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New for 2024: The best European cities to visit for major art exhibitions

(Editor’s note: Terry Boyd also contributed to this post on blockbuster 2024 art events in Europe’s major cultural centers. This post will be updated with new exhibitions.)

Whether during a short weekend getaway or an extended vacation, a visit to a great art show is a valuable addition to any trip. Here is our selection of the most invigorating art projects across Europe this year.

Frans Hals at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

Now through 9 June

You can count on Amsterdam’s royal museum to bring the best of Europe to the city’s multitude of visitors. Frans Hals was a contemporary of the more celebrated (now) Johannas Vermeer, though in his time Hals was successful and (for the 17th century) stylistically avant-garde.

In fact, if you visualize a portrait from the Golden Age, it’s probably a Vermeer, Rembrandt or Hals. “Jester with a Lute” at the Louvre and Willem van Heythuysen kicking back in his chair are representative of Hals jovial, stylish approach to capturing a subject’s essence. You can see 50 of his paintings at this comprehensive show. Now, the weird thing is, the guy painted nothing but portraits – no landscapes or biblical scenes as all that had gone out of style by his day.

Though he was a celebrity painter in his day, like Vermeer, Rembrandt and every other Dutch/Flemish painter, Hals managed to go broke even though he had a long and productive career. Tough gig, painting, but few did it better.

Admission to the Rijksmuseum is 22.50 euros and you can buy tickets in advance here.

“Sargent and Fashion” at the Tate Britain in London

Now through 7 July

Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau). 1883-1884.

No American painter defines the early modern era more than John Singer Sargent, who worked during the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.

And of course he was an expat.

His “Madam X” is the definition of aristocratic glamour and style, and proof that Americans could match the French in the technical demands of painting. Although the guy was far more of a European than an American.

Born in Florence in 1856 to wealthy Americans parents and educated in Paris, by his mid-20s Sargent was an established artist. Encouraged by Henry James, he moved to London In 1886, according to Gallerie.

Unlike his European contemporaries, who celebrated quotidienne life, expat-in-London Sargent was only interested in the upper classes and creative types.

The Tate show is quite a big deal and includes 60 paintings.

Tate Members get unlimited free entry to all Tate exhibitions. Become a member here. Everyone aged 16-25 can visit all Tate exhibitions for 5 pounds by joining Tate Collective. To join for free, click here.

Otherwise, it’ll cost you 22 pounds.

Read more about Sargent here in the New York Times.

“Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog”

Caspar David Friedrich in Dresden, Hamburg and Berlin

Various dates in Hamburg and Berlin

Celebrating Caspar David Friedrich’s 250th birthday, three major museums in Germany are staging a trio of exhibitions dedicated to one of the most enigmatic painters of all times.

Those who manage to see them all, will certainly become true connoisseurs of Friedrich’s art since these three places house the best collections of his work across the globe. The institutions have created a common portal encompassing all exhibitions and events of the year.

The adult tickets cost 16 euros in Hamburg and Berlin and 12 euros in Dresden and you can buy them on the respective websites.

Caspar David Friedrich: Art for a New Era already opened the big celebrations with a show at the Kunsthalle, Hamburg running until 1 April 2024. The exhibition explores Friedrich’s focus on man’s relationship with nature and his landscapes, including the famous “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog” from 1817.

A section of the show explores Fiedrich’s influence on contemporary art through works by Olafur Eliasson, Julian Charrière and many others.

Caspar David Friedrich: Infinite Landscapes at the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin (19 April – 4 August) stages a dialogue between his pairs of landscape paintings and highlights the role of the institution in rediscovering the artist in the beginning of the 20th century. A separate section also presents the latest research on his technique.

Caspar David Friedrich: Where it All Started takes place at Albertinum and Kupferstich-Kabinett in Dresden (24 August 2024 – 5 January 2025), the city where the artist spent the longest and most productive period of his life. The museum stages an interplay between Friedrich’s pieces and the Old Master paintings that inspired his work.

“Paris 1874. Inventing impressionism” at Musée d’Orsay in Paris

26 March – 14 July

One hundred fifty years after the very first impressionist exhibition in Paris, the major impressionist museum in the world looks back into the day that completely changed the trajectory of Western art.

