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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
Through April 2
Curated by Silvia Karman Cubiñá 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

Terry Adkins

ICA - INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART, MIAMI
MIAMI
April 1 - June 28
Curated by Alex Gartenfeld and Gean Moreno

The work of the late artist and saxophonist Terry Adkins explores deep and abiding structural, aesthetic, and process-oriented relationships among sound, image, and ritual. This important survey, with catalogue texts by Alex Gartenfeld, Gean Moreno, and Kobena Mercer, among others, highlights Adkins’s contributions to sculpture, with fifty pieces created between the mid-1980s and the artist’s untimely passing in 2014. Adkins’s works are often dedicated to historical figures with strong resonances in Afrodiasporic culture, exemplified here by the exhibition’s dialogue with John Coltrane’s 1972 album Infinity, which features string arrangements by the saxophonist’s wife and longtime collaborator, pianist and harpist Alice Coltrane, composed after her husband’s death in 1967. This intermundane collaboration dovetails with Adkins’s articulation of a spiritual ecology of history. Seemingly paradoxically, Adkins’s sculptures embrace that most vital and traditional attribute of musical experience—its immateriality.  

George Lewis

William Cordova, Badussy (or macho pichu after dark), 2003, video transferred to digital video, color, sound, 2 minutes 45 seconds.

“William Cordova: Now’s the time—narratives of southern alchemy”

PÉREZ ART MUSEUM MIAMI (PAMM)
MIAMI
April 27 - October 7
Curated by María Elena Ortiz

The most prescient work in the 2014–15 Prospect.3 biennial in New Orleans was William Cordova’s staged showdown between the Soul Rebels brass band and the colossal Robert E. Lee statue in the city center. At Cordova’s invitation, the all-black group played loud and proud from a rooftop facing the Confederate general. (A video documenting the event is titled Silent Parade . . . or the Soul Rebels Band vs. Robert E. Lee, 2014.) Three years later, the monument was removed. Silent Parade will be on view at the Pérez Art Museum along with some twenty-five other pieces by the Lima, Peru–born, Miami-based artist, including a selection of films transferred to digital video spanning 1993 to the present and recent sculptures and works on paper in which the artist uses music and pop culture to flag historical injustices. An accompanying catalogue will feature contributions from María Elena Ortiz, Leslie Hewitt, Jeff Chang, and Candice Hopkins.  

Eva Díaz

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

“MECHANISMS”

CCA WATTIS INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART
SAN FRANCISCO
Through February 24
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

Paul Fusco, Untitled, from the series “RFK Funeral Train,” 1968, dye destruction print, 18 × 27". From “The Train: RFK’s Last Journey.”

“The Train: RFK’s Last Journey”

SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART (SFMOMA)
SAN FRANCISCO
March 17 - June 10
Curated by Clément Chéroux and Linde Lehtinen

The 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy—who promised to heal racial divisions, redress income inequality, and end the war in Vietnam—devastated Americans who dreamed of the realization of those aims. As his body was carried by train from New York to Washington, DC, for burial, supporters lined the tracks—waving, crying, praying, and holding handmade signs. This collective expression of grief and solidarity was captured by photographer Paul Fusco. Approximately twenty of Fusco’s prints will be shown alongside Rein Jelle Terpstra’s The People’s View, 2014–18, an archive of some sixty-five amateur snapshots, slides, and home movies taken by the onlookers themselves, and Philippe Parreno’s haunting 2009 film June 8, 1968, which reenacts the event. A catalogue with an essay by the curator and interviews with the artists will be published by Les Éditions Textuel. Travels to Les Rencontres d’Arles,  France, July 3–September 24. 

Gwen Allen

Clarence Holbrook Carter, War Bride, 1940, oil on canvas, 36 × 54". From “The Cult of the Machine.”

“Cult of the Machine: Precisionism and American Art”

DE YOUNG MUSEUM
SAN FRANCISCO
March 24 - August 12
Curated by Emma Acker

A large-scale survey of a quintessentially modern American art, “Cult of the Machine” assembles paintings by interwar Precisionists, among them Elsie Driggs, Charles Demuth, Charles Sheeler, and Francis Criss, with photographs, films, decorative arts, and industrial objects—including a classic Cord Phaeton automobile—totaling more than one hundred items. At a moment when high tech dominates American cultural consciousness, it’s illuminating to recognize how the machine age was similarly tempered by affective responses of attraction and anxiety. From Morton Livingston Schamberg’s Telephone, 1916, and Driggs’s Aeroplane, 1928, to Walter Dorwin Teague’s ca. 1935 midnight-blue Nocturne radio, Alma Lavenson’s photographs of oil tanks in Alameda, California, and Clarence Holbrook Carter’s War Bride, 1940, which casts a steel mill as a cathedral, this exhibition explores how artists simultaneously embraced and critiqued modernity’s industrial products. An accompanying catalogue will feature texts by the curator and others. Travels to the Dallas Museum of Art, September 9, 2018–January 6, 2019.

Erika Doss