• 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.”

  • Self-portrait in the Mirror, The Lodge, Belmont, MA, 1988

    Nan Goldin

    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    May 21–September 7, 2003

    Treating Goldin’s landmark Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1981–86, as a distant memory, this small-scale retrospective (the artist’s first solo in Canada) concentrates primarily on her photographs from the ’90s. That decade happens to mark a transition in Goldin’s life from club-hopping, taboo-breaking, sexual-experimenting hyperactivity to a more mature and reflective adulthood (she turned forty in 1993), and a shift in her pictures from incident and angst to an almost formal sensitivity to color and composition. The result is a show of pictures of unmistakable—dare one say it?—beauty. Also on view are two post-Ballad slide/sound pieces: All By Myself—Beautiful at 40, completed in 1995 and itself a Goldin retrospective of self-portraits, plus the more recent Heartbeat, 2000–2001, with a mere 228 slides.

  • Mark Lewis, Jay’s Garden, Malibu (production still), 2001.

    The American Effect

    Whitney Museum of American Art
    99 Gansevoort Street
    July 3–October 12, 2003

    The timing is no doubt auspicious for “The American Effect,” an extensive international exhibition exploring perceptions of American culture and society abroad. Curated by the Whitney’s Lawrence Rinder, the show includes approximately forty works produced since 1990 in all media by artists from Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas, ranging in content and tone from gauzy idealizing of the American dream to hostile jeremiads. Among the forty-odd artists included are Miwa Yanagi from Japan, Sergei Bugaev Afrika from Russia, and Bodys Isek Kingelez from Congo. The catalogue includes essays by Luc Sante, Nawal El Saadawi, and Ian Buruma, among others.

  • Barkley Hendricks, Fela: Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, 2002.

    Black President: The Art and Legacy of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti

    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    July 11–October 19, 2003

    In his native Nigeria the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti managed a kind of stardom barely imaginable since the ’60s in Anglo-American rock: not just pop hero but political presence, cultural authority, populist icon. A charismatic activist whose face-offs with the government reached the point of violence, he was incidentally a phenomenal bandleader as well. “Black President” may or may not say much about the man: What guest curator Trevor Schoonmaker gives us is forty takes on Fela by such artists of the African diaspora as Chris Ofili, Fred Wilson, and Kara Walker. Let’s see who can keep Fela’s aura from blowing them out of the room.

  • Andrew Moore, Manor house living room, Magua Sugar Mill, Valley of the Sugar Mills, 2002.

    Cuba on the Verge

    International Center of Photography Museum (ICP)
    250 Bowery
    June 6–August 31, 2003

    A haven for socialism—and now supermodels—post-Soviet Cuba has entered what Fidel Castro calls a periodo especial, a formative era challenging the nation’s way of life while buoying its already strong identity. The ICP’s “Cuba on the Verge: An Island in Transition,” organized by freelance curator Terry McCoy, surveys the country’s social and cultural landscape from a slew of viewpoints both native and international. Cuban photographers such as Carlos Garaicoa and Manuel Piña join non-Cuban counterparts like Carrie Mae Weems and Ernesto Bazan to document the unique life of this nation in flux. The catalogue features an eclectic set of contributors, including Cristina García, Antonio José Ponte, Russell Baker, and Arthur Miller.

  • poesy 2.301 little clouds in memoriam big j and big g. 48 heavy clouds for rudolf rieser, 1967.

    Dieter Roth

    Museum Ludwig
    October 17, 2003–January 4, 2004


    May 25–September 14, 2003

    MoMA PS1
    22-25 Jackson Avenue at 46th Avenue
    March 11–June 2, 2004

    The largest exhibition of Dieter Roth’s work ever assembled—with some five hundred paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, video works, films, and books—this retrospective brings together the German artist’s production from five decades in an attempt to establish him as one of the major figures in late-twentieth-century art. Organized by Schaulager director Theodora Vischer, the exhibition—accompanied by an extensive catalogue and an ambitious academic symposium—inaugurates an entirely new kind of institution (emphasizing research, storage, and archiving) in a part of Europe that already boasts numerous important museums.