Summer is blockbuster season at the movies, but come fall, it's the museums' turn.
Around the globe, institutions large and small (mostly large) are rolling out massive exhibitions filled with hundreds of objects compiled, in large part, from dozens of other global institutions. Think of it as a global swap meet in which all the objects are priceless.
Following are the shows we're most anticipating this season, presented in chronological order. While very few people will be lucky enough to see them all, here's hoping most can make it to at least one or two. Start planning now.
William Kentridge: Thick Time at the Whitechapel Gallery, London
Six of Kentridge's major artworks dating from 2003 to 2016 will fill much of the Whitechapel's special exhibition space. Two of the South African artist's trademark immersive audio-visual installations will be crowd-pleasers; equally exciting will be his series of massive tapestries, based on his Met Opera production of Shostakovich's The Nose.
Sept. 21, 2016 – Jan. 15, 2017
Jerusalem 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The Met has put together one of its trademark mixes of scholarship and showmanship. Using medieval Jerusalem as an anchor, the exhibition contains over 200 visual and decorative works of art that not only showcase the diverse range of the city's influence but also the intertwined stylistic similarities among cultures.
Sept. 26, 2016 – Jan. 8, 2017
Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959-1971 at the National Gallery of Art, Washington
As artists outside the 20th century's White Heroic Male archetype belatedly get their due, it stands to reason that overlooked gallerists get their turn in the spotlight, too. Virginia Dwan was one of the most important dealers and patrons of the 1960s. From her Los Angeles and then New York galleries, she championed unknown artists who then became superstars: Dan Flavin, Sol LeWitt, Robert Ryman, Carl Andre, and dozens of others blossomed under her patronage. This show, which has close to 100 works, many from Dwan's personal collection, is the result of a promised gift: She plans to give more than 25o artworks to the National Gallery.
Sept. 30, 2016 – Jan. 29, 2017
Beyond Caravaggio at the National Gallery, London
Not to be confused with the Met's concurrent Beyond Caravaggio show (you'd think they'd coordinate), the National Gallery has organized a sweeping exhibition on Caravaggio's influence over the generations of painters that followed him. (His impact was so great, there's even a name for it: Caravaggism.) Followers include the likes of Orazio Gentileschi, Georges de la Tour, and Bartolomeo Manfredi; their works will be hung alongside original Caravaggios, though one wonders if the comparisons will flatter the originals or fall flat.
Oct. 12, 2016 — Jan. 15, 2017
Icons of Modern Art: The Shchukin Collection at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris
Few people have heard of Sergei Shchukin, a Russian industrialist active at the turn of the 20th century, but everyone has heard of the artists he collected: Matisse, Picasso, Cezanne, Monet, Braque, and the list goes on. After the Russian revolution, Shchukin fled to Paris and left his collection behind. After a century of ups and downs, it was eventually absorbed into Russian state museums, including the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Now, after 100 years in Russia, one of the most important modernist collections on the planet is traveling to Paris, where visitors can view the art in Frank Gehry's glittering new museum.
Oct. 22, 2016 – Feb. 20, 2017
Brassaï Graffiti at the Centre Pompidou, Paris
Brassaï, a Hungarian artist best known for his surrealist photography, was something of a superstar in his lifetime but has receded in recent years, behind such peers as Andre Breton and Max Ernst. A huge exhibition of Brassai's photography should change that. The show comprises more than 500 pictures of Paris graffiti: Drawings, carvings, and scribblings on city walls are documented and turned, through Brassaï's eye, into otherworldly, archaic signs and symbols.
Nov. 9, 2016 – Apr. 24, 2017
Hieronymus Bosch and His Pictorial World at the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin
Has there ever been a crowd-pleaser such as Hieronymous Bosch? From the time his hyper-detailed dystopian hellscapes were painted in the 16th century, Bosch's art has been sought by kings, popes, and plebes alike. This exhibition, which joyfully marks the 500th anniversary of Bosch's death, includes four major works by Bosch, along with several of his drawings, and is accompanied by copies of his work by the likes of Lucas Cranach the Elder, himself a master of the medium.
Nov. 10, 2016 – Feb. 19, 2017
The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection at the Tate Modern, London
Yes, Elton John is a superstar, but this superstar happens to be in possession of one of the most sophisticated and prolific photography collections on the planet. John has been buying photos since 1991 and at this point, owns more than 7,000 fine art photographs. This show comprises over 150 images, some of which have never been seen publicly. John's name might bring people to the show, but the quality, novelty, and beauty of the photographs will make them come back.
Nov. 10, 2016 – May 7, 2017
Question the Wall Itself at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Enter a living room and you might notice the couch, mirror, paintings, but how often do you step back and think of the space as a whole? This is the interior architectural equivalent of missing the forest for the trees, and it's the guiding premise of the Walker's wide-ranging exhibition in which 23 artists—some famous, others comparatively emerging—interrogate the socio-cultural ramifications of decor and interior design.
Nov. 20, 2016 – May 21, 2017
A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde at the MoMA, New York
It's been almost 100 years since the Russian Revolution wiped aside three centuries of Romanov rule and instituted, for a brief but exhilarating 20 years, a period of modernist social and artistic advancement. Under the banner of the Revolution, the Russian avant-garde blazed through a dizzying number of now-seminal movements, from Constructivism and Suprematism to film and photomontage, all of which will be represented in the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition.
Dec. 4, 2016 – Mar. 12, 2017