Global Guide to Arts & Culture

Global Guide to Arts & Culture

T+L spotlights the best of the spring season in New York, London, Beijing, and beyond. Plus, our favorite upcoming films and art and antiques fairs.




“The Stamp of Fantasy,” at the Jeu de Paume (March 4–May 18; Postcards from the 19th century held a special appeal for artists—Salvador Dalí was one of many who collected them. Here, more than 500 “fantasy” postcards, some illustrating proverbs, others depicting erotic scenes, are displayed alongside the works they inspired from a host of Modernists—Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, and El Lissitzky, among them.


“Goya in Times of War,” at the Prado Museum (April 14–July 13; The two paintings Goya made in response to the Napoleonic occupation of Madrid, including his revolutionary masterpiece, The Third of May 1808, are the centerpiece of this reappraisal of his late work—iconic, timeless images of power and wartime brutality.


“From Russia: French and Russian Master Paintings, 1870–1925, from Moscow and St. Petersburg,” at the Royal Academy of Arts (through April 18; This exhibition, highlighting one international love affair between Modernists, includes Matisse’s majestic Dance II (1910; originally commissioned for textile magnate Sergei Shchukin’s Moscow mansion), alongside works by Cézanne, van Gogh, Chagall, and Tatlin, all drawn from Russian collections.

“China Design Now,” at the Victoria & Albert Museum (March 15–July 13; A boutique spa hotel on the Great Wall?That’s just one surprise in this show exploring China’s current design frenzy, which encompasses architecture, fashion, furniture, photography, and digital media.

United States

New York

In the newly expanded Galleries for 19th- and Early 20th-Century European Painting and Sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (, works by British, German, and Scandinavian artists share space with French masterworks of the Met’s renowned collection. Look for Orientalist art and the work of American expatriates, as well as the reconstructed Art Nouveau Wisteria Dining Room. Also at the Met, “Poussin and Nature: Arcadian Visions” showcases the great Neoclassicist’s landscape paintings (through May 11).

“2008 Whitney Biennial,” at the Whitney Museum of American Art (March 6–June 1; The 74th edition of this always-controversial survey of contemporary American art expands for the first time to a second venue: the Seventh Regiment Armory building (Park Ave. and 67th St.), which will host installations and performances.

West Palm Beach

“Calder Jewelry,” at the Norton Museum of Art (through June 15; Throughout his life, sculptor Alexander Calder created wildly inventive jewelry as spontaneous gifts for family and friends. This show places his tiaras, brooches, necklaces, and earrings against the backdrop of his other works.

Los Angeles

“California Video,” at the J. Paul Getty Museum (March 15–June 8; California video artists have used television monitors to re-create everything from the passage of sunlight through the stained-glass windows of Chartres Cathedral to the instant of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Spanning four decades, the show includes Jim Campbell’s Home Movies (2006), where multiple LED’s create a mural of nearly familiar images.


“Maps: Finding Our Place in the World,” at the Walters Art Museum (March 16–June 8; Including a 19th-century Jain cosmological diagram, Leonardo da Vinci’s geological map of Northern Italy, and a 1933 poster of the London Underground, this exhibition highlights 100 spectacular examples of the cartographer’s art, none of which are likely to be found in your average glove compartment.


“The Dragon’s Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan,” at the Honolulu Academy of Arts (through May 23; Buddhist monks will accompany the 117 rare treasures on display in this exhibition focusing on the devotional arts of Bhutan. Most of these elaborately painted thangkas, gilt bronze sculptures, and textiles have never been seen outside their remote homeland. —Leslie Camhi



South America

Rio de Janeiro

Legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer turned 100 in December, but hitting the century mark hasn’t slowed him down. His newest design, the 400-seat Teatro Popular, in Niterói, is part of an eight-building cultural complex overlooking Guanabara Bay and Rio that will include a new ferry terminal, the Museum of Brazilian Cinema, and—fittingly—the Oscar Niemeyer Foundation.

United States

New York

Robert A.M. Stern Architects led a speedy eight-month renovation of the Kaufman Center ( music school and its star attraction, Merkin Concert Hall, which reopened in January. Stern tweaked architect Ashok Bhavnani’s original 1978 design, brightening up a grim Brutalist façade by replacing rusty metal panels with translucent glass. Behind-the-scenes improvements include a quieter ventilation system that enhances the intimate hall’s fine acoustics.

