• Jean-Michel Basquiat, Charles the First, 1982, acrylic and oil stick on canvas, 78 x 62 1/4". Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

    Jean-Michel Basquiat

    The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
    1001 Bissonnet
    November 18, 2005–February 12, 2006

    MOCA Geffen Contemporary
    152 North Central Avenue
    July 15–October 9, 2005

    Brooklyn Museum
    200 Eastern Parkway
    March 11–June 5, 2005

    Curated by Fred Hoffman, Kellie Jones, Marc Mayer, Franklin Sirmans

    According to Marc Mayer, leader of this show's four-person curatorial team, Basquiat was “the last great modernist painter.” How so? Because, “if we think of him as a painter of the School of Paris, he was essentially a figurative and even narrative painter—but there's an extraordinary, breathless, endless reservoir of references in his work, as if he wanted his paintings to represent all of human history.” If this sounds a little like saying that a camel is a giraffe, but has humps—be patient. A Basquiat retrospective (of some ninety works) with a real art-historical ax to grind is something we need to see.

    Travels to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, July 15–Oct. 9; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Nov. 18–Feb. 12, 2006.

  • “THING: New Sculpture from Los Angeles”

    Hammer Museum
    10899 Wilshire Boulevard
    February 6–June 5, 2005

    Curated by James Elaine, Aimee Chang, and Christopher Miles

    As LA MoCA steadily pursues its excavation of mid-twentieth-century art, the job of examining the emerging generation has fallen to the Hammer Museum. The institution’s third recent survey to focus on young artists, “THING” is both medium and location specific. Sculpture in LA is more a combinatory matrix than a discrete medium, and this is no doubt what the curators had in mind when they grouped Rodney McMillian’s funk assemblage with the hallucinatory realism of Matt Johnson, and Taft Green’s abstractions of exchange systems with Mindy Shapero’s meditations on the ineffable. Three curators, twenty artists, forty-five sculptures, and a fully illustrated catalogue—this show should run the gamut.

  • Robert Rauschenberg, Galerie Jamileh Weber, 1991, silk-screened poster on cardboard, 52 1/2 x 45 1/4". © Robert Rauschenberg/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

    Robert Rauschenberg

    Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
    5905 Wilshire Boulevard
    March 10–June 12, 2005

    Curated by Carter Foster

    Rauschenberg is the most populist of the Pop artists, the one most interested in bringing all aspects of life and politics into his art. He is also the most experimental, always messing around with innovative ways to adhere images to various surfaces. Printmaking has long been an important arena for his experiments and also a means of turning out relatively low-cost objects for the public. At the extreme end of such production comes the mass-edition yet technically complex poster. This exhibition, organized by prints and drawings curator Carter Foster, brings together more than one hundred posters from the ’60s to the present. While there won’t be a catalogue, the artist is making a special poster for the show.

  • “The Arts and Crafts Movement in Europe and America, 1880–1920: Design for the Modern World”

    Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
    5905 Wilshire Boulevard
    December 19–April 3, 2004

    Curated by Wendy Kaplan

    Exploding the notion of a singular Arts and Crafts ethos, this exhibition is the first to demonstrate how the movement was customized for a variety of regional agendas. The show features more than three hundred objects and two re-created interiors and includes an impressive array of furniture, ceramics, metalwork, textiles, and prints. While good design today seems only a trip to Target away, the integration of art and life promised by the Arts and Crafts movement has exceeded our grasp. And while this show may reconsider the material culture of an earlier era, the questions it raises are entirely contemporary.

    Travels to the Cleveland Museum of Art, Oct. 16–Jan. 8, 2006.