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.
“The house and its yard and the road behind and across”the poetry of Beverly Buchanan’s description of the inspiration for her best-known sculpture was beautifully borne out in the works themselves, small architectures evoking, rooted in, but sometimes wildly departing from the shacks of her native South. For much of the art audience, Buchanan, who died in 2015, is a discovery of recent years, but her career dates back to the 1970s and includes site-specific earthworks, painting, photography, drawing, and concrete-block post- Minimalist sculpture, a range that this exhibition will provide a rare opportunity to see. The shacksboth intricate and raw, both informed and vernacularwill surely pull you in, but this show of approximately two hundred works promises a broader insight into Buchanan’s thought.
To play is to enjoy exploratory intimacy with our brilliantly material world. To play with the aesthetics of language is to explore the materiality of the logics and independent vectors exposed when it is released from official grammars. In works on paper that often double as performance scores, Jackson Mac Low foregrounded the metamorphic formslettristic, phonemic, graphic, semanticthat emerged when, invoking the spirit of play, he put elements of chance in conversation with intention. Though influenced by the performative poetics of John Cage and by the Fluxus ethos, Mac Low’s Vocabularies, Drawing-Asymmetries, and Gathas uniquely merge poetry, music, and visual art in an almost synesthetic manner. Largely comprising drawings, this exhibition brings together eighty-two works from 1947 to 2000, including Mac Low’s 1961 Fluxfilm, Tree* Movie. The catalogue offers essays by poet Sylvia Gorelick and the show’s curator.
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.
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.
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 voicesabsent 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.
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.