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.
What would Walter Benjamin do with our Storage Wars and Spark Joy moment? “Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector’s passion borders on the chaos of memories,” he famously wrote. The things we choose to hold on to signal intimate and emotional links to history in an ever more virtual (and uprooted) world. At the heart of “The Keeper” is the power and preservation of such objects and images. The curators will transform the New Museum into a multimedia high-low Wunderkammer of the global twentieth-into-twenty-first century, with eccentric ethnographies and ritual archivesamong them, one containing thousands of photos of people and their teddy bearsculled from artists, institutions, and intellectuals. If you missed the 2013 Venice Biennale, here’s the chance to see one of its great highlightsRoger Caillois’s mineral collection. And fear not, bibliophiles: There will be a catalogue to add to your home library.
“Future Funk Fashion” will present three decades of work by an artist who traversed both counterculture and mainstream fashion to emerge as one of the most illuminating illustrators and photographers in the history of style. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City, the prolific Lopez (1943–1987) had a career as fierce and captivating as his bright illustrations, mixed-media works, and Polaroids. He was at the center of fashion campaigns for Versace, Valentino, and Yves Saint Laurent, and his illustrations in Women’s Wear Daily, Vogue, and the New York Times ushered in a stunning, sexually liberated, and youth-centered style, inspiring a generation of designers, including Anna Sui and Marc Jacobs. Icons such as Grace Jones, Jerry Hall (whose big break came through collaborations with Lopez), Tina Chow, Joey Arias, and Josephine Baker will all make an appearance via his images. And while this visual archive brims with a creative spark that documents a moment that has passed, Lopez’s genius rests in how this work is and always will be the future.
We know Diane Arbus for her square-format photographs of “freaks” and “normals,” taken in the 1960s, with which she created an inimitable style of personal confrontation with her subjects, markedly different from that of her “new-document,” street-photographing contemporaries. What we know less about are her beginnings, after she worked as a stylist for her fashion-photographer husband Allan Arbus, who gave her a camera when she was just eighteen. More than one hundred of the photographs she took with a 35-mm camera between 1956when she numbered a roll of such film “#1”and 1962, which marked the beginning of a decade of iconic Rolleiflex work, will be on view at the new Met Breuer this summer. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue of photographs largely drawn from the Metropolitan’s massive archive of Arbus’s prints, with essays by the curator and researcher Karan Rinaldo.
Geoffrey Farmer succinctly noted, some months back, “My work appears to me as wreckage”articulating the formal-pileup effect of his exploded-collage installations, the air of obsolescence emanating from the vintage print media he uses so pointedly, and even the way his hundreds of Frankensteined cutouts swarm like the undead and stand at attention. He captures that intoxicating Benjaminian sensation that we experience when faced, like the angel of history, with the quantities of accretion and devastation that constitute the stuff of the archive and “progress.” Monumental, room-size stagings of the miniature, including Boneyard, 2013, and The Surgeon and the Photographer, 2009–13, will be featured in this survey of Farmer’s recent paper sculptures, a mostly medium-specific presentation with the notable exception of a computer-generated algorithmic slide show. An artist-driven publication, with a text by the curator, will accompany the exhibition.
Writing in 1896 about the relationship between photography and perception, Henri Bergson urged, “Call up the Leibnizian monads: Each is the mirror of the universe.” No artist has taken up this directive like Liz Deschenes. Rejecting the camera as a technology for imagemaking, the artist refuses photography’s traditional vocation as a machine of the visible. And yet the loss of optical reference in her abstract works means anything but a loss of connection to the world. Deschenes’s installations sensitize the spectator to the complex and often elliptical vectors of mediation that exceed the axis of mere representation, establishing monadic resonances between inside and outside that are by turns phenomenological, architectural, sociohistorical, and institutional. In this case, the institution will be the ICA Boston, whose midcareer retrospective for Deschenes includes more than twenty works and covers two decades of her remarkable production.
Although the term Chicago Imagist has become a familiar catchall for several generations of Windy City figurative artists, the movement’s intricate history deserves closer study. What better place to start than with the first generation, whom art historian Franz Schulze memorably described as the Monster Rosterartists closer to expressionism and (as this show’s subtitle would have it) existentialism than were the later Hairy Who? The beastly bevy includes names that remain famous (Leon Golub, Nancy Spero, H. C. Westermann) and cult favorites who ought to be better known (June Leaf, Irving Petlin), as well as others who have fallen into obscurity (among them Cosmo Campoli and George Cohen). The curators and their collaborators offer a welcome chance to revisit the creative ferment of Chicago in the 1950s and ’60s through a selection of more than sixty works by fifteen artists.