This spring, Europe offers feasts for the eyes and inspiration for the mind. We’ve compiled a selection of the most thought-provoking museum exhibitions (and a couple of biennials, too) on the continent, on view in cities from Munich to Milan.
Stairway to Klimt: Eye to Eye with Klimt
February 18–September 2, 2018; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria
This year, Vienna is pulling out all the stops to celebrate the centenary of the deaths of its most famous painters—Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. The Kunsthistorisches Museum eschews installing new work in favor of showcasing the works that Klimt created 12 meters above ground in the museum’s grand main staircase. A bridge above the steps allows an eye-to-eye view until September. (Schiele fans can head to the Leopold Museum a block away to see a comprehensive show of the work of Klimt’s protegé, too).
Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins
February 28–May 27, 2018; Barbican, London, United Kingdom
What do we know about non-European countercultures? This exhibition showcases the work of 20 photographers who documented marginal communities in countries such as India, Chile, and Nigeria. Street photography, portraits, and more by photographers, including Paz Errazuriz, Pieter Hugo, Mary Ellen Mark, and Dayanita Singh, are on view.
The Collection: A New Selection of Works
April 11–August 27, 2018; Louis Vuitton Foundation, Paris, France
Come spring, the Frank Gehry–designed Louis Vuitton Foundation exhibition spaces feature both historical and contemporary pieces from its formidable collection, focusing on the notion of the artist as creator of the world. One whole floor is dedicated to colorful and poppy Japanese artist Takashi Murakami; also on display are stunning works by familiar names like Matthew Barney, Yves Klein, Henri Matisse, Sigmar Polke, Adrián Villar-Rojas, and many others.
Through May 27, 2018; Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark
In 1946, Pablo Picasso attended a ceramics workshop and was taken with the process. Late in his career, he produced ceramic pieces that remain some of his least-known work, but pack the Picasso punch all the same. More than 160 of these whimsical works are on display this spring at the Louisiana Museum, some 25 miles from Copenhagen.
Kiki Smith, Procession
Through June 3, 2018; Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany
Soak in three decades of this New York-based artist’s multimedia work, much of which focuses on the body and its social and political effects. The work on view ranges from provocative sculptures to ethereal drawings. This show, Smith’s first European retrospective, even takes place in a politically charged building—Hitler built Haus der Kunst to showcase party-line German art. But since soon after World War II’s end, some of the edgiest art in Germany has been shown here. That tradition continues.
Post Zang Tumb Tuuum. Art Life Politics: Italia 1918–1943
February 18–June 25, 2018; Prada Foundation, Milan, Italy
How did life in interwar Italy feel to the artists and art institutions of the time? In the Prada Foundation’s airy Milan spaces, this exhibition explores art produced during that period via more than 600 drawings, paintings, sculptures, architectural plans, and documents. Expect to be transported into the aesthetics and politics of a time and place in which ideas and social structures were radical and groundbreaking.
June 9–September 9, 2018; various venues, Berlin, Germany
The always-controversial Berlin Bienniale celebrates its 10th iteration. Titled “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” and curated by Gabi Ngcobo, the event promises to deliver art from far beyond its usual Eurocentric focus and address today’s political issues through a postcolonial lens. Anticipate food for thought in multiple venues, including Kunst-Werke, the contemporary art center in Mitte.
Venice Architecture Bienniale
May 26–November 25, 2018; Venice, Italy
n even years, architectural visions descend upon Venice’s Giardini and Arsenal exhibition venues in one of Europe’s most intriguing cities. Curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, the bienniale’s main exhibition focuses on the concept of “free space”—in this case, new ways of seeing the world. As always, the national pavilions showcase each country’s architectural best.