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International Museum Exhibitions

The following guide to museum shows currently on view is compiled from Artforum’s three-times-yearly exhibition preview. Subscribe now to begin a year of Artforum—the world’s leading magazine of contemporary art. You’ll get all three big preview issues, featuring Artforum’s comprehensive advance roundups of the shows to see each season around the globe.

Marina Abramović, Clouds in the Shadow, 1969, charcoal on paper mounted on oil on canvas, 69 3/4 × 57 1/2".

“Marina Abramović : The Cleaner”

Through May 21
Curated by Lena Essling, Tine Colstrup, and Susanne Kleine

Will polyglot Europe (Eastern, Western, Mittel) fragment into a thousand shards, or will it be dreamed anew as a collective hallucination of syncretic secularity? This question may seem removed from a Marina Abramović retrospective, but one could argue that the grandiose, anything-goes performances from this visionary/celebrity artist propose such issues as personal, mystical choices. This exhibition, which includes sketches, archival materials, and some ninety-five works made between 1960 and 2017, places renewed focus on Abramović’s origins in then-Communist Yugoslavia (this is especially true in the accompanying catalogue). Probing “loss, memory, pain, endurance, and trust,” the curators situate the artist’s works as provocations to participation, which is the axis around which our political imaginaries must also arrange themselves. Travels to Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark, June 17–Oct. 22; Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, Apr. 20–Aug. 12, 2018.

Caroline A. Jones

Marie-Louise Ekman, At Home with a Lady, 1973, oil and faux fur on canvas, 19 3/4 × 23 5/8".


June 17 - September 17
Curated by Jo Widoff

To enter painter and filmmaker Marie-Louise Ekman’s world is to find oneself in a version of the Swedish sexual revolution that is at once decadent, poetic, stylish, biting, and funny. Ekman’s 1977 film Mamma, pappa, barn (Mother, Father, Child) presents a nuclear family weighed down by visual chaos that would do any installation artist proud; in the middle of it all, the titular young child fights for her freedom. The artist’s crisp, cartoonlike paintings in sugary colors, long ignored by critics, deftly question social relations as if from the inside of designs appropriated from Mondrian, Picasso, Dalí, and Disney. Theatricality is everywhere in her work, and no wonder: Ekman’s long career reached new heights with her 2009 appointment as director of the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm. With this summer’s presentation of more than two hundred works dating from the 1960s to the present, accompanied by an extensive catalogue, curator Jo Widoff promises to revisit the entire oeuvre of this multitalented artist, surely one of the most extraordinary voices of modern Sweden. 

Ina Blom

Wolfgang Tillmans, Gedser, 2004, ink-jet print on paper, 81 7/8 × 54 3/8".


May 28 - October 1
Curated by Theodora Vischer

Few artists working today illuminate the politics of everyday life with the subtle insight and devastating versatility of photographer Wolfgang Tillmans. He turns seemingly casual observations of simple subjects, like friends or flowers, into potent symbols of youth, community, mortality, and hope. The implicit social engagement of Tillmans’s work pervades the vast but carefully chosen survey now at Tate Modern. But a second exhibition, opening this month at the Fondation Beyeler, offers a more introspective view. This show, focusing on the artist’s studio-based work, will include portraits, still lifes, and staged shots, plus films and music. Look for Tillmans—an ingenious installation artist and quiet provocateur—to activate the complicated meanings in his own work, slyly tweaking the foundation’s patriarchal canon of blue-chip modernist masters.

Brian Wallis

Roberto Cuoghi, untitled (detail), 2014, polyol, isocyanate, concrete, epoxy paste, 47 1/4 × 19 3/4 × 23 5/8".

“Roberto Cuoghi: Perla Pollina, 1996–2016”

Through April 30
Curated by Andrea Bellini

If Woody Allen were to rewrite Zelig and set the story in the art world, his inevitable first pick for the starring role would be the enigmatic Italian artist Roberto Cuoghi. Like Allen’s “human chameleon” character, Cuoghi demonstrates total fluency in any situation, deploying a range of techniques to weave a sprawling, nonhierarchical and atemporal web of drawing, painting, photography, performance, digital animation, comic-book illustration, archaeological research, and musical composition. Yet his total immersion in his subject matter is what really distinguishes Cuoghi’s oeuvre from those of his peers. This retrospective promises to examine the gripping twists and turns of the artist’s obsessive production in more than seventy works, ranging from his assumption of his father’s identity in the late 1990s to more recent creations from last year, and will be accompanied by a scholarly catalogue. Travels to the Museo MADRE, Naples, May 15–Sept.11; Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, Oct.–Dec.

Alison M. Gingeras


May 20 - August 13
Curated by Daniel Baumann

Frankfurt-based Michael Riedel is the creator of a parallel universe replete with artworks, artifacts, and cultural situations that look just like their counterparts in our own reality, only subtly distorted. Taking the résumé as both material and structure, “CV” will cover the period from 1994 to 2017 and will include barely known early works that anticipate the artist’s more visible artistic projects involving publishing, recordings, gastronomy (the Freitagsküche in Frankfurt, for example), and the restless activities in the studio/performance space Oskar-von-Miller-Straße 16. Having lived for a decade in the same German city as Riedel, I’ve been continuously drawn into his world of echoes and replicas, and will be surprised if I don’t detect inverted and displaced versions of artworks, exhibitions, and texts by friends (or myself) in his upcoming show. There’s no telling what will become part of Riedel’s puzzling and expansive curriculum vitae. 

Daniel Birnbaum

Marcel Odenbach, Im Kreise drehen (Turning Circles), 2009, digital video, color, sound, 15 minutes 51 seconds.

“Marcel Odenbach: Proof of Nothing”

Through April 30
Curated by Vanessa Joan Müller

Though it is tempting to call Marcel Odenbach a pioneer, this designation might imply that his work is done. Born in 1953, he is not only a forefather of video art and a cofounder, with Ulrike Rosenbach and Klaus vom Bruch, of the 1970s producer group ATV, he is also—still—a protagonist of political art. For his generation in West Germany, addressing the political through art meant working through the complex process of dealing with the country’s Nazi past. More recently, Odenbach, who now lives in Ghana part-time, has begun to focus on colonialism in Africa. At the Kunsthalle Wien, he will show videos (including a new one about Fritz Cremer’s 1958 memorial at the Buchenwald concentration camp) alongside his equally complex works on paper. The exhibition promises to illuminate new facets of Odenbach’s investigations into the exploitation of history in contemporary ideological battles, which remains as pressing as ever in the era of Trump and populist right-wing movements looming all over Europe.

Benjamin Paul