Art exhibitions worth traveling to

This year is all about art, with exciting new exhibitions set to launch in some of the world’s most vibrant cities.

Wander through one of these upcoming exhibitions. Image credit: mmac72/iStock
Wander through one of these upcoming exhibitions. Image credit: mmac72/iStock

The world is full of exciting, bucket-list destinations, that make it hard to pick where to travel to next. But, planning a vacation around a special exhibition can help you to explore a new city, while catching a once-in-a-lifetime cultural event.

From works by Europe’s Old Masters to conceptual modern art, we’ve selected some of the most anticipated exhibitions and festivals coming up, in some of the world’s most exciting cities.

Bauhaus Week – Berlin

It’s been 100 years since the German Architect Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus art school, and the city of Berlin is organizing a grand centenary to mark the event. Although the school itself had a short lifespan of just 15 years (it was forced to close by orders of the Nazi party in 1933) the movement and its teachings have had a large and lasting influence on art, design, and architecture.

The week’s festivities will take place, in part, on the streets of Berlin. Decorated shop windows around Charlottenburg will take viewers on a visual journey of the founding of the Bauhaus movement, and introduce its key players. Lectures and readings will be held within a specially constructed glass house at Ernst-Reuter-Platz, which will also serve as the festival’s hub and HQ.

Visitors are encouraged to explore Berlin by attending satellite events, hosted by galleries and cafes throughout the city. From typography, furniture design, and dance, through to cutting-edge modern art, the wide influence of the Bauhaus movement will be felt in force.

Events run from August 31st – September 8th, 2019

Shiota Chiharu: The Soul Trembles

Mori Art Museum,Tokyo

While there are thousands of great reasons to visit Tokyo, the exhibition of Shiota Chiharu works at Mori Art Museum is an excellent excuse to finally book that flight.  The recently opened exhibition, titled “The Soul Trembles”, includes the largest and most comprehensive collection of the artist’s works to date.

Artist Name: Shiota Chiharu Title of the work: In Silence 2008 Burnt piano, burnt chair, black wool Installation view: State of Being, Art Centre Pasquart, Biel/Bienne, Switzerland, 2008 Photo: Sunhi Mang
Artist Name: Shiota Chiharu. Title of the work: In Silence 2008 Burnt piano, burnt chair, black wool. Installation view: State of Being, Art Centre Pasquart, Biel/Bienne, Switzerland, 2008. Image credit: Sunhi Mang

Shiota Chiharu is most famous for her large-scale installations, which use colored strings and objects to weave large and mesmerizing spacial experiences. Many fill up entire rooms and are so densely woven, they create an entirely new visual plane, as if they were painted in mid-air. Six of her signature installations are being exhibited in the Tokyo show, including an abstracted version of “The Key In The Hand”, with which she represented Japan in the 65th Venice Biennale.

The artist has included in this show a large number of photographs, drawings, and recorded performances from her formative years, which tell the story of her artistic journey and development.

Over the last 20 years, Chiharu has been exhibited in more than 250 shows in some of the world’s most prestigious galleries, museums, and festivals.

Shiota Chiharu: The Soul Trembles runs to October 27th, 2019

Basquiat’s “Defacement”: The Untold Story

Guggenheim, New York

The Guggenheim is one of the world’s most famous modern art museums, and Jean-Paul Basquiat’s bold, neo-expressionist paintings are at home upon its sleek white walls. This exciting new exhibition offers an incredible opportunity to see both the museum and the artist’s works.

The exhibition is inspired by a single 1983 Basquiat painting, “Defacement (the death of Michael Stewart)”, an artwork to commemorate the fate of young, black artist Michael Stewart.

The Death of Michael Stewart, 1983 Acrylic and marker on sheet rock, 34 x 40 inches,  framed (86.4 x 101.6 cm) Collection of Nina Clemente, New York © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York Photo: Allison Chipak © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 2018
The Death of Michael Stewart, 1983 Acrylic and marker on sheet rock, 34 x 40 inches, framed (86.4 x 101.6 cm) Collection of Nina Clemente, New York © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: Allison Chipak © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 2018

Approximately 20 additional Basquiat paintings are on show, each of which help tell the story of Basquiat’s own study of black identity and police brutality, supplemented by works from Andy Warhol and Keith Harring, which also reference the death of Michael Stewart. This exhibition is an incredible example of storytelling through curation and is definitely one worth traveling for.

Basquiat’s “Defacement”: The Untold Story runs from June 21st – November 6th, 2019

Van Gogh, Starry Night

Atelier Des Lumières, Paris

If you’ve ever seen any of Van Gogh’s famous works such as “Sunflowers” or “Starry Nights”, chances are it was from afar, after jostling through selfie-taking tourists for a decent view. Luckily, the immersive Van Gogh experience on show at Atelier Des Lumières in Paris is allowing visitors to see some of the world’s most famous masterpieces in a completely new light.

