20 Great Exhibitions in Europe We’re Excited About in 2016

Including Dada's centennial, the Berlin Biennial, and a Michel Houellebecq show.

KAWS 'SMALL LIE' (2013) Courtesy the artist and YSP.

The tree is on the pavement, the tinsel is in the bin and we’ve all watched everything decent there is to watch on Netflix. That’s right, the holidays are over and it’s time to get to grips with—yes it is hard to believe isn’t it—2016.

Looking at the year ahead, we have put together a preview of the best exhibitions to look forward to in Europe in 2016. The good news is, as far as art goes, it looks like it going to be a cracking year.

1. KAWS at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

KAWS’s giant sculptures will leave their typically urban habitat and take up residence in the Yorkshire countryside. The exhibition will include both sculpture and unseen paintings in what will be his first museum show in the UK.

KAWS, or Brian Donnelly, rose to fame through customizing billboards in New York City where he studied art, then going on to work creating animations for Disney. It wasn’t long before his annotated boards became collector’s items and KAWS’s art was showing in galleries as well as on the streets.

The exhibition is a slight departure from the usually more traditional program at YSP, but it may well attract a new audience to the already popular art destination. 

“KAWS” will be on view at Yorkshire Sculpture Park from February 6 – June 12, 2o16. 

Steve McQueen, Ashes (2014) dimensions variable Courtesy Thomas Dane Gallery, Marian Goodman Gallery Copyright Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen, Ashes (2014)
Courtesy Thomas Dane Gallery, Marian Goodman Gallery
Copyright Steve McQueen

2.Steve McQueen” at Marian Goodman, Paris

Artist turned film director Steve McQueen’s upcoming exhibition kicks off the schedule at Marian Goodman in Paris this year. The exhibition will show new work alongside existing film works, including the new installation piece Remember Me (2015).

McQueen, when not collaborating with the likes of Kanye West, has focused the majority of his energies on his film career of late, winning the Palm d’Or at Cannes and the Best Motion Picture Oscar for 12 Years A Slave (2013) in 2013.

“Steve McQueen” will be on view at Marian Goodman in Paris from January 9 – February 27, 2016.

<i>Architectural Site 7, World Financial Center, NY, July 14, 1986 Cibachrome </i>(1986) <br> Photo: Courtesy Kadel Willborn, Düsseld

Barbara Kasten, Architectural Site 7, World Financial Center, NY, July 14, 1986 Cibachrome (1986)
Photo: Courtesy Kadel Willborn, Düsseldorf

 3. Barbara Kasten “Staging Architecture”, at Kadel Willborn, Düsseldorf

Barbara Kasten’s “Staging Architecture” opens at Kadel Willborn in Dusseldorf in January, bringing to Europe for the first time the series Architectural Sites made between 1984-1987 and focused on major buildings in the U.S.

Kasten’s photography is made through a performative practice where she creates large, intricate, and extensive installations, then restages them using colored lighting, and photographs the results.

The exhibition will also include a site specific film work entitled Sideways II (2016) which will be on view in dialogue with Architectural Sites (1984-87).

“Staging Architecture” will open at Kadel Willborn on January 15 , 2016.


Paul Klée Kairuan vor dem Thor (1941)
Photo: courtesy Moderna Museet

4. “Klee/Aguéli” at Moderna Museet, Stockholm 

This joint exhibition places works by Swiss artist Paul Klee alongside those of Swedish Ivan Aguéli in an imagined meeting of the two painters.

Both artists searched for another dimension in art; for Klee this was another possible world while for Ageuli, considered one of the founders of Swedish modernism, it was the fourth dimension. Although the pair never met, this exhibition seeks to draw a parallel between their approaches and aesthetics. With some 86 paintings and drawings, the show is curated around the ideas of creation, form, angel, sign, and garden.

Klee/Aguéli is on view at Moderna Museet in Stockholm January 16 – April 24, 2016.


John Akomfrah,  film still from his upcoming exhibition  
Photo: courtesy Lisson Gallery

5. John Akomfrah at Lisson, and other venues across England

John Akomfrah’s eponymous exhibition, his first with Lisson gallery, will open in January. In addition, his film Vertigo Sea (2015)—which premiered at 2015’s Venice Biennale—is also being shown at the Arnolfini in Bristol. It will then visit Turner Contemporary in Margate, and Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, as well as other, as yet unannounced venues.

