Lifestyle & Culture

New for 2018 (updated): Dispatches’ list of the best art fairs and exhibitions across Europe

(Editor’s note: We’ve received emails reminding us we haven’t been keeping up with Europe’s art scene. So we just updated this post into October. Our apologies.)

Starry starry night / Paint your palette blue and grey / Look out on a summer’s day / With eyes that know / the darkness in my soul.Don McLean, “Vincent,” 1971.

Europe is an art lover’s dream like no other. Classical and contemporary are both held in high regard around the continent, no matter the medium. Thus, it would be a disservice to all of you if we didn’t have a list of the best art affairs in Europe in 2018.

Travelling exhibitions, fairs and festivals, long-term and one-off exhibits and events, whatever you love, we’ll make sure to have it here.

So as to not overwhelm you or ourselves, we’ll only add a few new affairs at a time. Furthermore, we’re only going to keep six months’ worth of entries – removing the outgoing month at the start of the next, while also adding a new month at the end of our list – until July 2018 arrives, at which point we’ll simply trim the guide down until only December 2018 remains.

And if you happen to know of an exhibition or festival that we need to know about, please email yours truly at; our editor, Terry, at; or leave us a note on our Facebook page.


Amsterdam: High Society – Four Centuries of Glamour, Rijksmuseum: Don’t let anyone kid you: Art and celebrity have always intersected in a symbiotic relationship.

Now through 3 June, you can see some of Rembrandt van Rijn’s best (and let’s face it … most lucrative) work including restored wedding portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit – his only life-size, standing, full-length portraits. The paintings were jointly purchased back in 2016 by the Rijksmuseum and the Louvre for 160 million euros (which sounds like a deal these days).

Rembrandt made a lot of money off society portraits and portraits of guilds and business groups … sort of the Chris Buck of the Dutch Masters. But he also managed to go broke, which is a cautionary tale for all you paparazzi chasing around Kim Kardashian.

There are other high-society works by Cranach the Elder, Paolo Veronese, Velázquez, Thomas Gainsborough, (our favorite) John Singer Sargent and Édouard Manet.

Entry is 17.50 euros and you can get tickets in advance here.

Check out the vid, which hilariously combines old masters with new-age celeb worship.

Rome – HUMAN+. The Future of Our Species: Ghost in the Shell. Metal Gear Rising. RWBY. Robocop. All present the idea of a future where blood and circuitry are one (or can be one), a future that is almost here today.

HUMAN+. The Future of Our Species, presented at Rome’s Palazzo delle Esposizioni  through 1 July, explores what it means to be human today, and what it may mean a century from now. Artists, designers, and scientists alike will offer their speculations of the HUMAN+ future to come, from biomechanics and genetic engineering, to becoming like God ourselves through the creation of sentient, non-biological life.

Tickets to HUMAN+ are 12.50 euros; 10 euros for those between 19 and 27, and above 65; 6 euros for those between 7 and 18.

Vienna – Man Ray: Man Ray was a legendary photographer and artist known for portraiture of artists and rayographs, his experimental fashion photography for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, and his contributions to both Dadaism and Surrealism.

And now, the German-speaking world will get to see his greatness first-hand when Kunstforum Wien presents Man Ray now through 24 June.

The exhibition “will be devoted to ‘the universal Man Ray’ and critically address discourses that mark his oeuvre in general,” as well as present him as the prototype and catalyst for artistic networking. A total of 150 works will be on display.

Tickets to Kunstforum Wien to see Man Ray are €11 for adults above 27 years of age.

London – Monet & Architecture: Now through 29 July, the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square in London has a show illustrating how important architecture was to Monet’s work. Well, when he wasn’t painting water lilies on ponds.

Monet & Architecture has 75 paintings by Monet, together again for the first time, as they say. We will say the video is marvelous at bringing to life the connection between painting and architecture.

You can get your tickets here.

London – Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy: At London’s Tate Modern now through 9 September, Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy is its first-ever solo exhibition dedicated to legendary artist Pablo Picasso’s lover.

Picasso 1932 will bring you up close and personal with more than 100 of his paintings, sculptures and drawings, including three pieces featuring his lover Marie-Thérèse Walter.

This will be the first time the three paintings will be shown together since their creation during a five-day span in March, 1932.

