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Food for the Soul: European Art Exhibitions in 2024

Caspar David Friedrich. Moonrise Over the Sea, 1822. Oil on canvas. Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin. Photo: Jörg P. Anders; courtesy National Museum Berlin

January being a good month to look forward to events in the coming year, here is a list of selected art exhibitions in Europe. If you are planning any travel there, it’s good to keep these “coming attractions” in mind. I hope to report on some of them in my Euro blog.

Paris: Fondation Louis Vuitton – Mark Rothko (Oct. 18, 2023 – Apr. 24, 2024)

Mark Rothko—a giant of American abstract art—is very well represented in U.S. museums but much less known in France. Fondation Louis Vuitton, the ambitious and beautiful modern art museum in Paris, has undertaken the first-ever retrospective of Rothko’s art in France, assembling 115 artworks from numerous world collections. Rothko’s deceptively simple yet so seductive abstractions of bands of color are there in force, together with his works from other, less known periods.

Amsterdam: The Rijksmuseum – Frans Hals (Feb.16 – Jun. 9, 2024)

Frans Hals, The Laughing Cavalier, 1624. Oil on canvas. The Wallace Collection, London. Photo: Courtesy The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

This traveling exhibition, currently in London, is moving for the spring to Amsterdam and then ending in Berlin. The show, entitled simply Frans Hals, showcases 50 of the Dutch master’s paintings. Even in the crowded world of Dutch Baroque masters, Hals occupies a unique position as a portraitist famous for his free-wheeling brushwork, who had the audacity to paint formal portraits of people smiling in an era when this was rarely done, and with almost an impressionistic style—all of which made him less valued during his lifetime but such a compelling artist in our eyes 400 years later. The Laughing Cavalier, one of the most famous pictures in the exhibition, is a canvas that marks the first time ever that the Wallace Collection in London has lent a picture out. Show dates and locations:

The National Gallery, London, Sept. 30, 2023 – Jan. 21, 2024
The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Feb. 16 – Jun. 9, 2024
Gemäldegalerie, National Museum in Berlin, Jul. 12 – Nov. 3, 2024

Berlin: Alte Nationalgallerie – Caspar David Friedrich: Infinite Landscapes (Apr. 19 – Sept. 4, 2024)

Caspar David Friedrich. The Stages of Life, 1834. Oil on canvas. Fine Arts Museum, Leipzig Photo: M. Ehritt; courtesy National Museum Berlin.

2024 is the 250th anniversary of the birth of the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich. Germany is celebrating the anniversary with 150 events at Greifswald, the artist’s birthplace, and two art exhibitions in Dresden where he spent many years. The main exhibition will be in Berlin, where the Caspar David Friedrich: Infinite Landscapes loan exhibition will assemble 60 paintings and 50 drawings. Because the majority of Friedrich artworks are in Germany and rarely travel, this is a unique opportunity to view the art of one of the most original and underappreciated masters. The exhibition is traveling next year to the Met in New York (Feb. 7 – May 11, 2025).

Florence: Palazzo Strozzi – Anselm Kiefer: Fallen Angels (Mar. 22 – Jul. 21, 2024)

Anselm Kiefer. Engelssturz (det.), 2022-2023. Photo: Georges Poncet. © 2023 Anselm Kiefer, Courtesy Palazzo Strozzi

Palazzo Strozzi—a Florence palazzo that serves as one of the most important cultural hubs and exhibition halls in Italy—is mounting in the spring a large exhibition of new and historic works of Anselm Kiefer. This German artist is one of the most influential contemporary masters, whose decades of making installations, photography, paintings, and sculptures have produced an unforgettably emotional and sometimes controversial dialogue with his country’s WWII legacy, as well as his dark commentary on the ecological devastation of 20th-century industrialization. The exhibition will also touch on the legacy of Renaissance architecture, making the Florence location for the exhibition a very appropriate one.

Paris: Musée d’Orsay – Paris 1874: Inventing Impressionism (Mar. 26 – Jul. 14, 2024)

Claude Monet. Impression: Sunrise, 1872. Oil on canvas. Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

An exciting art history lesson is coming up, compliments of the Musée d’Orsay, which is preparing a show about the origins of Impressionism—both the movement and the term, which actually was coined derisively by an art critic who was reviewing the first Impressionist exhibition. Little did he know that his criticism would name one of the most popular art styles ever. The exhibition will draw from the deep Parisian collections as well from international loans to present 130 works by 31 artists. Only some of them—Monet, Cézanne, Sisley, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro, and maybe Morisot and Caillebotte—are really known to wider audiences, so this show promises to broaden the public’s understanding of the era and its artists. After Paris, the exhibition is moving to the National Gallery of Art in Washington (Sept. 8, 2024 – Jan. 20, 2025).

London: Tate – Now You See Us: Women Artists in Britain 1520-1920 (May 16 – Oct. 13, 2024)

Dame Ethel Walker. Decoration: The Excursion of Nausicaa,, 1920. Oil on canvas. Tate, London. Photo: Tate

Mary Beale, Angelica Kauffman, Laura Knight, and Elizabeth Butler are only some of the British women artists who will be presented at the thematic exhibition entitled Now You See Us: Women Artists in Britain 1520-1920, planned by Tate Britain for this summer. An overview of female artists active in the British Isles from Tudor times to the early 20th century, the exhibition will bring out 150 works presented in the context of the constraints women faced in the male-dominated profession. Tate underwent in May 2023 a complete rehang of their displays, presenting over 800 works in thematic displays that make it easy and exciting to view iconic works from six centuries of art in Great Britain. To experience this redesign alone is a great reason to visit the Gallery, and the exhibition promises to be a treat as well.

London: National Gallery – Van Gogh: Poets and Lovers (Sept. 14, 2024 – Jan. 25, 2025)

Vincent van Gogh. Starry Night over the Rhône/La Nuit Étoilée, 1888. Oil on canvas. Museé d’Orsay. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A crowd-pleasing show is coming up in London this fall to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the National Gallery. An exhibition of the most romantic and iconic Vincent van Gogh paintings from collections all over the world will include some perennial favorites like Starry Night over the Rhône, from the Musée d’Orsay, The Sunflowers, and Van Gogh’s Chair (both acquired by the National Gallery in 1924—the year of its opening) as well as some rarely seen canvases from private collections.