Where form meets function

As the summer begins to roll in across most parts of the Northern Hemisphere, we take a look at 10 must-visit exhibitions across the world. These exhibitions include Marina Abramovic at the Serpentine, the Berlin Biennale and a group show at Galerie Perrotin curated by the one and only Pharrell Williams. These ten exhibitions provide a mixture of emerging and established artists exploring a wide range of ideas: from the use of the body (Abramovic), to perceptual experience (Teresita Fernandez), and even retinal artery obstruction (Araki). So while making your summer plans, be sure to include one or more of these exhibitions into your itinerary.


Who: Marina Abramovic
What: “512 Hours”
Where: Serpentine Gallery London
When: June 11 – August 15

512 Hours at the Serpentine Gallery sees Marina Abramovic present a unique work created specifically for the iconic London Gallery. Abramovic has garnered a critically celebrated reputation thanks to her exploration of the role and usage of the body as material. Her exhibition, “The Artist is Present,” at MOMA in 2010 – where guests were invited to gaze into her eyes for an undetermined amount of time – has become one of her seminal works, and “512 Hours” is her first presentation of new work following that monumental exhibition. The Serpentine exhibition will see Abramovic occupy the gallery along with a few common objects and her audience, who will become the performance body of the work. If The Artist is Present is anything to go by, this exhibition is perhaps the highlight of the list and could very well go down as another chapter in performance art history.


Who: Jeff Koons
What: Retrospective
Where: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

When: June 27 – Oct 19

Easily one of the most popular yet controversial artists of his generation, Jeff Koons receives a retrospective at one of America’s most acclaimed museums. Known for his new approach to ready-mades and an infatuation with mass culture, Koons has enjoyed a career spanning over 35 years. The exhibition is the most comprehensive survey of Koons’ work to date as it spans the period from 1978 to the present. The scope of Koons career is presented in 120 works and will be his first ever museum presentation in New York. This retrospective also marks the final show for the Whitney in its old building, before it moves to its new location in the Meatpacking District. Organized by Scott Rankopf, the exhibition will travel to the Centre Pompidou, Paris and then onto the Guggenheim Bilbao and will end its run towards the tail-end of 2015. For all of Koons’ popularity, controversy and importance to contemporary arts’ ever-expanding discourse, visiting this show is a no-brainer.


Who: Nobuyoshi Araki
What: “Love on the Left Eye”
Where: Taka Ishii Gallery Tokyo

When: May 25 – June 21 2014

Taka Ishii Gallery and Tokyo hosts Nobuyoshi Araki’s “Love on the Left Eye” exhibition until June. Araki – who recently battled prostate cancer – presents a series of 65 prints inspired by Ed van der Elsken’s 1954 Love on the Left Bank photo book. Alongside his battle with prostate cancer, Araki recently lost sight in his right eye due to retinal artery obstruction, and his coming to terms with the loss of vision serves as inspiration for the artistic process and title of the exhibition. The solo exhibition brings together his most recent work reflecting on his historical inspirations and it serves as homage to Ed van der Elsken. Araki’s propensity for the controversial in combination with the visceral and strikingly beautiful nature of his images makes this a must.


Who: Daniel Arsham, Tracey Emin, Takashi Murakami, Sophie Calle, Mikalene Thomas, Yoko Ono, Terry Richardson and More
What: “G I R L,” curated by Pharrell Williams

Where: Galerie Perrotin Paris
When: May 27 – June 25

Galerie Perrotin presents “G I R L,” curated by man of the moment, Pharrell Williams. A true renaissance man, Williams continues to expand his influence on the revolving and interconnected spheres of art, design and music. Presented at Galerie Perrotin’s new Paris location Salle de Bal, “G I R L” brings together 49 artworks from artists such as Daniel Arsham, Tracey Emin, Takashi Murakami, Sophie Calle, Mikalene Thomas, Yoko Ono and Terry Richardson to celebrate woman and pay tribute to femininity. The exhibition, which comes on the back of Pharrell’s recently released album G I R L, includes 18 women artists out of the 37-strong roster. Therefore, the new location, the the content and Pharrell’s knack for developing exciting projects makes this show a must for anyone in or around Paris.


Who: Teresita Fernandez
What: “As Above So Below”
Where: Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art

When: Opened May 24

“As Above So Below” sees Fernandez, a Miami native, use graphite and gold to create a series of connected and immersive installations that challenge our notions of perceptual experience. Known for transforming materials and architectural space into experiences, Fernandez makes full use of the unending amount of space available at MassMOCA. The exhibition, her largest solo exhibition to date, brings together a variety of Fernandez’s new work and consists of three major site-specific installations that occupy MassMOCA’s first floor galleries. These installations represent the transformative ability of materials necessary for creating her landscapes and highlight the influence of varying scale.


