• John Currin, The Producer, 2002.

    John Currin, The Producer, 2002.

    John Currin

    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    May 3–August 24, 2003

    Serpentine Galleries
    Kensington Gardens
    September 9–November 2, 2003

    Whitney Museum of American Art
    99 Gansevoort Street
    November 20, 2003–February 22, 2004

    It’s been twelve years since Village Voice critic Kim Levin urged readers to “boycott” the “awful paintings” in John Currin’s first gallery show. Now, the full range of Currin’s provocations—smiling divorcées, coeds, neo-Mannerist nudes, and rosy-cheeked gay couples—are on view in a midcareer retrospective organized by MCA associate curator Staci Boris and Serpentine chief curator Rochelle Steiner. In the catalogue (which includes essays by Boris and Robert Rosenblum), Currin muses ruefully about Cosmopolitan, Scrabble, and his own conservatism: “Basically, I enjoy normality in art. I like boring things, or I like pretty things.”

  • Breathe, 1966.

    Breathe, 1966.

    Bridget Riley

    Tate Britain
    June 26–September 28, 2003

    Those for whom contemporary British painting means the Sturm und Drang of Bacon, Freud, and company may have to revise their stereotypes now that the Tate has unleashed Bridget Riley’s first full retrospective since 1978, curated by the Tate’s Paul Moorhouse and accompanied by a catalogue with essays by Robert Kudielka and Richard Shiff. More than sixty paintings cover the artist’s four decades of work, from the severe sensuality of the black-and-white paintings that defined Op art in the early ’60s, through her development of a Matissean coloristic sweep starting in the late ’60s and on through the ’90s, and back to black and white again in her recent linear wall paintings.

  • New York City, 1996.

    New York City, 1996.

    Philip-Lorca diCorcia

    Museum Folkwang
    Museumsplatz 1
    June 1–June 30, 2004

    Whitechapel Gallery
    77 - 82 Whitechapel High Street
    June 1–August 24, 2003

    Centre National de la Photographie
    Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild 11 rue Berryer
    January 1–March 31, 2004

    Centro de Arte de Salamanca
    Avda de la Aldehuela
    July 1–August 30, 2004

    Philip-Lorca diCorcia turns twists on one of photography’s permanent ambiguities: The image may be an impartial, industriously detailed record of the lens’s view, but it is also subject to unlimited contingencies of both accident and control. Thus a seemingly casual diCorcia scene—a man’s glum audit of his refrigerator, say—turns out to be stage-managed to the nines, while an apparently formal portrait is a street photograph, if a carefully engineered one. Whitechapel’s Andrea Tarsia is premiering the 1999 suite Two Hours and virtually premiering the 1975–99 series “A Storybook Life,” whose seventy-six photos for the most part have never been shown.

  • Untitled #275, 1993.

    Untitled #275, 1993.

    Cindy Sherman

    Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
    75 Belford Road
    July 25, 2013–March 7, 2004

    Serpentine Galleries
    Kensington Gardens
    June 5–August 25, 2003

    Serpentine chief curator Rochelle Steiner’s Cindy Sherman overview focuses on staged portraiture, which allows the artist to hide in plain sight as a shape-shifting Everywoman: starlet, frump, Madonna, ogre, aging trophy wife. With some forty photographs from the “Untitled Film Stills” and more recent pieces that continue the artist’s 2000 series skewering anxious, oblivious career girls, the show investigates Sherman’s mix of satire and sympathy. “I want that choked-up feeling in your throat which may come from despair or teary-eyed sentimentality,” she wrote early on, before burying all traces of sentimentality in grotesquerie. Her return to portraiture by proxy gives this show its unsentimental but happy ending.

  • Peter Saville

    The Design Museum, London
    224-238 Kensington High Street (Reopening 24 November 2016)
    May 23–September 14, 2003

    Peter Saville, the British graphic designer and cofounder of Manchester’s Factory Records recently voted “the most admired person in the creative industries” by his peers, probably remains best known for his groundbreaking, two-decade-plus collaboration with Joy Division/New Order. Less publicly acknowledged is his understated—yet pervasively influential—work for the fashion houses of Yohji Yamamoto, Jil Sander, Christian Dior, Givenchy, and Stella McCartney and the epoch-defining “looks” he created for Roxy Music and ’90s Britpop favorites Suede and Pulp. The Design Museum’s midcareer survey “The Peter Saville Show” charts this maverick designer’s singular and determined path through an often fickle pop-cultural landscape.