EUROPE London Sudan: Ancient Treasures British Museum (through Jan. 9). Currently ravaged by violence, Sudan was home to one of the Nile Valley's most accomplished ancient civilizations. This spectacular show from the National Museum in Khartoum includes rare objects and recent discoveries dating from Paleolithic times to the 19th century, including gold statues of Kushite kings, exquisite jewelry, and calligraphy. Paris Turner-Whistler-Monet Grand Palais (through Jan. 17). Impressionism, that quintessentially French phenomenon, may have had its roots in London. Captivated by the paintings of Joseph Mallord William Turner and expatriate American James Abbott Whistler, a young Claude Monet found the seeds of an aesthetic revolution in the shimmering, pollution-laden fog over the Thames. Madrid The Spanish Portrait: From El Greco to Picasso Museo Nacional del Prado (through Feb. 6). Gertrude Stein meets the Duchess of Alba in this magnificent exhibition showcasing five centuries of portraits by Spanish masters of the genre, from the grave courtiers and elegant ladies of El Greco, Goya, and Velázquez to bohemians by Juan Gris and Picasso. Berlin Berlinische Galerie Opening The art and archival documents at this stunning new museum and library, which was scheduled to open in October, span 120 years of artistic activity in the German capital, from 19th-century Expressionist masterworks and the ferment of Weimar café society, to the struggles of the postwar period and Berlin's current revival as vital center for contemporary art-making. Friedrich Christian Flick Collection Hamburger Bahnhof (through Jan. 23). This premier collection of 20th- and 21st-century art comes trailing controversy—the collector's family fortune was built during the Nazi era. But curators are promising full disclosure, alongside a lively display of works by Marcel Duchamp, Bruce Nauman, and Cindy Sherman, among others.
UNITED STATES New York China: Dawn of a Golden Age, A.D. 200-750 Metropolitan Museum of Art (through Jan. 23). Priceless treasures on loanfrom mainland China reveal an ancient culture in transformation, open to Hellenistic, Persian, and Buddhist influences as they were carried along the Silk Road and showed up in the curved stem of a jade goblet or the graceful sway of religious sculpture. Highlights include fantastic clay animals and a bronze cavalry arrayed in mid-procession. The Aztec Empire Guggenheim Museum (through Feb. 13). The largest collection of Aztec gold jewelry ever shown is just one part of this major exhibition—the country's first in more than 20 years—co-designed by Mexican architect Enrique Norten and J. Meejin Yoon. Monumental clay gods of the netherworld vie for attention with more humble artifacts, like the handle of a flyswatter. Philadelphia Florence Knoll Bassett: Defining Modern Philadelphia Museum of Art (Nov. 17-April 10). Luxurious simplicity and refined luminosity marked the interiors that Florence Knoll Bassett created for high-profile clients like CBS and Seagram's, changing the face of postwar corporate America. Now 87, Knoll Bassett returns to the limelight, designing the first museum exhibition of her own work. Washington, D.C. Calder Miró Phillips Collection (through Jan. 23). This exhibition documents five decades of friendship between the two great masters of play in 20th-century art, from their early fascination with carnival and circus figures to their mature experiments in abstraction and late collaborations on public projects in Cincinnati and Paris. Chicago Chicago Architecture: 10 Visions Art Institute of Chicago (Nov. 26-April 3). Rooms by 10 Chicago firms explore the city's architectural heritage and its future, with installations and models on everything from the impact of the information age to the baseball park's built environment. San Francisco Roy Lichtenstein: All About Art San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (through Feb. 22). "Is he the worst artist in the U.S.?" Life magazine asked of Roy Lichtenstein in 1964. His Donalds and Mickeys and tough guys and tearful gals who "won't call Brad for help" have never looked more sophisticated. Los Angeles Robert Smithson Museum of Contemporary Art at California Plaza (through Dec. 13). Pioneering artist and passionate traveler Robert Smithson—best known for his Spiral Jetty (1970)—found room for his apocalyptic visions of nature on the Great Salt Lake in Utah and in the jungles of the Yucatán. His first comprehensive retrospective promises to be a revelation. Miami Beyond Geometry: Experiments in Form, 1940's-70's Miami Art Museum (Nov. 19-Apr. 24). If you missed this eclectic international survey of the postwar avant-garde in Los Angeles last summer, catch it in Miami, where visionary Brazilian performance artists, austere U.S. minimalists, and far-out Italian Conceptualists cozy up together. Art Basel Miami Beach Miami Beach Convention Center (Dec. 2-5). Big-time dealers, collectors, luminaries, and wild parties have made this international fair, in its third year, the art world's favorite winter destination.
Cultural institutions in Europe, the United States, and Japan are marking the fall with new buildings.
EUROPE Baden-Baden Architect Richard Meier's museum for the Collection Frieder Burda (www.sammlung-frieder-burda.de) in Germany—a crisp, abstract geometric design in his signature all-white palette—adjoins the Neoclassical 1907 Staatliche Kunsthalle. Clerestory windows illuminate the top-floor galleries, whose recessed walls allow light to suffuse its three floors. The collection excels in German Expressionism and American abstract painting. Düsseldorf Japanese architect Tadao Ando is known for subdued structures impeccably rendered in concrete. His building for the Langen Foundation's collection (www.langenfoundation.de) is no exception. Currently on view in the newly opened museum: "Images of Stillness: Traditional Japanese and Western Modern Art". Cardiff In 1995, the unceremonious scrapping of Zaha Hadid's design for the opera house in Wales, sparked one of the U.K.'s biggest architecture controversies. Now that the brouhaha is long past, Cardiff is quietly opening the Wales Millennium Centre (www.wmc.org.uk) on November 26. The new building, by Welsh architect Jonathan Adams, has two theaters, a shallow dome, and walls of Welsh slate. Resident companies include the Welsh National Opera and the Dance Company of Wales. Copenhagen Thanks to the largesse of Danish shipping magnate Sir Maersk McKinney Moller, Copenhagen built its gleaming new opera house without the controversy (and delay) that Cardiff endured. Designed by architects Henning Larsens Tegnestue, the dramatic Operaen (www.kgl-teater.dk) stands out from the converted 17th-century Holmen district along the waterfront; its cantilevered roof soars 105 feet beyond the curved four-story building, which holds a 1,400-seat main hall and a smaller 200-seat studio stage. The Royal Danish Opera inaugurates its new house with performances of Aida beginning January 15.
UNITED STATES New York The latest addition to the visual arts has taken up residence in a smartly repurposed space designed by Beyer Blinder Belle and Milton Glaser. Nostalgic shoppers will recognize the Rubin Museum of Art (www.rmanyc.org) as part of the original Barneys, with its spiraling Andrée Putman-designed marble staircase intact. Its six floors showcase works from Shelly and Donald Rubin's collection of more than 900 works of Himalayan art dating from the 12th century. Madison An expert in changing skylines, architect Cesar Pelli has reimagined the cityscapes of Madison, Wisconsin, and Osaka, Japan. The Overture Center (www.madisonsymphony.org) in downtown Madison includes a new theater for the symphony orchestra and the Madison Opera.