The best art exhibitions in Europe over Christmas

By Katharina Wenzel-Vollenbroich
The best art exhibitions in Europe over Christmas The best art exhibitions in Europe over Christmas

For many, the festive season is all about turkey, tinsel and presents. But for those of us who love art, the Christmas break is the best time to discover new and engaging exhibitions.

From London to Frankfurt, it’s cold, wet and windy. But whilst the rest of the world has been embracing mulled wine, fairy lights and mince pies in front of the fireplace, at ARTPIQ we’ve been out and about to find the best art exhibitions in Europe on display over the next few weeks. And we’ve seen some really thought provoking work.

To help you decide which ones should be on your watch list, we’ve put together this easy guide so that you know exactly what exhibitions you should visit this Christmas. Over the next few weeks, it’s time to wrap up warm, step out into the cold, and head out to discover some thought-provoking art. If you don’t want to miss out on the best art right now, read on… 

1. London — Space Shifters at Hayward Gallery

If you’re on the lookout for an exhibition that will radically alter your perceptions this Christmas, none are better than the Space Shifters exhibition at London’s Hayward Gallery. Featuring works such as Anish Kapoor’s ‘Non Object (door),’ Richard Wilson’s reflective pool of oil, and Josiah McElhny’s mind-altering performance art, the exhibition has been curated to create illusions that will really mess with your perceptions of space and sound.

Whilst most people heading to the South Bank this Christmas will be visiting the Christmas market close by, true art heads will be stepping out of the cold, and into an exhibition like no other.

2. Brussels — Klimt’s Magic Garden at Bozar

If you’re reading this blog, you’ll likely be aware of the work of Gustav Klimt. You may have even seen the retrospective of his work at the Royal Academy of Arts. So what’s so special about this exhibition at Bozar Brussels by filmmaker Frederick Baker? And why should you bother leaving the warmth of your home?

Rather than just paintings on walls, this exhibition lets you to step into the future, experiencing a virtual reality exploration into the magical worlds and mosaics of Klimt’s imagination. When we visited, it felt like we were stepping into the future of art. Stepping inside Klimt’s work through a VR headset gives the work new, exciting vivacity. And if all of this sounds too much for a mulled wine hangover, there’s also a more conventional Klimt exhibition running alongside Baker’s unique work. Fun for all who love art in Brussels this Christmas period!


3. Vienna — Polly Apfelbaum at Belvedere 21

Polly Apfelbaum’s floor paintings have been surprising art lovers since the 1990s. Her Fallen Paintings experiment with a number of materials. In this exhibition, Apfelbaum uses handwoven carpets alongside ceramic, textiles and paper. Taking over Vienna’s Belvedere 21 entire floor of the gallery space, it transforms the gallery into something akin to a participatory playground.

If you’re searching for an experiential step back into childhood, this exhibition in Vienna might just be the best place to visit in Austria’s capital this Christmas.


4. Frankfurt — Victor Vasarely at Stadel Museum

A complete retrospective show of Victor Vasarely — the master of optical art — is not the only event happening in Frankfurt over the Christmas period. But for those in and around the German city over the next few weeks— especially those actively engaged with contemporary art — this will be the essential show.

Vasarely is one of the most influential European post-war artists. Visually engaging, this retrospective draws a connecting line throughout the artists’ long, productive career. In collaboration with Centre Pompidou, the Stadel Museum’s exhibition is one of the most exciting in Germany right now, accelerating the city’s position as one of Europe’s best for contemporary art.


5. London — Turner Prize at Tate Britain

The Turner Prize comes around yet again. And it’s another year of the best thought provoking art. Whilst last year the prize was on tour in Hull — last years UK City of Culture — this year it returns to its usual home at London’s Tate Britain. Though the Turner Prize itself has been with us for decades, it always throws up surprises. If you’re expecting to just see paintings and sculpture, you’re in for a surprise.

This four artists use digital mediums. From Naeem Mohaiemen’s two films exploring place, loneliness and political exile, to Forensic Architecture’s filmic analysis of violence in a Bedouin village, every piece in this years exhibition will challenge ones senses. If you’re planning on visiting Tate Britain over Christmas, come early, as it takes almost a full day to see all of the exhibits. Plan ahead, it’ll be more than worth your time.

Can’t face the cold this winter? Check out the latest art currently on display on the ARTPIQ website. With new artists such as Fleur Yearsly, Ed Broner and Danni Pantel appearing every day, and new work by more established artists, there’s always something new to keep you engaged. Even if there’s a storm brewing outside, you can still stimulate your brain with the best emerging contemporary art in Europe right now.

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The best art exhibitions in Europe over Christmas The best art exhibitions in Europe over Christmas

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