The remarkable thing about major museum shows is that they can transcend the objects themselves to become global cultural phenomena. You might not be in Paris for the Louvre’s record-breaking Leonardo da Vinci show (on now through Feb 24), but you’ll certainly have heard of the waiting list, not to mention the multiple controversies.
So while you may not be in New York in March, Paris in May, we’ve compiled a list of what should be the biggest and/or most influential shows of the year.
Check them out in chronological order. Or wait a few months, and they’ll be clogging your social media feeds on their own.
In a textbook example of what the two year-old Louvre Abu Dhabi set out to achieve, a sweeping show of more than 130 historic objects from France, Iraq, Spain, and Syria will tell the story of knighthood in the medieval ages. The artworks have been culled from a series of French museums including France’s national museum of the Middle Ages in Paris, the Musée de Cluny, and they combine objects in the permanent collection of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Expect lots of swords.
Richter is a fantastically interesting artist who, through no fault of his own, has principally become known for the prices his art achieves at auction. In 2015 a very large abstract work he painted in 1986 sold for US$46.3mil at Sotheby’s in New York. But once you move past the prices (the highest of which, not incidentally, go to some of his most boring paintings), you’ll discover one of the 20th century’s most interesting painters. His art manages to blur the lines between photography and painting to evoke memory, loss, and repression. Now, 100 works, which comprise Richter’s first major US show in more than 20 years, will allow viewers to see his genius for themselves.
Once the dust has settled from the Louvre’s Leonardo show, visitors will be able to turn their sights onto a new exhibition of Italian masterworks, assembled in collaboration with the Castello Sforzesco museum in Milan. The exhibition is a sequel, of sorts, to the 2013 show Springtime In The Renaissance, which outlined the genesis of arguably the most important sculptural period of the last 1,000 years. The show will be more triumphant than its predecessor, with an emphasis on sculptures that highlight bodily movement and contortions and others that demonstrate sculptors’ ability to evoke heightened emotion. It might not get the crowds that the Mona Lisa does, but that means you’ll be left alone with one of the most interesting exhibitions in recent memory.
Next year will mark the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death at age 37. There will be multiple exhibitions to honor the painter, who created a spectacular amount of paintings, drawings, and frescoes in a relatively short period. Among others, the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin has already opened a show of five of the artist’s paintings of the Virgin Mary, and the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome will put on a sweeping exhibition in the spring. In the fall the National Gallery will put on its own major show, with its 10 Raphaels augmented by loans from the Vatican, Louvre, and Uffizi.
Four years ago, the Fondation Louis Vuitton put together an unprecedented exhibition of modern masterworks that once belonged to the industrialist Sergei Shchukin, a man whose fortune (and art) were confiscated by the Russian state after the revolution. Now, in a sequel of sorts, the Fondation is resurrecting another pre-war collection assembled by Moscow philanthropists Mikhail and Ivan Morozov, with work lent from museums including the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. The Morozov brothers amassed a spectacular impressionist and modern collection with art by Monet, Van Gogh, Matisse, and Picasso, all of which was dispersed into the aforementioned Russian museums. For anyone unwilling or unable to schlep to see individual works in those individual museums, this exhibition is a rare treat. – Bloomberg
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