U.S. 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.

“Sturtevant: Double Trouble”

MOMA - THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
NEW YORK
Through February 22
Curated by Peter Eleey with Ingrid Langston

This first major US retrospective of Sturtevant’s work, which will include some fifty pieces made between 1961 and 2014, is necessary. It is necessary both for the artist, who adopted style as her medium, and for MoMA, which, in seeing its canon reflected in her oeuvre, might come to understand itself better. Half a century ago, Sturtevant realized that if you take a work of art—a painting by Jasper Johns or a silk-screened print by Andy Warhol, say—and repeat it, something becomes visible. She called that thing the “understructure” of art. Nobody—with the possible exception of critic Bruce Hainley, who is featured in the catalogue—has ever been able to fully grasp what she was after. Back in the 1960s, everyone in New York dismissed her as a pain in the neck. Now that she is no longer among us, things are different, and everybody seems ready to embrace her art. Justice at last! Travels to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Mar.–July 2015.

Daniel Birnbaum

Judith Scott, Untitled, 2004, fiber and found objects, 28 × 15 × 27".

“Judith Scott: Bound and Unbound”

BROOKLYN MUSEUM
NEW YORK
Through March 29
Curated by Catherine J. Morris and Matthew Higgs

What’s called “outsider art” has informed modern art for over a century; Judith Scott’s story shows that its example remains powerful. Born with Down syndrome and then left deaf by a childhood illness, Scott spent most of her first forty years in institutions until she was rescued from them by her twin sister, Joyce, in 1986. Within a couple of years, Scott began to make art—works often taking the form of irregular multicolored bundles and poles, intricately constructed of yarn and found mixed materials and with surfaces recalling the wrapping techniques of artists such as Harmony Hammond and Salvatore Scarpitta. Scott’s work is both nourishing and strange, and this exhibition, of some sixty pieces made between 1987 and the artist’s death in 2005, is her first American survey show—our first chance to see her art in depth.

David Frankel

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Village and Elsewhere: Thai Villagers and Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith and Holofernes, 2011, ink-jet print, 28 3/4 × 38 3/4".

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook

SCULPTURECENTER
NEW YORK
Through March 30
Curated by Ruba Katrib

Although long popular with curators on the international biennial circuit, Thai artist Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s work has only rarely been shown on this side of the globe. Expect her understated but compelling videos to be the showstoppers of her first North American retrospective. In preparation for this overview, SculptureCenter is restoring fifteen of her videos from 2001–13, which will be projected onto suspended glass panels. By filming unlikely juxtapositions of art and daily life—for example, the unself-conscious commentary of Thai farmers looking at Jean-François Millet’s The Gleaners—Rasdjarmrearnsook frequently returns to the same basic question: How do we, as humans, make sense of the world around us? Also featuring photographs and sculptures, the exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue with essays by the curator and scholar Arnika Fuhrmann.

Jennifer King

Gordon Parks, Shoes, Fort Scott, Kansas, 1950, gelatin silver print, 14 × 11". © The Gordon Parks Foundation.

“Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott”

MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON
BOSTON
Through September 13
Curated by Karen Haas

Even before photojournalist, director, and author Gordon Parks was “Gordon Parks,” his biographical arc—youthful escape from the black quotidian followed by loving, professional return—seemed 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.

Gary Dauphin

Anne Collier

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART | CHICAGO
CHICAGO
Through March 8
Curated by Michael Darling

Anne Collier’s photographs court frankly affective content: album covers showing a fragile Marilyn Monroe or a narcissistic Jean Marais in Cocteau’s Orphée; self-help cassettes containing advice about coping with anger, guilt, and despair; twin snapshots of azure ocean where her parents’ ashes were scattered. But Collier’s treatment of such artifacts is dead calm and distanced—a matter of flat planes, empty grounds, images rephotographed and repurposed to analytic ends. Her “Woman with a Camera” series, 2006–, depicts magazine photographs of celebrities (Faye Dunaway, Jacqueline Bisset) wielding chunky, phallic camera equipment. Much of Collier’s recent work adverts to predigital visual culture. For her first major solo exhibition, the artist will present some forty works from 2002 onward; the accompanying catalogue will include essays by Darling, Whitney curator Chrissie Iles, and novelist Kate Zambreno. Travels to the Aspen Art Museum, CO, Apr. 2–July 15, 2015; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Sept. 26, 2015–Jan. 10, 2016.

Brian Dillon

Jos De Gruyter and Harald Thys

CCA WATTIS INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS
SAN FRANCISCO
Through April 18
Curated by Anthony Huberman

In Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys’s unnerving, darkly comic videos, characters sit mutely, assault one another, or comment glumly on unsatisfactory vacation experiences. These low-watt individuals could have produced the artists’ intentionally pedestrian drawings, depictions of sex scenes, urban views, vehicles, dinosaurs, etc., which feel similarly blank. The Belgian pair’s first US exhibition presents a new video, a work composed for organ (to be performed in a local cathedral), and steel sculptures elaborating on their earlier White Elements, 2012–, masklike white physio-gnomies (and functioning fountains) that could be public sculpture in Thys and de Gruyter’s world. Yet this art suggests that its emotional evacuations might be elective, a means of escaping a confining state apparatus via comfortable numbness. Therein—sidestepping liberal pieties, approving self-hobbling—lies its real challenge. Travels to MoMA PS1, New York, May 3–Aug. 30.

Martin Herbert