previews

  • Tony Smith

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
    11 West 53rd Street
    July 1 - September 22

    Thanks to his prominent position in Kynaston McShine's “Primary Structures,” the 1966 Jewish Museum exhibition that sent Minimalism into orbit, Tony Smith has been rather randomly lumped in with that movement. A decade older than Judd and Andre, he was actually closer in age to the second-generation Abstract Expressionists; in this first retrospective since his death in 1980, one should be able to explore any affinities he shared with that loose group before he moved on to the style for which we know him best. The exhibition, organized by MoMA curator Robert Storr, consulting architecture curator John Keenan, and the Public Art Fund's Tom Eccles, will devote considerable attention to Smith's work as an architect: “He was a true polymath,” remarks Storr. “His principles of form apply across the board.”

  • Aleksandr Rodchenko

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
    11 West 53rd Street
    June 25 - October 6

    Aleksandr Rodchenko rejected the introspective mysticism of Suprematism and envisioned a future shaped by artist-engineers and proletarian consumers. It didn't happen, and today his sharp graphic ads for cigarettes and beer are wildly at odds with our vision of the worker-as-victim-of-consumerism; his brilliantly composed advertisements for the state are compromised by the fact that the happy workers he portrays are all too often forced laborers, and his utopian ideals proved sounder in theory than practice. Still, Rodchenko remains a sentimental favorite. In this show of 318 works, organized by Peter Galassi and Magdalena Dabrowski with art historian Leah Dickerman, the formalist’s style speaks of innovation and hope, and we’re all nostalgic for the idea of a future.

  • Gordon Matta-Clark: Drawings and Paintings

    MoMA PS1
    22-25 Jackson Avenue at 46th Avenue
    May 1 - June 28

    Gordon Matta-Clark’s early death and the typically ephemeral nature of his most famous (and radical) works have conspired to leave the artist’s achievement somewhat murky. This show, which takes up the Generali Foundation’s retrospective of his drawings, often prepared as studies for architectural interventions, should help clear matters up. Perhaps his least-known work, the drawings veer between straightforward diagrams and blatantly fantastic, often vividly colored projections in ink or marker. Select projects by the artist are also being re-created, including the notorious Cut, originally installed at the institution in 1976, and another proposal is being executed for the first time: a wrap enveloping the entire P.S. 1. The artist’s films will also be screened.

  • Charles Ray

    Whitney Museum of American Art
    99 Gansevoort Street
    June 4 - November 19

    Along with artists such as Robert Gober and Katharina Fritsch, Charles Ray has salvaged the tradition of crafted, figurative sculpture by radically reconstituting the three-dimensional object as “image.” Ray’s tact has been to conflate a perception-oriented strain of Minimalism with elements of Pop, then to temper this strange alloy with his own unique version of object-relations psychology. Organized by MoCA chief curator Paul Schimmel, this midcareer retrospective of Ray’s quirky oeuvre should allow the logic of the artist’s development to unfold, offering a definitive look at the new, peculiarly hybrid genre of sculpture-as-image. June 4–Nov. 19; travels to Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Nov.–Feb. 1999; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Mar.–June 1999.

  • Louise Nevelson: Structures Evolving

    Whitney Museum of American Art
    99 Gansevoort Street
    May 1 - September 13

    Rather like Georgia O’Keeffe and Lucas Samaras, Louise Nevelson has become almost as famous for her wigged-out personal style as for her art. The Whitney retrospective—forty-three sculptures and drawings culled from the permanent collection by associate curator Beth Venn—will allow ample opportunity to focus on her art, tracing the Americanization of Schwitter’s Merzbau (one obvious antecedent) as Nevelson moved from the black-, white-, and occasionally gold-painted assemblages for which she remains known to the incorporation of more unusual materials (e.g., Plexiglas, lucite, and epoxy) in her work from the ’60s on. The real question before us is broached by the exhibition’s title: How much do the structures really evolve?

  • The Art of the Motorcycle

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York
    1071 Fifth Avenue
    June 26 - September 12

    The good news is that, come this summer, there will be motorcycles on the ramps of the Guggenheim’s Frank Lloyd Wright building. The bad news is, no, they won’t be smoking, screaming, and leaving skid marks on those nice white walls at 140 mph in the first annual motordrome Gran Prix de Thomas Krens (although the Guggenheim’s director, a motorcycle enthusiast and curator of the show, probably did entertain the thought for a tenth of a second or so). Instead, the likes of a very early bike, a Hildebrand & Wolfmuller 1500cc manufactured in Germany in 1894, the beautiful Ducati 916, and the ’50s best-selling Honda 50 Super Club—along with about eighty-five others—will just sit there, looking pretty. June 26–Sept. 12; travels to Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

  • Martin Wong

    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    May 28 - September 13

    The painter Martin Wong, whose vivid canvases are jam-packed with imagery taken from street scenes of the Lower East Side, had his last gallery show in New York in 1993 at P.P.O.W. Weakened by AIDS, Wong stopped painting shortly thereafter and moved back to California to live with his mother. Now, the former fixture of the ’80s East Village scene is the subject of a midcareer retrospective, coorganized by Dan Cameron, senior curator at the New Museum, and Barry Blinderman, director of the University Galleries at Illinois State, where the show made its debut in January. Thirty-two paintings will be on display, and the catalogue features essays by the show’s organizers as well as critics Carlo McCormick and Yasmin Ramirez.