Art in 2021—treats include Dürer blockbuster, new Munch museum and Caravaggio anniversary

Influential works by Duchamp, Picasso and Mondrian also celebrate centenary this year

A visitor celebrates the reopening of the Metropolitan Museum in New York in August Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Things can surely only get better, as the art world emerges from its most disastrous year since the Second World War. After months of deprivation, what could be more uplifting than to step inside the grand entrance hall of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art or to visit one of the major shows that are planned for 2021. One treat will be a pair of shows on Dürer’s travels, scheduled to open at London’s National Gallery on 6 March and Aachen’s Suermondt-Ludwig Museum on 18 July.

New museum buildings will be unveiled, in some cases following construction delays because of Covid-19. In Oslo the Munch museum is moving into a dramatic waterfront building, now due to be opened in the summer. Berlin’s Humboldt Forum, an enormous project, is now only expected to open in phases. A question mark still hovers above the much-delayed Grand Egyptian Museum (embarked on in 1992), which has been promised for June this year.

Artistic anniversaries should provide something to celebrate. The coming year will be 300 years since the death of Watteau, 450 years since the birth of Caravaggio, 100 years since the death of Fernand Khnopff and 100 years since the birth of Joseph Beuys. It is also the centenary of some important individual works: Duchamp’s readymade Why Not Sneeze Rose Sélavy? (in the collection of Tate, London), Mondrian’s Composition with Red, Blue, Black, Yellow and Gray (Museum of Modern Art MoMA, New York) and Picasso’s Three Musicians (versions at MoMA and Philadelphia Museum of Art).

World expos usually also have an artistic angle. Expo 2020, delayed by Covid-19, is now due to open in Dubai in October. And prospects look good for the next Venice Biennale going ahead in 2022. By then we trust that the art-starved days of the Covid-19 era will be history, although no doubt the pandemic will be the subject of countless pieces of contemporary art.

*All events mentioned are subject to Covid-19 restrictions—please check times and dates accordingly.