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Three to see: Athens

What to take in besides the big Documenta 14 show in the Greek capital

by Julia Michalska  |  13 April 2017
Three to see: Athens
Maria Lassnig, Woman Laokoon (Woman Laocoön, 1976) (Image: courtesy of Neue Galerie Graz, Universalmuseum Joanneum, Graz. © Maria Lassnig Foundation)
While Adam Szymczyk was busy preparing Documenta 14 (until 16 July), another star curator, Hans Ulrich Obrist, was working on this parallel show in the Greek capital. Maria Lassnig: The Future Is Invented with Fragments from the Past (until 16 July) at the Municipal Gallery of Athens is the last show that Maria Lassnig (1919-2014) was personally involved in. Given the setting, the exhibition aptly explores the influence of antiquity and Greece on the late Austrian artist’s work through around 50 paintings and watercolours. Next month, Lassnig’s home country is honouring the artist with a retrospective of her works on paper at the Albertina Museum in Vienna (Maria Lassnig: Dialogues, 5 May-27 August).

Documenta 14’s goal is to spur the visitor into political action, and this is exactly what YBA Michael Landy has managed to do. For Michael Landy: Breaking News—Athens, Diplarios School Presented by Neon (until 26 May), organised by the non-profit art group Neon, Landy asked the public to submit “drawings, text images, adverts and slogans that represent what is like living in the city of Athens” (these can still be submitted here until 26 May). Through a straight-forward but arresting artistic intervention, the images are then transformed into blue-and-white drawings that are pasted onto the walls of the Diplarios School.

At a time of crippling austerity measures, Greece’s state institutions are under severe financial and bureaucratic strain. Private initiatives such as the Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art, founded by the collector Dakis Joannou in 1983, are playing an important role in promoting Greek artists. Deste Prize: an Anniversary Exhibition 1999-2015, (until 17 September), hosted by the Museum of Cycladic Art, brings together the past nine recipients of the Deste Prize, which is awarded to an emerging Greek or Cypriot artist every two years. And no trip to Athens would be complete without a visit to the National Archaeological Museum. If you can tear yourself away from the ancient marble marvels, see Odysseus (until 31 October), the museum’s 150th anniversary exhibition.

Click here for a complete list of previously recommended London shows

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