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.

Allan Kaprow, Blue Blue Blue, 1956, collage and oil on canvas, 60 × 47 1/2". From “Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952–1965.”

“Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952–1965”

GREY ART GALLERY
NEW YORK
Through April 1
Curated by Melissa Rachleff

In the Beatnik decade, before Pop art went big and the contemporary market we know today began to take shape, artist-operated exhibition spaces in New York served as integral counterparts to the city’s uptown galleries. Artists could show and be seen at Tenth Street cooperatives (funded by members’ dues), including the Tanager, Hansa, and Brata galleries, and at off–Tenth Street spots such as the Judson Gallery and the studio lofts of Red Grooms and Yoko Ono. These spaces bore the collective and improvisatory spirit of the Happenings they hosted, but were also effective launch pads for many successful solo careers. “Inventing Downtown” will represent fourteen such venues with more than two hundred items: documentary photographs, ephemera, and artworks in all media. In addition to an essay by the curator, the catalogue will excerpt previously unpublished interviews with some twenty-seven of the featured artists, from Claes Oldenburg to Lester Johnson, Robert Morris, and Simone Forti.

Annie Ochmanek

Raymond Pettibon, No Title (And how go . . . ), 1992, pen and ink on paper, 22 × 17".

“Raymond Pettibon: A Pen of All Work”

NEW MUSEUM
NEW YORK
Through April 16
Curated by Gary Carrion-Murayari and Massimiliano Gioni

Raymond Pettibon is coming to the New Museum. His first New York museum survey, featuring more than seven hundred of his drawings from the 1960s to the present, in addition to early zines, artist’s books, and video collaborations with his artist and musician peers, will be complemented by a star-studded catalogue, with contributions from Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Frances Stark, and Lynne Tillman, among others. Pettibon started his journey in late ’70s Los Angeles, where, instead of following the mainstream art-world itinerary, he became a preeminent figure in the early punk scene (playing in the nascent Black Flag) and then serving as chief designer for SST Records. A philosopher-artist and divine comedian beholden to no one, Pettibon galvanized youth rebellion with his pen-and-ink power chords. On second thought, it’s more like the New Museum is coming to him. Travels to the Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, the Netherlands, June 1–Oct. 30.

Glenn O’Brien

Aliza Nisenbaum, La Talaverita, Sunday Morning NY Times, 2016, oil on linen, 68 × 88". From the Whitney Biennial.

Whitney Biennial 2017

WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART
NEW YORK
Through June 11
Curated by Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks

Following a three-year hiatus to accommodate the museum’s move downtown, the Whitney Biennial makes its Gansevoort Street debut this March. As the republic falls before our very eyes, one hopes that this divisive survey of American art will react against, and not just reflect, the current state of affairs. This year’s roster of sixty-three artists and collectives is thankfully diverse in perspectives and refreshingly full of emerging and underrecognized voices—absent are the many elder statesmen often gratuitously included in these affairs. The catalogue will include a conversation with, as well as essays by, the curators; supplementary texts by Negar Azimi and Gean Moreno; and an edited transcript of a filmmaker roundtable moderated by Aily Nash. With its key themes—“the formation of self and the individual’s place in a turbulent society”—this latest iteration of the Whitney’s signature show will, one hopes, be taking some pages from Elisabeth Sussman’s playbook for the storied 1993 Biennial. The timing couldn’t be better.

Beau Rutland

Louise Lawler, Arranged by Donald Marron, Susan Brundage, Cheryl Bishop at Paine Webber, Inc. NYC (adjusted to fit), 1982/2016, adhesive vinyl, dimensions variable.

“Louise Lawler: Why Pictures Now”

MOMA - THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
NEW YORK
April 30 - July 30
Curated by Roxana Marcoci with Kelly Sidley

The success of Louise Lawler’s highly anticipated first New York museum survey hangs on the question of how this immensely influential artist will negotiate the demands of a retrospective, which all but necessitates the repackaging of the artist’s work into an “authoritative” reading. For principled refusal fuels every aspect of Lawler’s exacting practice, which is marked by the artist’s reservation with respect to doing what’s deemed proper for a successful career, and reticence, if masked by nonchalance, in response to the demand for a signature artistic identity. Yet another, more pressing question emerges: In what fraught ambiguities will the dark thread that has run through her practice of recent years, centered on the imbricated triad of patriarchy, capitalism, and war, manifest today? Lawler’s re-presentation of a multifarious oeuvre, stretching over some four decades, contains the potential to reshape the discourse that will govern its reception in our increasingly fraught times. Douglas Crimp, Rosalyn Deutsche, Diedrich Diederichsen, and five additional essayists contribute to a comprehensive catalogue.

Lynne Cooke

“We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85”

BROOKLYN MUSEUM
NEW YORK
April 21 - September 17
Curated by Catherine Morris with Rujeko Hockley

The title “We Wanted a Revolution” might seem to imply a wistful retrospection on the two decades that witnessed the rise of second-wave feminism and the Black Power movement in the US. Yet the 130-some puissant artworks gathered for this show promise an incisive exploration of black female radicality in variegated forms—whether the mixed-media assemblages of Betye Saar or Faith Ringgold’s silk screens of the people’s flag or a costume from Lorraine O’Grady’s 1980 performance Mlle Bourgeoise Noire. The exhibition will offer a rare opportunity to view works by Beverly Buchanan, Barbara Chase-Riboud, and Janet Henry, whose names have come to the fore in the past few years but remain lesser known than those of their heavy-hitter counterparts. The diversity of media represented—from painting to sculpture, printmaking, installation, and documentation—should guarantee a rich spectrum of praxes and an abundance of surprising juxtapositions.

Andrianna Campbell

Xaviera Simmons, Index Two, Composition Three, 2012, color photograph, 50 × 40". From “The Artist’s Museum.”

“The Artist’s Museum”

ICA - INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART, BOSTON
BOSTON
Through March 26
Curated by Dan Byers

It’s hardly surprising that the art museum, with its deeply ingrained protocols of accumulation and display, has frequently been the subject of artistic (and curatorial) interrogation. Such institutional ambitions would seem to lie on the side of practices Walter Benjamin famously aligned with the impulses of “the collector”—one who “brings together what belongs together” and who “by keeping in mind their affinities and their succession in time . . . can eventually furnish information” about those things. But artists whose programs are based on strategic accretions of objects of art, science, or natural history more often than not fall under Benjamin’s rubric of “allegorists,” gatherers who dislodge “things from their context” and rely on their own insights to “illuminate their meaning.” “The Artist’s Museum” explores such procedures of artistic illumination via thirty-odd works by figures such as Carol Bove, Rachel Harrison, Goshka Macuga, Christian Marclay, Xaviera Simmons, and Sara VanDerBeek; a substantial catalogue with essays by the curator, Claire Bishop, Lynne Cooke, and Ingrid Schaffner accompanies the exhibition.

Jeffrey Kastner