• The February Five: Art Exhibitions in Basel, Amsterdam, Madrid, Zurich and Brussels

    by  • January 22, 2015 • Amsterdam, Art, Basel, Brussels, City Breaks, Exhibitions, Madrid, Zurich

    From Gauguin to Chagall, Europe’s cities uncover some artistic gems from February 2015.

    Fancy a city break with a cultural twist? As we all know, Europe is chock full of artistic masterpieces, be it the Hermitage in St Petersburg, the Prado in Madrid, the Louvre in Paris or the Uffizi in Florence. And yet as the January blues make way for a frosty February, what better way to warm yourself up with an hour or two spend amongst one (or indeed more) of the artistic riches making up this fabulous quintet of exhibitions launching next month?

    Basel – Paul Gauguin (8th February to 28th June)
    Lauded as one of the great European cultural highlights in 2015, Basel’s Fondation Beyeler presents an overview of one of the most famous and fascinating artists of the 19th century, Paul Gauguin. Bringing together around 50 masterpieces from both international art institutions and private collections, Gauguin’s paintings have come to symbolise the essence of modern art and this exhibition centres itself on the world-famous works – both paintings and sculptures – he produced whilst in Tahiti.

    Conveying the harmony between nature and culture, dream and reality, mysticism and eroticism, Gauguin’s paintings portray the sensual female form (and often animals, too) set amidst idyllic landscapes whilst his sculptures pay homage to the largely disappeared art of the South Seas. Open daily from 10am to 6pm (8pm on Wednesdays), entrance costs CHF 28.


    Amsterdam – Late Rembrandt (12th February to 17th May)
    Next month the Rijksmuseum will be presenting its first major retrospective of the later work of Rembrandt van Rijn. Organised in collaboration with the National Gallery in London, this landmark exhibition, globally the largest ever, brings together more than 100 paintings, drawings and prints from the world’s leading museums and private collections to showcase Rembrandt at the height of his power.

    Emerging from the shadow of tragic personal losses and financial setbacks, Rembrandt produced some of his finest work in his final years. By experimenting with paint and light, he achieved an unparalleled emotional depth, leading to his most daring and intimate works. Open daily from 9am to 5pm, entrance to the exhibition alone costs 7.50€ or 25€ inclusive of full access to the rest of the treasures contained within the Rijksmuseum.

    Madrid – Raoul Dufy (17th February to 17th May)
    Whilst in recent years the life and work of the French Fauvist painter, Raoul Dufy, has been subject to study and scrutiny, access to his work in Spain has remained somewhat limited. Seeking to explore both Dufy in both a personal and painting capacity, Madrid’s Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza presents an exhibition devoted to his work.

    Focussing primarily on his more introspective, reflective and personal qualities, the exhibition also explores his lesser-explored hedonistic side, and in particular his artistic interpretation of the pleasures of modern life. Open daily from 10am until 7pm (12pm to 4pm on Mondays), entrance to the Thyssen-Bornemisza costs 13.50€ for a ticket comprising access to both the permanent and temporary collections.

    Zurich – Monet, Gauguin, Van Gogh… Japanese Inspirations (20th February to 10th May)
    As part of its centenary celebrations, the Kunsthaus (Museum of Modern Art) of Zurich is presenting a number of exhibitions in 2015. In addition to ‘100 years of the prints and drawings collection’ opening tomorrow, the Kunsthaus is also preparing to launch ‘Monet, Gauguin and Van Gogh… Japanese Inspirations’, paying homage to the artistic phenomenon known as ‘Japonisme’. Indeed, Japanese art had an intrinsic influence on the development of European Modernism, for almost all of the great artists drew inspiration from its motifs and characteristic style.

    This exhibition concentrates particularly on the period from 1860 to 1910 when Japanese art was making a name for itself in France and not only displays works by the artistic heavyweights such as Monet, Gauguin, Degas, Van Gogh and Bonnard, but also contains paintings, photographs, artefacts and woodcuts by Japanese artists originating from the same period. Closed Mondays, the museum is open from 10am until 6pm (8pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays), entrance to both the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions costs CHF 27.

    Brussels – Chagall (28th February to 28th June)
    Currently on display at Milan’s Palazzo Reale until February 1st, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels is the next lucky host of his major retrospective exhibition devoted to Marc Chagall. Bringing together over 200 works from a variety of sources worldwide including Paris’ Centre Pompidou and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Tate, New York’s MoMa, Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza and the State Russian Museum in St Petersburg amongst others, the show offers a rich overview of the Chagall’s artistic career, from his early paintings of 1908 to his final, monumental works of the 1980s.

    The exhibition presents the main themes of his work: his connection with Jewish culture, the iconography of the shtetl and folk traditions, but also his discovery of 17th-century literature such as La Fontaine, the revelation of light and the particular use of colour. Special attention is given to his Russian period at a time when his personal style stood out in an avant-garde, cubist art scene. Closed Mondays, the museum is open from 10am until 5pm Tuesday to Friday, and from 11am until 6pm at weekends. Entrance costs 14.50€ during the week, or 17.50€ at weekends.


    With a French grandmother, childhood holidays on the continent and a degree in French and Spanish, a love of languages and travel has always been in my blood. Fresh from university with an unfettered enthusiasm to show off my linguistic ability and first-hand knowledge of the world beyond the UK, I entered the travel industry and, 16 years on, I’m still there! With several years spent in the luxury sector planning escorted holidays across Europe for the American market, followed by an even longer tenure designing short breaks with a difference in the must-see cities of Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam, Madrid, Prague, Florence, Brussels, Venice, Salzburg, Milan, Krakow and Berlin (to name but a few), it’s fair to say that Europe is my passion! Today my travels have taken me far beyond the boundaries of Europe with so many destinations still to discover, yet the continent abounds in such a wealth of treasures – historical and architectural, cultural and musical, gastronomic, artistic and linguistic – that its appeal, for me, will be eternal.