Seven Places To See Great Art This Summer
Mr Olafur Eliasson, Life (2021). Photograph by Mr Mark Niedermann, courtesy of Fondation Beyeler. © Olafur Eliasson, courtesy of the artist; neugerriem-schneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York/Los Angeles
As we dare to dream of travel once again, the prospect of a much-needed cultural reboot appears like a welcome mirage. This year, there is plenty of destination art worth getting on a train or (once guidelines permit) a plane for. The exhibitions and openings we’ve selected are most definitely best experienced IRL. We’re talking immersive installations that dazzle, dizzying views that the screen cannot do justice to and art that makes you want to touch it.
Seeing the art up close and in person will make a welcome change from the digital tours, online viewing rooms and companion podcasts that have sustained art lovers over in recent times. So, if you’re feeling ready to venture farther afield to see some of the best art, read on for our pick of the new museums, galleries and exhibitions worth exploring in 2021.
Kusama: Cosmic Nature at New York Botanical Garden, US
Ms Yayoi Kusama, “Dancing Pumpkin” (2020). Photograph by Robert Benson Photography, courtesy of New York Botanical Garden. © Yayoi Kusama, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro and David Zwirner.
Now’s your chance to see Ms Yayoi Kusama’s signature works alfresco. Installed across the garden’s 250-acre landscape, Kusama: Cosmic Nature explores the artist’s life-long fascination with the natural world. Her polka-dotted pumpkins, monumental paintings of flowers and plants, and mirrored balls nestle happily among meadow grasses, bellflowers and water lilies. And the effect is spectacular. From July, you’ll be able to step inside Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room, a mind-blowing immersive installation that showcases her vision of endless reflection. Never has this much-loved corner of New York looked so good.
Don’t miss: Dancing Pumpkin (2020), a 16ft-high bronze sculpture painted black and yellow on public display for the first time.
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The Pinault Collection at Bourse de Commerce, Paris, France
Mr Urs Fischer, “Untitled” (2011-2020). Photograph by Mr Stefan Altenburger, courtesy of The Pinault Collection. © Urs Fischer courtesy of The Pinault Collection.
After a five-year revamp, the eagerly awaited Bourse de Commerce, the new Paris home of Mr François Pinault’s extensive collection of contemporary art, is finally throwing open its doors. Between the Louvre and the Pompidou Centre, the magnificent 18th-century stock exchange, restored and imaginatively transformed by Japanese architect Mr Tadao Ando, features grandiose exhibition and reception galleries, an auditorium and a black-box theatre for video and sound installations. Inaugural highlights include Mr Tarek Atoui’s The Ground, a vast performance piece first exhibited in Europe at the 2019 Venice Biennale; photography from Ms Sherrie Levine, Ms Cindy Sherman and Mr Richard Prince; and a monumental wax candle sculpture by the Swiss artist Mr Urs Fischer, now on show in the Rotunda.
Don’t miss: Halle aux Grains, the on-site restaurant from Messrs Michel and Sébastien Bras of Michelin-starred Le Suquet fame.
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Olafur Eliasson: Life at Fondation Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland
Mr Olafur Eliasson, Life (2021). Photograph by Ms Pati Grabowicz, courtesy of Fondation Beyeler. © Olafur Eliasson, courtesy of the artist; neugerriem-schneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York/Los Angeles.
The Fondation Beyeler has turned over some of its galleries to an immersive installation by the Danish-Icelandic artist Mr Olafur Eliasson. Like many of his large-scale works, Life engages all the senses. As you meander through the exhibition, you’ll encounter everything from wildlife to changing weather patterns and flow between spaces outside and in. It’ll look different from one day to the next, so prepare to stop, stare and reconnect with your surroundings. Plus, with Art Basel, the mother of all art fairs, postponed from June until September, the city’s quaint streets will be less hectic than usual, which will make a spot of sightseeing – or dinner alfresco – a far more palatable post-visit option.
Don’t miss: Life at night. In darkness, the pond fluoresces, thanks to a combination of ultraviolet light and uranine, a fluorescent dye, in the water.
