Ten of 2018’s Most Unmissable Exhibitions

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Fritz Lang, Frau im Mond, 1929Photo: Horst von Harbou / Deutsche Kinemathek

Art, fashion, photography and architecture shows to plan your year around

January is often billed as the perfect time to look ahead to the new year, so, resolutions aside, why not turn your attention to the year’s forthcoming must-see exhibitions? 2018 promises a bountiful offering, and here we present ten of the most extraordinary spectacles happening around the world. The next 365 days are looking good already.

1. The Moon at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark: September 13, 2018 – January 20, 2019

Indulge in celestial fascinations by heading to Denmark’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art for its exhibition The Moon. 2019 marks 50 years since man stepped foot on the moon, a feat that plays an important role in the exhibit through assessing its wider cultural significance and context. Since time immemorial the moon has been a source of inspiration and intrigue that traverses many realms, appearing in art, literature, film, science, music and mythology. Louisiana’s exhibition will explore the symbolic and scientific presence of this natural satellite and humanity’s ceaseless attraction to it.

2. Obsession: Nudes by Klimt, Schiele and Picasso from the Schofield Thayer Collection at the Met Breuer, New York: July 3 – October 7, 2018

Bringing together work by three giants of art history, New York’s Met Breuer presents Obsession: Nudes by Klimt, Schiele and Picasso this summer. Each artist had a distinctive style which came to define the art world of the 19th century – and indeed endure over those which followed – and produced many nude drawings and paintings. In this instance, the collection’s context is as compelling as the art itself; these studies of the erotic were collected by prolific academic Schofield Thayer, among hundreds of other significant contemporary pieces (Thayer’s collection eventually numbered more than 600). Thayer not only publicised artists' works in America, he is also credited for introducing the writing of seminal authors such as T.S. Eliot, Proust and D.H. Lawrence to the country too.

3. Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier at the Design Museum, London: May 10 – October 7, 2018

Following the untimely passing of Azzedine Alaïa in November, one of the master couturier’s final projects is to be realised in May. Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier is an exhibition at London’s Design Museum, curated in part by the designer himself, and set to feature over 60 pieces selected from the entirety of his career. The focus will be placed on Alaïa’s idiosyncratic processes when it came to tailoring and couture, as well as the innovation he introduced to the fashion world through his garments. What’s more, The Couturier will highlight the strength of Alaïa’s creative relationships through several specially commissioned architectural pieces by the likes of Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and Marc Newson, which will be on display among the clothes. This promises to be an evocative show, for which the fashion world waits with bated breath.

4. Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up at the V&A Museum, London: June 16 – November 4, 2018

The V&A will present a monumental exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s personal artefacts this summer, most notably her clothes, jewellery and letters. The majority of the items featured in the exhibit have never before been on display outside of Mexico, making Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up an unmissable show. Kahlo’s influence extends and endures beyond art and into fashion thanks to her instantly recognisable style, beauty and taste; with this exhibition the V&A offers a look at the thoughts behind such style, and an unparalleled glimpse at the iconic artist’s personal life.

5. Man Ray at Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien: February 14 – June 24, 2018

You’re likely familiar with Man Ray’s photography, but have you come across his paintings, collages or films? A new exhibition in Austria will place focus on these lesser known aspects of Ray’s oeuvre via more than 150 works. Ray named painting his favourite medium, and many of his prized Dada- and Surrealism-influenced paintings will be shown among a vast range from the entirety of his career – an unmissable chance to marvel at this seminal artist’s experimental and groundbreaking archive.

6. Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: May 10 – October 8, 2018

A stalwart in the fashion calendar, the Metropolitan Museum’s costume institute spring exhibition will return this May, this time addressing the relationship between fashion and religion, presenting a dialogue between the two spheres illustrated with religious artworks, garments and pieces from fashion collections of the last century. Entitled Heavenly Bodies, the exhibition will focus on Catholicism, and will thus include robes and accessories normally housed in the Sistine Chapel. Plus, since Versace is a supporter of Heavenly Bodies, you can expect appearances from clothes by the Italian fashion house. Versace meets papal robes – only in 2018.

7. Architecture Effects at Guggenheim Bilbao: December 5, 2018 – April 28, 2019

Looking at the crossover between art and architecture, Guggenheim Bilbao’s exhibition at the end of this year seeks to unpack the interplay between the two fields and digital technologies. At the core of Architecture Effects is the Guggenheim Bilbao’s very building, a 1997 structure designed by Frank Gehry using computer technology and a primary example of how digital techniques can inform architecture, which marked a fundamental change in the art form. Housed inside the museum’s gargantuan building will be examples of contemporary pieces by designers who pioneer in their fields and engage with ever-evolving computer technologies.  

8. Le Cubisme at the Centre Pompidou, Paris: October 17, 2018 – February 25, 2019

Early 20th-century movement Cubism is considered one of the most influential in art history, spawning some of the world’s most revered works. Its impact spread to literature and architecture, and iconic artists who subscribed to the movement include Henri Matisse, Marcel Duchamp, Robert Delaunay and Georges Braque. Paris’ Centre Pompidou will celebrate Cubism with a monumental exhibition set to cover its techniques, characteristics, pioneers and far-reaching influence.

9. Alex Prager: Retrospective at The Photographers’ Gallery, London: June 15 – October 14, 2018

Alex Prager’s mesmeric, hyperreal photographs are to be displayed at The Photographers’ Gallery this summer in the image-maker’s first UK retrospective. Prager’s shots are at once captivating and unsettling in their staged self-awareness, complete with rich, saturated colours and unpredictable compositions. There is a timelessness to her work too, thanks in large part to her chosen settings and subjects’ make-up. Of her preference for lighting and staging evocative of Golden Age-era Hollywood, Prager once remarked that “with that kind of lighting, anything can happen. It draws you in. There can be a lot of dark things happening – things that might not have been pleasant to watch, but the lighting aestheticises them and makes watching the movie irresistible.” This exhibition will be hard to resist indeed.  

10. Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy at Tate Modern, London: March 8 – September 9, 2018

Picasso fans will be spoilt for choice in 2018. Over 100 of his works will be exhibited at Tate Modern in the coming months, in the first solo exhibition of the Spanish artist’s work at the London institution. The show’s focus is the year 1932, one of Picasso’s most creatively prolific years, during which he produced paintings, sculptures and drawings. A highlight of this show will likely be a collection of paintings of one of Picasso’s muses, Marie-Thérèse Walter, famously produced over the course of five days in 1932 – though they are just a few examples of the myriad pieces he created of Walter, who eventually gave birth to his first daughter.