The best exhibitions and openings of 2023: Europe

From Dana Schutz in Denmark to Manet and Degas at the Musée d’Orsay, these are the shows to check out across the continent

Works from 2023 exhibitions at the musee d'Orsay, Albertina, Bourse de Commerce and Tate

Avant l’orage (Before the Storm)8 February to 11 September 2023
Bourse de Commerce, Paris

Held in two stages, Avant l’orage (Before the Storm) addresses the evolution of ecosystems in the context of climate change.

The first stage opens with a new 360-degree installation in the gallery’s rotunda by the Vietnamese-Danish artist Danh Vo (b. 1975), who in the past decade has won the Hugo Boss Prize, held solo shows at the National Museum of Art in Osaka, the Guggenheim in New York and the National Gallery of Singapore, and exhibited at the Venice Biennale three times, in 2013, 2015 and 2019.


Jonathas de Andrade (b. 1982), O Peixe (The Fish), 2016

Vo’s work, called Tropeaoleum, consists of metal, stone and concrete, as well as wood grown in a sustainable forest by the farmer Craig McNamara. McNamara is the son of the former US Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara — a key player in the Vietnam War, from which Vo and his family fled in a makeshift boat when he was four years old.

Elsewhere in the gallery there will be works addressing the same themes by artists including Jonathas de Andrade (above), Diana Thater, Pierre Huyghe, Robert Gober and Cy Twombly.

For stage two, at the end of May, Vo’s installation will be replaced with another, also by a Hugo Boss Prize winner: Tacita Dean (b. 1965).

Dana Schutz9 February to 11 June 2023
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark

The American artist Dana Schutz (b. 1976) has been called one of the greatest narrative painters of her generation. Her works — large, complex and often grotesque canvases that fluidly blend figuration and abstraction — are an attempt, she says, to represent an abstract idea pictorially. She takes cues ‘often from language, and the way that language can be very open — like a phrase’.

Dana Schutz, Mountain Group, oil on canvas, 2018

Dana Schutz (b. 1976), Mountain Group, 2018. Oil on canvas, 304.8 × 396.2 cm. Collection of Marguerite Steed Hoffman. © Dana Schutz

Her show at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 30 minutes from Copenhagen, will contain paintings — including The Interview, which was recently acquired for the museum’s permanent collection — alongside drawings and sculptures that provide an overview of her career since her debut exhibition in 2002. Later in the year, the show will travel to the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris.

Vermeer10 February to 4 June 2023
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

To date, the most comprehensive exhibition dedicated to Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) was held in 1996, at the Mauritshuis in The Hague. It included 23 of his estimated 37 autograph paintings. This spring, however, Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is going bigger. According to its general director, Taco Dibbits, the forthcoming exhibition Vermeer  will contain ‘at least’ 28 of them. It also promises to re-examine the artist’s oeuvre through a new generation of curators interested in his social circles and home life.

Johannes Vermeer, The Milkmaid, circa 1660. Rijksmuseum

Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), The Milkmaid, circa 1660. Oil on canvas. 45.5 × 41 cm. Rijksmuseum. Purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt

The Rijksmuseum has never held a solo show of the artist’s work, even though it owns four of his finest paintings: The Milkmaid, Woman Reading a Letter, The Love Letter  and View of Houses in Delft. New York’s Frick Collection is lending all three of its Vermeer paintings to the exhibition: Girl Interrupted at Her Music, Officer and Laughing Girl  and Mistress and Maid. The Mauritshuis has also agreed to loan the artist’s most famous work: Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Peter Doig10 February to 29 May 2023
The Courtauld Gallery, London

In 2002 the Scottish figurative painter Peter Doig (b. 1959) relocated to the Caribbean island of Trinidad. He remained there for the following two decades, while overseas his reputation soared. In 2008, Tate Britain held a retrospective of his work, and in the saleroom his auction record kept climbing in multimillion-dollar increments, peaking in 2021 with the sale of Swamped  for more than $39 million. That year, Doig decided to return to the UK.

Peter Doig, Alpinist, 2022. Pigment on linen

Peter Doig (b. 1959), Alpinist, 2022. Pigment on linen. 295 x 195 cm. © Peter Doig, All Rights Reserved

For the Courtauld’s first show dedicated to a contemporary artist since the unveiling of its three-year refurbishment in November 2021, Doig is presenting a completely new body of work that was begun in Trinidad and New York and finished in London. According to the artist, these new paintings, illustrations and prints — yet to be seen in public — will explore the people, places and memories he has discovered during periods of transition.