Akomfrah’s work is gaining more attention aided by his joining the impressive stable of artists at Lisson Gallery last year. He founded the Black Audio Film Collective in 1982 and went on to make an award-winning documentary on the race-related Handsworth Riots, which took place in Birmingham in 1985. He has been making both art and film ever since, exploring ideas of race, identity, and global politics in a conceptual, theatrical and highly aesthetic way.

“John Akomfrah” is on view at Lisson Gallery from January 22 – March 12; “John Akomfrah:Vertigo Sea” in on view at Arnolfini Bristol January 16 – April 10, when it will travel to Turner Contemporary.


Poster for “Fire Under Snow” by Ed Atkins
Photo: courtesy Louisiana

6. “Fire Under Snow” at Louisiana, Denmark 

The Louisiana museum outside of Copenhagen will showcase their impressive, growing collection in two specially themed shows this year.

The first of the two,“Fire Under Snow,” focuses on new acquisitions of contemporary time-based art and features artworks by Ed Atkins, Candice Breitz, and Darren Almond among others.

It’s a great opportunity to look at cross-generation approaches to the medium, and the influence of new technologies on the practice around it.

“Fire Under Snow” is on view at Louisiana from January 27 – May 5, 2016.


Still from Manifesto featuring Cate Blanchett
Photo: Hamburger Bahnhof

7. “Julian Rosefeldt: Manifesto” at Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin 

German artist Julian Rosefeldt has collaborated with Hollywood actress Cate Blanchett to create thirteen short films for an exhibition that will travel to Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof from Australia in February.

Centered on the theme of the artist manifesto, Blanchett was filmed reading from writings by Kazimir Malevich, André Breton, Claes Oldenburg, Yvonne Reiner, Sturtevant, Sol LeWitt and Jim Jarmusch, performing as a different character each time, the films have then been edited and spliced together by Rosefeldt to create a poetic narrative.

Julian Rosefeldt: Manifesto is on view at Hamburger Bahnhof from February 10 – July 10, 2016. 

Installation view of Lutz Bacher at Portikus, Frankfurt. <br>Photo: via contemporaryartdaily.com

Installation view of Lutz Bacher at Portikus, Frankfurt.
Photo: via contemporaryartdaily.com

8. Lutz Bacher “More Than This” at Secession, Vienna

Conceptual artist Lutz Bacher will be installing works in Vienna’s Secession in her first solo show in Austria. Bacher has been active as an artist since the 1970s, but her witty and intangible practice has only started to gain wider recognition in the past five years. Her refusal to be pinned down extends to the fact that the artist doesn’t reveal her real identity, while her practice, which spans a variety of mediums, is often driven by tongue-in-cheek slippage. This show is will be nothing if not intriguing.

Lutz Bacher, “More Than This” will be on view at Secession from February 12 – April 2, 2016. 

The Death of Sardanapalus, 1844

Eugène Delacroix The Death of Sardanapalus (1844)
Photo: courtesy The National Gallery

9. “Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art” at The National Gallery, London

Celebrating the legacy of Eugène Delacroix, this exhibition looks at his paintings as the leader of France’s Romantic avant-garde. Cited as the founder of the modern aesthetic, the influence of Delacroix’s use of color and depiction of movement can be seen in the works of both Cézanne and Van Gogh.

The exhibition will place works by the French master next to those by his contemporaries, such as Gustave Courbet and Théodore Géricault, exploring Delacroix’s considerable influence.

“Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art” is on view at The National Gallery from February 17 – May 22, 2016. 

Matthew Barney as the satyr in Cremaster 4. Photo courtesy of the Guardian.

Matthew Barney as the satyr in Cremaster 4.
Photo: via the Guardian

1o. “Matthew Barney” at Astrup Fearnley, Oslo

The survey “Matthew Barney” at the Renzo Piano-designed museum on Oslo’s waterfront will comprise works from the 1990s up to the recent six-hour saga River of Fundament (2014). Barney himself will create a narrative between his works from TRANSEXUALIS (decline) (1991) through the Cremaster Cycle (1994-2002) and the latest operatic film.

