Whilst the world’s art museums and galleries might have closed their physical doors, many are launching new virtual spaces for viewers to discover their collections and exhibitions from the comfort of their own homes.
Here are our top 10 contemporary art exhibitions to enjoy from home.
Louise Bourgeois. Drawings 1947 – 2007
Hauser & Wirth
Whilst French-American artist Louise Bourgeois is best known for her monumental spider sculptures, fabric prints and etching, drawing was an important part of her daily ritual. She described the practice as “the treatment of anxiety”, using it as both a form of emotional catharsis and to capture fleeting ideas. Hauser & Wirth’s inaugural online exhibition ‘Louise Bourgeois. Drawings 1947 – 2007’ brings together fourteen works on paper, with images rendered in ink, watercolour and pencil. There is an appealing sense of looseness about the work, a playfulness that seems to reflect a more unconscious form of not just artmaking, but also thinking. If you’re looking for a source of inspiration, this is a good place to start.
Faces of Frida
Google Arts and Culture
Google Arts and Culture has long provided an excellent resource for viewing art online, featuring content from over 2000 museums and archives. For one of their most compelling exhibits, dedicated entirely to Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, Google has collaborated with 33 museums in seven countries to collate the world’s largest collection of artworks and artefacts to ever go on display. The 800-piece exhibition includes paintings and self-portraits, sketches, diary entries, photographs and letters from various stages of the artist’s life as well as providing virtual entry into significant locations such as La Casa Azul and Palacio de Bellas Artes via street view. To make it slightly less overwhelming, the content is organised into various sections, with editorial features, detailed looks at the artworks and a section dedicated to the symbolism of her vibrant wardrobe.
How Can We Think of Art at a Time Like This?
How Can We Think of Art at a Time Like This? is an online only group exhibition launched by curators Barbara Pollack and Anne Verhallen. A new artwork by a new artist is posted onto the site each day, with their current line up including the likes of Ai WeiWei, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Judith Bernstein, Janet Biggs, Miao Ying, Jacolby Satterwhite, Dread Scott and Jenny Polak, and Zhao Zhao. The project is not-for-profit, meaning that none of the works are for sale and there is no compensation for the artists involved, instead it’s purely intended as a platform for free artistic expression, providing a fascinating and varied insight into the impact of crises on creative output.
A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Pace Gallery’s latest online exhibition lyrically entitled A Swiftly Tilting Planet brings together a selection of works by prominent artists such as William Eggleston, Richard Tuttle, Alex Katz and Arlene Shechet. Though diverse in both style and medium, the works are all loosely connected by themes of time, stillness, and future possibilities with a particularly pertinent emphasis on the perseverance of nature. Alex Katz’s 11.30am, for example, the blinding radiance of the sun as it transforms the landscape into an otherworldly space of pure light and colour, whilst Peter Hujar’s monochrome portrait of a horse standing on a hillside emanates a sense of calm in its still intimacy.
Modern Times: Sinta Tantra
Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery
British-Balienese artist Sinta Tantra uses colour and abstract-geometrical designs to transform space. Her latest exhibition at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery takes inspiration from Charlie Chaplin and his brother’s visit to Bali in 1932, showcasing original film footage from their trip alongside a vibrant collection of paintings, textiles, sculptures and installations. Whilst the show was created as a site-specific installation for the gallery’s light-filled London Bridge space (which was once an industrial factory), it translates surprisingly well into digital form via an immersive video experience which allows you to “walk” around the building, zooming into the various artworks. At a time of lockdown, it makes for a great “day out”.
Michelangelo: Mind of the Master
The Getty Museum
The Getty museum in Los Angeles has a number of online exhibitions on view including an expansive presentation of Michelangelo’s drawings. Michelangelo made thousands of drawings, largely in preparation for other works, but burnt most of them in fear of other artists stealing his work. Whilst the museum’s original exhibition featured 28 sheets with drawings on both sides of the paper, the online exhibition hones in on nine artworks, providing detailed contextual information, which also serves as a biographical introduction to the artist himself. At the end, there’s a beautifully tender portrait of the master drawn in black chalk by his friend Daniele da Volterra.
The Advent of the Artist
The Louvre has launched a whole series of free virtual tours, allowing viewers to wander through its majestic spaces during its closure. Amongst our favourites is the tour of Petite Galerie, where the annual ‘The Advent of the Artist’ exhibition is currently on display. This year’s edition explores the transition from craftsman in the classical period to artist during the Renaissance, featuring forty artworks alongside archival texts all of which you can virtually zoom in on. It’s well worth a visit, if only to wander through the eerily empty hallways.
Museo del Prado
Museo el Prado in Madrid has also created a digital space, which allows visitors to browse its collection of 936 Goyas as well as numerous other artworks, accompanied by detailed commentaries and videos (with English subtitles). It’s easily enough content to fill your time for days if not weeks, and when you’re done admiring the art, you can listen to a history of the museum narrated by its employees.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
In response to the crisis, The Met has also increased its online presence. Alongside existing tours, publications and educational resources, the museum is now also offering live streamings of talks and performances, including the digital premiere of the iconic American opera The Mother of Us All, with music by Virgil Thomson and libretto by Gertrude Stein as well as a premiere of the full-length documentary Gerhard Richter Painting, which was featured in the exhibition Gerhard Richter: Painting After All at The Met Breuer and various talks by curators and museum experts. There’s even an option to sign up to remote drawing classes led by artists.
George Condo: Drawings for Distanced Figures
Hauser & Wirth
Running alongside Louise Bourgeois’s drawings, Hauser & Wirth presents an online exhibition of new work by American artist George Condo. Aptly titled Drawings for Distanced Figures, the exhibition features artworks created in Condo’s New York home studio in response to his experience of isolation and social distancing. Whilst the figures are often depicted in pairs, linked by intersecting crayon or pencil lines, they are still shown to be disconnected by their inner turmoil and anguish.