• Woman,  1953.

    Woman, 1953.

    Willem de Kooning: Tracing the Figure

    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    February 10–April 28, 2002

    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
    151 Third Street
    June 15–September 8, 2002

    National Gallery of Art
    Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
    September 29, 2002–January 5, 2003

    Curated by Paul Schimmel and Connie Butler

    Fifty years ago Willem de Kooning shocked the art world with his “Woman” paintings—not simply because the figures were so violently abstract but because his abstraction had so much figuration in it. Curators Paul Schimmel and Connie Butler have assembled nearly all the pastels from the artist’s landmark 1953 show, along with seventy other works on paper that chart de Kooning’s grappling with the figure from 1938 through 1955. In light of recent bombshells by Currin, Yuskavage, et al., it appears the time is ripe for yet another look at the postwar granddaddy of bodily transformation.

  • Water Heater, 1960.

    Water Heater, 1960.

    Andy Warhol

    Tate Modern
    February 7–April 1, 2002

    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    May 25–August 18, 2002

    Curated by Heiner Bastian and Donna De Salvo

    Like Picasso, Andy Warhol has kept the wheels of the art industry turning, inspiring one generation after another. Coming to London from Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie, the latest blockbuster, curated by Heiner Bastian and the Tate’s Donna De Salvo, offers yet a new version of Warhol’s epic scope, including a look at his much neglected late abstract work, which, like his early wallpaper, just keeps on rolling out. And this time around, Warhol’s expanding universe embraces not only the usual fat catalogue (with contributions by Bastian, De Salvo, Kirk Varnedoe, and Peter-Claus Schuster) but a three-part TV series, The Whole Warhol, with cameo appearances by everyone from Debbie Harry to Arthur C. Danto.

  • Aleksander Rodchenko, cover of Rechevik, (Orator) by Sergei Tretiakov, 1929.

    Aleksander Rodchenko, cover of Rechevik, (Orator) by Sergei Tretiakov, 1929.

    The Russian Avant-Garde Book: 1910–1934

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
    11 West 53rd Street
    March 21–May 21, 2002

    Curated by Deborah Wye and Margit Rowell

    This comprehensive exhibition of 300 Russian artist’s books and manifestos, organized by MoMA curator Deborah Wye and guest curator Margit Rowell, reminds us that the goal of breaking down the barriers between creative disciplines is nothing new. With infectious slogans like “Real materials in real space” and “Art into life,” the Russian avant-garde’s production was anything but autonomous. Even if their dream of integrating art into everyday life through industrial production went unrealized, we’re left with a compelling record of photomontage propaganda and a view into a world in which art acknowledged no limits. What could be more persuasive as an instrument of social change than a book? Thousands of them.

  • This Is Me, This Is You (detail), 2000

    This Is Me, This Is You (detail), 2000

    Roni Horn

    Dia Center for the Arts
    542 West 22nd Street
    February 27–June 16, 2002

    After a significant show at the Whitney in 2000, Roni Horn might be excused from mounting another in New York so soon, and a two-parter at that; it’s a tribute to her intense focus that she not only offers more but makes us thirsty for it. The exhibition presents a meditation on the mutability—and fixity—of signs both visual and verbal. Joining a pair of works held over from Part I are Clowd and Cloun (Blue), 2001, and Becoming a Landscape, 2001, a brand-new photo-based piece. Given Horn’s extensive output of artist’s books, her decision to release a CD of vocal performance rather than a conventional catalogue is a nice touch.

  • Jeff Mermelstein, Untitled, New York City, 1993.

    Jeff Mermelstein, Untitled, New York City, 1993.

    New York: Capital of Photography

    The Jewish Museum
    1109 Fifth Avenue
    April 28–September 29, 2002

    Curated by Max Kozloff

    The September 11 World Trade Center attack was probably the most photographed event in history, partly because there were so many cameras in the vicinity. As this exhibition guest-curated by Max Kozloff demonstrates, New York has been the “Capital of Photography” since the end of the nineteenth century. Kozloff’s emphasis on the critical role of Jewish immigrants in this history is supported by his selection of 102 images by 59 photographers (from Stieglitz, Steichen, and Hine to Goldin, Mermelstein, and Fink) and his penetrating catalogue essay. At a time when documentary photography is arguably enjoying a renaissance in New York, this show provides much-needed context.

  • Yinka Shonibare, 19th Century Kid (Emily Bronte), 2000.

    Yinka Shonibare, 19th Century Kid (Emily Bronte), 2000.

    Black Romantic

    The Studio Museum in Harlem
    429 West 127th St
    April 24–June 24, 2002

    Curated by Thelma Golden

    Curator Thelma Golden has taken risks in her career, most visibly with her 1994 “Black Male” exhibition at the Whitney, criticized by many for its propagation of “negative” images of African Americans. With “Black Romantic,” she’s going out on a different kind of limb. The show presents figurative painting and sculpture by little-known African American artists—little-known, at least, to most contemporary-art audiences. Widely collected by African Americans, the works, selected from an open call for submissions, are populist, celebratory, even nostalgic narratives whose MO is to counter mainstream (white) media-generated imagery. Golden’s “conceptual exercise” has much to do with the museum itself, opening it, she says, to the “black world.”

  • Curve (Ghoster), 1996.

    Curve (Ghoster), 1996.

    Gary Simmons

    Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA Chicago)
    220 East Chicago Avenue
    February 16–May 19, 2002

    The Studio Museum in Harlem
    429 West 127th St
    October 9–January 5, 2002

    The Studio Museum in Harlem
    429 West 127th St
    October 9–January 5, 2002

    SITE Santa Fe
    1606 Paseo de Peralta
    June 21–September 10, 2002

    Curated by Thelma Golden

    Gary Simmons is on the young side of midcareer, an artist whose concerns dovetail nicely with what curator Thelma Golden terms postblack art, probing the contours of racialized knowledge in order to turn that knowledge inside out. This thirty-five-work retrospective highlights the Los Angeles–based artist’s insistence on “slow” or non-technological media and includes examples of his signature “erasure drawings”: chalkboard-style wall works in which pop imagery appears as liminal smudges. In Golden’s hands, the show offers ample opportunity to reexamine politicized selfhood as imagined in gallery space. The catalogue includes essays by Golden and art historian Maurice Berger.