The focus in this exhibition is placed on the painstakingly executed sets and props in Barney’s films; the show seeks to highlight the impact Barney has had on sculpture since his rise to fame during the 90s.

“Matthew Barney” is on view at Astrup Fearnley from February 25 – May 15, 2016. 

Hilm af Klint <i>Svanen</i> (1914-15) <br> Photo: via Wikipedia

Hilm af Klint Svanen (1914-15)
Photo: via Wikipedia

11. “Hilma af Klint: Painting the Unseen” at The Serpentine Gallery, London

Hilma af Klint’s abstract geometric paintings, unseen until 43 years after her death, reveal that she was creating abstract works before Kandinsky, Mondrian, and Malevich, making hers among the first ever abstract paintings.

Af Klint’s colorful and unique works were inspired by the feelings transmitted to her from nature and the spiritual world, and this exhibition will include works that have never been exhibited in the UK before.

“Hilma Af Klint: Painting the Unseen” will be on view at the Serpentine Gallery from March 3 – May 22


Image: Dadaart.com

Letter from Man Ray
Photo: via Dadaart.com

12. “Dadaglobe Reconstructed” at Kunsthaus, Zürich 

 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of Dada, and where would it be more appropriate to celebrate this centenary than in the city of Zürich in Switzerland, where the movement was born?

Dadaglobe was a book project, which saw Tristan Tzara calling for submissions from Dada practitioners all over Europe. The book was never published but in this, Dada’s centenary year, Kunsthaus Zürich are realizing the project at long last.

Artists in the survey will include Jean Arp, André Breton, Hannah Höch, and Max Ernst.

There will doubtless be many shows around Europe celebrating the groundbreaking movement so if you can’t make it to Zürich be sure to look around. If you happen to be in Berlin then you can see Dada Afrika at Berlinische Galerie which will look at the global responses to the European Dada movement.

“Dadaglobe Reconstrcted” will be on view at Kunsthaus, Zürich from February 5 – May 1, 2016. 


John Baldessari for “L’Image Volée
Photo: courtesy Fondizione Prada

13. “L’Image Volée” curated by Thomas Demand at Fondazione Prada, Milan

L’image Volée (The Stolen Image) will be a group exhibition of around 45 artists, curated by conceptualist Thomas Demand. The berlin-based artist explores the idea that all works of art depend on work made in the past. He thus attempts to probe ideas about originality and the culture of copying, sampling, and appropriating.

The exhibition’s structure is made by Manfred Pernice, and works have been commissioned especially for the show from artists such as John Baldessari, Oliver Laric, and Sara Cwynar, to name a few.

“L’Image Volée” curated by Thomas Demand will be on view at Fondazione Prada from March 17 – August 28, 2016. 


Louise Bourgeois Cell IV (1991)
Photo: courtesy Guggenheim Bilbao

14. Louise Bourgeois “Structures of Existence—The Cells” at Guggenheim Bilbao 

If you missed this exhibition in Moscow’s Garage Museum in 2015, then fear not, you can make it over to Bilbao in Spain this year to see this stunning exhibition in March, before it continues to Denmark’s Louisiana Museum in October.

The extensive exploration of Bourgeois‘s Cells was put together with the help of her longtime studio assistant Jerry Gorovoy and the exhibition provides a unique insight into Bourgeois’s work and the impact her turbulent family history had on her as an artist and a person.

The way in which Bourgeois would place her works in dialogue with one another in these Cells created groundbreaking commentaries on the family, feminism, and psychology.

“Structures of Existence- The Cells” will be on view from March 18 – September 4, 2016. 

Michael Craig-Martin Globalisation (2012) Photo: courtesy Jenkins Johnson Gallery

Michael Craig-Martin, Globalisation (2012)
Photo: courtesy Jenkins Johnson Gallery

15. Conceptual Art in Britain 1964-79 at Tate Britain, London

The Tate always puts together an impressive schedule. Conceptual Art in Britain 1964-79 will be on view at Tate Britain and explore the evolution in British art that took place during this pivotal period. The survey features work from 21 artists such as Susan Hiller, Michael Craig-Martin, Richard Long and Art & Language.

“Conceptual Art in Britain 1964-79” will be on view at Tate Britain from April 12 – August 29, 2016.

