Best European art exhibitions 2019
Plan your next European mini-break around brilliant art, from the Fondation Louis Vuitton Courtauld Impressionists exhibition to a Rijksmuseum Rembrandt retrospective
2019 is the year of Rembrandt in the Netherlands. On the occasion of the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt's death, cultural museums and institutions across the land pay homage to the legacy of its veritable Master of Dutch Golden Age painting.
The Rijksmuseum, which houses the world's greatest collection of Rembrandt works, marks the anniversary with a year-long celebration, opening the festivities with blockbuster exhibition, All the Rembrandts of the Rijksmuseum (15 Feb 19 – 20 Jun 19). This landmark exhibition brings together 22 paintings, 60 drawings – many of which will be on display for the first time due to their fragility – and the 300 best examples of Rembrandt’s 1,300 prints. As one of the most important Rembrandt surveys to date, this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition offers visitors the chance to explore 'Rembrandt the artist, the human, the storyteller, the innovator'.
Later in the year, The Rijksmuseum stages Rembrandt – Velázquez (11 Oct 19 – 19 Jan 20), an exhibition exploring the dialogue between the two celebrated seventeenth-century painters, and, in turn, the Northern and Southern Schools of Painting. If you've never been to Amsterdam, The Year of Rembrandt serves as just the excuse you need to hop on a now direct Eurostar from King's Cross.
Where to stay: Canal House. Within walking distance from the Rijksmuseum, this boutique hotel has just 23 rooms, views of the canal, and a delightful private garden. The contemporary Dutch design makes Canal house a magpie's haven, while the G&T's are good enough to tempt in roving wanderers nearby.
Where to eat: Rijks. With high ceilings, large windows and good acoustics, Rijks is a destination restaurant in its own right. It's a delightful spot by day and by night, serving good quality Dutch cuisine at reasonable prices.Read more ...
Rarely before has the prestigious Courtauld collection of French Impressionist paintings been permitted to travel. Thanks to the Courtauld Gallery's closure in 2018, though, a part of the collection is now winging its way to Paris, for the first time in 60 years.
From Manet and Cézanne to Degas and Van Gogh, Courtauld Impressionists presents the creme de la creme of Samuel Courtauld's private collection, showing him to be one of the twentieth-century's greatest collectors of Modern French painting. Dancers and bathers, card players and absinthe drinkers hang alongside an exquisite array of nudes, landscapes and still lifes. If you didn't catch this delightful exhibition in London, make it a focal point of a weekend trip to Paris – it is after all the city that inspired many of the works on display.
Where to stay nearby: Hotel Bienvenue. We suggest hopping on the metro to the Fondation Louis Vuitton from the centre of town, rather than staying in the vicinity, as it is a fair distance from the city's coveted bistros and bars. This recently refurbished boutique hotel, however, is located just a stone's throw from many of Paris' best attractions. It has a simple but design-lead aesthetic, a glorious courtyard and an on-site restaurant serving Franco-Japanese cuisine. Just the ticket.
Where to eat nearby: Le Frank. There's no need to stray from the FLV for lunch. Magpie favourite Le Frank is run by Jean-Louis Nomicos, the Michelin-starred chef and owner of the restaurant Les Tablettes on avenue Bugeaud in Paris. Enjoy traditional French cuisine in luminous architectural interiors, beneath the celebrated white Frank Gehry fish – it is always quite an experience, and more Instagrammable thank you could ever imagine.
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After a successful run at London's National Gallery, Mantegna and Bellini opens in Berlin at the Gemäldegalerie. This magnanimous exhibition, featuring more than 150 paintings and drawings alongside archival material, explores the intricate relationship between the two Renaissance Masters.
Bellini and Mantegna were contemporaries working at close quarters in 15th Century Padua, but they shared much more than a city – in 1453, Jacopo Bellini, father of Bellini and tutor to Mantegna, consented to the marriage between Mantegna and Bellini's half sister, Niccolosa, which then made the friends family. By placing two vast collections of paintings, drawings and sculptures side by side for the first time, this exhibition casts a new light on an intriguing and much debated artistic rivalry.
Where to stay nearby: Arte Luise Kunthotel. Bohemian hideout Arte Luise Kuntshotel bills itself as a virtual gallery, with each of its rooms (many of which have views over the Reichstag Building) decorated by a different artist. It's not the last word in luxury, but this quirky hangout offers bed and breakfast at manageable prices. Make sure to appreciate the sublime Philosopher's Staircase during your stay, too.
Where to eat nearby: Golvet. If you are looking for top-notch food in a sophisticated, design-led environment, look no further than Golvet. Classic, seasonal dishes are paired with Asian influences in this elegant, sky-high Michelin-starred restaurant, boasting near panoramic views over the city.Read more ...
We know New York is not in Europe and it might be a push for a weekend mini-break, but it's definitely doable for a loooong-weekend. Or here's hoping, because the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute has recently announced the theme of its major spring fashion exhibition. Following in the controversial footsteps of the widely contested Heavenly Bodies 2018 exhibition, Camp: Notes on Fashion explores the 'origins of the camp aesthetic, and how it has evolved from a place of marginality to become an important influence on mainstream culture'. If previous years are anything to go by, this exhibition will be one of the most talked-about cultural events of the year.
