A charming Dutch city built on Roman aqueducts and ancient ruins, Maastricht sits at the southern border of the Netherlands within easy striking distance of Belgium and Germany. The area, known locally as the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, contains about a dozen art and design museums that are particularly active in March and April, when international visitors descend on the city for The European Fine Art Fair, TEFAF, (16–24 March). You’ll find exhibitions devoted to late-medieval woodcarving, the record-breaking American painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Hungarian contemporary artist Andrea Éva Győri and lots of emerging artists – either in Maastricht or within 45 minutes by car.
Art historians from the southern Netherlands have long been trying to puzzle out a late-medieval mystery: “In this region we have many late-15th- and 16th-century wood sculptures,” says Lars Hendrikman, curator of Old Master Painting and Applied Arts at the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht. “[But] there’s hardly any sculpture for which we know when it was made, by whom it was made, or for whom it was made.” The Bonnenfanten is bringing together 50 of these works in a new exhibition, raising questions about the identities of the woodcarvers who made them. In 1940 the art historian JJM Timmers invented an anonymous sculptor, the “Master of Elsloo”, an attribution that “grew like an oil stain… and 80 years later is more a geographic location rather than just one single workshop”, Hendrikman adds. “What we’re trying to do in this exhibition is to trace this historiography, to demonstrate how this oil stain came into being.”
Master of Elsloo: From lonely hand to collection of masters
Through 16 June
ONLY IN NEW YORK
Jean-Michel Basquiat is one of the world’s most sought-after contemporary artists, but back in the late 1970s he was young graffiti writer SAMO, living in a tiny sixth-floor walk-up on the Lower East Side with his sometimes-girlfriend Alexis Adler. Photos of Basquiat taken by Adler form the heart of Basquiat, The Artist and His New York Scene at SCHUNCK*, Heerlen. These are supplemented with more than 50 works from the Times Square Show, the landmark 1980 exhibition that featured Basquiat and contemporaries including Keith Haring and Jenny Holzer. It’s a period of New York history that resonates with SCHUNCK*. “Basquiat and his social, artistic context mirrors the post-industrial street character of Heerlen,” says curator Fabian de Kloe.
Basquiat, The Artist and His New York Scene
SCHUNCK*, Heerlen, the Netherlands
Through 2 June
After the Second World War, the ministry of culture in German Westphalia began buying works by young artists in the region to furnish its municipal offices. Some of these artists, including Thomas Ruff and Andreas Gursky, went on to become major names. On the 70th anniversary of the programme, the Kunsthaus Nordrhein-Westfalen Kornelimünster in Aachen, a Baroque-style abbey, has restyled its rooms as office spaces from across the decades to display some 160 works. Post-war Expressionism is set in Mid-Century Modern offices, while 1990s Minimalist art is displayed in the open-office studio. “We combined art with politics over the decades,” says museum spokeswoman Marie-Claire Krell. “People know offices better than they do art, in a way, so it’s nice to be able to put the works into this context.”
Complex: The Art of the Artothek in the Political Sphere
Kunsthaus Nordrhein-Westfalen Kornelimünster, Aachen, Germany
Through 28 April
JAN VAN EYCK ACADEMIE ART RESIDENCIES
The Jan van Eyck Academie hosts a residency programme for emerging artists, designers, curators, architects and writers, who are given space and time to develop their work. During TEFAF, the studios of 45 participants are open to the public. If you wish to visit on professional days, Thursday 14 March and Friday 15 March, email email@example.com.
Open Studios, Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht
The Cuban artist Ricardo Brey has been living in Ghent, Belgium, since 1991, but he continues to make art that reflects the Afro-Cuban experience in his home country. De Domijnen’s exhibition brings us his most recent body of work, which explores his interest in geology, mystical traditions and existential themes.
Ricardo Brey, Adrift
Museum De Domijnen, Sittard, the Netherlands
Through 10 June
DEEP JAW RELAXATION
Andrea Éva Győri is engaged in a relentless exploration of the mind, sexuality and illness. In 2016 the Hungarian artist teamed up with a sex therapist to explore female masturbation, while in 2018 she made work that tracked her life while undergoing cancer treatment. This exhibition is devoted to Győri’s latest pieces, which include drawings, videos and ceramics.
Andrea Éva Győri: Deep Jaw Relaxation
IKOB Museum of Contemporary Art, Eupen, Belgium
Through 24 March
American artist Egan Frantz presents a new series of abstract paintings on linen using extinct industrial pigments that were once painted on aeroplanes and Porsche sports cars. Frantz wants to explore what he calls “the ghosts of our industrial past as opposed to our technological future”, in about a dozen large-scale canvases.
Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen, Germany
17 March–5 May