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A curated list of some of the must-see art exhibitions in Europe this autumn.
A curated list of some of the must-see art exhibitions in Europe this autumn. Copyright Credit: Canva Images
Copyright Credit: Canva Images
Copyright Credit: Canva Images

From Hockney to Rembrandt: The best upcoming art exhibitions in Europe this autumn

By Theo Farrant
Published on Updated
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Hoping to immerse yourself in the world of European art and culture this autumn but not quite sure what's on and what's worth seeing? We've got you covered.

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Autumn is nearly here, bringing with it a refreshing chill and longer nights. What better a time to immerse oneself in some of the finest art that Europe has to offer?

Here at Euronews Culture, we've taken it upon ourselves to be your guides. We've meticulously curated a selection of the season's best upcoming exhibitions and art fairs around the continent, ensuring you're well-informed and don't miss out! 

From the audacious performance art of Marina Abramović to the timeless masterpieces of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, these shows are nothing short of unmissable.

Without further ado, let's get into it!

'Edvard Munch - Magic of the North' at the Berlinische Galerie (Berlin, Germany)

Credit: MUNCH, Oslo / Halvor Bjørngård
Edvard Munch - 'Red and White', 1899–1900Credit: MUNCH, Oslo / Halvor Bjørngård

We all know Edvard Munch for his iconic painting "The Scream", but his artistic impact extended far beyond that masterpiece. The Norwegian artist challenged his contemporaries with the radical modernity of his paintings, especially in Berlin, where he exerted a big influence around the turn of the century. Unveiling at the Berlinische Galerie, an upcoming exhibition intricately weaves the tale of Munch's profound relationship with Berlin, told through an array of his paintings, prints, and photographs. Across the span of 1892 to 1933, Munch participated in approximately 60 exhibitions in Berlin, proving the city as one of the most important European hotspots in Munch’s career.The exhibition, showcases around 80 masterworks by Edvard Munch, as well the works of other artists like Walter Leistikow and Akseli Gallen-Kallela. 

'Edvard Munch - Magic of the North' opens 15 September 2023 and runs until 22 January 2024.

'Louise Bourgeois - Persistent Antagonism' at the Belvedere Palace (Vienna, Austria)

Credit: The Easton Foundation / Bildrecht, Vienna 2023
Louise Bourgeois - 'Confrérie', 1940Credit: The Easton Foundation / Bildrecht, Vienna 2023

Arachnophobics look away now! As part of the Belvedere 300 year celebration, the Palace's opulent Baroque galleries will host a stunning exhibition dedicated to the mesmerising paintings of French-American artist Louise Bourgeois. The exhibition centres around her evocative surrealist paintings from 1940s, which will engage in a dialogue with a carefully chosen assemblage of her sculptures, installations and drawings, spanning the entirety of her career. While she's best known for her gigantic bronze spider sculptures, it was in the realm of her oil paintings, crafted between 1938 and 1949, that the artist forged her distinctive artistic language that would captivate her imagination over the next seven decades. The exhibition marks the first time these paintings will be exhibited as a body of work in Europe, and it is the first major exhibition of Bourgeois’s work in Vienna in a generation. Better get your tickets now! 

'Louise Bourgeois - Persistent Antagonism' opens on 22 September 2023 and runs until 28 January 2024

'Marina Abramović' at the Royal Academy of Arts (London, UK)

Credit: Royal Academy of Arts / Marina Abramović
An art world icon and a performance art pioneer – Marina Abramović has captivated audiences by pushing the limits of her body and mind, for the past 50 yearsCredit: Royal Academy of Arts / Marina Abramović

Marina Abramović, an iconic figure in the art world and a trailblazer in performance art, has continuously mesmerised audiences over the span of five decades through her groundbreaking explorations of both her physical and mental boundaries. One of her early works, "Rhythm 0," stands out as a prime example: Abramović extended an open invitation to the audience, encouraging them to interact with her in any manner they wished – a daring proposition that infamously culminated in an instance where a loaded gun was held to her head. In this new major exhibition hosted at the esteemed Royal Academy, pivotal junctures from Abramović’s illustrious career are brought to life through a collection of sculptures, videos, installations, and performances. Notably, seminal works like "The Artist is Present" will be revitalised through the utilisation of archival footage. Complementing this, a selection of other pieces will be reenacted by the succeeding generation of performance artists, individuals well-versed in the distinctive Marina Abramović methodology. This one is unmissable. 

