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.
In 1960, Yoko Ono was part of a groundbreaking downtown scene in which artists of all stripes had begun writing short text-based scores using post-Cagean strategies of the “experimental” or “indeterminate” to open the work of art to unforeseen possibilities. While most used this approach to transcend painting, Ono’s twist at her debut at AG GalleryGeorge Maciunas’s short-lived pre-Fluxus spacewas to deploy “paintings” shot through with poetry, performance, and ambient, incidental media. Her now-infamous Painting to Be Stepped On, 1960, will be among the 125 film-, audio-, object-, and paper-based works brought together at MoMA, as will video documentation of her landmark Cut-Piece, 1965, an extraordinary engendering of the violence of spectatorship without boundaries. This overview, which contextualizes Ono’s “instruction pieces,” should allow for a further questioning of the limits and scope of 1960s innovation, including Fluxus’s antagonistic, if preemptive, relation to Conceptual art.
Kennedy-era FCC chairman Newton Minow wasn’t referencing T. S. Eliot when he called commercial television a “vast wasteland”or was he? The mixed-media exhibition (and accompanying catalogue) “Revolution of the Eye” argues that, particularly in its formative years, network TV was a modernist form. The show draws on some 260 art objects, artifacts, and clips from the late 1940s through the mid-’70s; artists range from ex-Dadaists (Duchamp, Man Ray) and Pop stars (Lichtenstein, Warhol) to the great vulgar modernist Ernie Kovacs, with guest appearances by Dalí and de Kooning. Sampled TV includes Op-inflected Kodak commercials, the pop surrealism of The Twilight Zone, the pop Pop Batman, and Winky Dink and You, the original interactive TV show that inspired countless children to draw on their TVs and George Landow to make underground movies. Travels to the Nova Southeastern University Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Oct. 17, 2015–Sept. 28, 2016, and other venues.
This spring, MoMA will host the first large-scale exhibition to grant international visibility to the photographs of Grete Stern and Horacio Coppola. The transatlantic journey of these creative partners (and, at one point, spouses) demonstrates that before the paralysis of Europe during World War II, avant-gardes emerged simultaneously in various metropolises of the world, eradicating the notion of periphery. Stern and Coppola left a Bauhaus closed by the Nazis to land eventually in Buenos Aires, where they hosted Argentina’s “first” exhibition of modernist photography and ran a commercial studio. Stern, in particular, conceived of feminist images that echoed the era’s widespread disenchantment with patriarchal societies. On view will be 250 original photographs and photomontages, 40 typographic works, 26 photobooks and periodicals, and four 16-mm films (many of which have never been exhibited), while the catalogue provides new translations of the artists’ writings, as well as essays from the curators and scholar Jodi Roberts.
As South Africans commemorated twenty years of postapartheid democracy last year, Johannesburg-based photographer Zanele Muholi was documenting the violence that persists against the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities. The series “Faces and Phases,” 2006–14, for example, like much of the work of this self-described “visual activist,” measures the distance between the liberties enshrined in South Africa’s lauded constitution and the sexual violence and hate crimes that continue to be committed against local women, especially black lesbians. Following on the heels of Muholi’s recent showings at the 2013 Venice Biennale and Documenta 13 in 2012, this exhibition draws together nearly ninety of her photographs, videos, and installations since 2007 under the theme of isibinelo, a Zulu word suggesting evidence to behold or an example to witness.
Even before photojournalist, director, and author Gordon Parks was “Gordon Parks,” his biographical arcyouthful escape from the black quotidian followed by loving, professional returnseemed as much his subject as whatever might be before his lens. Parks was born in segregated Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1912; in 1950, he went home as Life magazine’s first black photographer to capture the adult circumstances of his elementary school classmates. His document of the pre–Brown v. Board moment wasn’t published (Life covered General MacArthur’s 1951 canning by Truman instead), but curator Karen Haas has recovered it in the form of forty-one select prints and a more expansive book introduced by renowned author Isabel Wilkerson. Most striking may be the reminder of how painfully unsettled Parks’s physical and psychic geographies remain for us. Fort Scott sits just southeast of Topeka, site of the “board” in Brown v. and only “4 h 40 minutes without traffic,” Google Maps assures us, from Ferguson, Missouri.
Gabriel Sierra’s first solo show in a US institution finds the Colombian artist reflecting on the life of natural and built spaces. Does the experience of walking on grass, earth, or straw change when these materials are transposed into the gallery environment? Does the exhibition spacenot only its defined architecture but also the lighting and the positioning of objectsinform our perception of these materials? Do we experience differently the surfaces of synthetic substances, whose skins artificially bind their disparate innards, and those of their natural counterparts, where inside and outside are inextricably interwoven? A series of small rooms, produced for the occasion, reconsiders natural and man-made construction in art and design. The show and attendant catalogue strike up a dialogue between materials and explore the relationship between rooms we move through and those we move within.