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.

Carol Rama, Le tagliole (The Traps), 1966, red fox hide and enamel on canvas, 23 5/8 × 19 3/4".


Curated by Helga Christoffersen and Massimiliano Gioni

Just two months after the widely traveled European retrospective “The Passion According to Carol Rama” closed in Turin, the first New York survey of the late Italian artist’s work opened at the New Museum. While it’s a shame “The Passion” didn’t cross the Atlantic, “Antibodies”—which features 175 works and an accompanying catalogue with essays by Italian writer and curator Lea Vergine and LA-based critic Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer—more than makes up for the loss. Spanning seven decades, the exhibition covers the full range of Rama’s practice, from the frank and fantastic eroticism of her early watercolors of the 1930s and ’40s, to the abstract abjection of the ’60s “Bricolages” and latex “vulnerable organisms,” to the carnality of her late-career figuration, embodied here in, for example, the mixed-media series “La mucca pazza” (The Mad Cow), ca. 1996–2001. “Antibodies” thus offers New York audiences a comprehensive—and long-overdue—consideration of Rama’s provocative representations of sexuality, illness, and the body.

Rachel Churner

Song Dong, Stamping the Water (detail), 1996, thirty-six C-prints, each 24 × 15 3/4". From “Art and China After 1989: Theater of the World.”


Through January 7, 2018
Curated by Alexandra Munroe, Philip Tinari, Hou Hanru, Xiaorui Zhu-Nowell, Kyung An

Like a world’s fair, a survey exhibition is a dinosaur—yet its appeal remains irresistible for curators and audiences alike. And the stakes are exponentially raised when the art on display inhabits the eye of a political hurricane. “Art and China After 1989”—the first major survey of contemporary Chinese art in almost two decades—seeks to ignite its own blaze with a sprawling display of more than one hundred works in the fields of film, video, painting, photography, installation, Land art, and performance art by some seventy artists and collectives. Bookended by the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the exhibition unfurls all the usual heavy hitters, including Ai Weiwei, Cao Fei, Chen Zhen, and Zhang Peili, while bringing context to bear with a display of archival materials and an accompanying three-hundred-page catalogue. Travels to the Guggenheim Bilbao, spring 2018; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, fall 2018. 

Joan Kee

Laura Owens, Untitled, 2013, acrylic, vinyl paint, and rubber wheels on linen, 108 × 84".


Through February 4, 2018
Curated by Scott Rothkopf

What else can painting do? With wide-eyed curiosity, maverick humor, and infectious glee, Owens continues to pose this query, producing ambitious, technically rigorous, and surprising pieces unlike those of any other painter of her generation (or the next). Her works both rally and splinter the medium’s history of craft and illusionism: Haptic possibility drives her; democratic intelligence and sly pop subject matter ground her. For this LA master, painting is large-scale installation, embroidered silk-screened textile, ticking timepiece, site-specific manifesto, private treasure hunt, and eye-popping, mind-bending, gut-busting karaoke house party. This midcareer survey spans the mid-1990s to the present with approximately sixty paintings, wallpaper works, and new handmade artist’s books. The catalogue features some forty texts, documentation of ephemera, and correspondence that will flesh out Owens’s dynamic studio life, career trajectory, and far-reaching collaborative activities—collectively demonstrating her indispensability within the thriving community that orbits her. Travels to the Dallas Museum of Art, Mar. 25–July 29, 2018; Geffen Contemporary at MoCA, Los Angeles, Nov. 2018–Mar. 2019. 

Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer

Gordon Matta-Clark, Bronx Floor: Boston Road, 1973, gelatin silver print, 11 × 13 7/8".


Through April 8, 2018
Curated by Antonio Sergio Bessa and Jessamyn Fiore

This exhibition promises to explore dimensions of Matta-Clark only touched on in previous retrospectives, homing in on his architectural projects of the 1970s. The artist adopted the sobriquet anarchitect, with a bow to the art brut painter Jean Dubuffet and in explicit opposition to his professional education at Cornell. But the work to be exhibited in the Bronx this fall—which will include preparatory drawings and documentation of his famous cuttings, including the highly complex incision through two seventeenth-century Parisian town houses that functioned as a viewfinder for the Centre Pompidou, then under construction—reveals a seriously competent architect’s eye. A large selection of Matta-Clark’s photography of walls and graffiti will demonstrate his considerable skill with that medium, too, and provide a record of his social and political activism—rounding out our understanding of this mercurial figure as one of the late twentieth century’s most radical thinkers. Travels to the Jeu de Paume, Paris, June 4–Sept. 23, 2018; Kumu Kunstimuuseum, Tallinn, Estonia, Mar. 1–Aug. 4, 2019; Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA, Sept. 12–Dec. 15, 2019. 

Anthony Vidler

Stephen Shore, Breakfast, Trail’s End Restaurant, Kanab, Utah, 2012, C-print, 16 7/8 × 21 1/4".


Through May 28, 2018
Curated by Quentin Bajac with Kristen Gaylord

Shore has long been revered for his glorious large-format color photographs from “Uncommon Places,” a record of his cross-country road trips of the 1970s and ’80s. Despite the photos’ lush Pop nostalgia for the American strip, what underlies the series and accounts for the continued influence of Shore’s work is his uncanny conceptual observation, utterly lacking sentimentality or irony. Taking the deadpan, saturation-enhanced look of the vernacular postcard as a point of departure, Shore has employed everything from plastic toy cameras to tripod-based view cameras to Instagram. All will be on display in MoMA's massive retrospective, which features more than seven hundred photographs, books (some of which are self-published), and archival materials and will be accompanied by an encyclopedic catalogue with contributions from the curators, David Campany, and Martino Stierli. Reared in Warhol’s Factory, Shore has always sought the strangeness and beauty of the banal: the everyday epiphany of a stack of diner pancakes.

Brian Wallis

François Morellet, Répartition aléatoire de 40.000 carrés suivant les chiffres pairs et impairs et d’un annuaire de téléphone (50% bleu nuit, 50% noir) (Random Distribution of 40,000 Squares Using the Odd and Even Numbers of a Telephone Directory [50% Night Blue, 50% Black]), 1961, silk screen on wood, 31 1/2 × 31 1/2". © Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.


Through June 2, 2018
Curated by Béatrice Gross with Megan Holly Witko

Consigned in the 1960s to that most damning of dustbins—the seemingly exhausted history of “European painting”—the expansive, endlessly experimental oeuvre of François Morellet (who died last year at the age of ninety) has received relatively little attention in the US. This focused presentation, the French artist’s first full-career survey on American shores, could prove a game changer. Bringing together nearly fifty works spanning seven decades, the show places a particular emphasis on Morellet’s abstract geometric paintings of the ’50s and early ’60s, when he developed his earliest rule-based systems and helped to found the legendary Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV). Installed at Dia’s spaces in both Chelsea and Beacon, the show also selectively tracks the artist’s later series and installations incorporating neon tubes, adhesive tape, and other nontraditional materials. A full-color volume of scholarship accompanies the exhibition.

Molly Warnock