The major art exhibition calendar of 2018 is shaping up to be a masterpiece in the making. France is resurrecting one of its greatest artists (figuratively); Bangkok is launching its first Biennale and Burning Man is setting up camp in Washington DC.
We’ve browsed the upcoming shows and put little stickers on the ones we’re sold on. Read on for the exhibitions you should set your gaze on in the coming months…
KEITH HARING AT STEDELIJK, AMSTERDAM (now through 3 June 2018)
Even newcomers to legendary graffiti artist Keith Haring’s work will recognise his colourful cartoon-y figures, dancing to their own beat and often juxtaposed with politically charged slogans. The Stedelijk Museum hosted Haring’s first solo show in Europe, where he spray-painted a vast vellum canvas as performance art. Restored to its original vivacity – and coinciding with what would have been Haring’s 60th birthday – the canvas is back on display.
Believe the hype? The jubilance in Haring’s work endures beyond his tragically early death. This canvas, depicting a throng of rainbow-hued celebrants, is an awe-inspiring example still bearing the spirit with which it was made.
Fun fact While you’re in Amsterdam, be sure to stop by Haring’s largest surviving public artwork in Europe: an offbeat dinosaur-style creature painted on the side of a storage depot on Jan van Galenstraat.
CENTENARY OF THE SECESSIONISTS (dates vary)
In 1918, Vienna’s Secessionist movement suffered a huge blow when its four figureheads died: designer Koloman Moser, starchitect Otto Wagner, and beloved painters Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. To mark the 100th anniversary, there’s a flurry of exhibitions in Austria and abroad. Wagner’s designs will show at Wien Museum Karlsplatz; Wagner, Moser and Klimt all get a nod at MAK gallery; Belvedere Gallery will focus on the quartet’s legacy; and in Wagner’s opulent villa, the Ernst Fuchs Museum reawakens the turn-of-the-century salon spirit.
Believe the hype? The band’s back together again – with Austria’s most captivating bad boys in play, this will be big. And, we can’t wait for Culturespaces’s l’Atelier des Lumières in Paris, where Klimt’s most colourful works will be projected on the walls of a former foundry.
Fun fact Allegedly Klimt went commando under his trademark flowing kaftan… We can’t verify if this was integral to his talent.
LGBTQI+ AT ZEITZ MOCAA MUSEUM (now through 25 June 2018)
Opened to great acclaim last year, Cape Town’s Zeitz MOCAA museum is a wellspring of beautiful, challenging and visually arresting art from all over the continent and beyond. It’s continuing its winning streak with a powerful new show that addresses problematic attitudes to same-sex relationships in Africa, confronting viewers with portraits of individuals who have been victimised because of their sexuality.
Believe the hype? Set to be emotive, confrontational and bold: this exhibition is an excellent reason to pay a visit the art world’s new darling.
Fun fact Thomas Heatherwick – the designer behind the gallery’s jawdropping building – paid homage to its silo past by styling the atrium after a piece of corn he found on a site visit.
THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART AL MAADEN (now through 24 August 2018)
In alignment with the inaugural 1-54 art fair at La Mamounia in Marrakech, and in the wake of the opening of the new Yves Saint Laurent Museum, the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) is set to open its doors to the art-hungry public. With the lofty mission of establishing Marrakech as the heartland of African art, its first exhibition, ‘Africa Is No Island’, has gathered 40 radical image-makers to highlight the continent’s diversity.
Believe the hype? This will make quite the first impression. Covering topics as diverse as sexuality, scarification and postcolonialism, this looks set to be an engaging, provocative show.
Fun fact Museum president Othman Lazraq has some innovative plans for the museum, including free events for locals (they recently held an event exclusively for Marrakech’s taxi drivers), jam sessions (not the food) and couscous days (probably the food).
LEONARD COHEN: A CRACK IN EVERYTHING (now through 9 April 2018)
The Canada-born, silk-over-gravel-voiced singer gave this show at the Contemporary Art Museum of Montreal (AKA the Mac) the thumbs-up in advance of his death last year. On display is work by 40 artists who were asked to muse on Cohen’s songs: the result is a lyrical mix of media, which moves from participatory humming sessions of Hallelujah, to archival footage deftly stitched together, to portraits of the man himself.
Believe the hype? For Cohen’s fans, this is canon; and even casual listeners (if there is such a thing) will be moved. Most exciting is a music room where reinterpretations of Cohen’s songs, by the likes of Feist, Jarvis Cocker and the National with Sufjan Stevens, will play. It’s a touching tribute.
