City Culture: The Latest Art Exhibitions

By: andrewbowman

February 16, 2011

Off on a city break to one of our awesome urban destinations? Want to catch some contemporary culture on your travels? You’re in luck as there’s plenty on at the moment. Below we’ve cherry-picked some of our favourite exhibitions currently showing in modern art havens New York and London as well as five other cities.

New York

MOMA: It’s a great time to visit New York as it celebrates itself with exhibitions of some of its most famous inhabitants. Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures (until 21st March) presents the city’s strangest adopted son’s short films including his superstar Screen Tests series. More of the city’s groundbreaking artwork from the likes of Pollock, Rothko, Krasner and de Kooning is gathered for a fantastic overview of Abstract Expressionist New York (until 25th April).

Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Met goes musical and also keeps things local with a homage to Guitar Heroes – No, not Hendrix and the like, but Italian-American New Yorkers skilled in lutherie (stringed-instrument making). Tons of exquisitely crafted guitars, violins, mandolins and more are on display. (Until 4th July.)

Whitney Museum of American Art: The Whitney’s varied current programme is home to the brilliant Modern Life: Edward Hopper and his Time, which places the giant of 20th Century American art amongst that of his contemporaries. Something that will fill you with as much awe as the city itself. (Until 10th April.)



Brooklyn Museum: For lovers of American art, it’s well worth a trip across the bridge for Norman Rockwell: Behind The Camera. The exhibition is a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Rockwell’s famous illustrations through his studio-staged photography. (Until 10th April.)

New Museum: If you like your art in three dimensions, the free-flowing forms and fluorescent blobs of abstract sculptor Lynda Benglis, shouldn’t fail to impress or at least confound. The New Museum is exhibiting the artist’s first New York retrospective, which includes a number of rarely shown works. (Until 19th June.)

San Francisco

Cartoon Art Museum: What’s up Doc? Rare artefacts that will fascinate kids of all ages are gathered for Overture: Looney Tunes Behind The Scenes. A great look at Bugs Bunny and co as their creators originally saw them. (Until 15th May.)

SFMOMA: The current highlight herehas to be Exposed, which has already been exhibited at London’s Tate Modern. An intriguing, provocative and sometimes creepy collection of photos and films that show us how the camera has changed life forever. You might be looking over your shoulder for paparazzi when you exit though…(Until 17th April.)


Allison Jacques Gallery: Pop provocateurs Scissor Sisters curate a celebration of Robert Mapplethorpe, whose controversial erotic photographs are accompanied by works of other artists inspired by his iconic images. (Until 19th March.)


Norman Rockwell, (1894-1978), Bridge Game-The Bid, 1948, oil on canvas, 46.5 x 38.5 cm, signed lower left Saturday Evening Post cover, May 15, 1948 © 2010 Images by The National Museum of American Illustration, Newport, RI, USA, and the American Illustrators Gallery, NYC © 2010 Saturday Evening Post covers by SEPS, Curtis Publishing

The Barbican: is showcasing NY artists too, with something ultra modern, cool and FREE in the form of Cory Arcangel’s Beat The Champ (until 22nd May), a bright and bleepy installation of 14 bowling video games – a great one for the kids. Starting on 3rd March, Pioneers of the Downtown Scene highlights work in many different media by Laurie Anderson, Trisha Brown and Gordon Matta Clark. (Until 22nd May.)

Dulwich Picture Gallery: South London’s lovely and intimate exhibition space is the perfect home for Norman Rockwell’s America, a heartwarming retrospective of one of the USA’s best-loved modern painters and chroniclers of everyday life. (Until 17th March.)

Royal Academy of Arts: Bringing things closer to home and on a much bigger scale, the RA presents key works of Modern British Sculpture, examining their relationship to the wider world. (Until 7th April.)

Daiwa Foundation, Japan House: For something a littledifferent and special, Emily Allchurch’s Tokyo Story (after Hiroshige) uses classic Japanese prints as the starting point for vibrant digital mash-ups. (Until 11th March.)


Museum of Fine Arts: The Bank of America’s huge collection of portraits, still lifes, landscapes and documentary photography is brought together in thematically linked Conversations for MFA’s wonderful exhibition. Features over 100 different artists, including Man Ray, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, Cindy Sherman and many more big names. Like all of America in one space. (Until 19th June)

Los Angeles

MOCA: A real feast for the senses, Suprasensorial: Experiments in Light, Color, and Space highlights large-scale installations by pioneering Latin American artists. Includes a swimming pool, where you’re invited to take a dip! Dive in quick as this ends on 27th Feb.



Suprasensorial: Experiments in Light, Color, and Space from MOCA on Vimeo.

Santa Monica Museum of Art: Continuing with the Latin American theme, The Donkey Show looks at California’s fascination with the Mexican border and its myths through a display of rare photographs, vintage ephemera, and pop music. (Until 16th April.)

Yoshitomo Nara, Eve Of Destruction

Yoshitomo Nara, Eve of Destruction, 2006, acrylic on canvas © Hara Museum of Contemporary Art


Museum of Contemporary Art: It’s a great time to visit the MCA as it hosts three varied exhibitions. Cutting edge contemporary work is covered in the gallery’s fifth annual selection of new acquisitions (until 19th June), while the work of late aboriginal artist Bardayal ‘Lofty’ Nadjamerrek AO (until 20th March) offers something more traditional. Then jump from kangeroos into urbane glamour with the retrospective of American photographer Annie Leibowitz, which features portraits of Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman, Patti Smith and Johnny Cash. (Until 26th April.)


Hara Museum: Light, dark, cute, kitschy, serious and silly; a wide range of painting, installations, video and more come together in Be Alive! The invigorating works, mostly by contemporary Japanese artists are connected by “a sense of immediacy, of life and of spirit evoked by the show’s keywords.” (Until 12th June.)

After something a more bizarre? Check out our guide to Ten of the World’s Quirkiest Museums.

For great deals and info on flights to all of these destinations, hop on over to