Your Guide to Europe’s Must-See Summer Shows

June 17, 2019

Europe offers a visual feast for the art traveler this summer, with not-to-be-missed exhibitions showing across the continent.  From Olafur Eliasson’s captivating installations at Tate Modern, Lee Krasner’s sumptuous paintings at the Barbican, and a Dora Maar retrospective at Centre Pompidou, 2019 promises to be one of the most memorable summers ever.

Visiting the beautiful city of Venice this summer? Don’t miss our highlights from the Venice Biennale and satellite venues, coming soon.


Tate Modern 
Stunning the London art scene with his 2003 installation the weather project, Olafur Eliasson has since established himself as one of the most prominent contemporary artists. This summer, the Danish-Icelandic artist returns to Tate Modern with his highly anticipated solo-show In Real Life. This exhibition showcases 30 artworks spanning the last three decades of his career, only one of which has been exhibited in the UK before. From celebrated early installations, to new paintings and sculptures, In Real Life, promises an extraordinary, interactive experience for all ages.

Olafur Eliasson’s Stardust particular, 2014, on view in In Real Life at Tate Modern (© Olafur Eliasson).

Tate Britain
This summer, Tate Britain presents the first major retrospective celebrating the work of Frank Bowling. This long overdue exhibition marks the first to explore the entirety of Bowling’s 60-year career. Featuring iconic series by the artist, including the ‘map paintings’, the visually arresting ‘poured paintings’, as well as the sculptural works of the 1980’s evoking riverbeds, the exhibition showcases Bowling’s sensuous use of color and striking experimentation.

Frank Bowling’s Bartica, 1968-9, is included in the artist’s first major retrospective on view at Tate Britain (Image Courtesy of artist and Tate Britain).

Barbican Centre 
Lee Krasner: Living Colour, represents the first major presentation of the artist’s work in Europe in over 50 years. A pioneer of Abstract Expressionism, the retrospective brings together nearly 100 works from across Krasner’s five-decades-long career. The show celebrates and sheds light on the life and work of the artist, whose importance has too often been eclipsed by her marriage to Jackson Pollock.


Centre Pompidou 
Paris hosts the most extensive retrospective to date dedicated to the work of Dora Maar at Centre Pompidou this summer.  Too often overlooked due to her relationship with Picasso, this exhibition seeks to highlight and explore Maar’s contributions to the Surrealism Photography movement. Organized in collaboration with the J. Paul Getty Museum and Tate Modern,  the curators have secured over five hundred artworks and documents, tracing Maar’s path as an accomplished artist and independent intellectual.

Assia naked on the back, 1935, by Dora Maar, is on view in her retrospective at Centre Pompidou (© Georges Meguerditchian – Pompidou Centre, MNAM-CCI / Dist. RMN-GP © Adagp, Paris).


Fondation Louis Vuitton 
Fondation Louis Vuitton presents an exhibition of new work by Los Angeles-based artist Lauren Halsey. Drawing inspiration from history, funk and Afrofuturism, as well as cultural and socio-political issues affecting her local communities, Halsey’s work occupies the space between architecture, painting and sculpture. For her first solo exhibition in Europe, the artist has created an immersive, site-specific installation entitled Too Blessed 2 be Stressed!.  The work is composed of geological modules called “Funk Mounds,” within which she has arranged found and fabricated objects intrinsic to African-American culture.

Lauren Halsey’s immersive installation Too Blessed 2 Be Stressed!, 2019, is on view this summer at Fondation Louis Vuitton (© Fondation Louis Vuitton).


Jeu de Paume 
A Thousand Crossings, a solo-exhibition highlighting the work of American artist Sally Mann, is on view at the Jeu de Paume. For more than forty years, the artist has created hauntingly beautiful photographs that reference themes essential to life, such as memory, desire, death, and family.  Spanning the entirety of her career, this exhibition, Mann’s first major retrospective, explores how her relationship with her Southern homeland profoundly shape and influence her work.

Sally Mann’s Easter Dress, 1986, is included in her solo-exhibition presented by the Jeu De Paume (Image Courtesy of Patricia and David Schulte. © Sally Mann).



Hamburger Bahnhof
Jack’s Jacks, a major retrospective showcasing the work of late contemporary painter Jack Whitten, can be viewed at the Hamburger Bahnhof. Conceived and planned in collaboration with Whitten before his passing in 2018, the exhibition spans the entirety of the artist’s career, from his early gestual paintings to his final compelling works.

Jack Whitten, King’s Wish (Martin Luther’s Dream), 1968, detail (© Courtesy the Jack Whitten Estate and Hauser & Wirth / John Berens).

Gropius Bau 
Garden of Earthly Delights, on view this summer at Gropius Bau, explores the motif of “the garden” as a metaphor for the increasingly precarious state of the world.  Featuring over twenty internationally renowned artists, including Pipilotti Rist, Rashid Johnson, Tacita Dean, Louise Lawler, and Yayoi Kusama, this large-scale exhibition engenders a wider discourse on social, political and ecological phenomena, such as migration, gentrification and gender politics.  In addition to the classical notion of the garden as a place full of meditative, spiritual and philosophical possibilities, the exhibition examines the relationship between reality and fantasy, harmony and chaos, beauty and exile.

Rashid Johnson’s installation Antoine’s Organ, 2016, is included in Garden of Earthly Delights on view this summer at Gropius Bau (© Rashid Johnson; Image: John R. Glembin).