Los Angeles

In February, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) director Michael Govan presided over the opening of the first phase of an ambitious 10-year renovation and expansion of lacma’s 20-acre campus on Wilshire Boulevard. The Broad Contemporary Art Museum, a $56 million building funded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad and designed by Renzo Piano, adds 60,000 square feet for postwar art. The three-story pavilion, clad in Italian travertine with a bright-red open-air escalator, holds six loftlike galleries. The inaugural exhibition showcases roughly 200 works from the Broad’s collection ( —Raul Barreneche



In February, Beijing Capital International Airport ( unveiled its new state-of-the-art Terminal 3, designed by Foster & Partners. It’s a building of superlatives: the world’s largest passenger terminal—covering more than 3.73 million square feet. It is also passenger-friendly, with a double-Y-shaped structure designed to minimize walking distances, and illuminated skylights that help travelers navigate the massive structure, phasing from yellow at the gates to red in the central terminal building.



On March 27, the long-awaited Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport ( opens, consolidating all British Airways operations. Designed by Richard Rogers, the $8 billion terminal is one of Europe’s biggest building projects, and completing it involved diverting two rivers, tunneling beneath active runways, and extending the Piccadilly and Heathrow Express tube and rail lines. The airy structure—inspired by London’s great railway stations—rises under a vaulted 130-foot-tall roof with towering glass walls.





Every two years, the Adelaide Festival ( places South Australia on the global cultural map. Australian maverick director Benedict Andrews stages Moving Target, by leading German contemporary playwright Marius von Mayerburg (through March 8); and Thomas Ostermeier, of Berlin’s acclaimed Schaubühne theater, directs the company’s reinterpretation of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (March 11–16).



The Histories, at the Roundhouse (April 1–May 25; 44-870/389-1846; The Royal Shakespeare Company, galvanized under the artistic leadership of Michael Boyd, presents the Bard’s complete history plays: Henry IV, V, and VI, and Richard II and III. For the series, the RSC will re-create the intimately scaled Courtyard Theatre, from its home in Stratford, within the Roundhouse.

God of Carnage, at the Gielgud Theatre (opens March 25; 44-20/7812-7482; Yasmina Reza’s new comedy about dueling couples pairs Ralph Fiennes with Tamsin Greig and Janet McTeer with Ken Stott.

United States

New York

In the Heights, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre (opens March 9; 212/307-4100; The breakout musical by Puerto Rican– American composer Lin-Manuel Miranda and librettist Quiara Alegría Hudes tackles young love, ethnic identity, and big-city ambition. A rich mix of salsa, merengue, and hip-hop set in NYC’s Washington Heights.

Gypsy, at the St. James Theatre (opens March 27; 212/239-6200; The classic musical, one of last summer’s most sought-after tickets off-Broadway, returns in a full-scale revival with Patti LuPone as Mama Rose, along with Laura Benanti in the title role.

Washington, D.C.

August Wilson’s 20th Century, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (March 4–April 6; 800/444-1324; Seven directors stage readings of 10 plays, also known as The Pittsburgh Cycle, by the Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright who considered the African-American experience in the 20th century. —Bill Rosenfield





The Minotaur, at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (April 15–May 3; 44-20/ 7304-4000; Commissioned by Covent Garden, eminent British composer Harrison Birtwistle’s newest work is set in the realm of Greek myth, with the veteran bass-baritone John Tomlinson in the title role.

United States


Last Acts, at the Houston Grand Opera (through March 15; 713/228-6737; Dead Man Walking put composer Jake Heggie on the map. His new work, based on a Terrence McNally play about an actress and her relationship to her grown children, was written for Frederica von Stade, the veteran mezzo-soprano. Another highlight is Billy Budd (April 25–May 9), Britten’s setting of Melville’s novella, in a production from the Welsh National Opera. —Anne Midgette

New York

Metropolitan Opera (212/362-6000; The spring season presents a mix of repertory works and new productions. Highlights: Benjamin Britten’s powerful opera Peter Grimes (through March 24), with tenor Anthony Dean Griffey as the eccentric fisherman who lives on the rugged Suffolk coast; and Donizetti’s sparkling La Fille du Régiment (April 21–May 16), with Natalie Dessay as Marie and Juan Diego Flórez as the peasant who enlists in the French army to win her heart.



United States

San Francisco

San Francisco Ballet at War Memorial Opera House (April 22–May 6; This spring the San Francisco Ballet, the country’s oldest professional company, celebrates its 75th anniversary in grand style with 10 premieres, including works by Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, and Christopher Wheeldon.

