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.

Kai Althoff, Untitled, 2015, oil, pencil, oil pastel, and oil crayon on fabric, 55 7/8 × 52".

“Kai Althoff: And then leave me to the common swifts”

MOMA - THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
NEW YORK
Through January 22
Curated by Kai Althoff, Laura Hoptman, and Margaret Ewing

Kai Althoff is decadent, in the fin-de-siècle sense of the word. The artist’s Symbolist eye for all things excessive, ardent, and synesthetic was cultivated in 1990s Cologne, yet Althoff enacts the figure of the post-Kippenberger dandy not as slacker but as devotee, all about the details. His kaleidoscopic uses of decor, staging, installation, and performance have long explored the hermetic and private histories of late late capitalism (a project for Artforum in 2011 peeked inside the apartment of a jeweler-collector from Warhol’s circle). But Althoff’s is a Gesamtkunstwerk divided against itself, never cohering into some neat whole. This quixotic show, helmed by the artist, will include some two hundred works in all manner of media, from painting to music to fragrance to sculpture—as well as an artist’s book—creating a world of interiors all its own.

Michelle Kuo

Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Touch Sanitation Performance, 1979–80. Performance view, Queens, NY, May 15, 1980. Mierle Laderman Ukeles and sanitation worker. Photo: Marcia Bricker.

“Mierle Laderman Ukeles: Maintenance Art”

QUEENS MUSEUM
NEW YORK
Through February 19
Curated by Larissa Harris and Patricia C. Phillips

In 1969, Mierle Laderman Ukeles invented the phrase maintenance art to articulate the undeniable fact that the wealth of nations, the workings of capital, and the privileges of the patriarchy are all predicated on the unpaid and/or undervalued labor of maintenance: the daily acts of cleaning, cooking, and other sundry tasks meant to prepare individuals and institutions for their so-called real work. This means that the efforts of janitors and housewives, conservators and sanitation workers, have served as source material for the artist’s most important interventions and performances. Ukeles, the consummate feminist, insists that art is not a utopian realm in which we can forget the adage that a woman’s work is never done; quite the contrary. Her work elucidates that our attempts to preserve art—to preserve anything, in fact—for a future humanity reside firmly in the sphere of maintenance rather than the realm of master narratives.

Helen Molesworth

“Beverly Buchanan: Ruins and Rituals”

BROOKLYN MUSEUM
NEW YORK
Through March 5
Curated by Jennifer Burris and Park McArthur

“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 shacks—both intricate and raw, both informed and vernacular—will surely pull you in, but this show of approximately two hundred works promises a broader insight into Buchanan’s thought.

David Frankel

Jackson Mac Low, Drawing-Asymmetry #2, 1961, ink on paper, 8 1/2 × 12".

“Jackson Mac Low: Lines–Letters–Words”

THE DRAWING CENTER
NEW YORK
January 20 - March 19
Curated by Brett Littman

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 forms—lettristic, phonemic, graphic, semantic—that 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.

Joan Retallack

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
February 8 - 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