Step inside the artist’s iconic paintings by enjoying 360-degree, floor-to-ceiling projections that morph and change color as you make your way through the darkened exhibition space. The itinerary of the show retraces important stages of Van Gogh’s life and highlights the evolution of his style, from more traditional early works to groundbreaking expressionists pieces painted just shy of his tragic death. Follow the exhibition up with a visit to Musée d’Orsay, where many of  Van Gogh’s original paintings are permanently on show.

Van Gogh, Starry Night runs until  31st December, 2019

Year of Rembrandt

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is marking the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death with a jam-packed year of exhibitions and events to celebrate the Dutch master’s life and works. If you’re a fan of Rembrandt’s moody baroque paintings, with their expert portrayal of shadow and light, then book an Amsterdam city break before the year ends.

The exhibition space at Rijksmuseum. Image credit: Rijksmuseum
The exhibition space at Rijksmuseum. Image credit: Rijksmuseum

As well as showing a record number of Rembrandt works in various curated shows, the museum is organizing unique events throughout the city. Take a self-guided Rembrandt walking tour, or hop on board the Rembrandt canal cruise. You’ll learn all about the painter’s life, where he lived and painted, how he spent his days, and his many love affairs.

Watch the fascinating process of art restoration as a team of experts work to restore “The Night’s Watch” to its former glory, or submit your own Rembrandt inspired work for the museums Long Live Rembrandt competition.

Year of Rembrandt runs up until the 16th February, 2020

Civilization: The Way We Live Now

Catch one of the year’s most ambitious photography exhibitions hosted by the National Gallery of Victoria from mid-September following the exhibition’s success in both Seoul and Beijing.

Reiner Riedler’s Wild River, Florida 2005 from Fake Holidays series. Image courtesy of the artist © Reiner Riedle

Civilization: The Way We Live Now exhibits works by more than 100 photographers from all over the globe, creating a picture of collective life, in a modern, globalized world.

Urban existence and patterns of mass behavior are the focal point of the works selected for this show, with all aspects of human life are scrutinized. Included in the show are images by Michael Wolf, documenting Hong Kong’s housing crisis, society portraits by U.S. artist Cindy Sherman, and landscapes captured by Edward Burtynsky, highlighting the decay and exploitation of our planet.

The exhibition offers an anthropological peek into the worlds of others and is presented through eight thematic chapters. Images are accompanied by artist statements and extracts from provocative essays, painting a cynical yet insightful picture of 21st-century civilization.

The Way we Live Now runs from 13th September, 2019 – 2nd February, 2020

A Tale of Two Women Painters: Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana

The Prado Museum, Madrid

The Prado Museum will open a special exhibition later this year to highlight the artistic triumphs and personalities of two of the most outstanding female artists during the Renaissance. The Renaissance was a period in which female painters were viewed with skepticism, however, pioneering Italian portraitists Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana achieved fame and recognition from both their contemporaries and the public.

Both women had interesting yet different lives, which will be explored through the show’s curation. Anguissola was born into nobility and served as a lady in waiting to the Spanish Queen Elisabeth de Valois before her paintings started drawing praise from art-world glitterati.

Fontana painted female nudes and pursued her career with success while her devoted stay-at-home husband cared for their 11 children. Visit Madrid for the Prado’s A Tale of Two Women Painters: Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana this fall and you’ll be treated to the perfect climate for additional sightseeing in the Spanish capital.

A Tale of Two Women Painters: Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana runs from  22nd October, 2019 – 2nd February, 2020

Nam June Paik

Tate Modern, London

Recognized by many as the father of video art, this major retrospective of Korean-born Nam June Paik’s five-decade career is one of the years most anticipated contemporary art shows and a must for anyone with an interest in electronic art.

Self-Portrait, 2005. Single channel video installation with 10
Self-Portrait, 2005. © Estate of Nam June Paik. Image credit: Katherine Due Tiel

Nam June Paik was a revolutionary in the art world during the 60s and 70s, producing radical, cutting edge artworks that broke all the rules. Paik was a multidisciplinary artist who experimented with video, sculpture, sound, performance art, and large-scale installations.

Along with many of his groundbreaking video works, the Tate Modern will be exhibiting a variety of pieces from throughout his career, from robots made out of old TV screens, to large scale multimedia experiences, including his 1993 “Sistine Chapel” – where the artist used video projections to replicate the chapel’s grand ceilings for the 45th Venice Biennale.

The Tate Modern is promising a  “mesmerising riot of sights and sounds”, so if you’ve never visited London’s most famous modern art museum, then it’s time you made the trip.

Nam June Paik will run from October 17th, 2019 – February 9th, 2020


Grace Catherine

Grace is a freelance writer and digital project manager from New Zealand currently based in Mexico City. She is an avid traveler who loves destinations with an eclectic history, a bike-sharing scheme, and plenty of cool animals.