Sayed Haider Raza15 February to 15 May 2023
Centre Pompidou, Paris

The Indian painter S.H. Raza (1922-2016) arrived in Paris in 1950, three years after graduating from the Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai and founding the Progressive Artists’ Group — a cosmopolitan collective of artists working in India who were dedicated to inventing new forms of expression.

Sayed Haider Raza, Punjab, 1969. Acrylic on canvas

Sayed Haider Raza (1922-2016), Punjab, 1969. Acrylic on canvas. Piramal Museum of Art, Mumbai

Raza ended up staying in the French capital for the next six decades, creating large, earth-hued canvases with Abstract Expressionist and Geometric Abstract tendencies. The city embraced his modernism, and he quickly found commercial success there. Until now, however, no museum in Paris has ever held a monograph show of his work.

In February, the Centre Pompidou is putting this right by presenting nearly 100 of Raza’s paintings. The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of lectures on ‘S.H. Raza and his time’, and a screening of Laurent Brégeat’s documentary, S.H. Raza: The Very Essence.

Reaching for the Stars: From Maurizio Cattelan to Lynette Yiadom-Boakye4 March to 18 June 2023
Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, Florence

Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo began collecting art in the early 1990s. By 1995 she had established her eponymous foundation, which helps nurture young artists and now has bases in Cuneo and Turin in Italy, as well as in Madrid. Today it has one of Italy’s foremost collections of contemporary art, and Sandretto Re Rebaudengo is a member of the International Councils of both MoMA and Tate.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Switcher, 2013. Oil on canvas

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (b. 1977), Switcher, 2013. Oil on canvas. 150 x 140 cm. Inv. 2208

Palazzo Strozzi is paying homage to Sandretto Re Rebaudengo’s efforts with Reaching for the Stars. Alongside pieces by Maurizio Cattelan and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye will be works by Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Cindy Sherman, Rudolf Stingel and Berlinde De Bruyckere, among others.

Spanning painting, sculpture, video and performance, the exhibition explores some of the most important trends in art over the past four decades. It also includes a yet-to-be-unveiled new installation, which will be housed in the palazzo’s magnificent Renaissance courtyard.

After Impressionism: Inventing Modern Art25 March to 13 August 2023
The National Gallery, London

The National Gallery’s spring blockbuster begins by looking at the revolutionary work made in and around Paris by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and Paul Cezanne between 1880 and 1906, during the period now known as the Belle Epoque.

Paul Gauguin, Vision of the Sermon (Jacob Wrestling with the Angel), 1888. Oil on canvas

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), Vision of the Sermon (Jacob Wrestling with the Angel), 1888. Oil on canvas. 72.20 x 91 cm. Photo: © National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh

It then traces how the methods employed by these artists to break free from conventional representation spread across Europe to Vienna, Brussels, Barcelona and Berlin, inspiring Picasso, Klimt, Kokoschka and Mondrian to invent Cubism, Expressionism and Abstraction.

The show will feature more than 100 paintings, with highlights on loan including Munch’s The Death Bed  from KODE Bergen Art Museums in Norway, Degas’s Dancers in the Foyer  from the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Denmark, and Gauguin’s Vision of the Sermon (Jacob Wrestling with the Angel)  from the National Galleries of Scotland.

Manet/Degas28 March to 23 July 2023
Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Manet/Degas  will examine the work and lives of the two French giants of Impressionism between the 1860s and Manet’s death in 1883. The show’s focus will not, however, be on what they shared — the prostitutes they painted, the bars they frequented and the collectors they wooed — so much as the contrasts between them.

Edouard Manet (1832–1883), Portrait de Mme Manet sur un canapé bleu, 1874. Pastel on brown paper mounted on canvas. 49 x 60 cm. Paris, Musée d’Orsay. Photo: © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

The pair had dissimilar upbringings, different temperaments, opposing views on literature and music, conflicting social lives and divergent ideas of what success looked like. Throughout the exhibition, however, these contrasts are celebrated as ‘marvellous coexistences’ — a term coined by the writer and poet Paul Valéry in his 1937 essay, Degas, Danse, Dessin.

The show concludes with the observation that the pair were in a way reconciled after Manet’s death — when his works became a cornerstone of Degas’s own art collection.

The exhibition will travel on to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, opening in September 2023.

Hugo van der Goes: Between Pain and Bliss31 March to 16 July 2023
Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

Hugo van der Goes (circa 1440-1482) was the most important Netherlandish artist of the second half of the 15th century. Little is known of his life until the year 1467, when he is first recorded as a master in Ghent’s painters’ guild, but over the following decade he secured important commissions from the Burgundian court, the church and fashionable Flemish patrons — before suddenly abandoning his career to enter a monastery near Brussels.