The goal of the exhibition is to strip away the mythology surrounding Picasso “to reveal the man and the artist in his full complexity and richness.”

Entry into the Tate to see Picasso 1932 is £22 (€25), free those under 12 and those who are members.

Weil am Rhine – Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today: Near the Swiss city of Basel is the German town and commune of Weil am Rhine, where the borders of France, Germany and Switzerland meet along the Rhine River. Weil am Rhine is home to the Vitra Design Museum, whose exhibition Night Fever. Designing Club Culture 1960 – Today will reside through 9 September.

Night Fever “is the first exhibition to give a comprehensive overview of the design history of the nightclub, examining its cultural context.”

From Radical Design’s Italian night clubs of the 1960s and the infamous Studio 54 of the 1970s, to Arata Isozaki’s Palladium and London’s Ministry of Sound’s OMA-design home, visitors will take “a fascinating journey through a world of glamour and subcultures – always in search of the night that never ends.”

Admission to the Vitra Design Museum to experience Night Fever is €11.


Humlebæk – Gabriele Münter: Should you need a break from Copenhagen, then head 35 kilometres north to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, located on the shore of the Øresund Sound.

If you happen to visit between now and 19 August, you’ll be able to check out the museum’s latest exhibition, Gabriele Münter.

The German painter left a mark on the scene during the German Expressionism era as part of the short-lived Der Blue Reiter art collective in the early 1910s.

However, not much of Münter’s work has been seen in the 100 years since her first exhibit in Denmark… until now. Around 130 of her works will be on display over the late spring and summer months, presented in thematic sections covering the entirety of her active period. Some of the work on display has never been shown before, while the rest haven’t been seen in decades.

A ticket to the Louisiana to see the Münter exhibit is DKK 125 (€17) for adults 18 and over, free for those under 18.

Venice – Biennale Architettura: Brutalism. Victorian. Gothic. Italianate. Revivalism. All forms of architectural style. And if you happen to love the art of architecture, the 16th edition of Biennale Architettura in Venice, Italy is what you need.

Taking place 26 May through 25 November in various venues in Venice–anchored around the Giardini and the Arsenale–Biennale Architettura’s theme will be Freespace, where built and unbuilt works on exhibit will exemplify “essential qualities of architecture which include the modulation, richness and materiality of surface; the orchestration and sequencing of movement, revealing the embodied power and beauty of architecture.”

More information to come as time marches on.


Basel – Art Basel: The traveling art festival known as Art Basel returns to its namesake home of Basel, Switzerland 14 through 17 June 2018.

More than 290 art galleries come together to show the works of over 4,000 artists from around the world. It’s a must-attend for all fans of modern and contemporary art.

More information to come as time marches on.

London – The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Summer Exhibition: For 250 years, London’s Royal Academy of Arts has held its annual Summer Exhibition, featuring the works of Britain’s greatest artists at various locations such as Pall Mall and Piccadilly.

Coinciding with the 2018 edition of the Summer Exhibition is The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Summer Exhibition, which will tell the story of the world’s longest running and largest open-submission affair, “and, in doing so, offers an innovative, illuminating and visually stunning celebration of the Academy’s first 250 years and demonstrates the impact of these exhibitions on art in Britain and internationally.”

Speaking of the 2018 edition, this year’s theme – in honor of the Summer Exhibition’s 250th anniversary – is Art Made Now. Curated by Grayson Perry RA, this year’s exhibition will “champion the democracy of the exhibition and show off the diversity of art being made in this moment.” And the best part?

You can buy these works of art to bring life to your home and office.

Both The Great Spectacle and Summer Exhibition 2018 will run from 12 June through 19 August.


Den Haag – By the Sea: If you live in this part of Europe, you know Den Haag as a great beach destination, with Scheveningen right on the edge of the city. Well, back in the day, this is where a lot of Dutch artists came to be inspired. (We’re thinking that this exhibit starting in July is not merely a happy coincidence.)

The Gemeentemuseum (literally, “the city hall museum”) in Den Haag is overshadowed by the Mauritzhaus, to be sure. But the Gemeentemuseum has a pretty cool show starting in July … a show featuring Piet Mondrian, Jan Toorop and Jacoba van Heemskerck. You’ve only heard of one of those three, but this exhibition will have 50 paintings, so you’ll come to love them all.