'Marina Abramović' opens on 23 September 2023 and runs until 1 January 2024.

‘Picasso: The Sacred and the Profane’, at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza (Madrid, Spain)

Credit: Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid
Pablo Picasso - 'Man with a Clarinet', 1911-12Credit: Sucesión Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid

Pablo Picasso's ceaseless urge to reinvent his art and transcend boundaries is evident in his innovative spirit and reinterpretation of artistic history. Marking the 50th anniversary of the Spanish artist's death, the "Picasso. The Sacred and the Profane" exhibition highlights his audacity in approaching classical and Judeo-Christian themes, seamlessly integrating past elements into his work while contemplating the essence of painting. With around 30 paintings spanning three galleries, the exhibit juxtaposes Picasso's pieces with those of El Greco, Rubens, and others. It explores portraiture, domestic subjects, and contrasting themes like Passion and violence, offering insights into both history and the present. 

‘Picasso: The Sacred and the Profane’, opens on 4 October 2023 and runs until 14 January 2024.

‘Anish Kapoor - Untrue Unreal’ at the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi (Florence, Italy)

Credit: Oliver Santana/Palazzo Strozzi
Anish Kapoor - 'To Reflect an Intimate Part of the Red' 1981Credit: Oliver Santana/Palazzo Strozzi

Starting from 7 October 7, the illustrious Palazzo Strozzi in Florence will unveil a remarkable exhibition featuring both fresh creations and established pieces by the accomplished British-Indian artist, Anish Kapoor. Regarded as one of today's most influential living artists, Kapoor has indelibly transformed the landscape of contemporary sculpture. At the heart of this exhibition stands a remarkable focal point: an entirely new, grand-scale sculpture meticulously crafted to harmonise with the Renaissance courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi. As well as this centerpiece, each gallery within the exhibition will guide visitors through an immersive odyssey encompassing Kapoor's multifaceted artistic journey. This voyage will traverse his sinuous mirrored sculptures, his intense crimson installations, and his renowned 'Vantablack' creations. 

‘Anish Kapoor - Untrue Unreal’  opens on 7 October 2023and runs until 4 February 2024.

‘El Greco / Tino Seghal’ at the Centro Botín (Santander, Spain)

Credit: Centro Botín/El Greco
El Greco - 'Adoración de los Pastores' (1577-1579)Credit: Centro Botín/El Greco

Centro Botín is presenting a one-of-a-kind exhibition titled "El Greco / Tino Sehgal," which establishes a dialogue between El Greco's iconic painting "The Adoration of the Shepherds" (1577-1579) from the Fundación Botín Collection and a new live work by German/Indian artist Tino Sehgal. Sehgal's innovative piece, titled "This youiiyou," delves into intergenerational care and emotional connections. El Greco's masterpiece, originally part of an altarpiece in Toledo, features a central depiction of baby Jesus surrounded by the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, and adoring shepherds, radiating a profound aura. Sehgal's work transforms this theme, spotlighting the intricate gestures and interactions of care across generations. The exhibition unfolds in the open space of Renzo Piano's gallery at Centro Botín, forging a timeless connection between historical and contemporary themes. 

‘El Greco / Tino Seghal’ opens on 7 October 2023 and runs until11 February 2024.