New York

New York City Ballet at the New York State Theater (April 29–June 29; In a nine-week festival, New York City Ballet honors the legacy of one of America’s great choreographers, Jerome Robbins, with programs that include Fancy Free, Glass Pieces, and revivals such as Brahms/Handel. —Robert Breskovic


Four worth the trip


Joburg Art Fair is the first continent-wide survey devoted to contemporary African art from Egypt to Zambia. March 13–16;

Mexico City

Now in its fifth year, México Arte Contemporáneo (MACO) has become Latin America’s premier showplace for works by established and emerging Mexican and international artists. April 23–27; —Bree Sposato


The foremost expo of furniture in the U.K.— BADA Antiques & Fine Art Fair—celebrates its 16th edition. March 5–11;


For 10 days each year, sculpture, jewelry, and old-master paintings at the European Fine Art Fair make the Dutch city a collector’s destination. March 7–16;

The first English-language film of Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai, My Blueberry Nights is a postcard to classic America. The moody road movie follows a lovelorn young waitress (played by singer Norah Jones) who makes her way west from New York, and costars Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and Rachel Weisz.—Darrell Hartman

It’s the end of World War II in the opening frames of The Counterfeiters, and the wedge-headed tough (Karl Markovics), a concentration camp survivor, is living it up in Monte Carlo. This Austrian drama tells the amazing (and true) story of a group of prisoners who were pressed into forging money for the Nazi cause—and their courageous resistance. The mood is fizzier in Priceless, a romantic comedy directed by Pierre Salvadori and starring Audrey Tautou as a gold digger who mistakes a tuxedoed hotel employee for a young millionaire.



“On the Human Being: International Photography, 1900–1950” at the Museo Picasso Málaga (through May 25; More than 100 images from the first half of the 20th century document man’s fascination with his essence and photography as a means of capturing it. Portraits from Cecil Beaton, Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray, Alexander Rodtchenko, and Edward Steichen provide representations of humanity and the development of the photographer’s art.


“Babylone” at the Louvre Museum (March 14–June 2; Seeking to reconcile historic Babylon with its much fabled past, the exhibit assembles more than 400 works from collections in 13 countries. The pieces date from 3000 B.C.E. to the beginning of the 20th century.

New York

“Gustave Courbet” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through May 18; offers the first retrospective in more than 30 years in the United States devoted to this pioneering modernist.

  • “Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (through May 28; The most comprehensive look to date at the work of this innovative and peripatetic Chinese-born artist, whose “gunpowder drawings” and pyrotechnic, site-specific “explosion events” have earned him an international following.
  • “Philip Guston: Works on Paper” at the Morgan Library & Museum (May 2–August 31; This retrospective of the special draftsmanship of the Canadian-born American artist, widely known for his abstract paintings, brings together some 100 drawings, from public and private collections and works left in his studio at the time of his death.


“Ed Ruscha and Photography” at the Art Institute of Chicago (through June 1; An exhibition exploring the role photography has played in the work of this seminal L.A. Pop and Conceptual artist, whose photographic books include Every Building on the Sunset Strip.

Los Angeles

“‘Doctrinal Nourishment’: Art and Anarchism in the Time of James Ensor” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (through July 6; The museum’s recent acquisition of the provocative etching “Alimentation Doctrinaire” by the nineteenth-century Belgian artist Ensor forms the basis of an exhibition of some 50 works by the artist and his predecessors devoted to socio-political critique of contemporary ruling classes, notably of Belgian’s King Leopold II.

New Haven

“The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting, 1830–1925” at the Yale Center for British Art (through April 27; Desert oases, harem scenes, English aristocrats in Turkish dress—this show of more than 90 works by British artists such as Edward Lear and William Holman Hunt testifies to their endless fascination with an Orient that is part minutely observed reality, part colonialist fantasy.


“El Greco to Velázquez: Art during the Reign of Philip III” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (April 20–July 27; This exhibition of 122 paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts by El Greco, Velázquez, and their contemporaries from throughout Spain, commissioned during the rule of Philip III (1598–1621), demonstrates the remarkable range of artistic creativity supported by the Spanish court and the marked shift in the political, religious, and social themes in the plastic art of the early 17th century.

Washington, D.C.

“Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul” at the National Gallery of Art (May 25–September 7; In conjunction with the National Geographic Society, the National Gallery assembles 230 objects from four archaeological sites. Included in the exhibition are approximately 100 gold pieces that make up the Bactrian hoard—a famed archaeological discovery made in 1978. The 2,000-year-old-treasure was thought to be lost or stolen until it was revealed, intact, in the palace bank vault in 2003.

