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.

Ana Mendieta, Untitled (Facial Hair Transplants) (1972). ©The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC, Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co. and Alison Jacques Gallery, London. Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Ana Mendieta, Untitled (Facial Hair Transplants) (1972). ©The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC, Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co. and Alison Jacques Gallery, London. Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

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.

 

Joana Vasconcelos
at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Joana Vasconcelos, <i>Pop Galo</i> (2016). ©Luís Vasconcelos, Courtesy Unidade Infinita Projectos.

Joana Vasconcelos, Pop Galo (2016). © Luís Vasconcelos, Courtesy Unidade Infinita Projectos.

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 Rinaldipart 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

 

Fantastic Women
at Kunsthalle Schirn

Frida Kahlo, Selfportrait with thorn necklace (1940). © Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020.

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

 

Masculinities
at Barbican Art Gallery

Ana Mendieta, Untitled (Facial Hair Transplants) (1972). ©The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC, Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co. and Alison Jacques Gallery, London. Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Ana Mendieta, Untitled (Facial Hair Transplants) (1972). © The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC, Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co. and Alison Jacques Gallery, London. Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

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

 

Pati Hill
at Kunstverein München

Pati Hill, Alphabet of Common Objects (hair curlers) (1977–79). Courtesy Pati Hill Collection, Arcadia University.

Pati Hill, Alphabet of Common Objects (hair curlers) (1977–79). Courtesy Pati Hill Collection, Arcadia University.

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

 

Portraying Pregnancy
at the Foundling Museum

Left, Marcus Gheeraerts II, Portrait of a Woman in Red, 1620; Right, Beyonce in 2017 photographed by Awol Erikzu.

Left, Marcus Gheeraerts II, Portrait of a Woman in Red (1620) © Tate. Right, Beyonce in 2017, photographed by Awol Erikzu.

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

 

Defiant Muses
at Museo Reina Sofia

Delphine Seyrig. Photo by Claude James/INA via Getty Images/

Delphine Seyrig. Photo by Claude James/INA via Getty Images/

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

 

Claudia Comte
at Castello di Rivoli

Exhibition view: "Claudia Comte. How to Grow and Still Stay the Same Shape." Photo by Roman März. Courtesy Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea.

Exhibition view: “Claudia Comte. How to Grow and Still Stay the Same Shape.” Photo by Roman März. Courtesy Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea.

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

Ulla von Brandenburg, <i>Le milieu est bleu</i> (2020). Exhibition view, Palais de Tokyo. Photo by Aurélien Mole.

Ulla von Brandenburg, Le milieu est bleu (2020). Exhibition view, Palais de Tokyo. Photo by Aurélien Mole.

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

Installation view, “Love Song Sing-Along” at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin 2020, Courtesy the artists. Photo by Frank Sperlin.

Installation view, “Love Song Sing-Along” at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin 2020, Courtesy the artists. Photo by Frank Sperlin.

What: InLove 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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