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Must-see shows in April 2017

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Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

3 April-16 July

In a remarkable cultural exchange, 31 institutions in China are lending 160 objects to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for this show exploring the Qin and Han dynasties. The exhibition, which covers around 440 years of history, examines the development of a cohesive Chinese Han ethnic identity in light of recent scholarship and archaeological digs conducted in the past 50 years. The show opens with a group of the famous terracotta warriors that guarded the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, and also includes later works such as a monumental stone carving of a lion, which carries the influence of Persian and Hellenistic art, pointing to early exchanges between East and West.

Damien Hirst

Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, Venice

9 April-November

Damien Hirst’s first major show in Italy in more than a decade, and the first to be held in both of the Pinault Collection’s Venetian venues, “has been ten years in the making”, according to a press statement. The show seems to be shrouded in secrecy, with little more than the opening date and venues announced so far. Speaking to the Guardian newspaper last year, Hirst did give some clues as to what he might be showing. The artist said that he was going to be retrieving works he had buried at sea off the coast of Mexico two decades ago, which he “wanted all covered in coral”; although it was unclear whether this was said tongue-in-cheek. The sheer scale of the double show is sure to make it a big talking point in the run-up to the Venice Biennale.

The Luther Effect: Protestantism, 500 Years in the World

Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin

12 April-5 November

The Protestant Reformation began, in the conventional reckoning, on 31 October 1517 when Martin Luther supposedly nailed his 95 Theses, a list of the abuses of the Catholic Church, to the door of the electoral church of Wittenberg in Saxony. This year marks the 500th anniversary of the event that changed the religious and political face not only of Europe, but of the world. Luther’s criticism of the church spawned a multitude of Protestant denominations and was the seed that flowered in modern individualism, human rights and nationalism. This exhibition, organised by the Deutsches Historisches Museum (but shown in the Martin-Gropius-Bau) illustrates Reformation history and its international reach from the beginning to the present.

Best of the rest opening in April Pity and Terror in Picasso: the Path to Guernica

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid

4 April-4 September

Queer British Art 1861-1967

Tate Britain, London

5 April-1 October

Rosa Barba

Secession, Vienna

6 April-18 June

Matisse in the Studio

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

9 April-9 July

Irving Penn: Centennial

Metropolitan Museum, New York

24 April-30 July

Juergen Teller: Enjoy Your Life!

Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin

20 April-3 July

In the Light of Naples: the Art of Francesco de Mura

Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Poughkeepsie

21 April-2 July

Georgia O’Keeffe

Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

22 April-30 July

Bacon, Freud and the School of London

Museo Picasso Malaga, Malaga

25 April-17 September

Walker Evans

Centre Pompidou, Paris

26 April-14 August

Nari Ward: Sun Splashed

Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston

26 April-4 September

Photographs Become Pictures: the Becher Class

Städel Museum, Frankfurt

27 April-13 August

Teresinha Soares

Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand, São Paulo

27 April-6 August

Louise Lawler: Why Pictures Now

Museum of Modern Art, New York

30 April-30 July