Reported by Leslie Camhi, Raul Barreneche, Bill Rosenfield, Anne Midgette, Robert Greskovic, Julia Houlihan, Stirling Kelso, Bree Sposato, and Mario R. Mercado.

New York

The original Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum ( will unveil its restored exterior in late summer after a meticulous three-year restoration. Preservationists peeled back 12 layers of paint from the exterior to reveal the original concrete, and repaired cracks that have plagued Wright’s innovative spiral structure since the museum’s 1959 opening. The most controversial part of the restoration was deciding whether to repaint the patched exterior in Wright’s original color scheme—a pale yellow uncovered during the project—or the light grey of recent years. In November, New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 7-2 in favor of the familiar grey.


On the inside, the Michael & Susan Dell Hall, the center’s principal theater seats 2,400. Singer-dancer Tommy Tune hosts the first of two gala openings (March 28–29) with members of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, Austin Lyric Opera, and Ballet Austin, followed the next evening by Texas music tribute featuring Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, and Rick Trevino. The season continues with the Austin Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Peter Bay, in a program of Spanish works (April 4–5); Bizet’s popular opera Carmen bows in a production by Austin Lyric Opera (April 18–26), and Ballet Austin presents the full-length staging of the classic Don Quixote (May 9–11).

On March 28, the Texas capital inaugurates the Long Center, designed by Zeidler Partnership Inc. Architects, Team Haas/Nelsen Partner Architects, the city’s new performing arts venue in the 54-acre culture park on Lady Bird Lake. The building constructed partly from recycled materials, is distinguished by a halo-like beam suspended over an outdoor terrace with views of the Austin downtown skyline.

Reported by Leslie Camhi, Raul Barreneche, Bill Rosenfield, Anne Midgette, Robert Greskovic, Julia Houlihan, Stirling Kelso, Bree Sposato, and Mario R. Mercado.


New York

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Broadhurst Theatre (opens March 6; 212/239-6200; Tennessee Williams’s drama of unrequited and misplaced passions is presented with an African-American cast that includes James Earl Jones (Big Daddy), Phylicia Rashad (Big Mama), and Anika Noni Rose as the implacable Maggie the Cat.

  • South Pacific Vivian Beaumont Theatre (opens Apr. 3, 212/239-6200; Bartlett Sher, who staged Lincoln Center Theater’s hit Light in the Piazza, returns to the company to direct the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical. Kelli O’Hara stars as Nellie Forbush, joined by Brazilian baritone Paulo Szot in the role of Emile de Becque.
  • Endgame Brooklyn Academy of Music (April 25–May 18; 718/636-4100; John Turturro takes on the virtuoso role of the aged, blind, wheelchair-bound minister Hamm who struggles to accept the vagaries of life’s end in Samuel Beckett’s one-act play.
  • Les Liaisons Dangereuses, at the American Airines Theatre (opens May 1; 212/719-1300; Laura Linney returns to Broadway as the scheming Marquise de Merteuil in Christopher Hampton’s dark comedy set among the decadent aristocracy of pre-Revolutionary France. Ben Daniels, as the Vicomte de Valmont, is her worthy adversary.


Reported by Leslie Camhi, Raul Barreneche, Bill Rosenfield, Anne Midgette, Robert Greskovic, Julia Houlihan, Stirling Kelso, Bree Sposato, and Mario R. Mercado.



La Commedia The Netherlands Opera (June 12–18; 31-20/625-5455; Put the European minimalist composer Louis Andriessen together with the indie film director Hal Hartley and Dante’s Divine Comedy and you have what promises to be one of the major music events of the year. This “film opera,” premiered by some of the best musicians in the business—Reinbert de Leeuw leads the Asko and Schoenberg ensembles—is likely to have the spark so many new operas lack, thanks to Andriessen’s forceful, aggressive, and quirky music.

New York

The New York Festival of Song (Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall; March 11, 13; One of the city’s cultural treasures celebrates its 20th anniversary with two commissioned comic operas from American composers John Musto and William Bolcom, both with librettos by Mark Campbell. Each work is scored for five singers and two pianos and will be led by visionary co-founders and pianists Michael Barrett and Steven Blier.

