1938 in art
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The year 1938 in art involved some significant events and new works.
- January 2 – SS Alba sinks off St Ives, Cornwall; the wreck is painted by local ex-fisherman naïve artist Alfred Wallis in several versions, one of which will subsequently be displayed in Tate St Ives, metres from the wreck.
- January 16 – International Exposition of Surrealism opens at the Galerie des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
- January 24 – Peggy Guggenheim opens her Guggenheim Jeune gallery at 30 Cork Street in London with a display of work by Jean Cocteau, followed in February by the first showing of Wassily Kandinsky's work in Britain.
- July 8 – Exhibition of twentieth century German art opens in London at the New Burlington Galleries, challenging the Nazi view of "degenerate art" in its home country.
- July 10 – Second Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung ("Great German Art Exhibition") opened by Adolf Hitler in the Haus der deutschen Kunst ("House of German Art") in Munich; Hitler attacks the contemporary London exhibition.
- July 13 – Kröller-Müller Museum, designed by Henry van de Velde, opens in Otterlo, Netherlands.
- December 5–17 – Albert Namatjira exhibition in Melbourne includes over 2,000 works, the first solo display of indigenous Australian art.
- American art collector Louis J. Caldor 'discovers' the naïve paintings of Grandma Moses.
- Vilmos Aba-Novák – Fair in Transylvania
- Rita Angus – Head of a Maori Boy
- Thomas Hart Benton – Haystack
- Constantin Brâncuși – The Endless Column (sculpture)
- Javier Bueno – The Fighter of Madrid
- Marc Chagall – White Crucifixion
- William Coldstream – Bolton
- Salvador Dalí
- Charles Despiau – Assia (sculpture, Museum of Modern Art, New York)
- Arthur Dove – Swing Music
- M. C. Escher – Sky and Water II (lithograph)
- Leonor Fini – Composition with Figures on a Terrace
- Edward Hopper – Compartment C, Car 293
- Frida Kahlo
- Ernst Ludwig Kirchner – Violet House in Front of a Snowy Mountain
- L. S. Lowry – Family Group
- René Magritte – Time Transfixed
- Aristide Maillol – Air
- Ronald Moody – Tacet (carved wood head)
- Paul Nash
- Landscape from a Dream
- Nocturnal Landscape
- John Petts – Fishwife of Ynys Mon
- Pablo Picasso – Maya with Doll
- Walter Sickert – Sir Thomas Beecham Conducting
- Ignacio Zuloaga – The Alcázar in Flames (Heroic Landscape of Toledo)
- January 2
- January 7 – Roland Topor, French illustrator, painter, writer and filmmaker (d. 1997)
- February 13 – Joan Brown, American figurative painter (d. 1990)
- March 6 – Pauline Boty, English pop art painter (d. 1966)
- March 15 – Dick Higgins, English composer, poet, printer and early Fluxus artist (d. 1998)
- April 20 – Andrew Vicari, Welsh-born portrait painter (d. 2016)
- May 12 – Paul Huxley, English painter and academic
- May 18 – Janet Fish, American Realist painter
- July 24 – Eugene J. Martin, American visual artist (d. 2005)
- July 28 – Robert Hughes, Australian-born art critic (d. 2012)
- August 19 – Robert Graham, Mexican-American sculptor (d. 2008)
- August 29 – Hermann Nitsch, Austrian performance artist
- September 25 – Bill Owens, American photographer
- September 27 – Günter Brus, Austrian performance artist
- October 15 – Brice Marden, American painter
- October 20 – Iain Macmillan, Scottish photographer (d. 2006)
- November 10 – Claude Serre, French cartoonist (d. 1998)
- date unknown
- January 1 – Alice Bailly, Swiss painter and multimedia artist (b. 1872)
- January 19 – Rosa Mayreder, Austrian freethinker, author, painter, musician and feminist (b. 1858)
- February 3 – Niels Skovgaard, Danish sculptor and painter (b. 1858)
- April 7 – Suzanne Valadon, French artists' model and painter, mother of Utrillo (b. 1865)
- April 24 – John Wycliffe Lowes Forster, Canadian historical portrait painter (b. 1850)
- May 22 – William Glackens, American realist painter (b. 1870)
- June 15 – Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, German Expressionist painter (b. 1880; suicide)
- October 24 – Ernst Barlach, German Expressionist sculptor (b. 1870)