9 Powerful Shows to See in Europe on International Women’s Day, Including a Celebration of ‘Defiant Muses’
Check out these exhibitions honoring some of the most important women in the art world.
Looking for a way to mark International Women’s Day on March 8? Look no further. From a London exhibition that examines patriarchal power structures, to a German show paying tribute to the women of the Surrealist movement, here are nine shows around Europe not to miss.
at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
What: The Portuguese conceptual artist Joana Vasconcelos is having her largest UK exhibition ever in the open-air sculpture park, as well as in one of its galleries. Her work offers feminist commentary on social issues, subverting the use of traditionally feminine processes and materials, such as crochet and fabric. Highlights include the monumental Valkyrie Marina Rinaldi, part of a series named after the Norse female war goddesses. More than 25 works will be exhibited from the past 20 years of her career.
Where: Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK
When: March 7–January 3, 2021
at Kunsthalle Schirn
What: Thirty-four female Surrealists get their due recognition in this exhibition in Frankfurt. More than 260 works by artists including Leonora Carrington to Dora Maar showcase the vital role female perspectives played in the Modern movement. The exhibition includes artworks generated through the exquisite corpse game that was favored by the Surrealists, as well as manifold depictions of mythical creatures and subconscious landscapes.
Where: Kunsthalle Schirn, Frankfurt, Germany
When: February 13–May 24
at Barbican Art Gallery
What: This major group exhibition of more than 300 works by more than 50 artists explores how masculinity is variously coded, performed, and socially constructed. Through documentary depictions of the toxic performance of masculinity fostered by college fraternities, to the ever-unattainable body ideals promoted in bodybuilding, to subversive and queer masculinities, the show offers a range of perspectives and critiques. Works by female artists, including Laurie Anderson and Marianne Wex, subvert the male gaze and speak back to cat-callers and man-spreaders.
Where: Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK
When: February 20–May 17
at Kunstverein München
What: The late US artist Pati Hill is getting her first posthumous institutional solo at Kunstverein München. Hill was an outsider artist who worked with images and texts, often experimenting with photocopiers, which were stereotypically linked to (female) secretarial work. The exhibition presents works from her cross-disciplinary output spanning 60 years, which often questioned gender stereotypes and worked to make invisible domestic labor visible.
Where: Kunstverein München, Munich, Germany
When: March 7–May 17
at the Foundling Museum
What: This exhibition shows how artists have depicted pregnancy over the last 500 years. From Old Masters and 19th-century portraiture, to Jenny Saville’s searing portraits and Awol Erikzu’s artful photographs of a pregnant Beyoncé, the exhibition charts how social attitudes towards pregnant women have changed over time.
Where: The Foundling Museum, London, UK
When: January 24–April 26
at Museo Reina Sofia
What: This show explores the career of the 20th-century French cinematographer Delphine Seyrig. As an actress in French auteur films and as an activist feminist, Seyrig worked closely with 1970s filmmakers including Chantal Akerman, Marguerite Duras, and Ulrike Ottinger to unpack traditional female roles. Other creative allies included the actress and activist Jane Fonda and the poet and painter Etel Adnan. A highlight of the exhibition is a 1975 series of videos created with video artist Carole Roussopoulos and translator Ioana Wieder, which later led the trio to found the Simone de Beauvoir audiovisual center in Paris in 1982, which has since kept an archive of feminist struggles in France and beyond.
Where: Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain
When: September 25, 2019–March 23, 2020
at Castello di Rivoli
What: In this show, the Castello di Rivoli is presenting the first Italian museum exhibition of the Swiss artist Claudia Comte. It includes Comte’s mind-bending environmental installations, which embody the world as seen through a consciousness shaped by the digital experience. Eleven large-scale murals inspired by digital media, as well as 18th-century decorative motifs of the museum building, transform surfaces into trippy optical sequences.
Where: Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy
When: October 31, 2019–May 3, 2020
Ulla von Brandenburg
at Palais de Tokyo
What: Ulla von Branbenburg has been inspired by the theater for this sweeping exhibition in Paris’s Palais de Tokyo. The artist has clothed the white cube setting of the museum with colorful fabrics, consciously trying to alter visitors’ relationship with, and expectations of, the space. Through new installations, sculpture, performances, and films, Von Brandenburg weaves a surreal narrative and invites visitors to step into, and become part of, the exhibition.
Where: Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France
When: February 21–May 17
Love Song Sing-Along
at KW Institute for Contemporary Art
What: In “Love Song Sing-Along,” Kris Lemsalu Malone, the edgy artist who represented Estonia at the 2019 Venice Biennale, has her first institutional show in Germany. Lemsalu Malone collaborated on the exhibition with the artist and avant-garde musician (and her husband) Kyp Malone Lemsalu. The show presents a new body of work, a large-scale installation that spans the entire third floor of the former margarine factory that houses the museum. Through sculpture, ceramics, animation, performance, and sound, the duo stir up the boundaries between human and animal, life and death, and silence and noise.
Where: KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany
When: February 29–May 3
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