• Land's End, 1982.

    Land's End, 1982.

    Jasper Johns

    The Menil Collection
    1533 Sul Ross Street
    January 31–May 4, 2003

    With the survey “Drawing Now” attracting attention at MoMA in fall 2002, the time is ripe for a fresh, full-career look at our own old-master draftsman. For the Menil Collection, curator and catalogue author Mark Rosenthal has assembled a jewel-box group of thirty works, many of them lent by the artist himself. Covering the years 1955 to 2001, the exhibition provides a concise, up-to-date counterpoint to the National Gallery’s more expansive 1990 take on the same subject. The chosen examples, though limited in number, survey the full range of Johns’s varied iconography and virtuoso technique, from finely rendered charcoal drawings to his lush use of ink on plastic.

  • Enrique Chagoya, General Merchandise, 2000, tempera and paper on linen, 48 x 48". From “Splat, Boom, Pow!”

    Enrique Chagoya, General Merchandise, 2000, tempera and paper on linen, 48 x 48". From “Splat, Boom, Pow!”

    Splat, Boom, Pow!: The Influence of Comics in Contemporary Art, 1970–2000

    ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
    25 Harbor Shore Drive
    September 17, 2003–January 4, 2004

    Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
    5216 Montrose Boulevard
    April 12–June 29, 2003

    “Comics and contemporary art” is an idea that floats up among curators periodically, probably even predating Pop. (George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, begun before World War I, is famously well loved by artists.) But Valerie Cassel’s “Splat, Boom, Pow!” is a thoughtful take on the subject and fresh in its placement of younger artists like Laylah Ali, Julie Mehretu, and Chris Ofili alongside obvious inclusions like Roy Lichtenstein and Sigmar Polke. “The point,” says Cassel, “is to look at how myth is manifest in contemporary society and the idea of what constitutes a vernacular visual language.” Her show runs from Pop to manga, with entries both unpredictable and right.

  • Black Circle, 1915.

    Black Circle, 1915.

    Kasimir Malevich

    Unter den Linden 5
    January 18–April 27, 2003

    The Menil Collection
    1533 Sul Ross Street
    October 3, 2003–January 11, 2004

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York
    1071 Fifth Avenue
    June 1–September 7, 2003

    The Guggenheim’s delayed survey of the career of Kasimir Malevich, curated by Matthew Drutt (late of the Guggenheim and now with the Menil Collection, Houston), is probably the most revealing show to date of the wizard of the Russian avant-garde. Some 120 paintings, drawings, and objects, from breakthrough works like Black Square and Black Cross to the portraits of the ’30s, illustrate the evolution, achievements, and disintegration of the founder of Suprematism. If some of Malevich’s sociopolitical aspirations for his Soviet-period abstraction seem headily ambitious, there’s no doubting his intellectual rigor and pervasive influence. New archival research should give the multiauthor catalogue a long shelf life.