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.

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, 2017
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

Basim Magdy, An Apology to a Love Story That Crashed into a Whale (detail), 2016, sixty-four C-prints on metallic paper, each 18 7/8 × 28 3/8".

“Basim Magdy: The stars were aligned for a century of new beginnings”

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, CHICAGO (MCA CHICAGO)
CHICAGO
Through March 19, 2017
Curated by Omar Kholeif

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 text—axioms, aphorisms, and witticisms that are superimposed on photos and films—is 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.

Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

Doug Aitken, Black Mirror, 2011, still from the 13-minute-20-second three-channel color video component
of a mixed-media installation additionally comprising mirrors.

“Doug Aitken: Electric Earth”

MOCA GEFFEN CONTEMPORARY
LOS ANGELES
Through January 15, 2017
Curated by Philippe Vergne and Anna Katz

“A lot of times I dance so fast that I become what’s around me,” says the protagonist of Doug Aitken’s mesmeric, immersive multichannel video installation Electric Earth, 1999, which lends its name to the artist’s first large-scale survey, appropriately debuting in his hometown. The exhibition and catalogue highlight Aitken’s wide-ranging oeuvre, including such atmospheric pieces as diamond sea, 1997, his first foray into multichannel productions, as well as slickly fabricated sculptures, photographs, collages, and documentation of architectural projects. The show will also feature live works, among them the sound installation Sonic Fountain II, 2013/2015, and a host of public programs (modeled on Aitken’s previous “happenings,” as he calls them) for which he will collaborate with writers, actors, and other artists. Aitken’s starstruck and sun-stroked romanticism is not without poetry but rarely casts a shadow. Travels to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, May 27–Sept. 24, 2017.

Andrew Berardini

Sarah Oppenheimer, Rotation Study: S-281913, 2016, digital video, black-and-white, silent, 15 seconds.

“Sarah Oppenheimer: S-281913”

PÉREZ ART MUSEUM MIAMI
MIAMI
Through April 30, 2017
Curated by René Morales

The complex interplay between movement and perception has long been the crux of Sarah Oppenheimer’s work. Interrogating the ways in which architecture inflects our movement and thereby frames the horizon of our experience, her astonishingly precise interventions into institutional spaces—which often take the form of apertures cut in walls, floors, and ceilings—produce sudden shifts, expansions, and occlusions in our visual field as we pass around and through them. Her upcoming installation S-281913 is an audacious extension of this logic: Oppenheimer proposes to animate her work itself by introducing two large rotating glass panels that will alternate between transparency and reflection depending on their position and that of the viewer. Situated within Herzog & de Meuron’s concrete-and-wood galleries (rather than in the white cube that is Oppenheimer’s typical milieu), the work’s mix of active viewer, kinetic sculpture, and assertive architecture promises to be an unusually catalytic combination.

Julian Rose

Anthony Hernandez

SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART (SFMOMA)
SAN FRANCISCO
Through January 1, 2017
Curated by Erin O’Toole

Anthony Hernandez might be to Los Angeles what Eugène Atget is to Paris. While he has taken photographs in Rome, Baltimore, and elsewhere, Hernandez has, for more than four decades, persistently documented the oft-overlooked urban scenery of his native southern California—from the manicured storefronts and mannequinesque denizens of Beverly Hills to the remnants of homeless encampments improvised on the margins of the urban landscape. This retrospective, a first for the artist and the inaugural special exhibition in the museum’s new Pritzker Center for Photography, suggests that Hernandez, too, is worthy of a closer look. The catalogue accompanying this 160-work overview includes contributions by notable artistic peers—among them Robert Adams and Hernandez’s longtime friend Lewis Baltz—alongside reconsiderations of the photographer’s work by Hayward Gallery director Ralph Rugoff and the show’s curator.

Michael Ned Holte

Whitfield Lovell

THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION
WASHINGTON, DC
Through January 8, 2017
Curated by Elsa Smithgall

The black men and women in Whitfield Lovell’s ongoing series “Kin”—each rendered on cream paper in velvety monochrome conté crayon and paired with gnomic found objects—seem not so much rescued from anonymity as discharged from a bureaucratic purgatory. For nearly twenty years, Lovell has worked from discarded early-twentieth-century ID cards, passports, and mug shots—from any black-and-white portrait at risk of haphazard defacement by stapler, really—and his figurative kin are frozen in time, at sites of fraught systemic and organizational intake. The resulting objects are at turns stately, heartbreaking, opaque, and lovingly intimate. At the Phillips, twenty-odd pieces from “Kin,” 2008–, will be paired with some dozen of the artist’s signature large-scale tableaux in an exhibition that crosses scales and media as well as source materials: The aspirational poses of larger works based on vintage studio photography sit opposite the visual spectrum from the “Kin” series’ institutional points of departure. A major monograph with contributions by the curator and others will accompany the show. After all, what’s a family album without something to have and to hold?

Gary Dauphin