In the height of summer, the international art scene comes into its own. The sheer breadth of exhibitions in the world’s leading galleries and museums is enough to keep art lovers busy into the fall and beyond. Highlights this year include the first major Warhol retrospective to take place in the US in nearly 30 years, the Venice and São Paulo biennials, and MoMA’s arrival in Australia.
1. Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and The Mastaba 1958–2018
Serpentine Gallery and Pavilion, London
Until September 9, 2018Every summer, art lovers await the unveiling of the Serpentine Gallery's Pavilion project in the heart of London's Hyde Park. This year the lakeside gallery is host to Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and The Mastaba 1958–2018, an exhibition that focuses on the married couple’s ambitious, site-specific sculptural works. With the aim of temporarily altering both the physical form and visual appearances of regular sites, their installations have intervened in both urban and natural landscapes around the world. Outside the gallery until September 23, the real deal can be viewed from every angle: The London Mastaba, a red-and-blue near-pyramid of barrels floating serenely and almost implausibly on the Serpentine lake.
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Also on site is Mexican architect Frida Escobedo’s Serpentine Pavilion. Harnessing a subtle interplay of light, water, and geometry, Escobedo has created an atmospheric courtyard design that references the domestic architecture of Mexico as well as British materials and history, specifically the Prime Meridian at London’s Royal Observatory in Greenwich.
2. MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Until October 7, 2018The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Melbourne, and New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) have partnered to present MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art as part of the former’s Winter Masterpieces series. Around 200 key works from MoMA’s iconic collection will be on display, tracing the development of art and design from the late 19th century through to the present. The variety of masterworks on display includes pieces by Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, Salvador Dalí, and Alexander Calder, alongside more recent acquisitions from the likes of Kara Walker, Andreas Gursky, Huang Yong Ping, and Mona Hatoum.
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Architecture fans will also be delighted to hear that objects from MoMA’s Architecture and Design collection are included: furniture and textiles by Bauhaus artists, Tomohiro Nishikado’s pioneering computer game Space Invaders, and the original set of 176 emoji developed by Shigetaka Kurita.
3. 16th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia
Multiple sites, Venice
Until November 25, 2018The Giardini, a public park at the south-easterly point of Venice, is the central site for the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, part of La Biennale di Venezia. During the event, titled Freespace and running until November 25, 2018, the park is filled with pavilions hosted by dozens of nations. Each explores a different concept: the Nordic Pavilion, for example, is packed with large membrane-like balloons. Filled with air, they deflate and inflate as viewers walk through the space—a meditation on the relationship between nature and the built environment.
Meanwhile, the Arsenale—a vast former shipyard and military center—is host to additional pavilions as well as installations by artists and architects. There’s an academic side to the show, with learning activities and curated conversations on offer; however, most visitors come for the spectacular structures, crafted with familiar and innovative materials and new technologies. The aim of this year’s Biennale, say curators Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, is to encourage architects and visitors to consider the question of space, the quality of space, and what constitutes open and "free" space.
4. Moriz Nähr: Photography and Viennese Modernism
Leopold Museum, Vienna
August 24–October 29, 2018
Moriz Nähr (1859–1945) was one of the most important photographers in Austrian history, capturing Vienna during a dramatic period of urban and social change. With his photographic works today mentioned in the same breath as those of renowned Parisian photographer Eugène Atget, Nähr lived during a turning point in Viennese history. From the late 1870s, Austria entered an era of economic modernization that saw the capital and its culture transform.
As court photographer to the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Nähr was afforded access to the country’s highest—and at times lowest—strata of society. And Nähr’s friendship with Gustav Klimt connected him with a special network of eminent individuals from the worlds of art, culture, and philosophy. Moriz Nähr: Photography and Viennese Modernism at the Leopold Museum will showcase the breadth of Nähr’s landscape, architectural, portrait, and street photography.
5. 33rd Bienal de São Paulo
Parque do Ibirapuera, São Paulo
September 7–December 9, 2018
The Bienal de São Paulo is regarded as one of the most important events in South American contemporary art, and is the second oldest art biennial in the world after Venice's. Every two years it aims to conceive and implement artistic, educational, and social initiatives, and is well known for combining unknown artists with the type of discourse that the international contemporary art world knows and loves.
This year, Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, the Bienal’s artistic director, has somewhat unconventionally divided the exhibition into seven parts, each curated by a different artist who has selected their own theme. Pérez-Barreiro will curate 12 projects himself. Titled Affective Affinities, the exhibition will feature themes such as the history of abstraction and its relationship with nature, pedagogy, and spirituality; the relationship between art and narrative; and a historical reflection on form and abstraction.
6. Daigoji Temple: A Shingon Esoteric Buddhist Universe in Kyoto
Suntory Museum of Art, Tokyo
September 19–November 11, 2018
The history of the Daigoji temple in Kyoto, Japan, began in the ninth century when the monk Shōbō enshrined statues of Juntei and Nyoirin, two incarnations of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, atop Mount Kami-Daigo. Thereafter, the temple complex developed into the center of the Ono branch of the Shingon school of esoteric Buddhism in Japan.
This exhibition, at the Suntory Museum of Art in Tokyo, will explore the evolution of Daigoji from the Heian period to modern times, using seldom-shown historical materials and documents, with a primary focus on Buddhist statues and paintings designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties. It is also a rare opportunity to see historical materials related to the famed cherry blossom viewing at Daigoji held by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1598, together with fusuma paintings and stunning examples of Daigoji in modern art.
7. Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
November 12, 2018–March 31, 2019
The Whitney will be holding the first major Andy Warhol retrospective organized by an American institution since 1989. It aims to reconsider the work of one of America’s most influential and important artists by building on a wealth of new research that has emerged since the artist’s death in 1987. The exhibition charts Warhol’s early years as a commercial illustrator in the 1950s, his iconic Pop masterpieces of the early 1960s, his experimental period in film and other media from the 1960s and 1970s, and his innovative use of readymade abstraction in the 1980s.
Ultimately, it aims to show that Warhol didn't slow down after surviving the assassination attempt that nearly took his life in 1968, and rather continued by entering into a period of experimentation that transcends the Warhol we think we know.