Hugo van der Goes, Monforte Altarpiece, circa 1470

Hugo van der Goes (circa 1440-1482/83), Monforte Altarpiece, circa 1470. Photo: © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie / Dietmar Gönne

As a lay brother, Van der Goes was allowed to paint, but five years later he was struck down with depression and anxiety, and he declared himself damned. A suicide attempt failed, but he died shortly after.

During the 19th century he came to be viewed as the archetypal tortured artist, with even Vincent van Gogh comparing his his own state of mind to that of Van der Goes.

Today, a mere 14 paintings are securely attributed to the painter — and this show has 12 of them. Two are from the Gemäldegalerie’s own collection and the other 10 are loans, including his masterpiece, Death of the Virgin, which has never left Flanders before. Also on show will be The Virgin and Child with Saints Thomas, John the Baptist, Jerome and Louis, which is currently described as ‘circle of’ Van der Goes and was sold at Christie’s in 2017 for just under $9 million.

The artists Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) and Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) might at first seem an unlikely duo to be celebrated in a show together. Af Klint was a Swedish painter and mystic who found inspiration in the esoteric. Mondrian, on the other hand, was a Dutch artist interested in geometry and Minimalism. Mondrian was also a decade younger than Af Klint, and the pair never met.

Hilma af Klint (1862-1944), The Ten Largest, Group IV, No. 3, Youth, 1907. Courtesy of The Hilma af Klint Foundation

Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), Composition in colour A, 1917. Oil on canvas. 50.5 x 45 cm. Collection Kröller-Müller Museum

Yet around the turn of the century both of these artists, almost simultaneously, went from being conventional landscapists to contenders for the accolade of being the first person to paint a truly abstract picture.

Tate Modern’s spring show is putting the duo in dialogue for the first time. Featuring more than 250 works, including a range of archival sources, it will examine how both artists were moved to abstraction by religion, nature and the 20th century’s scientific revolution.

Luxury and Power: Persia to Greece4 May to 13 August 2023
British Museum, London

As debate around whether or not the British Museum should return the Elgin Marbles to Athens continues, a new show opens in the institution’s Great Court gallery dedicated to the relationship between the ancient Greek city states and their neighbours, the Persian Empire.

Objects from the Panagyurishte Treasure, Bulgaria, 400-300 BC

Photos: © Todor Dimitrov, National Museum of History, Bulgaria

Bucking a recent trend for focusing on the lives of everyday people, the exhibition instead looks at the twin themes of luxury and power, and how objects were used as symbols of authority between high-ranking members of the two sparring cultures. Many of the artefacts on show are made from precious metals and are richly adorned, such as a Persian silver-gilt drinking vessel, and a gold wreath in the form of oak leaves which was discovered in a tomb in Turkey.

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The most noteworthy loan, however, is the Panagyurishte Treasure, which was unearthed by accident in Bulgaria in 1949 and is around 2,300 years old. An extraordinary example of Thracian metalwork, it consists of eight human- and animal-shaped gold cups along with a mixing bowl, and illustrates how artistic influence flowed between the Greek and Persian empires and across Europe.

Yoshitomo Nara10 May to 1 November 2023
Albertina Modern, Vienna

In May, Vienna’s Albertina Modern is celebrating the work of the popular Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara. Best known for his paintings, sculptures and drawings of wide-eyed, cartoon-like children, Nara rose to prominence in the 2000s, around the time he became associated with Takashi Murakami and the avant-garde group of artists known as ‘Superflat’.

Yoshitomo Nara, Work for Dream to Dream, 2001. Acrylic and coloured pencil on paper

Yoshitomo Nara (b. 1959), Work for Dream to Dream, 2001. Acrylic and coloured pencil on paper. 40 x 30 cm. © Yoshitomo Nara

Since then, his reputation has soared. In 2021 he was the subject of a solo show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and his work has become highly sought-after in the saleroom, particularly among Asian collectors. His auction record currently stands at HK$195 million (US$24.9 million).

In 2014, he surprised fans by revealing that punk album covers were a major source of inspiration for him — and the upcoming exhibition promises to examine the full emotional range of his apparently cute characters, from rumination to rebellion.

Main image, clockwise from top left: Edouard Manet, La Lecture, 1848-83, at Musée d’Orsay, Paris; Yoshitomo Nara, Untitled (Kitty in Pink), 2007, at Albertina Modern, Vienna; Tacita Dean, Foreign Policy, 2016, at Bourse de Commerce, Paris; Hugo van der Goes, Death of the Virgin, circa 1480, at Gemäldegalerie, Berlin; Hilma af Klint, The Evolution, The WUS/Seven-Pointed Star Series, Group IV, No.15, 1908, at Tate Modern, London; Dana Schutz, Fanatics, 2005, at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark

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