Contemporary Art Exhibitions around the World
Contemporary Art exhibitions around the world offer a unique opportunity to experience different cultures and perspectives through the lens of contemporary art. The lifting of travel bans resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic is excellent news for art enthusiasts who have been eagerly waiting to attend contemporary art exhibitions around the world. For artists, curators, and collectors, the reopening of borders means the opportunity to connect with a wider audience, showcase their work, and expand their artistic networks.
You can expect large crowds this year, as attending these must-see art exhibitions can broaden your artistic horizons, challenge your preconceptions, and inspire new ideas and creative approaches. Whether you are an artist, an art lover, or simply someone interested in exploring the world and its diverse artistic expressions, attending such art shows can be a transformative experience. From the bustling art scenes of New York and London to up-and-coming contemporary spaces of Europe and Asia, there are countless works waiting to be discovered.
The Top Art Exhibitions of 2023
Art enthusiasts, mark your calendars because 2023 is looking like an exciting year for contemporary art exhibitions. Some popular themes addressed in this year’s batch include inclusivity, memory, and identity. But from renowned museums to emerging art spaces, there’s something for everyone to look forward to. Here are my picks for the top 10 contemporary art exhibitions that you must see in 2023:
1. “María Berrío: The Children’s Crusade” at the ICB, Insititute of Contemporary Art Boston, (Feb 16 – Aug 6, 2023).
María Berrío is a New York-based artist who creates captivating, large-scale paintings through a unique process of collaging torn Japanese paper with watercolor. Her surreal and romantic work is inspired by poetry, folklore, and magic and is motivated by social and political realities affecting migrants, women, and children.
Berrio’s upcoming contemporary art exhibition will showcase new and existing works from her series, The Children’s Crusade, which blends the history of the medieval crusade with the contemporary mass movement of people across borders. Her paintings reimagine child migrants through figures such as birds and human-animal hybrids and explore issues of freedom, control, and protection.
Berrío frames her exhibitions as fictional stories with each painting serving as a scene from an unfolding and otherworldly tale, accompanied by a narrative text.
2. “Daniel Boyd: RAINBOW SERPENT (Version)” at the Gropius Bau Museum, Berlin (March 24 – July 9, 2023).
Daniel Boyd is considered one of Australia’s most important contemporary artists today. His works often challenge the colonial narratives that dominate Australia’s history and highlight the resilience and richness of Indigenous cultures. He is known for his unique approach to image-making, which involves layering, fragmenting, and painting on top of images to create complex and nuanced representations.
Watch this description of his work “Untitled (HNDFWMIAFN), to get a closer look at Boyd’s unique style and influences.
The exhibition titled “RAINBOW SERPENT (VERSION)” by Daniel Boyd is set to take place from March 24 to July 9, 2023. It is the most comprehensive display of Boyd’s art in Europe to date. The contemporary art exhibition aims to counter the colonial narrative of Australia’s history by engaging transnational networks of resistance, Indigenous knowledge production, and personal family histories.
The exhibition features a non-linear display that underscores Boyd’s artistic approach. It is closely linked to Édouard Glissant’s thinking, and it seeks to challenge the colonial narrative that uses the blanket term “Rainbow Serpent” for creation stories of diverse First Nation communities in Australia, which refuses to acknowledge the specificity of their respective cosmologies.
The exhibition is curated by Stephanie Rosenthal and Carolin Köchling.
3. “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms” at the Tate Modern, London, UK (March 29 – June 25, 2023).
Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese contemporary artist known for her avant-garde and highly immersive installations that explore themes of infinity, self-obliteration, and the cosmos. Her works often feature polka dots, mirrored surfaces, and vibrant colors, and aim to create a sense of disorienting and otherworldly experience for the viewer.
Tate Modern has announced that due to overwhelming public demand, the exhibition Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms will be extended for an additional year. The exhibition showcases two of the artist’s major installations, along with early documentation of her experimental performances and a recent sculptural work that continues her interest in infinite space. The exhibition, which opened in June 2021, will now run until June 11, 2023.