Where to stay nearby: The Upper East Side is New York's Mayfair, so hotels, drinks and restaurants verge on the traditional here. But if you're planning a trip to the Big Apple around Camp, it's worth staying within striking distance of the Met. Both The Surrey and The Mark are boldly, lavish, five-star hotels that will cater to all your jet-setting needs.
Where to eat nearby: Bemelmans Bar New York. Located nearby the Met, Bemelmans Bar, which is part of the Rosewood Hotel Group, is one of New York's most opulent watering holes. With its Art Deco interior, black granite bar, 24-karat gold leaf-covered ceiling, and the only large-scale surviving Bemelmans' commission open to the public in the capital, Bemelmans is a timeless spot, equally suited to a quick drink or a decadent feast.Read more ...
Established in 1895, the Venice Biennale is one of Europe's longest standing institutions championing the arts. Taking place every other year, this mamoth festival of the visual arts, attracts the best creative talent from around the world.
Whilst simultaneous exhibitions take place across the island – including an inevitably overwhelming group exhibition at the Arsenale space – the Venice Biennale is perhaps best know for its 30 country Pavilions, located in the Giardini site. Each Pavilion, managed by the cultural authority of a particular country, welcomes a native creative to present an artwork or exhibition – recognised globally as one of the highest industry honours.
You could spend days and days exploring all that's on offer during the Venice Biennale, so we recommend doing a little research in advance to catch the events best tailored to your area of interest.
Where to stay: Arcadia Boutique. Arcadia Boutique is a charming, centrally-located boutique hotel that won't break the bank. Rooms are comfortable and the staff are noticeably friendly, but the Skyfall Bar in the Grand Salon on the Piano Nobile is the main attraction. After a long day in the city, sit back and relax with a coffee, thick hot chocolate, or aperitif in hand. When in Venice...
Where to eat: Enoteca al Volto. Hailed as the oldest wine bar in Venice, Enoteca al Volto offers around 1000 Italian and foreign wines served on rotation in a convivial, laid-back setting. Its adjoining restaurant offers local, hearty food, using seasonal ingredients, all sourced from the nearby Rialto market. Don't expect gourmet, refined cuisine here, but lots of decadent gnocchi and fresh pastas instead. Unsurprisingly, it gets busy here, so booking in advance is recommended.
In keeping with its old-time vibe, there is no website. Reservations can be made by calling: 39 041 522 8945
Art Basel is the super glamorous, internationally renowned modern and contemporary art fair, staged annually in Basel, Miami and Hong Kong. Its flagship fair Art Basel, unsurprisingly located in the heart of the quintessential Swiss town of Basel, brings together more than 4000 pre-eminent modern and contemporary artists, represented by the best art dealers and galleries in the world. It also attracts the creme de la creme of the art world: dealers, collectors, curators and vertiginous-heel wearing galleristas all flock into the city for the event. the With off-shoot tours, talks, parties and gallery shows taking place in the capital during the fair, there really is no better time to make a flying visit.
Where to stay nearby: Der Teufelhof Basel. Located in the Old Town in an eighteenth-century townhouse, Der Teufelhof claims to be one of the first art-conceived hotels. Der Teufelhof Basel now also boasts a theatre, two restaurants, a brewery, bar and coffee lounge, as well as a wine cellar.
Where to eat nearby: Volkshaus. Basel might be best-known for its art, but its dining scene is equally impressive. And no visit to the Swiss city of art is complete without stopping at Volkshaus. The cultural centre comprises a spacious, light-filled brasserie that serves good French food, as well as multiple events spaces, a gallery, and an underground speakeasy-esque bar. There's also a hotel in the works. So, Art Basel goers – watch this space.Read more ...
After the multi-million pound sale of Salvator Mundi, Da Vinci's last painting in private hands, in November 2017, the Renaissance Master was the painter on everybody's lips. And, this year, he will be once more, for 2019 marks the fifth centenary of his death. Kick off the anniversary celebrations by visiting the eagerly anticipated Leonardo Da Vinci drawings exhibition at Buckingham Palace, or wait for the main event this autumn at the Louvre.
In October, the Louvre Museum Paris presents an 'unprecedented' exhibition which will 'gather the greatest number of works by Leonardo' ever to be exhibited. Only the Louvre could pull off an exhibition of this size and scale, and we can not wait.
Where to stay nearby: Hotel Bienvenue: This recently refurbished boutique hotel is located within walking distance from the Louvre. It has a simple but design-lead aesthetic, a glorious leafy courtyard and an on-site restaurant serving delicious Franco-Japanese cuisine.
Where to eat nearby: Le Vin de Bellechasse. This charming Brasserie nestled behind the Musée d'Orsay – just a short walk over the Pont Royal – may well be the most quintessentially Parisian bistro in the city. Snails, steak frites and bold red wines are de rigueur here – and at reasonable prices, too.Read more ...
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