One of the greatest pleasures for many visitors to Europe is the opportunity to experience its rich artistic traditions and treasures. What’s especially exciting about art in Europe (especially Italy, France and Spain), is that you never know where or when you will encounter a masterpiece. Because centers of power have shifted many times over the years, even the smallest village could be hiding a Caravaggio, a Picasso or a Monet, while galleries and museums offering contemporary and avant-garde works can be found at nearly every turn. Whatever your tastes may be, you don’t need to be in Florence, Paris or Madrid to see some truly remarkable works of art. Here are our top picks for off-the-beaten-track galleries and the best summer 2012 exhibits, in some of our favorite regions.
Musée Granet - Aix-en-Provence, France
Aix-en-Provence was the home to Paul Cezanne, and its tranquil landscape served as an inspiration to many of The Impressionists, including Vincent Van Gogh. This museum houses an impressive collection of works not only by Cezanne, but by other masters such as Rubens, Rembrandt, Matisse, Klee and Mondrian, as well as older pieces from the Egyptian and Roman empires.
This summer, the Granet Museum is presenting a temporary exhibit of 53 works from the Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden, Germany. On display will be pieces by German Expressionists such as Max Beckmann and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, as well as those of Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and William de Kooning. The exhibit runs May 26-September 30, 2012.
Featured villa near Musée Granet:
This delightful and stylish 18th century country home is named for the range of low hills at the foot of which it is set. The well-tended gardens, planted with fragrant roses, wild herbs and rows of olive trees offers complete privacy despite the proximity of two mid-sized towns and a local village just minutes away. Sleeps 10 in 5 bedrooms.
Dali Theatre-Museum - Figueres, Spain
The Dalí Theatre-Museum -- the largest surrealistic object in the world -- occupies the building of the former Municipal Theatre, a 19th century construction that was destroyed at the end of the Spanish Civil War. The entire collection is composed of thousands of objects dating from all the different periods of Dalí's life, reflecting an enormous diversity of techniques, materials and media: paintings, drawings, sculptures, engravings, installations, jewelry, holograms, photography and so on.
From July 30th-August 31st, 2012, visitors can attend the Dali Theatre-Museum at night, between 10:30pm and 1am. Experience the works of this genius in a different light.
Featured villa near the Dali Theatre-Museum:
"Sculptural" and "dramatic" are words that spring to mind when one tries to describe Can Maia. Set in a pastoral glade framed by the Pyrénées, it is a bold juxtaposition of contemporary design and the traditional character of an old family farmhouse. The covered loggia and small but stylish lap pool make outdoor living as natural as breathing in this stylish getaway located close to the Costa Brave, Girona, Figueres and only an hour from Barcelona. Sleeps 5 in 4 bedrooms.
Centro per L’arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci – Prato, Italy
Located about 40 minutes outside of Florence in the city of Prato, this impressive contemporary art gallery and education centre is a must-stop for lovers of the avant-garde. This summer, in collaboration with Minsheng Art Museum Shanghai, the Centro Pecci is presenting the first large-scale exhibition of the story of Chinese video art in Italy, entitled Moving Image in China 1988-2011. A selection of over forty works will recount the birth and development of Chinese video art, from the first video created by Zhang Peili at the end of the nineteen eighties, to the latest grand productions of the international star Yang Fudong. This exhibition runs from April 22nd – July 29th.
Featured Villa near the Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci:
Transformed from its earlier life as a bottega (general store), L’Alcova still has an air of friendly welcome, amplified as you step into its cosy front room with its colourful sofas and wall of books. But another world awaits you on the other side of the house, which opens out to a private backyard with a sun-soaked terrace ringed by silvery olive trees, and a sparkling pool. Sleeps 6 in 3 bedrooms.
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