• “Undercover Surrealism: Picasso Miró, Masson, and the Vision of Georges Bataille”

    Hayward Gallery
    Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road
    May 11–July 30, 2006

    Curated by Dawn Ades, Simon Baker, and Fiona Bradley

    Georges Bataille’s enterprise of sabotaging the “frock coat” of reason and running its idealist underpinnings into the mud, which began with his editing of the journal Documents in 1929, is by now well known in cultural and literary studies. But Documents was, among other things, an art magazine, and though Bataille’s take on art has been examined by specialists, the alternative view he proposed not only of Surrealism but also of modernism in general has not yet fully registered. “Undercover Surrealism” uses these very ideas as its focus: Works discussed by Bataille and others in the journal make up the bulk of the more than two hundred objects, which date from prehistory to the 1930s. The show should test the cohesiveness of Document’s group aesthetic (or, for that matter, anti-aesthetic) vision.

  • Wassily Kandinsky, Improvisation No. 30 (Cannes), 1913, oil on canvas, 43 x 43 1/2".

    Wassily Kandinsky, Improvisation No. 30 (Cannes), 1913, oil on canvas, 43 x 43 1/2".

    Wassily Kandinsky

    Tate Modern
    June 22–October 1, 2006

    Curated by Hartwig Fischer and Sean Rainbird

    The modernist master narrative will make its case again this summer at Tate Modern, where Wassily Kandinsky’s epic struggle to achieve his breakthrough to abstraction will be charted in “Kandinsky: The Path to Abstraction 1908-1922,” a focused exhibition—cocurated by the Kunstmuseum Basel’s Fischer and Tate’s Rainbird—of fifty paintings and thirty works on paper by the artist. The objects will be dazzling to see, but a less predictable framing of Kandinsky might have promised a more adventurous revisiting of this complicated Russian who was both international and nationalistic, as well as Soviet (briefly), spiritual, ethnographic, folkloric, and, yes, abstract. The catalogue features essays by, among others, art historian Shulamith Behr and critic Noemi Smolik.

    Travels to the Kunstmuseum Basel, Oct. 21, 2006–Feb. 4, 2007.

  • Bas Jan Ader, Farewell to Faraway Friends, 1971, color photograph, 19 3/4 x 23 5/8". © Bas Jan Ader Estate.

    Bas Jan Ader, Farewell to Faraway Friends, 1971, color photograph, 19 3/4 x 23 5/8". © Bas Jan Ader Estate.

    Bas Jan Ader

    Camden Art Centre
    Arkwright Road
    April 28–July 2, 2006

    Curated by Jenni Lomax and Sarah Martin

    The River Phoenix of Conceptual art, Bas Jan Ader has become the moody favorite of every artist too young to have known of his work in 1975—when he was lost at sea while executing his three-part investigative piece, In Search of the Miraculous—in part because the 1988 Stedelijk Museum retrospective and the 1999 University of California, Irvine show secured his renown. In 2004 Art in America chronicled appearances of new editions that some attributed to the Dutch artist, who, it turned out, had not actually risen from the dead. Comprising some forty works—films, videos, installations, and documentary material—the first full-scale Ader show in the UK is organized by the Camden Arts Centre with Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, which will publish a catalogue raisonné that should put to rest any doubts about “new” work, and set the course of Ader’s craft aright.

    Travels to the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Aug. 26–Oct. 29.

  • Albert Oehlen

    Whitechapel Gallery
    77 - 82 Whitechapel High Street
    July 7–September 3, 2006

    Curated by Martin Clark and Andrea Tarsia

    Albert Oehlen has wittily bastardized painting’s lofty pretensions for decades. Now the good object of “bad” German painting is getting his first major UK survey. Some fifty works from the last twenty years will sprawl throughout the Whitechapel and Arnolfini, displaying the range of Oehlen’s “post-nonrepresentational” practice. Abstract and large collage paintings will hang at the Whitechapel, while poster works, smaller collages, and computer and additional abstract paintings go on view at the Arnolfini in the fall. His gray paintings are shared between the two sites of this co-organized retrospective—a good thing, since these works, more than almost anything else in Oehlen’s ouevre, push the limits of representation to the point of exquisitely absurd failure. The triumph of painting, indeed. On view at the Arnolfini, Bristol, Sept. 30-Nov. 26.