Despite ongoing social distancing measures, demand for tickets to the exhibition has been exceptional, resulting in far fewer visitors being able to attend than originally intended. By extending the exhibition for another year, Tate Modern hopes to meet the huge public appetite for Yayoi Kusama’s works and provide another opportunity to experience her extraordinary installations. Yayoi Kusama is widely regarded as one of the most celebrated artists working today, and her works continue to captivate and inspire audiences around the world.
But if you miss this showing at the Tate, Kusama’s works and retrospectives will also be making their rounds this year at the Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain.
4. “Sarah Sze: Timelapse” at the Guggenheim, New York (March 31–September 10, 2023).
If you are looking for contemporary art exhibitions near New York, NY, the Guggenheim is a good place to start.
Sarah Sze is an artist known for blurring the boundaries between mediums, including painting, sculpture, sound, print, drawing, video, and architecture. Her exhibition, “Timelapse,” will feature site-specific installations in the Guggenheim’s Frank Lloyd Wright building, as well as spill into the public sphere beyond the museum walls.
For some insight into her creative process, check out her TED Talk she gave on how we experience time and memory through art.
The exhibition will highlight the building’s exterior with a flowing river of images and a live-feed projection of the moon, while inside the museum, visitors will encounter unexpected installations leading to an immersive environment of new works of sculpture, painting, installation, and sound.
The exhibition will also showcase two key works from the museum’s collection: Untitled (Media Lab) and Timekeeper. Through this installation, Sze aims to offer a contemplation on how we mark time and how time marks us, showcasing time as a collection of lived and remembered experiences. Kyung An, Associate Curator of Asian Art, organized the exhibition.
5. “Cecily Brown: Death and the Maid” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (April 4 – Dec 3, 2023).
Modern and Contemporary Art at the MET, Metropolitan Museum of Art, is also usually a must-see when traveling to New York. One special showing this year is the exhibition Cecily Brown: Death and the Maid.
Cecily Brown is a British painter known for her vivid and sensual abstract works that blend elements of figuration and abstraction. Her paintings often depict fragmented and distorted figures, landscapes, and objects, which are layered with gestural brushstrokes and rich colors.
For a sneak peak have a flip through the collection’s catalog in the video below.
Brown’s work is influenced by a wide range of sources, including art history, literature, and popular culture, and often explores themes of sexuality, desire, and the body. Her dynamic and expressive style has earned her critical acclaim and a prominent place in the contemporary art world.
6. “Gio Swaby: Fresh Up” at the Chicago Institute of Art, Chicago (Apr 8–Jul 3, 2023).
Gio Swaby is a Bahamian multidisciplinary artist who creates drawings mixed with embroidered portraits of her subjects that highlight their hair, clothing, and jewelry as a celebration of their self-definition and self-expression, after capturing their self-awareness and empowerment through a photo shoot. In summary, Swaby’s practice involves using textiles to portray her subjects’ fashion as a means of celebrating their self-expression, in a way that highlights the intersection of their identities as Black women.
Her works are powerful, and the multi-faceted textile patterns pull you into the work.
The show’s title, “Fresh Up,” lends itself from a Bahamian expression commonly used to praise someone’s style or self-assurance. Curated by Melinda Watt, Swaby’s debut solo exhibition at the Chicago Insitute of Art features seven of her series spanning from 2017 to 2021, including My Hands Are Clean, Love Letters, and Pretty Pretty, as well as 15 new works, including her largest piece commissioned by the US Embassy in Nassau.
7. “Counterpublic 2023” a civic exhibition in St. Louis, Missouri (April 15 – July 15, 2023).
The full title of this Counterpublic Exhibition is “Reimaging Civic Infrastructures Towards Generational Change,” curated by Allison Glenn, Diya Vij, Dream the Combine, New Red Order, and Risa Puleo. Counterpublic 2023 is a substantial public art program that presents over 30 innovative artist commissions across various public spaces in the city, such as parks, gardens, historic houses, and museums.
Highlighting the event is the work is the first-ever permanent public artwork from David Adjaye. David Adjaye is a renowned British architect who has gained international recognition for his innovative and cutting-edge designs. He was born in Tanzania in 1966 and grew up in various countries, including Egypt, Yemen, and Lebanon, before moving to the UK.
Adjaye’s work is characterized by its bold and distinctive style, which often incorporates materials such as concrete, glass, and metal. He has designed a wide range of buildings, including private homes, museums, libraries, and public spaces. Some of his most notable works include the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C., the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver.
