previews

  • Jasper Johns, Target, 1958, oil and collage on canvas, 36 x 36".

    Jasper Johns, Target, 1958, oil and collage on canvas, 36 x 36".

    “Jasper Johns: An Allegory of Painting, 1955–1965”

    Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart
    St. Alban-Rheinweg 60
    June 2–September 9, 2007

    National Gallery of Art
    Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
    January 28–April 29, 2007

    Curated by Jeffrey Weiss

    This exhibition is not a complete survey of that fecund decade it claims to present, concentrating instead on four themes—targets, mechanical devices, stenciled names of colors, and body imprints—through eighty-four works and a catalogue with essays by curator Jeffrey Weiss, John Elderfield, and others. But that should be enough to show that Johns’s oeuvre was the hat out of which the zeitgeist pulled innumerable rabbits: Pop, Minimal, and Conceptual art are but a few of the currents of the 1960s and ’70s that would have been unthinkable without his systematic deconstruction of painting. But will the show’s sponsorship by Target render his work a mere logo? Let’s hope the “interference to meaning” Johns was once praised for still holds up. Travels to the Kunstmuseum Basel June 2–Sept. 9.

  • Christian Philipp Müller, Ein Balanceakt (A Balancing Act), 1997. Performance view, Documenta 10, Kassel, Germany. Christian Philipp Müller.

    Christian Philipp Müller, Ein Balanceakt (A Balancing Act), 1997. Performance view, Documenta 10, Kassel, Germany. Christian Philipp Müller.

    Christian Philipp Müller

    Kunstmuseum Basel, Museum für Gegenwartskunst
    St. Alban-Rheinweg 60
    January 19–April 15, 2007

    Curated by Philipp Kaiser

    Since the mid-1980s, Christian Philipp Müller has produced mixed-media work indebted in various ways to the site-specific art of the ’60s and ’70s. His well-known 1993 piece Green Border, for instance—consisting of illegal border crossings into all the countries surrounding Austria—recalled the performance-driven practices of Land art while invoking more recent geopolitical themes. This midcareer retrospective documents Müller’s work from 1986 to the present. It also features an extensive project, developed specifically for this exhibition—an exploration of Basel’s St. Alban-Tal that ties together the history of the city’s contemporary art museum with that of the district’s now-defunct paper mills. The catalogue—with essays by curator Philipp Kaiser, Sabeth Buchmann, and Miwon Kwon and an interview with the artist by James Meyer—should highlight the curatorial challenges of presenting and re-presenting context-specific art.

  • Edvard Munch, Vampir (Vampire), 1893, oil on canvas, 31 11/16 x 39 9/16".

    Edvard Munch, Vampir (Vampire), 1893, oil on canvas, 31 11/16 x 39 9/16".

    Edvard Munch

    Fondation Beyeler
    Baselstrasse 101
    March 18–July 15, 2007

    Curated by Dieter Buchhart

    Whereas last year’s Edvard Munch retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York foregrounded haunting representations of what the artist (and the exhibition subtitle) called “the modern life of the soul,” the Beyeler show instead focuses on Munch’s place in art history, illustrating the way his work prepared the ground not only for Expressionism but for modern art generally. Bringing together some 140 paintings, drawings, and prints—including several rarely seen, privately owned works—this survey, curated by Dieter Buchhart, promises to draw our attention to the still-startling unconventionality of Munch’s technique, which included exposing his oil paintings to rain and snow to help them “mature.”