‘1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair’ at Somerset House (London, UK)

Credit - Trevor Stuurman/THK Gallery
Trevor Stuurman - 'Tongoro beauty 5', 2022,Credit - Trevor Stuurman/THK Gallery

The 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair is returning to Somerset House in London, marking the events 11th edition. With over 60 international exhibitors, representing 31 countries, the art fair showcases the best of contemporary African art and the African diaspora. Among them, 14 galleries are joining for the first time, including Affinity Gallery from Lagos, Nigeria, and Efie Gallery from Dubai, UAE. The showcase will allow visityors to be immersed in a range of mediums from painting and photography to giant installations, featuring established artists like the Côte d'Ivoire-based photographer Joana Choumali and emerging talents like Josué Comoe. One of the standout pieces includes Moroccan artist Amine El Gotaibi's most ambitious work to date: “Illuminate the Light” - consisting of twelve individual pomegranate sculptures, created in collaboration with MCC Gallery in Marrakech, Morocco. 

‘1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair’ opens on 12 October 2023 and runs until 15 October 2023.

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‘Turning Heads: Bruegel, Rubens and Rembrandt’ at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (Antwerp, Belgium)

Credit - National Gallery of Art
Vermeer - 'Girl with the Red Hat' (1664-67)Credit - National Gallery of Art

After the groundbreaking and record-setting Vermeer exhibition at the Rijksmuseum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp is now shifting the spotlight. This time, it's not only focused on the works of the Dutch master himself, but also on a distinguished ensemble that includes renowned artists like Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, and Pieter Bruegel the Elder. This curated collection centres around the emergence of a novel artistic genre—the head study. During the 17th century, there was a palpable surge of interest in the "tronie," an archaic Dutch term signifying 'face.' "Turning Heads" at the KMSKA brings together a staggering array of 76 exquisite masterpieces from both Belgian and international collections, all centred around this theme. The exhibition promises to take viewers on a journey through the evolution of the tronie genre, from the early 15th century through to the 19th century. 

'Turning Heads: Bruegel, Rubens and Rembrandt’ opens on 20 October 2023 and runs until 21 January 2024.

‘David Hockney: Drawing from Life’ at the National Portrait Gallery (London, UK)

Credit: David Hockney / National Portrait Gallery
David Hockney's portrait of Harry StylesCredit: David Hockney / National Portrait Gallery

Curious about how the iconic British painter David Hockney might capture the likeness of Harry Styles on canvas? Your curiosity is about to be satisfied with the upcoming major exhibition set to open at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Other portraits on display at "Drawing from Life" ill be works of Hockney's late mother, Laura Hockney; his esteemed fashion designer companion, Celia Birtwell; his former partner, Gregory Evans; and various people from the local Normandy community. This exhibition had previously graced the halls of the National Portrait Gallery for a fleeting 20-day span in 2020, only to be postponed due to the pandemic. In addition to the 33 new works, there will also be colour-pencil drawings created by Hockney in Paris in the early 1970s, as well as a selection of drawings from the 1980s, when the artist created a self-portrait every day over two months.

‘David Hockney: Drawing from Life’ opens on 2 November 2023 and runs until 21 January 2024.

‘Claude Gillot - Comedies, fables & arabesques’ at the Louvre Museum (Paris France)

Credit: Musée du Louvre / Grand Palais / Suzanne Nagy
Claude Gillot - 'Scène de pantomime : Arlequin esprit follet'Credit: Musée du Louvre / Grand Palais / Suzanne Nagy

French artist Claude Gillot was a jack-of-all-trades - excelling across various disciplines including painting, metal engraving, and theatre design. Under the guidance of Jean-Antoine Watteau, Gillot's artistic prowess blossomed. Yet, it was his fanciful rococo drawings that truly captured the admiration of the Parisian bourgeoisie. Central to his artistic oeuvre lies a substantial collection of drawings that bear witness to his fascination with the Italian Comedy's comedic essence, characterised by pantomimes, acrobatics, and transvestite figures. A forthcoming exhibition at the esteemed Louvre Museum stands as the most ambitious tribute ever dedicated to Gillot, encompassing nearly 90 of his works. This exhibition not only features the Louvre's existing and most extensive collection of Gillot's pieces but also boasts loans from prestigious institutions such as the Morgan Library & Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Royal Library of Belgium, and the Musée d'Art.

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'Claude Gillot - Comedies, fables & arabesques' opens on 9 November 2023 and runs until 12 February 2024.

Video editor • Theo Farrant

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