The following guide to museum shows currently on view is compiled from Artforum’s three-times-yearly exhibition preview. Subscribe now to begin a year of Artforum—the world’s leading magazine of contemporary art. You’ll get all three big preview issues, featuring Artforum’s comprehensive advance roundups of the shows to see each season around the globe.
A year after unlocking the same achievement in the US, Montreal native Jon Rafman will have his first solo museum show in Canada, at the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal. This homecoming will present Rafman’s new and recent riffs on Second Life, Internet subcultures, and 3-D printing. Yet Rafman refuses to identify as a new-media artist; correspondingly, the works on view destabilize the binaries on which most definitions of new media depend. For example, his use of customized viewing stations underscores the “virtual” subject’s persistent embeddedness in physical space. A catalogue with essays by MAC curator Mark Lanctôt and critic Kevin McGarry will accompany the show.
Photography is indelibly woven into the not-yet-ended history of the nuclear age. The camera was present at the very beginning of this era, documenting the arc from experimentation, via eerie images of the first atomic fireball, to decimation, characterized by photos of atomic-bomb victims at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Remarkably, “Camera Atomica”an exhibition of roughly 150 photographs from 1945 to the presentsustains the intensity of these arresting early images, training its focus on radiation and bombs throughout the Cold War. Bringing together everything from artist’s photographs (by Diane Arbus, Barbara Kruger, and others), anti-nuke protest images, and depictions of the decaying contemporary ruins of Pripyat, Ukraine (near Chernobyl), this remarkable show and catalogue promise to make clear that the age of the nucleus is also and always an age of the image.
Joseph Cornell was famously bound to his tiny home in Queens, a caregiver for his family. As it turns out, many of his assembled boxes haven’t done much traveling either, since they’ve remained for the most part in American collections. But this summer, Cornell’s work will venture abroad to the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, where the curators will showcase the myriad ways in which Cornell’s intimate assemblages explored the world by way of imagery. Eighty-odd works will be shownincluding box constructions, collages, and films; viewers will be able to wander and wend through the many fragments of Cornell’s itinerant imagination: from found souvenir photography and pictorial specimens of exotic fauna to celestial maps that suggest both a dream destination and a guide for navigating elsewhere. Travels to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Oct. 20, 2015–Jan. 10, 2016.
What is it we talk about when we talk about Agnes Martin? I wondered this recently at the Hirshhorn Museum, as I watched several couples blissfully gravitate to the same stately painting, exclaiming: “An Agnes Martin!” A towering figure, Martin honed a practice that is instantly recognizable and widely reveredthough neither condition is necessarily good for deep consideration. This expansive survey promises a compelling overview of fifty years of production (1954–2004) and occasions a thorough catalogue addressing the full range of Martin’s work and influential writings. The show will include some obscure surprisesfrom early experiments in sculpture to late geometrics, but, more important, it may refocus its viewers on nuances in the familiar. Martin must be seen and reseen in person, otherwise she’s loved into neglect. Travels to the K20 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Nov. 7, 2015–Feb. 2016; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Apr. 24–Sept. 11, 2016; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, dates TBA.
How to proceed after the drip was the question that occupied Jackson Pollock when he completed the core group of his iconic abstractions at the end of 1950. One of his first answers was to render figurative imagery via a novel technique that transformed his signature means into a more delicate pour. While these “black pourings” were initially well received, they fell into near obscurity after Pollock died in 1956, when critical consensus hardened around the priority of his dripped abstractions. “Blind Spots” will bring together more than sixty works, mostly from 1951 to 1953, to shed light on this still relatively unexplored aspect of Pollock’s work. Accompanied by a catalogue featuring contributions by Jo Applin, Michael Fried, and the curators, the show will offer an unprecedented opportunity to survey Pollock’s first attempts to take full stock of what he had done with, and to, painting at the height of his career. Travels to the Dallas Museum of Art, Nov. 15, 2015–Mar. 20, 2016.
“What you see is what you see,” Frank Stella famously pronounced, but nothing could be further from the truth for Trevor Paglen, for whom what is seen is just the beginning. The New York-based artist’s lush, technologically enhanced imagery reveals what is hiddensecret satellites suddenly appear like bright stars, classified military bases emerge as shining Babylons, drones manifest as tiny black blots in the skyand yet such visualizations do not stop at some tautological objectivity. Rather, they mark a vast world of covert information beyond our reach. This exhibition presents twenty-five projects, including Autonomy Cube, 2014, which provides a zone of private, anonymized Internet access; documentation of Paglen’s investigations; and a contest for the best photographs of “landscapes of surveillance” in Germany, from American NSA bases to embassies, inviting the public to join Paglen’s never-ending hunt.