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.
When I see a stellar work by Cecily Brown, I feel excited. There’s the audacity of executionthat messy control that courses through so much of the art I love, even among old masters. Brown is frank regarding her references to the great artists of the past, whether Veronese, Rubens, or Hogarth, and no less so about the modernist masters before whom she bends the knee: De Kooning comes to mind, and Gorky, even Picasso. “Rehearsal,” the artist’s first solo museum show in New York, will contain roughly sixty small canvases and a few very large drawings, several exhibited for the first time, affording viewers a unique opportunity to consider Brown’s work as a whole, and demonstrating that her draftsmanship is nothing if not painterly. If many of her thematic topoi remain resplendently out there, from the comparatively decorous ribaldry of Thomas Rowlandson’s eighteenth-century erotica to the more robust contemporary sensuality of Sasha Grey, at their best her compositions proffer an invitation to a glamorous partya party that casts a spell.
Born in Cuba just a few years after the emergence of abstraction, Carmen Herrera has built a more than seven-decade career that is a testament to patient discipline: She sold her first painting at the age of eighty-nine, and the last time a New York institution hosted her works was in 1998, at El Museo del Barrio. If the lore of Herrera’s sudden prominence threatens to outshine the work itself, the Whitney will bring us back to the heart of her sustained exploration of color and form, focusing on the postwar years between 1948 and 1978, during which she honed her prismatic, hard-edged abstraction, first in Paris and then New York. More than fifty paintings and drawings will be on view, along with a few wooden sculptures. Among these works are two series that serve as jumper cables for modernism: the spatially electric “Blanco y Verde” (White and Green), 1959–71, and the seven large canvases that comprise “Days of the Week,” 1975–78a bright celebration of structured time, which Herrera has undeniably mastered. Travels to the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH, Feb. 4–Apr. 16, 2017.
Aki Sasamoto’s performances exist in a realm somewhere between Fluxus events, TED talks, and IKEA hacks. A delight in the physics of cause and effect seemingly propels the artist’s interactions within a landscape of MacGyvered devices. Sasamoto frequently implements repurposed housewaresmops, brooms, impossibly long forksin her performances, and will continue that trend this fall at SculptureCenter for her first solo show at a US museum. Here, the artist will install washers and dryers as part of a new body of site-specific work centered on notions of cleanliness and filth and the neuroses they engender. It is difficult to predict what all this will add up to: The only certain aspect of Sasamoto’s practicerife with fanciful monologues, symbol-laden gestures, and visual gagsis the element of surprise.
Kai Althoff is decadent, in the fin-de-siècle sense of the word. The artist’s Symbolist eye for all things excessive, ardent, and synesthetic was cultivated in 1990s Cologne, yet Althoff enacts the figure of the post-Kippenberger dandy not as slacker but as devotee, all about the details. His kaleidoscopic uses of decor, staging, installation, and performance have long explored the hermetic and private histories of late late capitalism (a project for Artforum in 2011 peeked inside the apartment of a jeweler-collector from Warhol’s circle). But Althoff’s is a Gesamtkunstwerk divided against itself, never cohering into some neat whole. This quixotic show, helmed by the artist, will include some two hundred works in all manner of media, from painting to music to fragrance to sculptureas well as an artist’s bookcreating a world of interiors all its own.
In 1969, Mierle Laderman Ukeles invented the phrase maintenance art to articulate the undeniable fact that the wealth of nations, the workings of capital, and the privileges of the patriarchy are all predicated on the unpaid and/or undervalued labor of maintenance: the daily acts of cleaning, cooking, and other sundry tasks meant to prepare individuals and institutions for their so-called real work. This means that the efforts of janitors and housewives, conservators and sanitation workers, have served as source material for the artist’s most important interventions and performances. Ukeles, the consummate feminist, insists that art is not a utopian realm in which we can forget the adage that a woman’s work is never done; quite the contrary. Her work elucidates that our attempts to preserve artto preserve anything, in factfor a future humanity reside firmly in the sphere of maintenance rather than the realm of master narratives.
“The house and its yard and the road behind and across”the poetry of Beverly Buchanan’s description of the inspiration for her best-known sculpture was beautifully borne out in the works themselves, small architectures evoking, rooted in, but sometimes wildly departing from the shacks of her native South. For much of the art audience, Buchanan, who died in 2015, is a discovery of recent years, but her career dates back to the 1970s and includes site-specific earthworks, painting, photography, drawing, and concrete-block post- Minimalist sculpture, a range that this exhibition will provide a rare opportunity to see. The shacksboth intricate and raw, both informed and vernacularwill surely pull you in, but this show of approximately two hundred works promises a broader insight into Buchanan’s thought.