Here are the 15 best art exhibitions you should visit in Europe this summer

The top 15 destinations for your Summer cultural journey.
The top 15 destinations for your Summer cultural journey. Copyright Canva Images
By Theo Farrant
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Here's our curated selection of some of the best and most-anticipated European art exhibitions taking place this summer.

Hoping to immerse yourself in the world of European art and culture this summer but not quite sure what's on and what's worth seeing?

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Well, fear not. Euronews Culture is here to guide you.

We've curated a selection of 15 outstanding exhibitions taking place throughout Europe this summer, ensuring you won't miss out on the finest experiences.

From an enlightening journey into the legacy of Tartan at the V&A Dundee to a mesmerizing display of Basquiat and Warhol's works at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, these events are not to be overlooked.

Laurent Rebours/AP
Nigerian musician and composer Fela Anikulapo Kuti performs on September 13, 1986 at the "Party of Humankind" of the French Communist Party at La Courneuve in ParisLaurent Rebours/AP

'Fela Anikalapu-Kuti: Afrobeat rebellion' at the Philharmonie de Paris (Paris, France)

It's your last chance to see the Paris Philharmonic's immersive exhibition devoted to the Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, inventor of Afrobeat in the 1970s, who "had a real love affair with France." The concert hall and exhibition complex pays homage to the late musician by recreating the atmosphere of his sweaty, politically-charged nightclub, the "Afrika Shrine", in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos; that became a beacon for global stars in the 1970s, including Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney. Through music, sound installations, photographs, projections, rare objects and stage costumes, the exhibition allows visitors to get "as close as possible to Fela's music and his political struggles." 

'Fela Anikalapu-Kuti: Afrobeat rebellion' opened on 20 October 2022 and runs until 11 June 2023.

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Staff members set up a Royal carriage at the Royal Collections Gallery in Madrid, SpainAP Photo

Gallery of Royal Collections (Madrid, Spain)

Nestled within the Royal Palace complex in Madrid, this highly-anticipated museum has been 25 years in the making. This remarkable museum will showcase an extensive array of artistic treasures amassed by Spanish monarchs over five centuries, encompassing paintings, tapestries, sculptures, decorative art pieces, armour, and opulent royal furniture. Representing the Spanish Empire of the Hapsburg to the Bourbon dynasty, the gallery's inaugural exhibition will feature 650 carefully selected pieces from the impressive 170,000-strong collection owned by the National Heritage agency. Visitors can expect to admire masterpieces by renowned artists such as Goya, Caravaggio, El Greco, and The Bosch, alongside a remarkable tapestry collection and a stunning array of carriages and royal furniture.   

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia will inaugurate the museum on 28 June, after which it will be open to the public, free of charge for the first few days.

Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Musées d’Orsay
The Manet/Degas exhibition runs until 23 July Musée d'Orsay in Paris.Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Musées d’Orsay

'Manet/Degas' at Musée d'Orsay (Paris, France)

The Musée d'Orsay in Paris is currently hosting a dialogue between two of the most renowned painters of the 19th century, Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas, who were not only friends but also fierce rivals. The exhibition, co-organised by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the National Gallery in London, brings together an incredible collection of around 200 paintings, pastels, drawings, engravings, monotypes, letters, and notebooks, creating a thematic and chronological route through their artistic careers. If you're an Impressionist art enthusiast, this is certainly not one to miss. 

'Manet/Degas' opened on 28 March and runs until 23 July.

Credit: Dietmar Gunne/Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemaldegalerie
Hugo van der Goes, Monforte-AltarCredit: Dietmar Gunne/Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemaldegalerie

'Hugo van der Goes: Between Pain and Bliss' at the Gemäldegalerie (Berlin, Germany)

This exhibition at Berlin's Gemäldegalerie offers a remarkable opportunity to immerse oneself in the artistry of Hugo van der Goes, the influential Netherlandish artist of the late 15th century. Marking the first-ever monographic exhibition dedicated to van der Goes, the showcase presents nearly all of the artist's surviving paintings and drawings, unveiling their monumental presence, vibrant colours, and profound emotional expressivity. The exhibition features notable works such as the "Monforte Altarpiece" and "The Nativity", both meticulously restored, as well as van der Goes' late masterpiece, "Death of the Virgin", on loan from the Groeningemuseum in Bruges. With a captivating collection of approximately 60 works, the exhibition sheds light on van der Goes' enigmatic life journey and his art's enduring legacy.

'Hugo van der Goes: Between Pain and Bliss' opened on 30 March and runs until 16 July.

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Credit: Fondation Louis Vuitton
Unveiling the collaborative masterpieces of Warhol and BasquiatCredit: Fondation Louis Vuitton

'Basquiat x Warhol' at the Louis Vuitton Foundation (Paris, France)

The Louis Vuitton Foundation is currently hosting a groundbreaking exhibition featuring a remarkable collection of 70 collaborative artworks by two iconic figures: Pop art legend Andy Warhol and the brilliant Neo-expressionist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Touted as the world's first retrospective of its kind, this exhibition showcases the unique synergy between the artists, as they joined forces to create an astounding 160 paintings between 1984 and 1985. Their creative partnership was sparked during a serendipitous meeting in New York City in October 1982, and their combined artistic prowess resulted in an extraordinary body of work. In addition to the collaborative pieces, the exhibition also presents individual works by each artist, providing a comprehensive overview of their distinct styles and artistic contributions. To recreate the vibrant atmosphere of the 1980s New York downtown art scene, the exhibition also features a selection of works by other influential artists such as Futura 2000, Michael Halsband, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, and Kenny Scharf. 

