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.

Aliza Nisenbaum, La Talaverita, Sunday Morning NY Times, 2016, oil on linen, 68 × 88". From the Whitney Biennial.

Whitney Biennial 2017

WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART
NEW YORK
Through June 11
Curated by Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks

Following a three-year hiatus to accommodate the museum’s move downtown, the Whitney Biennial makes its Gansevoort Street debut this March. As the republic falls before our very eyes, one hopes that this divisive survey of American art will react against, and not just reflect, the current state of affairs. This year’s roster of sixty-three artists and collectives is thankfully diverse in perspectives and refreshingly full of emerging and underrecognized voices—absent are the many elder statesmen often gratuitously included in these affairs. The catalogue will include a conversation with, as well as essays by, the curators; supplementary texts by Negar Azimi and Gean Moreno; and an edited transcript of a filmmaker roundtable moderated by Aily Nash. With its key themes—“the formation of self and the individual’s place in a turbulent society”—this latest iteration of the Whitney’s signature show will, one hopes, be taking some pages from Elisabeth Sussman’s playbook for the storied 1993 Biennial. The timing couldn’t be better.

Beau Rutland

Louise Lawler, Arranged by Donald Marron, Susan Brundage, Cheryl Bishop at Paine Webber, Inc. NYC (adjusted to fit), 1982/2016, adhesive vinyl, dimensions variable.

“Louise Lawler: Why Pictures Now”

MOMA - THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
NEW YORK
April 30 - July 30
Curated by Roxana Marcoci with Kelly Sidley

The success of Louise Lawler’s highly anticipated first New York museum survey hangs on the question of how this immensely influential artist will negotiate the demands of a retrospective, which all but necessitates the repackaging of the artist’s work into an “authoritative” reading. For principled refusal fuels every aspect of Lawler’s exacting practice, which is marked by the artist’s reservation with respect to doing what’s deemed proper for a successful career, and reticence, if masked by nonchalance, in response to the demand for a signature artistic identity. Yet another, more pressing question emerges: In what fraught ambiguities will the dark thread that has run through her practice of recent years, centered on the imbricated triad of patriarchy, capitalism, and war, manifest today? Lawler’s re-presentation of a multifarious oeuvre, stretching over some four decades, contains the potential to reshape the discourse that will govern its reception in our increasingly fraught times. Douglas Crimp, Rosalyn Deutsche, Diedrich Diederichsen, and five additional essayists contribute to a comprehensive catalogue.

Lynne Cooke

“We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85”

BROOKLYN MUSEUM
NEW YORK
Through September 17
Curated by Catherine Morris with Rujeko Hockley

The title “We Wanted a Revolution” might seem to imply a wistful retrospection on the two decades that witnessed the rise of second-wave feminism and the Black Power movement in the US. Yet the 130-some puissant artworks gathered for this show promise an incisive exploration of black female radicality in variegated forms—whether the mixed-media assemblages of Betye Saar or Faith Ringgold’s silk screens of the people’s flag or a costume from Lorraine O’Grady’s 1980 performance Mlle Bourgeoise Noire. The exhibition will offer a rare opportunity to view works by Beverly Buchanan, Barbara Chase-Riboud, and Janet Henry, whose names have come to the fore in the past few years but remain lesser known than those of their heavy-hitter counterparts. The diversity of media represented—from painting to sculpture, printmaking, installation, and documentation—should guarantee a rich spectrum of praxes and an abundance of surprising juxtapositions.

Andrianna Campbell

Tania Pérez Córdova, Person A (detail), 2014, SIM card on ceramic, 17 3/4 × 15 1/8 × 1 1/2".

“Tania Pérez Córdova: Smoke, Nearby”

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, CHICAGO (MCA CHICAGO)
CHICAGO
Through August 20
Curated by José Esparza Chong Cuy

Mexican artist Tania Pérez Córdova’s first major museum show will occupy the entire south side of the MCA’s main-floor galleries and will feature work developed for the occasion in a “rephrasing” of previous works—a strategy in line with her sensitivity to the specificity of space. Pérez Córdova’s work explores the different durations embedded in an object over time, as well as the social or economic relations enacted in a sculptural form. Her works exist both in the gallery space and beyond it, and she grants her objects a parallel existence in their partial absence or in their incompleteness evinced, for example, by an earring hanging from a bronze frame, whose twin lives a separate life with its owner, or by six pairs of colored contact lenses (placed on a marble slab) identical to those worn by six of the artist’s friends. “Smoke, Nearby” promises to lend new visual readings to these intimately personal yet contextually contingent works.

Catalina Lozano

Diego Rivera, Creation of the Universe [Illustration for Popol Vuh], 1931, watercolor on paper, 12 1/4 × 18 7/8". From the series “Popol Vuh,” 1931. © D.F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

“Picasso and Rivera: Conversations Across Time”

LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART (LACMA)
LOS ANGELES
Through May 7
Curated by Diana Magaloni, Michael Govan, Juan Coronel Rivera, James Oles, Jennifer Stager

Accompanied by a dense and lushly illustrated catalogue, this exhibition uncovers Picasso’s and Rivera’s parallel interests in antiquity—Mediterranean and pre-Columbian, respectively. A dozen great paintings from the teens suggest that, as a Cubist, Rivera possessed a sensibility that was as close to Juan Gris’s as to Picasso’s. But paintings are not the only attraction here: The show is notable for its wide range of media and epochs. Plaster casts that the two studied in school (and drawings by both artists of identical replicas) rub shoulders with bronze mirrors, classical vases, pre-Columbian carvings, and other artifacts, allowing us to see how Pablo and Diego drew, and drew from, the distant past. Another intriguing comparison is between Picasso’s etchings of the 1930s on Ovidian themes and Rivera’s 1931 watercolor illustrations of the Popol Vuh creation myth, which could not be more different. As for who gets the prize, let’s just say that being paired with Picasso is no picnic. Travels to Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, June 14–Sept. 17.

Harry Cooper

Jimmie Durham, Tlunh Datsi, 1984, puma skull, shells, turquoise, turkey feathers, metal, sheep’s wool, deer fur, pine, acrylic, 40 1/2 × 35 3/4 × 31 3/4".

“Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World”

HAMMER MUSEUM
LOS ANGELES
Through May 7
Curated by Anne Ellegood with MacKenzie Stevens

The first American retrospective of the work of Cherokee sculptor, performance artist, poet, and political activist Jimmie Durham presents nearly two hundred objects from the 1970s to the present. Notoriously ambivalent toward the United States after his departure from the American Indian Movement in 1980, Durham considers his itinerancy abroad to be a political gesture. His works wryly question the Western world’s fantasies about indigenous Americans. Although Durham claims that art happens “away from language,” his sculptural constructions—which employ disparate materials including bone, stone, and wood, as well as text, photographs, and drawings—are always in parley with wider discourses. Thinking away from formats and embracing the peripatetic and even the chaotic, Durham’s sculptures short-circuit normative tendencies in (Western) art and infuse its discourse with a fair dose of esprit. Travels to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, June 22–Oct. 8; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Nov. 3, 2017–Jan. 28, 2018; Remai Modern, Saskatoon, Canada, Mar. 23–Aug. 5, 2018.

Philippe Pirotte