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.

Pascale Marthine Tayou, Masque délavé (Faded Mask) (detail), 2015, mixed media on twenty-five wooden masks, dimensions variable.

“PASCALE MARTHINE TAYOU: BEAUTIFUL”

THE BASS
MIAMI
October 8 - April 2, 2018
Curated by Silvia Karman Cubińá and Leilani Lynch

Tayou possesses one of the quirkiest and most irreverent artistic sensibilities around: Having abandoned the study of law for art, he revels in contradiction, mysticism, and delphic aphorism, all of which he cloaks in riotous color and sparkly lights. In this show—organized in close collaboration with the artist himself—Tayou will present a range of assemblages from the past decade, including his signature crystal doll sculptures, “Poupées Pascale,” 2007–17, and his chalk mosaics, “Fresques de craies,” 2015–16. He will ruffle the permanent collection and build a wall of neon WELCOME signs in more than seventy languages. They will all be “beautiful,” even as—and because—they participate in Tayou’s genteel efforts to decolonize the museum. Is this “welcome” a nod to the colonial encounter that produced modernism and its museums? And by beautiful does Tayou (following philosopher and critic Elaine Scarry) also mean fair, as in just? You decide, remembering that Tayou’s tongue is happiest in his cheek.

Leora Maltz-Leca

Jay DeFeo, untitled, 1987, Xerox, 11 × 73⁄8". From “Mechanisms.”

“MECHANISMS”

CCA WATTIS INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART
SAN FRANCISCO
October 12 - February 24, 2018
Curated by Anthony Huberman

“Mechanisms” situates itself in a tradition of machinic shows, most famously Pontus Hultén’s 1968–69 encyclopedic presentation “The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age.” But where Hultén filled MoMA's galleries with hardware—ranging from a race car to Robert Rauschenberg’s metal assemblage Oracle, 1962–65—and emphasized the items’ autonomy as objects, the roughly one hundred sculptures, photographs, videos, paintings, and site-specific installations Huberman has selected for “Mechanisms,” by artists including Aaron Flint Jamison and Park McArthur, demonstrate how all sorts of things, from animal traps to data-analysis software, structure their environments. For Huberman, mechanisms still take command, but indirectly. While Hultén’s catalogue had a tin-and-steel cover fabricated by a Swedish beer-can manufacturer, one can’t help but wonder whether the “Mechanisms” monograph, which features an essay by Huberman, will reach a wider audience on paper or somewhere up in the cloud. Travels to the Secession, Vienna, summer 2018. 

Alex Kitnick

Mark Bradford, Pickett’s Charge (detail), 2017, mixed media on eight canvases, overall 12 × 400'.

“MARK BRADFORD: PICKETT’S CHARGE”

HIRSHHORN MUSEUM AND SCULPTURE GARDEN
WASHINGTON, DC
November 8 - November 12, 2018
Curated by Evelyn Hankins and Stéphane Aquin

Bradford’s work revels in the material and metaphoric properties of paper. One sheet can be shredded, but if you layer it and soak it with water, the stuff becomes as durable as rebar: We are indeed stronger together. If paper and printing were once essential to the democratic project, it’s telling that Bradford’s focus has been less on printing than on erasure. The textured, puckered, and scarred contours of his canvases evince a low hum of wounding, a palimpsest of the daily microaggressions endured by those not considered to be straight white dudes by the culture at large. That his mutilated abstract fields are often ravishing speaks volumes about his work’s capacity for complexity. For this exhibition, Bradford presents a four-hundred-foot-long panoramic installation in the iconic circular galleries of the Hirshhorn. Centering on the often-forgotten female voices of the civil rights movement, and taking the Battle of Gettysburg as its starting point, the piece will surely show us that democracy is also an affair of the heart.

Helen Molesworth

Jibade-Khalil Huffman, Yesterday (Our Love Went into a Coma) (detail), 2011–, still from the 4-minute, color, silent, digital-video component of a mixed-media installation with CRT monitor and microphone. From “Sonic Rebellion: Music as Resistance.”

“SONIC REBELLION: MUSIC AS RESISTANCE”

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART DETROIT (MOCAD)
DETROIT
Through January 7, 2018
Curated by Jens Hoffmann

The appeals black music makes to the future, to borrow from theorist Kodwo Eshun, are most powerful when black folk are having difficulty imagining any future at all. Few such moments have generated as many forward-looking sounds as the 1967 Detroit riot, a season of unrest set off when the local PD broke up a party and arrested eighty-two black citizens one hot July night. MoCAD’s “Sonic Rebellion” images and re-images the relationship between music and resistance in the intervening fifty years; the show presents a trove of ephemera and documentary materials on Motown, jazz, early punk, and techno alongside a sprawling selection of recent works by more than forty-five artists, including Jibade-Khalil Huffman, Juliana Huxtable, and Glenn Ligon. Accompanied by a catalogue recounting Detroit’s musical history, the show plans to spill out of the museum for a series of screenings, talks, and concerts—meaning that, like any good riot, a full accounting will require some time in the streets.

Gary Dauphin

Annabeth Rosen, Talley, 2011, ceramic, wire, steel, casters, 46 1/2 × 29 × 22".

“ANNABETH ROSEN: FIRED, BROKEN, GATHERED, HEAPED”

CONTEMPORARY ARTS MUSEUM HOUSTON
HOUSTON
Through November 26
Curated by Valerie Cassel Oliver

CAMH brings together more than two decades’ worth of Annabeth Rosen’s work in the prolific ceramicist’s first major survey. Eighty-some sculptures will be accompanied by forty works on paper, all reiterating the artist’s longtime method of composition: aggregating discrete forms to produce a cohesive whole. While the two-dimensional ground in her flat works unites myriad small shapes, Rosen’s three-dimensional pieces evidence a pragmatic engagement with the dynamics of gravity. Her small clay pieces are bound with wire or pressed together prior to firing, allowing the finished works to stand unsupported. Rosen has exhibited widely over the past thirty years, yet her work has never received the attention bestowed on peers such as Arlene Shechet. “Fired, Broken, Gathered, Heaped” and its attendant catalogue (featuring essays by critic Nancy Princenthal and scholar Jenni Sorkin) should do much to remedy the oversight.

Cat Kron

Mona Hatoum, Cells (detail), 2014, zinc-plated steel, glass, 54 × 48 × 25".

“MONA HATOUM: TERRA INFIRMA”

THE MENIL COLLECTION
HOUSTON
October 13 - February 25, 2018
Curated by Michelle White

Mona Hatoum has spent her nearly forty-year career sharpening the edges of the everyday. The London- and Berlin-based artist was a signal figure in the turn toward a conception of both the bodily and the domestic as sites of political complexity and psychic menace that stretched across the 1980s and 1990s; this exhibition will be her first major museum survey in the US in two decades, showcasing some thirty sculptures and installations, including such signature works as the electrified household space of Homebound, 2000. In recognition of the often uncanny estrangements produced by Hatoum’s work, the show will be accompanied by a concurrent exhibition of objects, selected in consultation with the artist, from the Menil’s important collection of Surrealist work. A catalogue featuring essays by White, Anna Chave, Adania Shibli, and Rebecca Solnit will be published. Travels to the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Saint Louis, Apr. 6–Aug. 11, 2018. 

Jeffrey Kastner