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.
Doing humble things to humble objects is at the heart of Hong Kong–born, Taiwan-based Lee Kit’s practice. Lee’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States surveys a decade of the artist’s understated investigations of the expanding contiguity between art and everyday life. Spanning a diverse range of media, from modest configurations of handpainted cardboard supports to a thirteen-channel video installation of stacked monitors depicting common household products (I can’t help falling in love, 2012), the show demonstrates Lee’s foregrounding of the nondescript as central to what makes lived experience so psychologically specific. Especially compelling is the artist’s engagement with scale, both in terms of the relationships created through the juxtaposition of differently sized objects and the frameworks of spatial organization to which he (and we) are persistently, and often irrevocably, subject.
This twenty-three-artist, pointedly internationalist exhibition pivots around the notion of esprit décor, an idea posited by the curator’s designated muse, Marcel Broodthaers. The term encapsulated a politically critical engagement with interior spaceyet today’s “wall,” as the show’s room-size installations and smaller sculptures, paintings, photographs, and video works affirm, is a projective surface for anything from barbed commentary on globalization’s tilted playing field to melancholic cultural nostalgia. Alongside work by the razor-witted Belgian, expect to encounter Lucy McKenzie’s disjointed sculptural evocations of Adolf Loos’s architecture (Loos House, 2013), Nick Mauss’s painted-mirror room dividers inspired by the cryptic visions of modernist painter Florine Stettheimer (F. S. Interval II, 2014), Paul Sietsema’s filmic epic employing modeled domestic spaces connoting American and European imperialism (Empire, 2002), and Walid Raad’s incised, freestanding stretches of museum wall space, which consider the flattening effects of the Middle East’s nascent institutions on the art they house (Letters to the Reader, 2014). These walls, once questioned, talk.
This ambitious exhibition couldn’t be timelier, given that Hispanics of predominantly Mexican origin are now the second-largest ethnic group in the United States, and considering the dismaying signs of cultural intolerance highlighted in the current presidential race. “Paint the Revolution” makes a case for Mexico’s enduring influence in the US and its significant contributions to modernism. Part of the exhibition deals with the encounters between Hispanic and Anglo-American cultures. One section explores early attempts at what is known today as decolonization. Another focuses on the artistic community’s international connections. These approachespresent in paintings, murals, prints, photographs, broadsheets, and bookspoint to historical frictions between regionalisms and cosmopolitanisms and to their differing visual expressions, which may also elucidate the aesthetic divides expressed in contemporary art and the inherent demand that it be both locally significant and internationally meaningful. Travels to the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, 2017.
Hélio Oiticica is an artist whose name has become ubiquitous in discussions of global contemporary art, yet his work is often represented or described in limited, even self-serving ways. “To Organize Delirium”a collaboration between the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New Yorkshould constitute a welcome corrective by providing the most complete retrospective to date (151 pieces in all media, including twenty-three works by other artists) and an extensive scholarly catalogue with contributions by the curators as well as from many younger scholars of Brazilian art and culture. The exhibition will also be the first to extensively explore Oiticica’s time in London and New York (1969–78) and will enrich our sense of the artist’s foundational contributions to both historical and contemporary international conversations about modernism, sexuality, and the political potential of art. Travels to the Art Institute of Chicago, Feb. 19–May 7, 2017; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, July 14–Oct. 1, 2017.
Two decades ago, while her YBA predecessors were garnering international attention for blaring, acerbic one-liners, Ceal Floyer emerged in Britain as a beacon of restraint, creating such quotidian epigrams as Light, 1994, a dangling, unplugged bulb lit by four surrounding slide projectors. Floyer’s minimal gestures require sustained consideration, making her practice perfectly suited for a showing such as thisa spare but rewarding survey of thirteen pieces made between 1993 and 2015. Take in the early work Door, 1995, in which a slide projector has been configured to mysteriously illuminate a strip of light beneath a closed door, or Solo, 2006, a mic stand supporting a would-be star’s hairbrush. Or pause to digest the artist’s latest iteration of Bars, 2015, for which she has fitted the museum’s street-level picture window with bespoke black steel bars. Floyer’s closed-circuit construction outs itself, plangently, as a brittle, carefully maintained surface, half covering and half concealing. Existential anxiety? We don’t talk about that.
Gathering more than sixty photographs (all but one made since 2000), a handful of sculptures, and a video making its debut, Roe Ethridge’s first US museum survey will provide a heady dose of the artist’s faux-generic, technically impeccable styleone of the post–Pictures generation’s most influential. Although his sleek, satiric take on advertorial-style fashion and still life is now pervasive, few imitators can match Ethridge’s witty mix of art and commerce, document and fiction. Even pictures that appear to be dumb documents help undermine antique notions of photographic truth: His perfect pumpkin is actually a shot of a sticker (Pumpkin Sticker, 2010), and in what is clearly a photograph of a Point Break movie poster, he has replaced Patrick Swayze’s head with a shaggy self-portrait (Untitled [Point Break], 2010). His tendency to produce what curator Kevin Moore calls a “synthetic version . . . of the reality we think we know” makes Ethridge a reliably destabilizing force; his seduction can turn into a sly slap in the face.