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 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 formswhether 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 representedfrom painting to sculpture, printmaking, installation, and documentationshould guarantee a rich spectrum of praxes and an abundance of surprising juxtapositions.
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.
Rainbows, prisms, and a bouquet of tulips with playful faces drawn on their petals. Industrial wastelands and barren cityscapes. Soldiers, superheroes, skeletons, and a giant squid paired with a rocket. Basim Magdy’s first-ever US museum survey offers an introduction to the Egyptian artist’s sprawling, cheerfully sinister visual vocabulary via thirty-six works from the past decade, including drawings, paintings, films, photographs, and installations that reveal a perpetual remixing of tragicomic iconography. Magdy’s materials (gouache, spray paint, pen, Super 8 film dyed with household chemicals) are seductive and nostalgic. But his use of textaxioms, aphorisms, and witticisms that are superimposed on photos and filmsis by turns bracingly critical and wry. In the accompanying catalogue, Kholeif and four other curators parse the various tensions (“word/picture,” “past/future,” “digital/analog,” “hope/disaster”) at play in Magdy’s oeuvre.
At the Renaissance Society, veteran sculptor Robert Grosvenor will show a large, makeshift work from 1989–90. Made from banal materialsstacked concrete blocks, Plexiglas, and painted steelthe austere Untitled has a pronounced interior volume, a space that, because of its low top, cannot be entered. Appreciate this ungainly work from a distance or else feel thwarted because it cannot be breached. Visitors to Grosvenor’s shows never know whether they are going to find something graceful, massive, off-putting, or witty; a sculpture hung from the ceiling, spreading horizontally across the floor, or with parts perched on poles. During his more than five-decade-long career, the artist has never adopted a signature style, just a mantra: Expect the unexpected.
Mexican artist Tania Pérez Córdova’s first major museum show will occupy the entire south side of the MCA’s main-floor galleries and will feature work developed for the occasion in a “rephrasing” of previous worksa strategy in line with her sensitivity to the specificity of space. Pérez Córdova’s work explores the different durations embedded in an object over time, as well as the social or economic relations enacted in a sculptural form. Her works exist both in the gallery space and beyond it, and she grants her objects a parallel existence in their partial absence or in their incompleteness evinced, for example, by an earring hanging from a bronze frame, whose twin lives a separate life with its owner, or by six pairs of colored contact lenses (placed on a marble slab) identical to those worn by six of the artist’s friends. “Smoke, Nearby” promises to lend new visual readings to these intimately personal yet contextually contingent works.
Accompanied by a dense and lushly illustrated catalogue, this exhibition uncovers Picasso’s and Rivera’s parallel interests in antiquityMediterranean and pre-Columbian, respectively. A dozen great paintings from the teens suggest that, as a Cubist, Rivera possessed a sensibility that was as close to Juan Gris’s as to Picasso’s. But paintings are not the only attraction here: The show is notable for its wide range of media and epochs. Plaster casts that the two studied in school (and drawings by both artists of identical replicas) rub shoulders with bronze mirrors, classical vases, pre-Columbian carvings, and other artifacts, allowing us to see how Pablo and Diego drew, and drew from, the distant past. Another intriguing comparison is between Picasso’s etchings of the 1930s on Ovidian themes and Rivera’s 1931 watercolor illustrations of the Popol Vuh creation myth, which could not be more different. As for who gets the prize, let’s just say that being paired with Picasso is no picnic. Travels to Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, June 14–Sept. 17.