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Culture

What's On at Europe's Museums

The Tower of Babel travels to Graz; an architectural giant towers over Madrid and impressionism and photography come together in Basel in this week's guide to European museums.

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Sculptor Stephan Balkenhol: "If my figures were meant to tell stories, I would have written a novel."

The Tower of Babel

Schloss Eggenberg, Graz, Austria

In the exhibition "The Tower of Babel," Peter Breughel's painting of the same name hangs next to fragments of Assyrian cuneiform and recordings of Polynesian dialects. The show at the renaissance Eggenberg Castle in Graz -- the 2003 Cultural Capital of Europe -- deals with the origins and diversity of language. Historians, archaeologists, ethnologists, linguists and biologists worked together to illuminate historical and artistic aspects of language, examining them in three sections focusing on artistic representation, oral and written language. The exhibit, which shows around 600 pieces from all over the world, was conceived and developed by the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

Until October 5, daily 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., Thursdays until 9:00 p.m.

Balkenhol's Expressionless Sculptures

Le Rectangle, Lyon, France

With the support of the Goethe Institute, the Lyon art venue Le Rectangle is showing 85 works from the contemporary German artist Stephan Balkenhol. Balkenhol, born in 1957, is one of the best known artists of the figurative sculpture movement. He works mainly in wood, often sculpting his subjects from a single piece of wood and painting them. He rarely uses models, and his sculptures' faces and bodies are devoid of expression. "I don't want any garrulous, expressive figures," Balkenhol says. Many of the sculptures of animals and life-sized human figures are being shown for the first time.

Through June 8, daily (except Mondays), 12:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Siza: A Poet of Architecture

Canal Foundation, Madrid, Spain

The Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza, 69, is one of the great humanists in his field, some even call him a "poet of architecture." "Visions" at the Canal Foundation in Madrid offers insight into his work. Sketches, photographs and models of 10 of his most important buildings are on show, including the famous water tower at Aveiro University and Portugal's pavilion at the 1998 Lisbon Expo. The exhibition also shows two little known facets of the purist: The drawings he makes and the furniture he designs each time he travels.

Until June 1, Monday - Saturday 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., Sunday 11:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Visual Forms of Government Power

Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Germany

The exhibition "re: Leviathan" takes as its point of departure Thomas Hobbes' 17th century book on political utopia and a more recent paradigm, "Empire" (Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, 2000), about the political order of globalization. The pieces shown are meant to counter the concept of centralized power structures and empire with the idea of loosely organized crowds and multitudes. The pieces on exhibition range from symbols of power like flags or eagle motifs to computer simulations of social conflicts to works by Joseph Beuys, Andreas Gursky and Buckminster Fuller.

Through May 10, Tuesday - Saturday 12:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m., Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Sites of Impressionism

Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland

At the same time as the impressionist painters were documenting life in a new way, the first professional shutterbugs were doing the same thing with cameras. In "Sites of Impressionism" the Basel Kunstmuseum juxtaposes the two most popular media from 1850 to 1900, exhibiting 50 paintings from Dégas, Monet, Renoir and other impressionists with 50 photographs from contemporaneous photographers like Atget, Baldus and Le Gray. The subject matter is the same: Paris and its suburbs, the coasts of the Mediterranean and Normandy, the industrial age and the first leisure society. The exhibition offers insights into aesthetic approaches to reality in the late 19th century.

Until July 13, daily (except Monday), 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

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