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.
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 spaceyet 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.
Ever since the invention of this particular breed of dandy in the early nineteenth century, the flaneur has been the art world’s favorite visitor. Mobile, curious, omnipresent, and critically adept, the flaneur came to embodythrough the work of Baudelaire and other writersmodernity’s demands for an agile and nimble way of seeing art and the world at large. The Barnes Foundation, in a notable expansion of its historical purview, has assembled artworks stretching from the postwar era to today that were made with the flaneur’s most esteemed qualities in mind: alacrity, an openness to the public and social discourse, a focus on daily life, and a flair for performance. More than fifty acclaimed international artists working in various mediums will be represented, their contributions augmenting complementary works from the Barnes’s collection. In the spirit of flânerie, the show will go beyond the museum, with works presented on billboards and in the streets.
Two decades ago, while her YBA predecessors were garnering international attention for blaring, acerbic one-liners, Ceal Floyer emerged in Britain as a beacon of restraint, creating such quotidian epigrams as Light, 1994, a dangling, unplugged bulb lit by four surrounding slide projectors. Floyer’s minimal gestures require sustained consideration, making her practice perfectly suited for a showing such as thisa spare but rewarding survey of thirteen pieces made between 1993 and 2015. Take in the early work Door, 1995, in which a slide projector has been configured to mysteriously illuminate a strip of light beneath a closed door, or Solo, 2006, a mic stand supporting a would-be star’s hairbrush. Or pause to digest the artist’s latest iteration of Bars, 2015, for which she has fitted the museum’s street-level picture window with bespoke black steel bars. Floyer’s closed-circuit construction outs itself, plangently, as a brittle, carefully maintained surface, half covering and half concealing. Existential anxiety? We don’t talk about that.
This show guides the viewer through three distinct environments: a cavern of crushed-amethyst athletic balls, an hourglass-filled gallery, and a Japanese Zen garden patrolled by a performer in the guise of its resident hermit-monk. In lieu of rocks, this figure tends to a garden of sculptures cast from everyday objects, which Daniel Arsham offers up like riddles for some future archaeologist to decipher. For these works, the artist forgoes the monotone grays of his earlier casts in favor of blue calcite, a startlingly vivid material Arsham began using only recently, following the correction of his color-blindness. This jolt of color effects the estrangement typically lent by historical distance, fostering a reading of the objects as apocryphal artifacts that must be negotiated within the Zen garden’s purposefully ahistorical terrain. The exhibition thus enacts a temporal suspension not unlike that of its eponymous timepiece, perpetually overturned.
Gathering more than sixty photographs (all but one made since 2000), a handful of sculptures, and a video making its debut, Roe Ethridge’s first US museum survey will provide a heady dose of the artist’s faux-generic, technically impeccable styleone of the post–Pictures generation’s most influential. Although his sleek, satiric take on advertorial-style fashion and still life is now pervasive, few imitators can match Ethridge’s witty mix of art and commerce, document and fiction. Even pictures that appear to be dumb documents help undermine antique notions of photographic truth: His perfect pumpkin is actually a shot of a sticker (Pumpkin Sticker, 2010), and in what is clearly a photograph of a Point Break movie poster, he has replaced Patrick Swayze’s head with a shaggy self-portrait (Untitled [Point Break], 2010). His tendency to produce what curator Kevin Moore calls a “synthetic version . . . of the reality we think we know” makes Ethridge a reliably destabilizing force; his seduction can turn into a sly slap in the face.
Bolstered by the artist’s 2012 retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Kusama legendand blue-chip brandis poised for even greater recognition via this major chronological survey of more than sixty paintings, sculptures, and works on paper. Coinciding with a proliferation of new scholarship (and amplified by an extensive catalogue produced for the occasion), the show will include lesser-known works made after the artist’s return to Japan from New York in 1973. But as the exhibition title indicates, its main draw will surely be its six “mirror rooms,” the LED-lit chambers that exemplify the seeming limitlessness of Kusama’s mass appeal. Travels to the Seattle Art Museum, June 30–Sept. 10; the Broad, Los Angeles, Oct. 2017–Jan. 2018; Art Gallery of Ontario, Mar.–May 2018; Cleveland Museum of Art, July–Oct. 2018.