Paris 1874 attempts to re-stage the original display of works by 31 artists (“only seven of whom are well-known across the world today,” as the museum’s media-release notes) against at-the-time accepted art exhibited at the official Salon the same year, thus re-enacting the visual conflict and the artistic collision between the two.

Through such juxtaposition, the exhibition presents a rare opportunity to actually experience for yourself the striking rapture that shocked the French capital in 1874.

Tickets range between 12-16 euros if booked on-line and 11-14 euros if bought on the spot. You can get yours here.

Roy Lichtenstein: A Centennial Exhibition” at the Albertina Museum in Vienna

Now thru 14 July

Another anniversary celebration — now at the Austrian Albertina. Roy Lichtenstain is one of the major figures of the American Pop Art movement of the ’60s recognized for his bright-colored cartoon-like works featuring stereotypical blond ladies and war heroes.

On the occasion of Roy Lichtenstain’s 100th birthday the museum opens a comprehensive show of the artist’s work with paintings, prints and sculptures from major North-American and European collections.

Tickets are between 9 euros and 18.90 euros. You can get them here.

“Anselm Kiefer: Fallen Angels” at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence

22 March – 21 July

Palazzo Strozzi, an imposing Renaissance palace in the center of Florence, stages its new blockbuster exhibition. This time, it celebrates the work of one of the most recognized living artists of our times — Anselm Kiefer.

Featuring both old works and new production that emerged in dialogue with Renaissance architecture, the show explores Kiefer’s “artistic pursuit in which history, myth, religion, mysticism, poetry, and philosophy merge and blur with one another.” To get into the mood before seeing the show, watch the new Wim Wender’s movie on Anselm Kiefer’s life and oeuvre from 2023.

Full price tickets are 15 euros and you can get yours here.

“60th Venice Biennale: Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere”

April 20 thru November 24

After Florence, spend a couple of days in Venice to see the most important contemporary art show on the planet. As always, the Venice Biennale occupies two places in the city — the Giardini, with its national pavilions (90 this year), and the Arsenale with a project staged by an invited curator.

This year’s edition promises to pay special attention to the outdoor projects and performance programme, presented during the opening and closing weeks of the event.

As explained by the biennale’s curator, Adriano Pedrosa, the title “Foreigners Everywhere” has multiple meanings: “First of all, that wherever you go and wherever you are you will always encounter foreigners— they/we are everywhere. Secondly, that no matter where you find yourself, you are always truly, and deep down inside, a foreigner.”

Early bird tickets cost 25.50 euros for one day and 30.50 euros for 3-day
admission. Ynu can get them here.

“National Treasures”

Opens 10 May, various museums across the UK

This is kind of cool … London’s National Gallery is scattering 12 of its treasures to the four winds, sending them to regional museums across the United Kingdom. They include J.M.W. Turner’s “The Fighting Temeraire” (you’ll recognize it when you see it), a Botticelli and a Monet.


“In your Wildest Dreams – Ensor Beyond Impressionism” at KMSKA in Antwerp from 28 September 2024 thru 18 January 2025 – Okay, we’re biased, but we have this thing for James Ensor, one of the quirkiest artists ever. The native of Ostend, Belgium started out in the late 19th century as a fairly conventional impressionist, then transitioned into a … we don’t know what. Relgious painter? Fauvist? You don’t have to be an art snob to stand back and wonder, “What was goin’ on in this cat’s head?”

“Van Gogh, Poets and Lovers,” 14 September 2024 thru 19 January, 2025. – We never seem to get enough of this mad Dutchman, and the National Gallery in London promises a “once in a lifetime exhibit” that will include works from his years in the South of France.


Read more about art and museums here in Dispatches’ archives.

See more from Nina here.

Website | + posts

Nina Danilova is an art writer and contemporary art curator. She is about to finish her PhD
in Culture Studies. She grew up in Russia and lived in Germany, Estonia, Italy and
Portugal, where she is currently based. She is passionate about history, languages, food,
and dancing.

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