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Helsinki Biennial, Vallisaari Island, Finland
Mr Samnang Khvay, “Preah Kunlong (The Way Of The Spirit)” (2016–2017). Photograph by Ms Maija Toivanen, courtesy of Helsinki Biennial. © Samnang Khvay/HAM/Helsinki Biennial 2021.
For art-world kudos, the event to name drop this summer is The Same Sea, the inaugural edition of the Helsinki Biennial, which is taking over Vallisaari island (one of more than 300 islands off the coast of Helsinki) from June to September. Curated by Ms Pirkko Siitari and Ms Taru Tappola, head curators of Helsinki Art Museum, the sprawling showcase brings together contemporary works by more than 40 artists and artist groups from across the globe that explore everything from the island’s military history to migration and the environment. Many of these are installed along the cobbled, outdoor trail, so are best enjoyed tipple in hand.
Don’t miss: Ms Janet Echelman’s huge netted sculpture 1.78, which will be suspended above the city’s central Senate Square during the month of August.
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Mr Mark Bradford at Hauser & Wirth, Isla del Rey, Menorca
Mr Mark Bradford, “Queen’s Dragon” (2021). Photograph by Mr Joshua White/JW Pictures, courtesy of Hauser&Wirth. © Mark Bradford, courtesy of Hauser&Wirth.
Situated on the sun-drenched island of Menorca, Hauser & Wirth’s latest outpost opens in July with an exhibition of new paintings and sculptures by American abstractionist Mr Mark Bradford. Restored by Paris-based architects Luis Laplace, the historic site is now home to eight exhibition galleries, a gallery shop and Cantina, a traditional Menorcan restaurant that serves local, seasonal produce. But don’t get too comfy. The extraordinary garden designed by Mr Piet Oudolf (of Serpentine Pavilion and Hauser & Wirth Somerset fame) is worth exploring, too. The art glitterati will be swopping Bruton for the Balearics in no time.
Don’t miss: the sculpture trail features works by Ms Louise Bourgeois, Mr Franz West and Mr Eduardo Chillida, among others – it’s a good way of working off lunch if nothing else.
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Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles, US
Mr Hayao Miyazaki, The Wind Rises (2013). Image courtesy of Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. © 2013 Studio Ghibli – NDHDMTK.
When it opens this September, nearly a decade after it was first announced, the Mr Renzo Piano-designed Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures will be the largest institution in the US devoted to the world of cinema. The vast gallery space (about 50,000sq ft) will be stuffed with priceless pieces from the Academy’s remarkable collection, spanning screenwriting, costume design, props, make-up, motion picture technology, audio and more. The opening exhibition programme looks just as compelling. Think immersive Oscars experience, displays curated by Messrs Spike Lee and Pedro Almodóvar and a gallery dedicated to The Wizard Of Oz. On the fourth floor, there’ll be a temporary exhibition on the Japanese filmmaker Mr Hayao Miyazaki. Just a stone’s throw from LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), it’s the blockbuster hit film buffs have been longing for.
Don’t miss: the magnificent view of the Hollywood Hills from the terrace at the top of the Sphere, the giant glass and concrete extension that will host major film screenings.
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Isamu Noguchi: Ways of Discovery at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Japan
Mr Isamu Noguchi, “AKARI Installation” (2021). Photograph by Mr Sadamu Saito, courtesy of Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. © Isamu Noguchi Foundation.
Dating back to the 1920s, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno Park houses a small but fine collection of sculpture and calligraphic works. But its real selling point is its bijou exhibition programme, which spotlights often overlooked masters from around the world. Now is the turn of Mr Isamu Noguchi, the Japanese-American sculptor-designer who drew inspiration from surrealism and constructivism, figuration and abstraction, and worked in materials from basalt to bronze. Isamu Noguchi: Ways Of Discovery traces the evolution of his diverse practice by bringing together key works from across his six-decade career.
Don’t miss: Black Sun (1967–69), a monumental ring-shaped sculpture carved from a 30-ton piece of Brazilian black granite.