'Basquiat x Warhol' opened on 5 April and runs until 28 August.

Credit: Kunstmuseum Den Haag
Sky and Water I (Bool 306) by M. C. EscherCredit: Kunstmuseum Den Haag

'Escher – Other World' at the Kunstmuseum Den Haag (The Hague, The Netherlands)

The Kunstmuseum Den Haag is inviting visitors to step into the captivating world of the renowned artist, M.C. Escher. This exhibition offers a fresh and immersive perspective on Escher's famous prints, renowned for their optical illusions, impossible architecture, reflections, and the wonders of nature. Adding to the intrigue, Belgian artistic duo Gijs Van Vaerenbergh presents spectacular installations that interact with Escher's prints, providing a truly unique and profound exploration of his work. Escher's prints, born from his exceptional talent and unwavering dedication to printmaking, delve into the realms of space, landscape, perspective, and illusion. Similarly, Gijs Van Vaerenbergh's installations push the boundaries in these artistic realms but in a spatial context. 

Escher – Other World' opened on 18 February and runs until 10 September.

Credit: Hulton Archive
Paris exhibit tells the story of the acting trailblazer Sarah BernhardtCredit: Hulton Archive

'Sarah Bernhardt: And the woman created the star' at the Petit Palais (Paris, France)

A century after her death, Sarah Bernhardt, the pioneering 19th-century French stage star, remains an icon of popular culture. The petite diva, known as “La Divine,” was one of the world’s most famous women by the time of her death in 1923, owed not just to her acting talent but her modern instinct for self-publicising and using the press to brand her image. Now, the Petit Palais museum in Paris is hosting an exhibit exploring the many facets of Bernhardt’s life and career. “Sarah Bernhardt: And the woman created the star” showcases around 400 works, including handwritten logs, photographs, costumes, films, recordings, paintings, sculptures, and personal objects, that delve well beyond her life on stage. One particular highlight  of the exhibition is the spectacular portrait of Bernhardt that was painted in 1876 by her friend Georges Clairin.

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“Sarah Bernhardt: And the woman created the star” opened on 14 April and runs until 27 August.

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Ai Weiwei's "Making Sense" showcases giant site-specific installations, including the world's largest Lego artworkAP Photo

'Ai WeiWei: Making Sense' at the Design Museum (London, UK)

Renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei unveiled his highly anticipated exhibition, centered around design and architecture, at London's Design Museum on 7 April. Aptly titled "Making Sense," the exhibition has so far captivated audiences with its monumental site-specific installations, including five sprawling "fields" composed of an impressive assortment of objects collected by the artist over the past three decades. One of the exhibition's standout attractions is Ai Weiwei's awe-inspiring masterpiece, "Water Lilies #1," crafted entirely out of Lego bricks. This remarkable artwork, comprised of nearly 650,000 Lego pieces in 22 vibrant colours, meticulously recreates one of Claude Monet's most iconic paintings. 

'Ai Weiwei: Making Sense' opened on 7 April and runs until 30 July.

Credit: Tate Britain
Screens in the 'What Freedom Is To Me' exhibition show the work of Isaac Julien.Credit: Tate Britain

'Isaac Julien: What Freedom Is To Me' at Tate Britain (London, UK)

Isaac Julien, a celebrated artist and filmmaker, is renowned for his compelling lyrical films and video art installations, solidifying his position as a leading figure in the world of film and video art. His ambitious solo exhibition at Tate Britain showcases his pioneering work spanning from the early 1980s to the present day. Julien's ability to break down artistic barriers and draw inspiration from various disciplines is highlighted, incorporating elements from film, dance, photography, music, theatre, painting, and sculpture. Through the themes of desire, history, and culture, Julien's work captivates audiences, exploring the movement of people across continents and presenting a fusion of artistic expressions. This retrospective also introduces his latest film, 'Once Again... (Statues Never Die),' creating a mesmerizing environment with monochromatic aesthetics and sculptures referencing the impacts of imperialism. With a forty-year span of creative endeavours, this exhibition marks the first comprehensive presentation of Julien's work in the UK. 

'Isaac Julien: What Freedom Is To Me' opened on 26 April and runs until 20 August.

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Credit: Mareike Tocha/Mudam Luxembourg
View of the SINNMASCHINE exhibition at Mudam Luxembourg.Credit: Mareike Tocha/Mudam Luxembourg

'Michel Majerus: SINNMASCHINE' at Mudam (Luxembourg City, Luxembourg)

This must-see exhibition showcases the work of Michel Majerus, a highly prolific artist whose career was marked by the rise of global consumer culture and digital technology. His large-scale paintings and installations incorporate a diverse range of imagery and text, drawing inspiration from art history, video games, commercials, and electronic music. One notable installation featured in the exhibition references Kraftwerk's album "The Man-Machine," and invites visitors to walk on an industrial metal floor, reminiscent of a dancefloor where their steps create resonating sounds. Visitors have the opportunity to also explore Majerus's notebooks, his collection of books and magazines, and recorded VHS tapes, offering insights into how he made sense of the world around him. 

