: © Alicja Kwade Courtesy: Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Alicja Kwade, O.T. (2013).
Photo: © Alicja Kwade Courtesy: Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt.
Carsten Höller & Yves Gaumetou,
Carsten Höller and Yves Gaumetou, Snake (2013).
Photo: Marc Domage courtesy the artist and Air de Paris, Paris.
Ushio Shinohara, Doll Festival (1966)Photo: © Ushio Shinohara courtesy of Tokyo Gallery+BTAP
Ushio Shinohara, Doll Festival (1966).
Photo: © Ushio Shinohara courtesy of Tokyo Gallery+BTAP.
Francisco de Goya Self Portrait in studio (1793-5)Photo: © Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid courtesy National Gallery, London
Francisco de Goya Self Portrait in studio (1793-5).
Photo: © Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid courtesy National Gallery, London.

Happy new year! On the other side of the vast pile of comfort food, Christmas jumpers, and family get-togethers, a roster of exciting new exhibitions awaits. Take your diaries out.

Pierre Leguillon, “The Museum of Mistakes: Contemporary Art and Class Struggle” at WIELS (Brussels, Belgium), January 10–February 22
Pierre Leguillon’s solo exhibition will focus on the French artist’s ongoing project, “The Museum of Mistakes,” which gathered works created over the last 15 years by reconfiguring fragments of photographs, film extracts, advertisements, postcards, posters, slides, record sleeves, magazines, and other types of mass media. Placing emphasis on the viewer as the true generator of meaning, Leguillon invites us to rethink the conditions of the reception of art.

“Adventures of the Black Square: Abstract Art and Society 1915–2015” at the Whitechapel Gallery (London, UK), January 15–April 6
Taking Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square (1915) as a starting point, this exhibition traces the history of 100 years of abstract art. The show, co-curated by the Whitechapel Gallery’s director Iwona Blazwick and curator at large Magnus af Petersens, features paintings, sculptures, films, and photographs by 100 artists including Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Andrea Fraser, Piet Mondrian, Gabriel Orozco, Hélio Oiticica, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Rosemarie Trockel, Theo Van Doesburg, and Andrea Zittel.

Lynda Benglis at the Hepworth Wakefield (Wakefield, UK), February 6–July 5
We know, it sounds almost unbelievable, but this will be the first ever museum survey of Lynda Benglis’s work in the UK. This retrospective will gather over 50 works spanning the 50-year career of the revered Benglis, including her infamous Centerfold (1974), her vibrant latex paintings, and recent ceramic and polyurethane works. The show is the perfect excuse to visit this reputed museum near Leeds, the largest purpose-built exhibition space outside London.

Ed Atkins, “Recent Ouija” at Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam, Netherlands), February 21–May 31
Beatrix Ruf continues her steadfast championing of Ed Atkins’s work. One of the the last exhibitions she curated before leaving the Kunsthalle Zürich was a solo show by the phenomenal British artist. Now, from her new “home” at the Stedelijk, she is curating the first solo exhibition of Atkins in the Netherlands. “Recent Ouija” will gather recent works by Atkins, including his immersive film installations Ribbons (2014) and Happy Birthday!! (2014), as well as collages and texts.

Isa Genzken, “New Works” at Museum für Moderne Kunst (Frankfurt, Germany), March 14–May 31
This exhibition will feature a large group of sculptures made with mannequins, a set of distorted self-portraits which Genzken calls “actors.” Clad in everyday clothes topped with industrial materials, the sculptures appear like characters in a dystopian play about consumerism. Showing that a cutting-edge attitude towards art doesn’t have anything to do with age, the 66-year-old German artist gives a masterclass in “posthuman” sculpture that wouldn’t look amiss in any of the trendy galleries in New York’s Bowery.

Sigmar Polke, “Alibis” at Museum Ludwig (Cologne, Germany), March 14–July 5
After the roaring success of Sigmar Polke’s retrospective at Tate Modern, the show is now touring to the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, the painter’s hometown for over 50 years, adding poignancy to this well-deserved reappraisal of his career. Bringing together 250 works, many of them never shown in Germany before, the exhibition will explore Polke not only as a humorous and versatile painter, but also as a daring filmmaker and performer.

Alicja Kwade at Schirn Kunsthalle (Frankfurt, Germany), March 26–June 14
Berlin-based artist Alicja Kwade will explore her ongoing interest in the poetry of the mathematician Lewis Carroll and the motif of the doppelganger, translated into disconcerting assemblages of sculptural objects. The Polish-born sculptor will also present a site-specific installation at the Schirn Rotunda, which will explore the physical dimensions of time.

Carsten Höller, “Decision Dilemma (working title)” at the Hayward Gallery (London, UK), June 9–September 6
The next Hayward Gallery summer blockbuster will be a retrospective of the artist Carsten Höller, he of the humongous (and fantastically popular) slides at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. The exhibition will trace the 20-year career of the Belgian artist, through a wide range of works in different media, but all with Höller’s signature psychological and sensorial emphasis. The show will also feature new commissions.

“The World Goes Pop” at Tate Modern (London, UK), September 17, 2015–January 24, 2016
Obsessed with consumer-culture, the Pop art movement is usually associated with Western metropolises like New York, Paris, and London. But this thrilling exhibition, which culminates in far-reaching new research, will reveal how artists from the (so-called) “peripheries” engaged with and responded to the spirit of Pop art—from Latin America and Asia to the Middle East—during the 1960s and 1970s. The exhibition will feature around 200 works, many shown in the UK for the first time.

“Goya: The Portraits” at the National Gallery (London, UK), October 7, 2015–January 10, 2016
After two centuries of devoted scholarship and exhibition-making, it’s probably become rather difficult to present an innovative vision on the oeuvre of Francisco de Goya. But the National Gallery hopes to succeed with the first exhibition ever to focus exclusively on Goya’s production of portraits, mapping his unconventional approach to the genre.


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