In addition to his architectural work, Adjaye has also been involved in a number of art and design projects. He has collaborated with several artists and designers to create installations and exhibitions and has also designed furniture, lighting, and other products. Overall, David Adjaye’s work is highly regarded for its unique and innovative approach to architecture and design.
8. “Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Dream Machines” at Museum Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland (June 7 – September 24, 2023).
I personally have had the pleasure of seeing the works of ‘Cardiff and Miller’ on several occasions, including planning trips only to see their work, and it has never been a disappointment.
This year’s must-see art exhibition at the Museum Tinguely showcases the works of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, an artist duo that has been active for over thirty years. Their sensory and experiential work appeals to the senses, probing and exploring the sculptural plasticity of sound, noise, and music.
Visitors to the exhibition can expect to embark on an individual voyage of discovery as they immerse themselves in the realm of dreams and poetry. This contemporary art exhibition features Cardiff & Miller’s works from their first interactive soundscapes to their sometimes dystopian, immersive, spatial installations of recent years.
The show includes a variety of technical approaches to sound, from The Forty Part Motet (2001), which pioneered the use of separate audio tracks to create a virtual choir, to To Touch (1993), The Cabinet of Curiousness (2010), and Experiment in F# Minor (2013), which use movement-activated sound.
The works are driven by the artists’ fascination with imaginative cultural practices such as writing, storytelling, film, performance, and theatre, including puppet theatre, opera, and music generally. Visitors will also experience The Muriel Lake Incident (1999), which places them in a miniature cinema, and The Killing Machine (2007), an immersive, dystopian installation.
9. “Picasso and El Greco” at the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (June 13 – September 17, 2023).
2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the renowned Spanish artist’s passing at the age of 91. To pay tribute to his remarkable life and contributions to art, numerous celebratory events and exhibitions will be held throughout Spain and other parts of the globe. These displays will not only exhibit his most iconic artworks but also explore the factors that contributed to his extraordinary success.
One centerpiece in the parade of events showcasing the legacy of Picasso is the exhibition Picasso and El Greco at the Museo Nacional del Prado, also known as The Prado, in Madrid. The exhibition, curated by Carmen Giménez, showcases works by the Andalusian artist alongside paintings by El Greco, a Renaissance painter known for his religious pieces, such as The Disrobing of Christ and The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, who greatly influenced Picasso.
The collection aims to provide a better understanding of Picasso’s early work, between his Blue Period and Cubism, and explore the references he took from the work of the Greek artist.
10. “DAVID HOCKNEY” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (July 15 – Nov 05, 2023).
David Hockney is a highly celebrated British artist known for his vibrant and colorful paintings, prints, and photographs. Hockney is widely recognized as one of the most innovative postwar artists, having worked across various mediums for over 60 years, including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, and stage design. He is recognized for his depictions of the California landscape, portraits of friends, and his use of new technologies in art, such as the iPad.
Recently, his openness to new technologies has led him to open an immersive audiovisual projected display of his works, as seemingly a trend lately following similar events with the works of Banksy and Van Gogh. However, my recommendation is not from this year’s London show.
Instead, if you happen to be near Tokyo this year, The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo is hosting DAVID HOCKNEY, the most extensive solo exhibition of British artist David Hockney (b. 1937 in Bradford, UK) in Asia. The exhibition showcases over 100 selected works, ranging from Hockney’s early works created in California in the 1960s to recent large paintings of his native Yorkshire landscape.
Additionally, visitors can witness a 90-meter-long new work that Hockney drew in Normandy during the COVID-19 lockdown period, along with his latest pictures made using the iPad.
Hockney’s work often explores themes of sexuality, identity, and personal expression, and he has been a prominent figure in the pop art movement since the 1960s. He continues to produce innovative and thought-provoking works, and his artistic legacy has had a significant impact on contemporary art.
From Hockney to Kusama, these exhibitions are just a glimpse of the exciting contemporary art exhibitions to come in 2023. Whether you’re a seasoned art lover or just starting to explore the world of contemporary art, these exhibitions are a must-see for anyone looking to experience the vibrant and diverse world of contemporary art.