A round-up of this year’s best exhibitions

Image via Patricia Piccinini
Words by Nikki Escalante

Diaries out.

Despite being what feels like universes away from the rest of the world, Australia never falls short of exhibitions to feed our cultured, creative hearts.

If you have annual leave dates yet to use and diary pages yet to fill, 2018 is packed with large-scale art exhibits. Here’s a round-up of the best ones happening across the East Coast, Adelaide and Hobart. Get booking.

1. Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear 1715 – 2015
Powerhouse Museum, Sydney
Ends October 14

Reigning Men has just kicked off in Sydney, putting the spotlight on men’s high fashion. Featuring over 130 pieces from fashion’s most renowned designers, the exhibit explores the rich history of menswear –  from today’s contemporary styles to ’70s mod attire right through to 18th-century ensembles. With garments by Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Jean Paul Gaultier, Louis Vuitton and Yves Saint Laurent, it will be a showcase like no other. Tickets start at $13.


2. MoMA at NGV
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
June 8 – October 7

Arguably the most anticipated exhibit of 2018, MoMA at NGV is arriving this winter and it’s all of your favourites in one place. A collection of over 200 masterpieces will be shipped straight out of NYC’s Museum of Modern Art to be exclusively displayed at Melbourne’s NGV. Guests can marvel at the lineup of iconic artworks including Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory and Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, as well as pieces by Duchamp, Picasso, and Frida Kahlo. Alongside the exhibition, there will also be a series of talks, tours and events including NGV’s Friday Night program.


3. Zero
Museum of New and Old Art, Hobart
June 9 – April 2019

The liberal movement of Zero started in the 1950s, post-war Germany. At a time of mourning and oppression, passionate young people expressed themselves through art. Radical artists united with peers to break free from the dark aftermath, particularly using art techniques that heavily provoked sensory experiences.

In this immersive exhibit, the limelight is shone on the young artists and their work, with a particular focus on vibration and movement. A ticket to Zero grants you entry to the gallery, set up like chambers that manipulate sound, reflection, saturation and distortion for an audiovisual experience.

It’s the first time in Australia that we’ll see pieces from the movement. MoNA will present work from key international artists of the Zero network including Günther Uecker, Heinz Mack, Yves Klein, Otto Piene and Yayoi Kusama.


4. Marimekko: Design Icon 1951 to 2018
Bendigo Art Gallery, Bendigo
Ends June 11

Marimekko is best known for its original bold designs and vibrantly bright prints. Since the label’s first establishment in the 1950s, it’s made its poppy-print mark through fashion, homewares and apparel worldwide. In its only Australian stop, the Marimekko: Design Icon exhibit has popped up in Bendigo and will run until June. The dedicated exhibit delves into everything that defined the Marimekko aesthetic. Think original sketches, fabrics, homewares and over 65 outfit designs.


5. Colours of Impressionism
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Ends July 29

You can take the art out of Paris. In case you missed it, a handful of notable masterpieces touched down in Adelaide earlier this year. Coming direct from Musée d’Orsay in France, the impressionist works of Monet, Renoir, Manet and Cézanne are exclusively on show at the Art Gallery of South Australia, in all their vividly colourful glory. The exhibition is one for true creative enthusiasts, exploring the iconic painting style, and how its form revolutionised art in the 19th century.


6. Wonderland
ACMI, Melbourne
Ends October 7

Celebrating all things Alice in Wonderland, ACMI’s latest exhibit offers an interactive experience perfect for adventurers big and small. Lovers of the Lewis Carroll classic will be in for a treat, as the centre is transformed into a real-life magic wonderland. A special character map will guide your journey through Wonderland, where you can look through glass mirrors, weave through little doors and sit down for an immersive tea party. Tickets are priced from $20.


7. 21st Biennale of Sydney
Ends June 11

The 21st Biennale of Sydney takes place throughout a number of locations from March to June. Curated by Artistic Director Mami Kataoka, the display presents the work of 70 artists from 35 countries at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Carriageworks, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney Opera House and more. This year’s theme, ‘Superposition: Equilibrium & Engagement’ draws on the concept of quantum mechanics, providing punters with insights into today’s world.


8. Colony: Australia 1770-1861 and Colony: Frontier Wars
NGV Australia at Federation Square, Melbourne
Ends July 15 (Colony: Australia 1770-1861) and September 2 (Colony: Frontier Wars)

Giving you another reason to visit NGV, the gallery is currently running two complementary exhibitions exploring Australia’s complex colonial past. Colony: Australia 1770-1861 offers visitors a look at important examples of art and design produced during key settlements. It’s counterpart, Colony: Frontier Wars, explores the devastating effect of colonisation on First Peoples through various works of art. You’ll get to see the first European depiction of a kangaroo, 30 warrior shields and the earliest surviving photographs taken in Australia.


9. Patricia Piccinini: Curious Affection
Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
Ends August 5

In her most ambitious exhibition to date, Patricia Piccinini has taken over the entire ground floor of Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art. Expect a retrospective of her most recognisable works from the past 20 years, including multisensory installations and a large-scale inflatable sculpture. Curious Affection explores the line between humans and the natural world, and where advancements in biotechnology may take us in future.


10. Cartier: The Exhibition
National Gallery of Australia
Ends July 22

If you have an interest in designer jewellery, it’ll be worth making your way to Canberra for Cartier: The Exhibition. The showcase presents 300 heritage Cartier items, as well as an exquisite collection of precious stones borrowed from Cartier’s prestigious clientele. Highlights include Kate Middleton’s wedding tiara, Grace Kelly’s engagement ring and Elizabeth Taylor’s diamond and ruby necklace. The jewels are on display alongside original drawings, portraits, films and photography to give insight into the history of Cartier.


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