International Museum Exhibitions

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.

“Sonia Delaunay: The Colors of Abstraction”

Through February 22 2015
Curated by Anne Montfort and Cécile Godefroy

Russian-born Sonia Delaunay-Terk traced her aesthetic breakthrough specifically to 1911, when she created a patchwork quilt for her infant son, “nowadays shown in art galleries as one of the first abstract paintings,” she boasted in 1962. That the sewing of a baby blanket could become the foundation for launching a lifelong career—as an abstract Simultanist painter alongside her husband, Robert Delaunay and, later, an impresario of related fabric and fashion businesses—vividly demonstrates the prototypically twentieth-century possibilities—aesthetic, familial, commercial—she both exploited and helped to introduce. This comprehensive retrospective will include some four hundred examples of her vibrant paintings, murals, graphics, furniture, and textiles, providing a welcome opportunity to view Delaunay-Terk’s superb designs (which paid the family bills) alongside extensive evidence of her equal investment in and talent for the fine art of painting. Travels to Tate Modern, London, Apr. 15–Aug. 9, 2015.

Emmelyn Butterfield-Rosen

Joan Jonas, Volcano Saga, 1989, video, color, sound, 28 minutes.

“Joan Jonas: Light Times Tales”

Through February 1 2015
Curated by Andrea Lissoni

Since the early 1970s, Joan Jonas has been producing complexly atavistic, lyrical installations, often using video light as a fifth element and animating force in her cosmologies. Dogs, cones, stones, chalk lines, and landscapes figure large in the American artist’s lexicon of images and gestures as all flow smoothly through narrative and its fracturing, appearing and reappearing as drawings, sculpture, performative actions, and video. For this solo presentation, Jonas has chosen to darken the vast 43,000-square-foot hangar, removing all dividing walls, to present seven major installations and single-channel works, all viewable both front and back: Each piece, while occupying its own space, will recombine sonically and visually with the others. The story, however, will not end here in Milan. Preceding the upcoming Venice Biennale, where Jonas will be representing the US, this exhibition promises to confirm our sense that Jonas’s light shines brilliantly ahead of its time.

Tony Oursler

Oskar Hansen

Through January 6 2015
Curated by Soledad Gutiérrez, Łukasz Ronduda, and Aleksandra Kedziorek

Polish architect Oskar Hansen was an artist and educator perhaps best known for his “Open Form” theory, a concept—connected to the work of the Team 10 architects—that promoted the social utility of sculpture and architecture and countered long-favored Corbusian ideals. “Open Form” soon evolved into a brave plan for urban decentralization that Hansen, during his tenure at the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw, passed along to generations of students, encouraging them to pursue art practices beyond traditional disciplines. Now MACBA, in collaboration with Warsaw’s Museum of Modern Art, is showcasing the architect’s original designs, photographs, and didactic materials alongside works realized by his students—materials that, though at one time internationally recognized, have rarely circulated outside Poland.

Travels to the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto, Portugal, Jan.–May 2015.

Sylwia Serafinowicz

“The Passion According to Carol Rama”

Through February 22 2015
Curated by Teresa Grandas, Beatriz Preciado, and Anne Dressen

The title for Carol Rama’s upcoming survey borders on the tautological, as, indeed, the Italian artist’s career, and her very person, have become so deeply aligned with the twin poles of eros and pathos that her name alone triggers delicious shudders. In this much-needed consideration of Rama’s oeuvre, nearly 200 works take viewers through the artist’s complex trajectory. While exploring, from the mid-1930s through the mid-2000s, all manner of forms, techniques, and vocabularies, she remained committed to deconstructing conventions of representation and to offering lush, sexual, feminist alternatives. Accompanying the exhibition, a catalogue including reflections by Le Tigre, Jack Halberstam, Dahn Vo, and others, testifies to the wide reach of this pioneer’s work. Travels to the Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris, spring 2015; Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Finland; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin.

Johanna Burton

Katharina Fritsch, Elephant, 1987, polyester, wood, paint, 12' 5 5/8“ × 13' 9 3/8” × 5' 2". From “Sculpture After Sculpture.”

“Sculpture After Sculpture”

Through January 18 2015
Curated by Jack Bankowsky

What are the forms of sculpture after sculpture? This is curator Jack Bankowsky’s question—one worthy of Samuel Beckett—and the focus of his concise and probing exhibition of works by Katharina Fritsch, Charles Ray, and Jeff Koons. Born in the mid-1950s, all three could not help but confront the logic of 1960s objecthood, only to turn away from its deceptively analytic procedures with thoroughly dialectical aplomb. To see what persists of that earlier idiom is to focus on the surfaces—not the shapes—of their art: Fritsch’s matte primaries, Koons’s reflections, Ray’s silvery glow. Even so, it is the shapes chosen by these sculptors—their subjects—that matter most. To see Koons’s Metallic Venus, 2010–12, in conjunction with Fritsch’s blindingly yellow Madonna Figure, or her blue-green Elephant, both 1987, alongside Ray’s fabulous behemoth Tractor, 2005, is the chance of a lifetime—not least for viewers aware that each of these sculptures aims to exemplify an art for our times.

Anne Wagner

“Slavs and Tartars: Mirrors for Princes”

Through November 9 2015
Curated by Beatrix Ruf

For their upcoming exhibition, Slavs and Tatars will cap their yearlong residency at Kunsthalle Zürich by claiming an entire floor of the institution, expanding on their project “Mirrors for Princes.”The theme is borrowed from the eponymous genre of advice literature for rulers, popular in the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Christian and Muslim countries alike, which—more than providing simple guidelines for holding sovereign power—presented intricate systems of rhetorical reflection and refraction. Engagement with this subtle and strategically crafted material is loaded with critical potential. Yet if misread with the kind of naive vitalism and ornamental rhetoric that have become so prevalent among Eurasian-focused practices in recent years, the subject matter may serve only to reinforce the crude, outdated dichotomy between rational West and mystical East. In any event, the exhibition should prove an excellent chance to consider whether what we value is a true engagement with the political or only a veiled evasion thereof.

Anastasiya Osipova