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.

Agnieszka Polska, I Am the Mouth II, 2014, HD video, color, sound, 5 minutes 45 seconds. From “Suspended Animation.”

“Suspended Animation”

Through March 12, 2017
Curated by Gianni Jetzer

Animated film has come a long way since J. Stuart Blackton’s pioneering Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906), with its crude sequences of goofy chalkboard drawings. An evolving palette of digital animation technologies—motion capture, ever more detailed 3-D visualization—shapes not only mainstream culture but, increasingly, the work of artists (and the oft-unsung technicians to whom they outsource their production). “Suspended Animation” brings together Ed Atkins, Antoine Catala, Ian Cheng, Josh Kline, Helen Marten, and Agnieszka Polska, an international hexad whose practices are differentiated enough to suggest not only computer animation’s pervasiveness but also its flexibility—witness Atkins’s emotive avatars adrift in an uncanny valley, Cheng’s simulations mutating in real time, Polska’s fluent digital-psychedelic effects, and Marten’s loquacious skeuomorphic crossbreeds. In spite of these individual approaches, expect a shared responsiveness to the digital age’s manifold crises, from the specter of surveillance to the collapse of distinctions between virtual and physical realities.

Martin Herbert

Sanford Biggers, Laocoön (detail), 2015, vinyl, electric air pump, 72 × 60 × 120". Installation view, David Castillo Gallery, Miami, 2015–16.

“Sanford Biggers: Subjective Cosmology”

Through January 1, 2017
Curated by Elysia Borowy-Reeder

Over the past two decades, Sanford Biggers has woven references to African American culture, Eastern spirituality, and global music and dance traditions into patchwork myths and rituals. This exhibition promises to broaden our perspective on the artist’s ambitious speculative histories, with a presentation of recent and newly made site-specific works, including Shatter, 2016, which makes its debut here. Following Shuffle, 2009, and Shake, 2011, Shatter is the final installment of Biggers’s multichannel video trilogy filmed at key points along the North Atlantic slave trade route that considers the undoing and reimagining of personal identity. Shatter’s three-screen installation will serve as a backdrop to an opening-night performance by Moon Medicin, Biggers’s Afrofuturist band. “Subjective Cosmology” will also feature the biggest iteration to date of Laocoön, 2015, a prostrate, semi-inflated, pulsating Fat Albert, the corpulent cartoon star of Bill Cosby’s animated series. A touchstone for the show, this work reflects on recent violence against African Americans as well as the loss of faith in public and authority figures, from Cosby himself to the US police.

Daniel Quiles

“Kelley Walker: Direct Drive”

Through December 31
Curated by Jeffrey Uslip

“Direct Drive”—a reference to the motors used in high-speed hard drives—is an apt subtitle for this first US survey of an artist who brought both Pop and appropriation art into the twenty-first century. Technology (digital and analog) serves as Kelley Walker’s subject and informs his processes, which include breaking apart color prints sourced from news images into separate CMYK layers, repurposing silk screens as supports, and cutting up a MacBook Pro to create a sculpture. Less a midcareer retrospective than a showcase for Walker’s continuing exploration of new media, this exhibition of more than forty works from 2002 to the present—complete with two fully illustrated catalogues—highlights a number of works in two and three dimensions, including the artist’s celebrated series “Disasters,” 2002; “Recycling,” 2003–; “Black Star Press,” 2004–2008; “Brick Painting,” 2006–15; and “Volkswagen,” 2010–14, as well as new pieces created especially for this showing.

Robert Hobbs

Paul Sietsema, Empire, 2002, 16 mm, color and black-and-white, silent, 24 minutes. From “Question the Wall Itself.”

“Question the Wall Itself”

November 20 - May 21, 2017
Curated by Fionn Meade and Jordan Carter

This twenty-three-artist, pointedly internationalist exhibition pivots around the notion of esprit décor, an idea posited by the curator’s designated muse, Marcel Broodthaers. The term encapsulated a politically critical engagement with interior space—yet today’s “wall,” as the show’s room-size installations and smaller sculptures, paintings, photographs, and video works affirm, is a projective surface for anything from barbed commentary on globalization’s tilted playing field to melancholic cultural nostalgia. Alongside work by the razor-witted Belgian, expect to encounter Lucy McKenzie’s disjointed sculptural evocations of Adolf Loos’s architecture (Loos House, 2013), Nick Mauss’s painted-mirror room dividers inspired by the cryptic visions of modernist painter Florine Stettheimer (F. S. Interval II, 2014), Paul Sietsema’s filmic epic employing modeled domestic spaces connoting American and European imperialism (Empire, 2002), and Walid Raad’s incised, freestanding stretches of museum wall space, which consider the flattening effects of the Middle East’s nascent institutions on the art they house (Letters to the Reader, 2014). These walls, once questioned, talk.

Martin Herbert

“Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910–1950”

Through January 8, 2017
Curated by Matthew Affron, Mark A. Castro, Dafne Cruz Porchini, and Renato González Mello

This ambitious exhibition couldn’t be timelier, given that Hispanics of predominantly Mexican origin are now the second-largest ethnic group in the United States, and considering the dismaying signs of cultural intolerance highlighted in the current presidential race. “Paint the Revolution” makes a case for Mexico’s enduring influence in the US and its significant contributions to modernism. Part of the exhibition deals with the encounters between Hispanic and Anglo-American cultures. One section explores early attempts at what is known today as decolonization. Another focuses on the artistic community’s international connections. These approaches—present in paintings, murals, prints, photographs, broadsheets, and books—point to historical frictions between regionalisms and cosmopolitanisms and to their differing visual expressions, which may also elucidate the aesthetic divides expressed in contemporary art and the inherent demand that it be both locally significant and internationally meaningful. Travels to the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, 2017.

Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy

Hélio Oiticica, PN1 Penetrável (PN1 Penetrable), 1960, oil on wood, 79 7/8 × 59 × 59". Installation view, Centro Municipal de Arte Hélio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro, 2008. Photo: César Oiticica Filho.

“Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium”

Through January 2, 2017
Curated by Lynn Zelevansky, Elisabeth Sussman, James Rondeau, and Donna De Salvo

Hélio Oiticica is an artist whose name has become ubiquitous in discussions of global contemporary art, yet his work is often represented or described in limited, even self-serving ways. “To Organize Delirium”—a collaboration between the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York—should constitute a welcome corrective by providing the most complete retrospective to date (151 pieces in all media, including twenty-three works by other artists) and an extensive scholarly catalogue with contributions by the curators as well as from many younger scholars of Brazilian art and culture. The exhibition will also be the first to extensively explore Oiticica’s time in London and New York (1969–78) and will enrich our sense of the artist’s foundational contributions to both historical and contemporary international conversations about modernism, sexuality, and the political potential of art. Travels to the Art Institute of Chicago, Feb. 19–May 7, 2017; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, July 14–Oct. 1, 2017.

Ann Reynolds