What: Berlin Biennale
Where: KW Institute for Contemporary Art, the Haus am Waldsee and the Dahlem Museum
When: May 29 – August 3

Klaus Biesenbach and a group of art collectors and patrons originally founded the Berlin Biennale in 1996 in order to heighten awareness of contemporary art in Berlin. Fast forward 18 years and Berlin is now one of the artistic and cultural capitals of the world.  The biennale has been hosted at the Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art since 1998 and is usually organized by a single curator. This year, independent writer and curator Juan Gaitan has been given curatorial duties, with the central focus on encouraging viewers to ask critical questions about the history behind objects and artworks. Artists Glenn Ligon, Santu Mofokeng, Olaf Nicholai, Wolfgang Tillmans and Carlos Amorales are a few of the recognizable names on a list of about 53 which reflects an emphasis on both local and international discourse. With the Biennale itself taking place at three venues, the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, the Haus am Waldsee and the Dahlem Museum, if you are in and around Berlin, the eighth edition of the Berlin Biennale promises to be one of its most successful yet.


Who: Charlie Billingham
What: “Tender 2 the Sunshine Room”
Where: OHWOW Los Angeles

When: May 22 – June 28

“Tender 2 the Sunshine Room” sees London native Billingham present his recent exploration of small-scale paintings inspired by silhouettes of boats alongside four new large-scale works depicting glass houses. Characteristically, the small scale paintings hang against a patterned backdrop – painted directly onto the gallery walls – that serve as a housing network and provide context. Grounded in shared experience, Billingham’s practice involves the use of a wide assortment of materials and mediums to explore ideas of texture, pigment and surface. In addition to the paintings, Billingham’s sculptured boat silhouettes and the effort that he has gone to in order to present the traditional gallery space in a playful and intriguing manner make this show a worthwhile visit. Not to mention that it’s another good excuse to visit OHWOW.


Who: Barthélémy Toguo
What: “Celebrations”
Where: Stevenson Gallery Cape Town

When: May 29 – July 12

The South African Gallery presents their first show of the Cameroonian Barthélémy Toguo. “Celebrations” brings together the artist’s iconic drawings and installations with the title coming from an immersive installation in which drawings are placed on top of 35 music stands. Toguo is known for his preoccupation with ideas of borders and boundaries, the way travel impacts freedom and identity, and how these facets shape human relationships and emotions. He employs a multidisciplinary approach to creation utilizing painting, sculpture, installation and photography to convey humorous, theatrical and fantastical messages. Toguo’s fascination with wood and the stamps received at border posts are the highlights of the work on display at Stevenson. The stamps -themselves obscenely large – are exhibited alongside prints displaying phrases such as “Entry Prohibited,” “Liberte Egalite Fraternite” and “GAZA.” The current market buzz surrounding African art, Stevenson’s reputation as one of South Africa’s premier art galleries and Toguo’s reputation for exhibiting critically engaging artwork all make this exhibition a continental highlight.


Who: Yoko Ono
What: “Half-A Wind Show – A Retrospective”
Where: Guggenheim Bilbao

When: March 1 – September 1

Since the beginning of March, Guggenheim Bilbao has presented a comprehensive Yoko Ono retrospective spanning a significant portion of her diverse and multifaceted output. Ono, who is a pioneering performance and conceptual artist, is most well known for her emphasis on ideas rather than material and rose to prominence during the 1960’s New York avant-garde scene. The exhibition, which is divided into thematic sections, ranges from her installations to drawings, photographs to audio, and objects to films. It brings together nearly 200 of her works, including some of her pioneering ’60s work alongside her most recent installations and participatory pieces. “Half-A Wind Show” opened on Ono’s 80th birthday and offers an intimate look at an artist who has been an ever-present figure in arts and culture as long as we can remember. It is an exhibition that honors and pays tribute to someone who has constantly pushed the boundaries of possibility.


Who: Wangechi Mutu, Jack Pierson, Louise Bourgeois, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson and More
What: “Unbound: Contemporary Art after Frida Kahlo”
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

When: May 3 – October 5

Highlighted by Complex Magazine as one of the most anticipated exhibitions of 2014, “Unbound: Contemporary Art after Frida Kahlo” presents a group show of big-name contemporary artists curated according to themes explored by Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. The exhibition, hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, attempts to bring the work of Frida Kahlo into a dialogue with contemporary art. Including artists in the show who share the spirit of rebellion Kahlo was so famously known for and positioning them in relation to themes of gender, national identity and the traumatized body, the exhibition pays tribute to Kahlo and reflects the ability of art to challenge patriarchy.


Houghton Kinsman for

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