The three impressionists, like their French and American colleagues, loved to capture the various effects of light, especially on water. You can see how they worked their magic By the Sea from 14 July through 18 November.

Mondrian’s work, of course, jumped the shark somewhere along the line and he became a modernist, laying the foundation for abstract expressionist painters such as Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko.

You can get your advanced tickets here.

Edinburgh, Scotland – Rembrandt|Britain’s Discovery of the MasterThis is kind of interesting. Amsterdam is what? Like 100 kilometers from London? So Rembrandt van Rijn’s impact on English artists such as Hogarth happened fairly quickly. Then, collectors got in on the action.

The result is, today, there are a lot of Rembrandt’s works in British museums and private collections, some of which will go to Edinburgh for “Rembrant|Britian’s Discovery of the Master” at the National Galleries Scotland from 7 July thru 14 October.

The exhibition will bring together Rembrandts in British collections including “Belshazzar’s Feast” (above) from the National Gallery London, “Girl at a Window” from Dulwich Picture Gallery as well as “The Mill” from the National Gallery in Washington, which was sold to an American collector no doubt to patch the roof of some marquess’s Cotswolds country house.

From the National Galleries website:

This exclusive new exhibition, which will only be shown in Edinburgh, reveals how the taste for Rembrandt’s work in Britain evolved over the past 400 years. From early beginnings around 1630, it grew into a mania that gripped collectors and art lovers across the country, reaching a fever pitch in the late-eighteenth century.

This has the makings of what used to be called a “blockbuster” in the museum biz in a city that’s an increasingly popular tourist destination.

You can get your tickets here.


Vienna – Bruegel: One of the best museums in the world is featuring one of the greatest artists later this year.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder liked to paint what first appear to be ordinary scenes, such as peasants skating across lakes amid a frozen Flemish landscape. Of course, what he was seeing wasn’t ordinary at all … he was documenting a mini-ice age that hit northern Europe mid-16th century including what is today the Netherlands and Belgium.

When you go through his entire portfolio, you see Bruegel was a genius at subtly weaving Christian themes and motifs into subversive paintings about the unstable political situation of the 1500s, along with canny observations about the human condition including endless labor, lechery, drunkenness and lust. Think of Bruegel as the saner version of his artistic and chronological precursor Jheronimous Bosch.

But we digress: You can see his wondrous works at Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna from 2 October through 13 Jan. 2019. Just in time for his 450th birthday. Maybe there’ll be cake.

Coimbra, Portugal – International Surrealism Now: The world’s largest 21st-century surrealist art exhibition opens 17 November at the Coimbra House of Culture and Chiado Museum in Portugal, with 107 artists from 45 countries.

This is a project of Portuguese surrealist painter Santiago Ribeiro, who since 2010 has organized ISN events in Berlin, Moscow, Dallas, Los Angeles, Mississippi, Warsaw, Nantes, Paris, Florence, Madrid, Granada, Barcelona, Lisbon, Belgrade, Monte Negro, Romania, Japan, Taiwan and Brazil.

Apparently, Ribeiro’s work has been featured in Times Square in New York (above) since July 2017 at the Thomson Reuters and Nasdaq OMX Group, according to a news release we got recently.

Ribeiro’s efforts are political, with the goal of changing the human mindset.

From the release:

Art with the courage to face World issues head-on, creating unprecedented opportunities for dialog can help change world order. The planet has been spiraling into a dangerous period in our collective history. Wars inspired by the highest profit margins and savage monopolistic capitalism feeding modern imperialism, results in radical terrorism born of medieval societies using 21st-century technology to combat these dictatorships. With a diverse population of billions, how can we possibly create a state of a social equilibrium? These factors drive the Contemporary Surrealist movement. Art has the capacity to open up these wounds, face them head on by offering fresh perspectives and solutions to address World trauma.

Amen ….

There’s no information on the museum website, but there doesn’t appear to be a fee.

To Top

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news and updates from Dispatches Europe. Get lifestyle & culture, startup & tech, jobs and travel news dispatched to your inbox each week. Keep up with what's going on in Europe. Everything Expat.

You have Successfully Subscribed!