'Michel Majerus: SINNMASCHINE' opened on 31 March and runs until 1 October. 

Credit: Palazzo Grassi/Pinault Collection
Maurizio Cattelan, La Nona Ora, 1999, Pinault Collection. Installation view, Icônes, 2023.Credit: Palazzo Grassi/Pinault Collection

'ICÔNES' at the Punta della Dogana (Venice, Italy)

Immersed within the enchanting Punta della Dogana museum in Venice, an extraordinary exhibition titled 'ICÔNES'  explores the profound power and significance of icons in our contemporary world. Curated by Emma Lavigne and Bruno Racine, this exceptional showcase unveils a curated selection of noteworthy works from the renowned Pinault Collection, alongside site-specific installations and captivating pieces by 30 artists spanning different generations. Among the array of compelling artworks, Maurizio Cattelan's "The Ninth Hour" stands out as a striking centrepiece - a hyperrealistic sculpture depicting Pope John Paul II, strewn upon the ground, having been struck by a meteorite. Complemented by a diverse array of over eighty additional artworks, including immersive site-specific installations, paintings, videos, sound installations, and mesmerising performances, the exhibition sheds light on the multifaceted role of icons within our modern society.

'ICÔNES' opened on 2 April and runs until 26 November.

Credit: Christian Hook/V&A Dundee
Alan Cumming portrait by Christian Hook, 2014.Credit: Christian Hook/V&A Dundee

'Tartan' at V&A Dundee (Dundee, UK)

The iconic fabric and its rich history is being celebrated at a V&A Dundee exhibition, displaying 300 pieces of tartan from all walks of design. A particular standout at the exhibition will be a piece of what is said to be the oldest ever tartan found in Scotland. Researchers say the fabric, named after the Glen Affric bog in which it was found, was most likely made between 1500 and 1600. A curator at the V&A Dundee, James Wylie, called the discovery “a historic find” and added that it’s “immensely important” to put it on show to the public.

'Tartan' opened on 1 April 2023 and runs until 14 January 2024.

Credit: Yad Vashem Archives
Pnina Schinzon and Abraham Tory in the ghetto Kaunas, detail, Dezember 1943.Credit: Yad Vashem Archives

'Flashes of Memory: Photography During the Holocaust' at the Museum of Photography (Berlin, Germany)

The poignant exhibition 'Flashes of Memory. Photography During the Holocaust" at the Museum für Fotografie in Berlin showcases photographs, films, and artefacts related to the Holocaust. It provides a critical account of how photography and film were used as propaganda tools by the Nazi regime, the efforts of Jewish photographers to document the ghettos despite the risks, and the Allied forces' role in capturing evidence during liberation. The exhibition offers a chance to gain a deeper understanding of the Holocaust and its impact, while honouring the memory of the victims and promoting awareness and remembrance. 

'Flashes of Memory: Photography During the Holocaust' opened on 24 March and runs until 20 August.

Credit: Rene Magritte/Mudec
'The glass house' by Rene MagritteCredit: Rene Magritte/Mudec

'Dalí, Magritte, Man Ray and Surrealism' at the Mudec (Milan, Italy)

Surrealism arrives at Mudec in Milan through an exciting new exhibition, a collaboration with the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam. The Milanese museum has been loaned a captivating selection of 180 works encompassing paintings, sculptures, drawings, documents, and artefacts. Curated by esteemed art historian Els Hoek and professor Alessandro Nigro, the exhibition offers an immersive journey into the realm of Surrealism. The exhibition's setup, true to the surrealist spirit, embraces a diverse palette of colours and psychedelic textures adorning the walls and floors. Delving even further, video projections embellish the passage curtains, while an intriguing room with an artificial lawn adds an element of surprise. If you're a fan of the work of Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Man Ray and Leonora Carrington, then this is the exhibition for you. 

'Dalí, Magritte, Man Ray and Surrealism' opened on 22 March and runs until 30 July.

Credit: Holger Uwe Schmitt
Pablo Picasso and Museo Casa Natal Picasso in Málaga, SpainCredit: Holger Uwe Schmitt

'The Ages of Pablo' at the Casa Natal Picasso (Málaga, Spain)

The house where Picasso was born in Málaga in 1881 has been a museum since 1998. This year, the Museo Casa Natal Picasso will honour him in a show with exhibits from paintings and drawings to ceramics and sculptures. The exhibition aims to plot out a chronological and stylistic overview of Picasso’s work, organised into key moments of his artistic development. In the rest of the museum, visitors can get a glimpse into Picasso’s childhood, from his frilly baby clothes to artworks by his father Jose Ruiz Blasco.

'The Ages of Pablo' at the Casa Natal Picasso (Málaga, Spain) opens on 21 June and runs until 1 October.

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