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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.

Mark Bradford, Pickett’s Charge (detail), 2017, mixed media on eight canvases, overall 12 × 400'.

“MARK BRADFORD: PICKETT’S CHARGE”

HIRSHHORN MUSEUM AND SCULPTURE GARDEN
WASHINGTON, DC
Through November 12
Curated by Evelyn Hankins and Stéphane Aquin

Bradford’s work revels in the material and metaphoric properties of paper. One sheet can be shredded, but if you layer it and soak it with water, the stuff becomes as durable as rebar: We are indeed stronger together. If paper and printing were once essential to the democratic project, it’s telling that Bradford’s focus has been less on printing than on erasure. The textured, puckered, and scarred contours of his canvases evince a low hum of wounding, a palimpsest of the daily microaggressions endured by those not considered to be straight white dudes by the culture at large. That his mutilated abstract fields are often ravishing speaks volumes about his work’s capacity for complexity. For this exhibition, Bradford presents a four-hundred-foot-long panoramic installation in the iconic circular galleries of the Hirshhorn. Referencing numerous American struggles, from the AIDS epidemic to race riots, and taking the Battle of Gettysburg as its starting point, the piece will surely show us that democracy is also an affair of the heart.

Helen Molesworth

Mona Hatoum, Cells (detail), 2014, zinc-plated steel, glass, 54 × 48 × 25".

“MONA HATOUM: TERRA INFIRMA”

THE MENIL COLLECTION
HOUSTON
Through February 25
Curated by Michelle White

Mona Hatoum has spent her nearly forty-year career sharpening the edges of the everyday. The London- and Berlin-based artist was a signal figure in the turn toward a conception of both the bodily and the domestic as sites of political complexity and psychic menace that stretched across the 1980s and 1990s; this exhibition will be her first major museum survey in the US in two decades, showcasing some thirty sculptures and installations, including such signature works as the electrified household space of Homebound, 2000. In recognition of the often uncanny estrangements produced by Hatoum’s work, the show will be accompanied by a concurrent exhibition of objects, selected in consultation with the artist, from the Menil’s important collection of Surrealist work. A catalogue featuring essays by White, Anna Chave, Adania Shibli, and Rebecca Solnit will be published. Travels to the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Saint Louis, Apr. 6–Aug. 11, 2018. 

Jeffrey Kastner

Trenton Doyle Hancock, 8 Back Icon Series: Bringback—Striped Henchman, No. 5102, 2016, acrylic, canvas collage, and plastic bottle caps on canvas, 66 × 38". From the series “8 Back Icon Series,” 2016.

“Trenton Doyle Hancock: The re-evolving door to the Moundverse”

CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM ST. LOUIS
SAINT LOUIS
January 19 - April 22
Curated by Wassan Al-Khudhairi

Trenton Doyle Hancock’s engaging, discomfiting, and ultimately unclassifiable work could be described as “R. Crumb meets Philip Guston.” This miniretrospective of fourteen works—including major paintings made between 1997 and 2016—explores the artist’s mythology of the ongoing battle between the Mounds, a tribe of benevolent meat-eating creatures, and the mean-spirited Vegans, who, besides possessing other unpleasant attributes, are unable to see color. The saga unfolds in large, intensely colored paintings that conflate the visual languages of comic books and high modernism, plus one sculpture, Mound #1 the Legend, 2015, and the fifty-four-foot-wide Good Vegan Procession #5, 2007, originally conceived as a backdrop for Ballet Austin. The story is further enhanced by two muscular heroes from the “8 Back Icon Series,” 2016: the artist’s alter ego, Torpedo Boy, and the equivocal Bringback, a striped henchman. Hancock’s deeply serious, funny, and disturbing oeuvre probes, both directly and metaphorically, the troubled history of race relations and social justice in the United States.

Karen Wilkin

Digital rendering of Theaster Gates’s sculpture Black Vessel for a Saint, 2017, as it will be installed in the Walker Art Center/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

MINNEAPOLIS SCULPTURE GARDEN

WALKER ART CENTER
MINNEAPOLIS
Curated by Olga Viso

After a year of extensive renovation, a transformed Minneapolis Sculpture Garden opens in June with the aim of tying the garden, built by Edward Larrabee Barnes in 1971, to the Walker Art Center via a new plaza, entrance, and expanded lobby, all designed by HGA Architects and Engineers. While Barnes based his garden on extant European examples, HGA has instead emphasized the flora of the region, employing native plants and trees and using environmentally sustainable materials and building practices.Beloved fixtures of the original garden, such as Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s Spoonbridge and Cherry, 1985–88, will keep company with more recently acquired pieces by American and European artists, including a spectacular new iteration of Katharina Fritsch’s Hahn/Cock, 2013/ 2016, originally commissioned for the Fourth Plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square.

Anne M. Wagner

“LAURE PROUVOST: THEY ARE WAITING FOR YOU”

WALKER ART CENTER
MINNEAPOLIS
Through February 11
Curated by Victoria Sung with Gwyneth Shanks

The great seduction of Laure Prouvost’s work is rooted in the slippage of language, amid the perils and joys of communication and misunderstanding. Her lush and bewildering films distort conventional narrative to such a degree that they can be hard to follow, but the intensity of her voice-overs and the wit of her directives compel us to keep trying. Take the fictional story of the French artist’s grandfather––an overlooked Conceptual artist and close friend of Kurt Schwitters’s––that has proved to be a golden thread from which she has spun a number of engrossing films and installations, including the Turner Prize–winning Wantee, 2013. Yet though Prouvost has shown extensively in Europe, American audiences have had far fewer occasions to see her work. Details about the film installation and performance piece to debut at the Walker are scant, but that is part of the artist’s charm: She almost always leaves us guessing and restless for more.

Rachel Churner

Allen Ruppersberg, The Singing Posters Part I–III (Poetry Sound Collage Sculpture Book)—Allen Ginsberg’s Howl
by Allen Ruppersberg
(detail), 2003–2005
, 209 letterpress posters, each 22 × 14".

“Allen Ruppersberg: Intellectual Property 1968–2018”

WALKER ART CENTER
MINNEAPOLIS
March 17 - July 29
Curated by Siri Engberg with Fabián Leyva-Barragan

For five decades, Allen Ruppersberg has balanced grand gestures—say, opening a hotel or café under his own name, or transcribing Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray by hand—with humble vernacular materials (Colby Poster Printing Company’s rainbow-gradient placards, pop LPs, laminated plastic, etc.) and self- effacing modesty (“Al”). Like his peers who defined West Coast Conceptualism (John Baldessari, Douglas Huebler, and Alexis Smith among them), Ruppersberg has embraced language as the province of visual art, often with humorous results. So, his first major retrospective in more than thirty years will be rife with words: A novel, a screenplay, piles of books (including the slyly fictional Remainders, 1991), and a mural-scale phonetic remake of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” are among the approximately 120 works included. A comprehensive catalogue with essays by the curator, Thomas Crow, Matthew S. Witkovsky, and Aram Moshayedi, plus an illustrated chronology, will give Al’s fans plenty to talk about. Travels to the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, February 10–May 12, 2019. 

Michael Ned Holte