International 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.

Thomas Struth, Bright Sunflower No. 1, Winterthur, 1991, C-print, 33 1/8 × 26".

“THOMAS STRUTH: FIGURE GROUND”

HAUS DER KUNST
MUNICH
Through September 17
Curated by Thomas Weski

Opening in early May and continuing until mid-September will be a more ambitious and comprehensive exhibition of Thomas Struth’s work than has ever been mounted. Organized by the distinguished critic-curator Thomas Weski, the show will comprise more than 120 items, representing every series of the artist’s production (“Unconscious Places,” 1976–2008; “Family Portraits,” 1985–; “Museum Photographs,” 1989–2007; “New Pictures from Paradise,” 1998–2007; “Nature & Politics,” 2007–, among others), and will also include several of the hypnotically compelling video portraits that were projected as part of his major exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2003. In addition, we are promised several never-before-shown early works, research material from his personal archive, and Nacht-Projekt, a slide projection made for the 1987 Skulptur Projekte Münster. By any standard, then, a major event.

Michael Fried

Walker Evans, Truck and Sign, 1930, gelatin silver print, 6 1/2 × 8 3/4". © W. Evans Arch., The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“Walker Evans: A Vernacular Style”

CENTRE POMPIDOU
PARIS
Through August 14
Curated by Clément Chéroux

While Walker Evans is known today primarily for the austere formalism of his documentary-style photographs from the 1930s, this sprawling retrospective—the first ever for Evans in France—argues for a different view. The real significance of Evans’s photographic work, it claims, lies in how he taps into the incantatory power of old weird America, the folky vernacular culture evident in the outmoded and overlooked: handpainted signs, rural wooden churches built without architects, rotogravure news photos, penny postcards, Polaroid snapshots. A flaneur of the American byways, Evans not only photographed these subjects with attentive zeal but was also a passionate collector of commonplace cultural artifacts, dozens of which are included in the exhibition. For him, as for the Surrealists, such found objects and images were revelatory documents of everyday life, cast in opposition to successive waves of modernist sameness. Travels to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Sept. 23, 2017–Feb. 4, 2018.

Brian Wallis

Ismaïl Bahri, Revers, 2016, ten-channel HD video projection, color, sound, 5 minutes.

ISMAÏL BAHRI

JEU DE PAUME
PARIS
Through September 24
Curated by Marta Gili and Marie Bertran

Tunisian-born Ismaïl Bahri’s’s forthcoming exhibition, titled “Instruments,” seems a logical successor to “Uprisings,” curated by Georges Didi-Huberman and on view at the Jeu de Paume this past fall. The latter included Bahri’s Film à blanc, 2012, in which a blank sheet covers most of three adjacent screens. Only the movement of air across the sheet allows glimpses of what is happening behind, which is more audible than visible. This work exemplifies Bahri’s style, often characterized by a formal homology between the material support and the image—a structural yet mobile tension that is the result of the internal limits of representation, the interaction between sound and sight, and the vagaries of perception. Devoted to Bahri’s video works, this show will testify to the coherence and equipoise with which he applies this rigorously calibrated sensibility to political conflicts and social injustices.

Nicole Brenez

Karl Fritsch, untitled, 2004, glass stones, oxidized silver, 3 1/2 × 2 × 2". From “Medusa: Jewelry and Taboos.”

“MEDUSA: JEWELRY AND TABOOS”

MUSÉE D'ART MODERNE DE LA VILLE DE PARIS
PARIS
Through November 5
Curated by Anne Dressen with Michèle Heuzé and Benjamin Lignel

This exhibition might be the most ambitious project dealing with jewelry ever conceived for a museum. The titular reference to taboos relays that while gems may be popular within institutions of applied arts, they are historically not welcome in fine-art contexts (too marginal, craft-oriented, precious, or ornamental). Transcending chronological and geographic categorizations, the curators will bring together more than four hundred pieces of jewelry to be displayed around four themes—identity, value, body, and ritual. The selection will include objects ranging from prehistorical adornments to iconic artifacts of contemporary pop culture (Michael Jackson’s glove will be on view), as well as bijoux d’artistes by everyone from Anni Albers to Danny McDonald. Visitors will rediscover design from Lalique and Tony Duquette alongside high-end jewelers like Cartier and Bucellati. A catalogue will accompany the show, with essays by historians and theoreticians Arlette Farge and Glenn Adamson, among others.

Nicolas Trembley

Mirosław Bałka, 7 x 7 x 1010, 2000, soap, steel, 33' 1 5/8“ × 2 3/4” × 2 3/4".

Mirosław Bałka

PIRELLI HANGARBICOCCA
MILAN
Through July 30
Curated by Vicente Todolí

Like other artists of his generation (e.g., Roni Horn, Tom Burr), Mirosław Bałka reimagines the deadpan, impersonal, quasi-anthropomorphic geometry of Minimalism as an avatar of something more straightforwardly human, whether a prompt for poetic association, a metonym for the body, or a vessel of elegiac Beuysian allegory. “CROSSOVER/S”—the Polish-born artist’s most comprehensive exhibition in Italy to date—is billed as a retrospective, featuring roughly fifteen sculptures, installations, and videos made between the 1990s and today. The show includes early works derived from the artist’s private memories of his childhood home, as well as later explorations of collective trauma. To that end, Bałka’s primary subject is the Holocaust, which he repeatedly evokes via the technological figure of the concentration camp—a structure he embodies in stark, deceptively simple installations of plywood, soap, and steel.

Lloyd Wise

Alexander Kluge, . . . kommt ein Schiff gefahren ( . . . a Ship Sails This Way), 2017, various film formats transferred to digital video, color and black-and-white, silent, 15 minutes 19 seconds. From “The Boat Is Leaking. The Captain Lied.”

“THE BOAT IS LEAKING. THE CAPTAIN LIED”

FONDAZIONE PRADA | VENICE
VENICE
Through November 26
Curated by Udo Kittelmann

What do film, photography, and theater have in common? Architecture. That seems to be the straightforward but intriguing premise buried within the rhetoric of this self-styled “transmedia exhibition,” which brings together director Alexander Kluge, a pioneer of New German Cinema; photographer Thomas Demand, known for his pictures of painstakingly constructed models; and theatrical designer Anna Viebrock, whose innovative sets and costumes have appeared in stage productions around the world. Although the three are longtime friends and interlocutors, they have never collaborated directly; Kittelmann believes this dilemma is rooted in the fact that they operate in distinct creative fields. His solution offers Fondazione Prada’s Venetian outpost—a three-story eighteenth-century palazzo—as not just a shared venue but a kind of common language, inviting the three practitioners to work together to transform the building’s interior into a polyvalent environment.  

Julian Rose