Francis Bacon at Marlborough Fine Art, C8.Photo: Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art.

Francis Bacon at Marlborough Fine Art, C8.
Photo: Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art.

16. Francis Bacon: Invisible Rooms at Tate, Liverpool

This exhibition will be well worth a spring trip up to Tate Liverpool as it will look deeper into the work of one of the most fascinating artists of the 2oth century.

Francis Bacon: Invisible Rooms,” will focus on the way Bacon used framing techniques in many of his works. From his famous diptychs and triptychs to the way he painted frames and cages into some of his compositions, the 35 works in this show explore this motif throughout his oeuvre.

 “Francis Bacon: Invisible Rooms” will be on view at Tate, Liverpool May 18 through September 18

Screenshot 2015-12-30 19.19.18

Still from the promotional video for the 9th Berlin Biennial
Photo: artnet News

17. 9th Berlin Biennale, Berlin

The 9th Berlin Biennale will take place this summer, curated by the New York based DIS collective this time. Past curators include Maurizio Cattelan, Massimiliano Gioni and Ali Subotnick, Adam Szymczyk and Elena Filipovic, Ute Meta Bauer, and founders Klaus Biesenbach, Nancy Spector and Hans Ulrich Obrist.

This hotly anticipated edition of the biennial is keeping its options open, stating on its website that there “may or may not be contemporary art” on view.

The biennale has received varied reviews since its inception in 1998 but Berlin’s art scene has gained considerable momentum in recent years and this, in combination with DIS’s highly cutting edge approach, makes this essential viewing.

The 9th Berlin Biennale will be on view from June 5 – September 18, 2016. 

Christian Jankowski <br> Photo: courtesy Manifesta

Christian Jankowski
Photo: courtesy Manifesta

18. MANIFESTA 11, Zürich

Following the controversial Manifesta 10, which took place in St. Petersburg in 2014, there has been much anticipation surrounding this year’s addition of the European biennial.

This time taking place in Zurich, this edition’s title is “What People Do To Make Money.” Zurich’s bid to host the biennial was accepted on the basis that they could compliment the centenary year of the Dada movement, which was founded in the city, with comment surrounding the city’s technological and financial advancement.

This will the first time Manifesta will be curated by an artist; Christian Jankowski is based in Berlin and creates collaborative, performative works.

Manifesta 11 will be on view from 11 June – 18 September, 2016. 

Alisa Baremboym, Installation shot from The Great Acceleration, Art in the Athropocene, Taipei Biennial Photo: via alisabaremboym.com

Alisa Baremboym, Installation shot from The Great Acceleration, Art in the Athropocene, Taipei Biennial
Photo: via alisabaremboym.com

19. The 9th Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool

The Liverpool Biennial will explore the theme of episodes and time. Participating artists will be invited to create episodes with the curatorial team spanning Ancient Greece, the neo-classical architecture of the city, the city’s Chinatown district which has existed since the 1800s, children, software, monuments of the future, and the notion of flashback.

Participating artists include Mark Leckey, Lucy Beech, Marvin Gaye Chetwind, Alisa Baremboym and Lawrence Abu Hamdan.

The 9th Liverpool Bienniale will be on view from July 9 – October 16, 2016. 

Michael Houellebecq <br> Photo:

Michael Houellebecq

20. “Rester Vivant” Michel Houellebecq at Palais de Tokyo, Paris 

“Rester vivant” or “ Staying Alive” will open at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris this summer. The exhibition, created by Michel Houellebecq, will include photography, film, and installation. Though not much has been revealed about the show yet, the controversially outspoken writer-turned-artist will no doubt draw a crowd.

“Rester Vivant” will be on view at Palais de Tokyo June 23 through September 12

Bonus addition at 21: 

Herzog & de Meuron also designed the Tate's £215 million ($326 million) extension. Photo: Hayes Davidson via The Guardian

Herzog & de Meuron also designed the Tate’s £215 million ($326 million) extension.
Photo: Hayes Davidson via The Guardian

The New Tate Modern, London 

Do you remember the new Tate Modern building there was all that fuss about? There was all that construction…. Londoners were up in arms about the design… It was delayed…. Or was it…? Anyway, you will be glad to know that it will be completed and opens on June 17, 2016. We can’t wait to see it.

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