The Must See Exhibitions. Current Art Exhibitions Reflecting on Past and Future


Cultural Resonance of Contemporary Art and the Must-See Exhibitions

From the Design Museum’s Ai Weiwei: Making Sense exhibition to Gabriel Moses’s Regina, the creative landscape is reminiscing on its past and continuing to look towards its future. A process which has made its cultural resonance ever more palpable. Steve McQueen’s Grenfell for instance, brings awareness to the Grenfell Tower Blaze six years later whilst Ryan Calais Cameron’s For Black Boys grapples with the notions of race and masculinity. Below Re-Edition has rounded up the must-see art exhibitions of the moment. 

Patti Smith by Brigitte Lacombe

1) Face To Face, International Center of Photography, New York, United States. (From now until 1st May)

Brought together by lauded writer and curator Helene Molesworth, the International Centre of Photography’s up-to-the-minute exhibition brings us ‘face-to-face’ with: Joan Didion, David Hockney, Miranda July, Rick Owens, Martin Scorsese, Mickalene Thomas, John Waters, Louise Bourgeois, Maya Angelou, Richard Avedon and a number of other cultural groundbreakers, who played a significant role in shaping the contemporary art, design, literature and musical landscapes. Immortalised through the lenses of Tacita Dean, Brigitte Lacombe and Catherine Opie and brought-to-life through more than 50 portraits along with two films, this showcase on now until the 1st of May captures the creatives in their elements — from film shoots to their studios. 

2) Grenfell, Steve McQueen, Serpentine South, London, United Kingdom. (From now until 10th May)

Commemorating 6 years since the Grenfell Tower blaze that claimed 72 lives, Steve McQueen’s Grenfell is a harrowingly reflective 24-minute film that captures the charred remnants of the once-residential block, which lies preternaturally still against the sounds of birds; an emergency siren; the wind and an aeroplane that occasionally pierce the air. Filmed from a helicopter before it was covered, Grenfell serves as a hauntingly powerful reminder of the aftermath of the tragedy and the need for justice. 

The Milkmaid - Johannes Vermeer

3) Vermeer Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. (From now until 4th June)

Displaying 28 works in total, the largest since 1995 and featuring a number of his most renowned paintings from The Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Geographer to Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid and Woman Holding a Balance, together with ones never-before-shown to the public. This unmissable retrospective delves into the artistic ingenuity of the quietest “Old Master”, Johannes Vermeer. 

Regina by Gabriel Moses

4) Regina, Gabriel Moses, 180 Studios, London, United Kingdom. (From now until 30th April)

For his first showcase, which brings together 50 photographic works and two short productions, Gabriel Moses has traversed artistic, familial and cultural themes, to introduce us to a body of work which is ultimately an ode to women. Ijó, one of the two films displayed, for instance, follows in the footsteps of the young dancers from the Leap of Dance Academy in Lagos, Nigeria. 

Michael Halsband, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat

5)  Basquiat x Warhol. Painting Four Hands, The Louis Vuitton Foundation, Paris France. (From now until 28th August)

Celebrating both the collaborative partnership and personal friendship between the two artists, this latest, colourfully-arresting exhibition features over 300 works and documents along with 80 canvases jointly signed by Basquiat and Warhol. All of these along with a series of must-see pieces such as Ten Punching Bags (Last Supper) and African Mask together with works by Futura 200, Michael Halsband, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer and Kenny Scharf have been pieced together to conjure the energetic spirit of New York’s downtown art scene in the midst of the 1980s. 

6) Making Sense, Ai Weiwei, The Design Museum, London, United Kingdom. (From now until 30th July)

One of the creative landscape's most prolific figures, Ai Weiwei’s work has unflinchingly addressed everything from the Chinese Government’s position on democracy to the perils faced by refugees. This latest exhibition, focuses on design, with every-day objects taking on contemporary meanings. A Styrofoam takeout box crafted from white marble, for example, comments on the ecological impact of disposable objects whilst a construction helmet cast in glass connotes the exploitation of China’s migrant workers.“My work may just be one drop of water in the ocean, but the ocean is made of water. So I want to remind people, whether in China or the West or elsewhere, that we have to understand one another and treat one another with compassion” the artist said in a pre-show interview. “We have to see humanity as one.”

For Black Boys - Royal Court Theatre

7) For Black Boys, Royal Court Theatre, London, United Kingdom. (From now until 7th May)

Returning for an encore, Ryan Calais Cameron’s play, which focuses on a group therapy session between six young black men, is catalysed by Ntozake Shange’s 1976 theatre performance titled For coloured girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf. Set over two hours and illustrated as being on the “threshold of joyful fantasy and brutal reality”, the play also explores notions of masculinity along with race. 

Cere Anatomiche - Fondazione Prada

8) Cere Anatomiche , Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy. (From now until 17th July)

Born through a collaborative effort with Florence’s La Specola, Cere Anatomiche displays 13 18th-century ceroplastic works sourced from the Florentine museum, together with 72 reproductions of anatomical sketches stored in nine vitrines. Out of the wax figures displayed, La Specola's Venus is one not to be missed, largely because it is the only model featured with detachable parts. Showcased alongside them, is Four Unloved Women, Adrift on a Purposeless Sea, Experience the Ecstasy of Dissection, a short-film envisaged by Canadian screenwriter David Cronenberg which looks upon Cere Anatomiche’s four female wax-figures through an exploratory as opposed to objective perspective. 

Our Connection To Water - Royal Museums

9) Our Connection To Water, Royal Museums, Greenwich, London, United Kingdom. (From now until 30th June)

Curated by Joseph Ijoyemi and Lison Sabrina Musset, this exhibition sees seven international artists; Aya Mohamed, Artemis Evlogimenou, Dave Oboro, Giya Makondo-Wills, JIUN Collective, Paul Malone and Seba Calfuqueo, interpret our practical, spiritual and cultural connections to water, before translating their perspectives to the audience through a collection of photographs, films, illustrations and installations. 

HELEN FRANKENTHALER Western Roadmap, 1991 - Gagosian, New York,

10) Helen Frankenthaler, Drawing within Nature: Paintings from the 1990s, Gagosian, New York, United States (From now until 22nd April)

“My pictures are full of climates, abstract climates, and not nature per se. But a feeling. And the feeling of an order that is associated more with nature” Helen Frankenthaler once said. “Nature in seasons, maybe; but nature in, well, an order. And I think art itself is order out of chaos.” Bringing her words to life, Gagosian has assembled 12 paintings, along with two large-scale works to transport observers to a tranquil landscape cultivated from the American painter’s imagination and planted in ours through her usage of vivid hues and abstract shapes. Not to be missed are Frankenthaler’s Poseidon (1990), Western Roadmap (1991), Stella Polaris (1990), Reef (1991), Spellbound (1991) and The Rake’s Progress (1991). 

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