Fun fact The exhibition coincides with Montreal’s 375th anniversary; Cohen was born and buried in the city, so he was chosen as its totem for the celebrations.
NO SPECTATORS: THE ART OF BURNING MAN AT RENWICK GALLERY (30 March 2018 to 21 January 2019)
Burning Man draws thousands of free spirits to the Black Rock Desert each year, to revel in the ephemeral city’s gift economy, sense of radical inclusion and primal effigy burning. Art installations erected across the site are of staggering scale and designed to be dismantled when the festival ends. But this year some of the large-scale installations, – alongside folk handicraft and a deep dive into the festival’s history – will be displayed in and around Washington DC’s Renwick Gallery.
Believe the hype? Like the fest’s ill-fated mascot, this exhibition looks lit. Anyone who has not experienced the desert debauchery has a rare opportunity to see these temporary bohemian temples. And Burning Man vets can see the festival in a new light.
Fun fact Larry Harvey, the man who popularised the ‘burning man’ ritual, allegedly didn’t see The Wicker Man film until years later.
MICHELANGELO AT THE MET
Tracing the Renaissance painter’s life and technique, from his days as a young assistant in Ghirlandaio’s studio, through his commission for the sculpture of David, to his sheaves of studies for the Sistine Chapel ceiling, this collection of Michelangelo’s drawings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (assembled from more than 50 private and public collections) outlines the sculptor and painter’s mad pencil skillz. Expect a Magic Mike’s worth of Italian beefcakes drawn in eye-watering detail.
Believe the hype? With plentiful preliminary sketches on show, this is how your Michelangelo sausage is made – and it’s as delicious as the porkiest salumi.
Fun fact Works have been imported from collectors as illustrious as the Uffizi Gallery and Queen Elizabeth II.
ART BASEL HONG KONG (29–31 March 2018)
Soft architecture, oversize kitchenware, a sushi belt and kinetic sculpture: just some of the delicacies in the smorgasbord of international art on display at Hong Kong’s fourth Art Basel Fair. It’s a dizzying spectacle and an excellent spot to spy artists on the up: we like Bi Rong Rong’s frenetic murals; Zhang Ruyi’s neon brights and the irreverent humour of Pors and Rao’s sculptures of breakdancing stick men (Heavy Hat) and cosmic bears (Teddy Universe).
Believe the hype? Basel is an opportunity to dowse the next big things, raise the profile of Asian artists and experience lavish site-specific installations. And the Wan Chai exhibition centre has seven restaurants to try in between your artsy musings.
Fun fact To coincide with the fair, three galleries by major art-world players – Hauser & Wirth, Pace and David Zwirner – will be opening in Hong Kong’s H Queen’s building.
OLAFUR ELIASSON AT RED BRICK BEIJING (25 March to 12 August 2018)
Olafur Eliasson, the Icelandic-Danish artist responsible for making the sun shine out of the Tate Modern’s turbine hall (The Weather Project, 2003) and glitzing up Reykjavik’s waterfront with the scale-lined Harpa concert hall, is bringing a critical new show to Beijing’s Red Brick Art Museum. A poignant comment on China’s heavily polluted atmosphere, ‘The Unspeakable Openness of Things’ uses light and mist in immersive installations.
Believe the hype? Eliasson’s work is always surprising and often – quite literally – enlightening. With a dancing water ‘pendulum’ and man-made rainbows, this show promises to be magical and moving.
Fun fact Eliasson is master of the not-so-subtle statement; this show calls back to ‘Ice Watch’ – Greenlandic ice blocks arranged in clock formation in central Paris, which slowly melted over the course of the 2015 United Nations Conference on Climate Change.
BANGKOK BIENNIAL AND BIENNALE (dates vary)
Let’s get this straight: this year Thailand’s capital will be launching its first Biennale (19 October 2018 to 3 February 2019) and its first Biennial (July to September 2018) – clear as crystal, right? However you spell it, this is a bumper year for the arts in the kingdom. The Biennale is slated to have matriarch of modern art, Marina Abramovic, involved (alongside Japanese illustrator Yoshitomo Nara and Russian collective AES+F) and will feature a thrilling selection of global work. The Biennial is a more amorphous affair, gathering collectives (the team behind the Bangkok Underground Film Festival 2018) and radical artists such as Angkrit Ajchariyasophon.
Believe the hype? You wait years (more than two, anyways) for an art fair that grabs the world’s attention, then two show up at once – typical…
Featured image is the Contemporary Art Museum of Montreal