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Global roundup: This season's must-see exhibitions

By Jill Reilly for CNN
  • Lego takes center stage at "Art of the Brick" in Melbourne, Australia
  • Montreal Museum of Fine Arts hosts the world's first retrospective of fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier
  • The Saatchi Gallery in London's major exhibition showcases new sculpture by established and emerging names

What do sparkling high couture gowns, neon signs and yellow men made from plastic bricks have in common? They all form part of this season's offerings from the art world.

CNN picks twelve exhibitions we'd love to see over the next few months.

"The Shape of Things to Come: New Sculpture"
Saatchi Gallery, London, England

What's the buzz: With 20 leading international artists displaying their work, this exhibition may capture the imagination of even the most reluctant gallery visitor. Cars buckled in half, stuffed horsehide and massive human figures are just a few of the displays in the Saatchi collection. The exhibition runs daily, until October 16, 2011 and admission is free.

What they say: "This is the first time that the gallery space has been devoted entirely to three-dimensional works."

"True Artist"
Kunsthalle-Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany

What's the buzz: To celebrate Bruce Nauman's 70th birthday, the Kunsthalle-Mannheim is showcasing ten of his key works from 1967 to 2001. The display is a combination of sculptures, installations, videos, performances, voice and neons. Admission is free and the exhibition runs until August 21, 2011.

What they say: "Kunsthalle is a cross section through all the facets of the exceptional artist: art that makes us suddenly clear who we are and how (to understand) our world."

"Blitz and Blockade: Henry Moore at the Hermitage"
The State Hermitage, St Petersburg, Russia

What's the buzz: This timely display coincides with the 70th anniversary of the end of the Blitz (sustained bombing attacks on Britain in 1940-41 during World War II) and the start of the Siege of Leningrad.

During the Blitz, Henry Moore drew people sheltering from the German bombing in the London Underground and this forms part of the exhibition, alongside war-time drawings from Soviet architect Alexander Nikolsky. It runs until August 28, 2011.

What they say: "The use of the Hermitage basements as shelters during the Siege adds an unusual poignancy to the display."

This is the first time that the gallery space has been devoted entirely to three-dimensional works.
--Saatchi Gallery, London

"The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier"
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada

What's the buzz: Art meets high fashion in Jean Paul Gaultier's first ever retrospective, a chance to see his work over the ages, including 120 pieces from his collections.

Some exhibits are linked to icons such as Madonna and Lady Gaga, as well as cinema, dance, theater, and fashion shows. Admission is free and it opens June 17, running until October 2, 2011. If you miss it in Quebec, it travels to the Dallas Museum of Art in November.

What they say: "It is the first time his work will be exhibited. He always refused to have retrospectives before."

South America
"Art of the 90s"
Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

What's the buzz: To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the Malba (as it is known in Argentina) has decided to exhibit late-20th-century highlights of its collection in a presentation called "Art of the 90s."

Since opening, one of the Malba's projects has been to build a collection of Argentine and Latin American art. Figures featured include famous national artists as well as others "whose participation in the underground scene of the late 1980s gave rise to a new era in the history of Argentine contemporary art." The exhibition runs to August 29, 2011.

What they say: This exhibition shows "the dynamics of the 1990s, its various adaptations and poetic landscapes."

"6 Billion Others"
São Paulo Museum of Art, São Paulo, Brazil

What's the buzz: This is the first Latin-American stop of a touring video exhibition, the brainchild of French journalist Yann Arthus-Bertrand, who sent a team of reporters around the world asking 40 questions to research humanity. Visitors can even create their own "art" as they are given the chance to record answers to the same questions. The exhibition will run until July 10, 2011.

What they say: "From a Brazilian fisherman to a Chinese shopkeeper, from a German performer to an Afghan farmer, all answered the same questions about their fears, dreams, ordeals, hopes."

"Chou Chu Wang: I am a Naughty Boy"
Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

What's the buzz: Included in the exhibition is "Naughty," the series that made Chou famous, in which he presents children with angelic features and mischievous natures. The exhibition is an extension of this theme, using paintings, animation and installation art. It begins on June 25 and runs until August 7, 2011. Admission is free.

What they say: The exhibition is designed to fully explore "the inner workings of youth."

"Invasion: 68 Prague"
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Japan

What's the buzz: This is a chance to see the famous images taken by Magnum photographer Josef Koudelka, during the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia's capital city.

This installation features large-scale, ink-jet prints of images which were smuggled out of the country and distributed by Magnum Photos in New York -- but credited to an unknown Czech photographer, Koudelka, whose identity was revealed years later. The New York Times say that the exhibition is a "moving testament to Czechoslovak resistance to occupation." The exhibition runs until July 18, 2011.

What they say: "The exhibition is unprecedented for Koudelka."

"Art of The Brick"
Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia

What's the buzz: The childhood captivation of Lego is still alive and well in Melbourne. Created by New York artist Nathan Sawaya, when the show toured the U.S, a gallery director said "We had to open the doors five hours early to accommodate the hundreds of guests waiting."

For the die-hard Lego enthusiast there is even the chance to book a 45-minute session with one of 13 certified Lego professionals. Tickets can be booked until July 31 2011.

What they say: "It is the first exhibition ever to focus exclusively on Lego bricks as an art medium."


This exhibition proposes to explore both the limitations of images and their power to act as a means of preservation and representation.
--Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg

"Listening to Distant Thunder: The art of Peter Clarke"
Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

What's the buzz: Peter Clarke's life, work and contribution to art in South Africa is being honored in this exhibition.

His work has recorded several aspects of South African life under apartheid yet has surprised critics by its lack of bitterness. Admission is free and the exhibition ends on July 2, 2011.

What they say: Peter Clarke's work is "a scrutiny and celebration of life in all its aspects, and an expression of his ongoing delight in ordinary, everyday experiences."

Middle East
"Image in the Aftermath"
Beirut Arts Center, Beirut, Lebanon

What's the buzz: Opening at the Beirut Arts Center, this exhibition brings together a host of different artists who have portrayed the aftermath of devastating events including Hiroshima and the Iraq war. The exhibition is showing until July 16, 2011.

What they say: "This exhibition proposes to explore both the limitations of images and their power to act as a means of preservation and representation."

'Relate to the Matter As I Drop the Bomb'
Traffic, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

What's the buzz: This is the solo exhibition of Dubai-based artist UBIK, who fuses pop culture with dark humor, hoping to provoke an audience reaction. The gallery is very topical, showcasing images of U.S President Obama, Osama bin Laden and many other recognizable faces. It is running until June 15, 2011.

What they say: UBIK explores the "new wave social media 9-5 weekday anarchists."