New Orleans

The city’s music heritage is legendary. Jazz Fest, the annual confluence of established and emerging jazz artists takes place April 25–27 and May 1–4 ( Less well known but influential is the Ponderosa Stomp, April 29–30 (, which investigates the roots of rock-n-roll, rhythm and blues, country, funk, as well as jazz, and the musicians that were fundamental to the scene. Attendees will be treated to a performance by Barbara Lynn, whose “Oh Baby (We Got a Good Thing Goin’)” the Rolling Stones made world famous with their 1965 cover. Jazz lovers should not leave town without the Hurricane Sessions, recordings bythe Preservation Hall Jazz Band from the 70’s and 80’s as well as new work that were rescued after Hurricane Katrina.


Munich Biennale 2008 (April 17–May 3; 49-89/5481-8181; In 1988, the composer Hans Werner Henze founded an ambitious festival entirely devoted to premieres of operas by little-known composers. Twenty years later, the festival continues under the former Salzburg Festival chief Peter Ruzicka. This year, composers Enno Poppe, Klaus Lang, Carola Bauckholt, and Jens Joneleit offer four unusual works. Elsewhere in Munich, the Cuvilliés Theater, a tiny Baroque jewel that was saved from World War II bombing by quick-thinking officials who packed up and stored its exquisite interior only a few weeks before the building in which it had been housed suffered a direct hit. Reassembled after the war, the theater, an auxiliary branch of the Bavarian State Opera, has now undergone a lengthy restoration. It reopens in June with the opera that had its world premiere there in 1781, Mozart’s Idomeneo (June 14–July 6; 49-89/2185-1920;, conducted by Kent Nagano.


Clari Zurich Opera (May 23–31; 41-44/268-666; The Zurich Opera is known for presenting many new productions each season (a mind-boggling 16 this year), which means it can lure big stars by offering them unusual repertory—like this Halévy opera few people today have even heard of. It is being staged for soprano Cecilia Bartoli, a frequent performer at the opera house, who is currently exploring the legacy of the singer Maria Malibran, for whom this work was written 180 years ago; this first-ever Swiss performance of the piece will be conducted by the fine Adam Fischer.


Tamerlano Washington National Opera (Apr. 30–May 22). Plácido Domingo once said he wanted to focus more on Baroque opera; this season, he is finally delivering on his promise with not one but two Baroque parts. Following Gluck’s Iphigénie at the Met in November, he is taking on the 126th new role of his career as the Ottoman emperor Bajazet, imprisoned by the Tamerlano of David Daniels, in this early Handel opera.

St. Louis

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (May 24–June 29; 314/961-0644; Opera in English is the hallmark of this renowned opera festival—works translated from French and Italian, respectively, in the case of this summer’s Tales of Hoffmann and Madame Butterfly, or in the original language, in the case of William Walton’s rarely heard 1954 Troilus and Cressida. The fourth opera this season, Martin y Soler’s Una Cosa Rara, with a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, was a huge hit in its day, but today is chiefly remembered for being briefly quoted in the last act of Don Giovanni.

Fort Worth

After more than 60 years of presenting opera throughout the cultural season, the Fort Worth Opera (May 16–June 8; 877/396-7372; changed to a festival format in 2007. This spring offers the first major U.S. production of Peter Eötvös’s Angels in America, based on Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Also in repertory are Puccini’s Turandot, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, and Of Mice and Men by American composer Carlisle Floyd. The adaptation of Steinbeck’s classic novel about two migrant farm workers and a fateful act and its consequences stars baritone Phillip Addis as George and tenor Anthony Dean Griffey in the heartrending role of Lennie.


Reported by Leslie Camhi, Raul Barreneche, Bill Rosenfield, Anne Midgette, Robert Greskovic, Julia Houlihan, Stirling Kelso, Bree Sposato, and Mario R. Mercado.



Hot Hot Hot Royal Danish Theatre (May 8–15; The Royal Danish Ballet presents an international bill of fare in programs from three choreographers: premieres by Israeli Ohad Naharin and the Englishman Christopher Wheeldon, and the dynamic ballet by the Spaniard Nacho Duato, Coming Together, based on the Attica prison riots.


Miami City Ballet Adrienne Arscht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade (March 28–30; Mystery surrounds the premiere of Nightspot, a collaboration between Twyla Tharp and Elvis Costello, the details of which are under wraps. After its premiere in Miami, the ballet will also be seen in Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale. Known quantities: 18 dancers, an onstange dance band, pit orchestra, and costumes designed by Isaac Mizrahi.

Reported by Leslie Camhi, Raul Barreneche, Bill Rosenfield, Anne Midgette, Robert Greskovic, Julia Houlihan, Stirling Kelso, Bree Sposato, and Mario R. Mercado.