Our top picks of exhibitions together with cultural spaces and places, both online and in the real world.


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Viewing Les Lalanne: Makers of Dreams

Now’s your chance to see a magical menagerie by François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne, known collectively as Les Lalanne. Installed across Ben Brown Fine Arts and the newly opened Claridge’s ArtSpace, Makers of Dreams brings together nearly 100 works by Les Lalanne that encapsulate the couple’s exuberant combination of witty surrealism and functionality.

As you meander through the exhibition, you’ll encounter both familiar and lesser-known works, including François-Xavier’s life-size hippopotamus bathtub in blue resin, Claude’s fanciful gingko tables and chairs as well as her widely celebrated golden apple. You’ll also see one of only two examples of François-Xavier’s 1970 grasshopper bar and four iterations of Claude’s Choupatte, a bronzed cabbage standing on chicken legs.

From the beginning of their partnership Les Lalanne, who met in 1952 and married fifteen years later, blurred the lines between functional design, sculpture and decorative art. Though they shared a studio and an interest in nature, they had distinctive styles: François-Xavier focused on the angularity of animals, Claude on botanical forms and the textures of flora and fauna.

‘Their work has become renowned the world over,’ says Ben Brown, who has exhibited Les Lalanne for nearly two decades. ‘The ways in which these artists created such discombobulating yet beautiful contradictions are part of their enduring appeal.’

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Dates
28 April 2022 — 29 July 2022

Viewing Future Shock

180 Studios has made its name staging dazzling exhibitions that engage all the senses. Last year saw the opening of a spectacular show by the Japanese artist and composer Ryoji Ikeda and the much-loved Lux: New Wave of Contemporary Art, which included that 24 metre tunnel by Es Devlin. Now’s the turn of Future Shock, a new exhibition of immersive art that blurs the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds.

Installed across 180’s subterranean spaces, it includes installations by artists working at the cutting-edge of audio-visual technology such as Lawrence Lek, Actual Objects and Weirdcore. You’ll encounter everything from laser works and holographic projections to 3D digital mapping and electronic music. If previous 180 exhibitions are anything to go by, this is not to be missed. Add to your April agenda now.

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Dates
28 April 2022 — 28 August 2022

Viewing 59th Venice Biennale

All eyes are on Venice this week as the 59th edition of the Biennale — postponed for a year due to the pandemic — finally gets under way. The most prestigious event in the art world calendar, the Biennale draws collectors, gallerists, curators, artists and enthusiasts from around the world looking to see the very best in contemporary art. Established in 1895, the Biennale proper now consists of three parts: a central exhibition which takes place in the Central pavilion known as the Giardini; national pavilions, each showcasing the work of one or more artists; and official off-shoot exhibitions tagged by the Biennale as Collateral Events. With so much to see and do across the city, here’s our round-up of some of the 2022 Venice Biennale highlights.

The Milk of Dreams, Central Pavilion (Giardini) and the Arsenale

Cecilia Alemani’s exhibition The Milk of Dreams borrows its title from a seminal book by the British-born Mexican Surrealist Leonora Carrington. Installed across the Giardini and the Arsenale, it brings together 213 artists from 58 countries, the majority of which are women or gender non-conforming. There’s already huge buzz around the works of Nan Goldin, Ruth Asawa, Leonor Fini and Claude Cahun. ‘The exhibition takes Carrington’s otherworldly creatures, along with other figures of transformation, as companions on an imaginary journey through the metamorphoses of bodies and definitions of the human,’ explains Alemani.

National Pavilions

There are more than 90 national pavilions at the Biennale this year, so picking the standouts is no easy task. But our must-sees include Sonia Boyce’s pavilion for Great Britain, which involves video, sound, wallpaper and sculptural objects and Simone Leigh’s highly-anticipated installation for the US pavilion, which explores ideas about history, race, gender and labour. Another highlight is the French Pavilion, which has been transformed into a film set by Zineb Sedira.

Anselm Kiefer, Doge’s Palace

Once you’ve had your fill of the pavilions, make a beeline for Anselm Kiefer’s mind-blowing painting installation, produced specially for the Sala dello Scrutinio in the Doge’s Palace in 2020 and 2021, which responds to the 33 Venetian paintings on the chamber’s ceiling.

Anish Kapoor, Gallerie dell’Accademia

Landing at the Gallerie dell’Accademia is a major exhibition of work by Anish Kapoor, the first British artist be honoured with an exhibition at the museum. Postponed from 2021 due to the pandemic, it features early pigment sculptures and void works as well as selected new pieces, including a site-specific inflatable work titled HOWL. Also opening this week is the freshly restored Palazzo Manfrin, the new home of the Anish Kapoor Foundation.

Marlene Dumas: open-end, Palazzo Grassi

There’s a lot of excitement about Palazzo Grassi’s solo show dedicated to the South African artist Marlene Dumas. Curated by Caroline Bourgeois in collaboration with the artist, it brings together over 100 works from across Dumas’s career, including unseen works made in the last few years. According to one critic, it is at once ‘exhausting and uplifting’ and ‘displays the tension between seduction and repulsion in the artist’s work.’

Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity, Peggy Guggenheim Collection

This brilliant exhibition looks at the Surrealists’ interest in magic and the occult. Through around 60 works, including the ‘metaphysical painting’ of Giorgio de Chirico and Max Ernst’s 1940 Attirement of the Bride, it charts how magic and the occult informed the development and trajectory of the movement. With unprecedented loans from museums and private collections around the world, it is a rare chance to engage with a long-overlooked aspect of the mind-boggling movement.

Official Collateral Events

Alongside the main exhibition and national pavilions are 30 official collateral events. Highlights for your radar include a Claire Tabouret exhibition at Palazzo Cavanis, This is Ukraine: Defending Freedom at the Scuola Grande della Misericordia and a Kehinde Wiley showcase at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini.

Alissa Everett: Covering Beauty, European Cultural Centre (ECC)
For a dose of arresting art, scoot over to the ECC, where you’ll find a solo exhibition of poignant photographs by Nairobi-based photographer Alissa Everett. Part of the sixth edition of Personal Structures, a biennial contemporary art platform founded in 2003 by artist Rene Rietmeyer, Covering Beauty seeks to enhance our understanding of places usually defined by their conflict. The exhibition features images from Algeria, Afghanistan, Kenya, Pakistan, South Sudan, Syria, Turkey and Yemen, among others.

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Dates
23 April 2022 — 27 November 2022
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