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.

Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Flowers and Mushrooms (detail), 1997–98/2006, projection of 162 digital slides.

“WADE GUYTON PETER FISCHLI DAVID WEISS”

ASPEN ART MUSEUM
ASPEN, COLORADO
Through November 26
Curated by Heidi Zuckerman

Niklas Luhmann, the influential German sociologist and a pioneer in the field of systems theory, asked us to think of normalcy as implausible. A comparable postulate is at work in the respective practices of American artist Wade Guyton and the storied Swiss duo Peter Fischli and David Weiss, the latter of whom died in 2012. No wonder, then, that the Aspen Art Museum thought to bring the artists together. Fischli and Weiss’s oeuvre celebrates normality as a deception that can be productively mined. Guyton’s art is an odd ode to the normality of art. Both practices employ distance in the service of annoyingly beautiful artworks. This summer, visitors to the museum’s über-normal hometown in the Rockies will have the chance to ponder how they do so, and thus what is at stake. 

Daniel Baumann

“UGO RONDINONE: THE WORLD JUST MAKES ME LAUGH”

BERKELEY ART MUSEUM AND PACIFIC FILM ARCHIVE (BAMPFA)
BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA
Curated by Lawrence Rinder

Over the past three decades, the Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, an Alpine mystic of sorts, has gained international attention for a dizzying array of works in nearly every medium imaginable, bound by a humanist undercurrent. “The world just makes me laugh,” the artist’s first major show in the Bay Area, is the penultimate stop of a five-part “serial exhibition” that had previous iterations in Rotterdam, Rome, and Cincinnati, each installation featuring its own catalogue. This latest  manifestation will feature both iconic Rondinone works and more recent ones—figurative sculptures of clowns in blissful repose, thousands of rainbow drawings made by children over the course of the traveling exhibition—no doubt offering a spirited reprieve from our pessimistic moment. Travels to the Bass, Miami, fall 2017.

Beau Rutland

Wallace Berman, untitled, 1958, gelatin silver print with transfer type mounted on board, sheet size 7 1/8 × 5 7/8”. © Estate of Wallace Berman and Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles.

“WILLIAM BLAKE AND THE AGE OF AQUARIUS”

BLOCK MUSEUM OF ART AT NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY
EVANSTON, ILLINOIS
Through March 11, 2018
Curated by Stephen F. Eisenman

This erudite Summer of Love golden-anniversary exhibition places the Beat-generation muse, proto-hippie, politically radical poet-engraver, and generally unclassifiable William Blake in the context of twentieth-century American art and popular culture. Exuberance is beauty! Identifying Allen Ginsberg, Agnes Martin, Maurice Sendak, counterculture communards, and the Fugs (to name a few) as Blake’s successors, the show features more than fifty of Blake’s engravings, etchings, watercolors, and illustrations, as well as some 150 paintings, drawings, photographs, film clips, and LPs from the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. The accompanying catalogue includes startling, if apt, pairings, putting Blake’s watercolor Jacob’s Dream, ca. 1789–1806, opposite a 1967 Victor Moscoso poster for the Doors. Similarly, Blake’s radiant The Dance of Albion, 1795, and his monstrous miniature The Ghost of a Flea, ca. 1819–20,  are juxtaposed, respectively, with two of Wallace Berman’s 1958 untitled portraits of Jay DeFeo and a still from Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954).

J. Hoberman

Louise Bourgeois, Nature Study (Velvet Eyes), 1984, marble, steel, 26 × 33 × 27". © The Easton Foundation; VAGA, NY.

LOUISE BOURGEOIS

MASSACHUSETTS MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART (MASS MOCA)
NORTH ADAMS, MASSACHUSETTS
Through May 28, 2027
Curated by Susan Cross

An event of singular importance is scheduled this spring at MASS MoCA—a decade-long installation of three monumental marbles by Louise Bourgeois, each weighing several tons and occupying a sprawling measure of floor space reinforced by steel supports, with an additional aluminum sculpture on five-year loan. One of the colossi on display, Untitled, 1991, comprises two marble slabs wedged together. The work incarnates a team of mythic personages, their heads rising above a stylized frieze of the sea, whose curling waves seemingly allude to Poseidon and riff on the Pergamon Altar, which depicts the battle of the giants against the Olympian deities. For Bourgeois, an artist who was uniquely committed to the psychoanalytic origins of her art, such figures dwell within both the realm of the gods and that of the unconscious. Might Untitled not be read as a parable of the battle Bourgeois herself fought against the Greenbergian Cubism-onward-to-abstraction paradigm of modernist art? Here, again, Bourgeois is seen sculpting the great contrarian alternative to that repressive, patriarchal sequence.

Robert Pincus-Witten

Stuart A. Weiner, Soleri Sketching at His Desk, Cosanti, ca. 1960, gelatin silver print, sheet size 10 × 8". From “Repositioning Paolo Soleri: The City Is Nature.” © The Weiner Estate, Collection of the Cosanti Foundation.

“REPOSITIONING PAOLO SOLERI: THE CITY IS NATURE”

SCOTTSDALE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
October 14 - January 28, 2018
Curated by Claire C. Carter

 Like Arcosanti, the “urban laboratory” he constructed in the arid highlands of Arizona and ran for almost half a century, Paolo Soleri could be described as off the grid. His desert headquarters has now been a pilgrimage site for generations of countercultural-leaning architects, and his signature philosophy of “arcology”—which fused architecture with ecology in an effort to secure an environmentally sustainable future for humankind—could hardly seem more prescient. Yet Soleri never quite entered the mainstream; he receives little more than a footnote in most histories of postwar architecture, and his work has not been surveyed in America since 1971. This exhibition will end that long drought, presenting a comprehensive collection of models and drawings alongside experiments in a range of media, from silk screen to cast bronze, that highlight Soleri’s engagement with art and craft. The accompanying catalogue will offer fresh interpretations of his work by an appropriately interdisciplinary assemblage of scholars, artists, and critics.

Julian Rose