previews

  • Takashi Murakami, 727, 1996, acrylic on canvas mounted on board, 9' 10 1/8“ x 14' 9 3/16”.

    Takashi Murakami

    Brooklyn Museum
    200 Eastern Parkway
    April 4 - July 13

    MOCA Geffen Contemporary
    152 North Central Avenue
    October 29 - February 11

    Curated by Paul Schimmel

    The exhibition title, “© Murakami,” flatly announces the post-Warholian position Takashi Murakami aims to occupy on the broken borderline between art and popular culture. Rendering his name a generic consumer brand, Murakami claims the benefits of intellectual property while hedging his work against the collective comic-book and video-game imaginary from which it springs. Others would sink under the weight of such a paradox, but Murakami soars—this is corporate-capitalist gnosticism, Hieronymus Bosch for the digital age, figuring a “superflat” reality squashed between angelic overworld and demonic underworld. Bringing together more than ninety paintings, objects, films, and installations made since the early 1990s, this exhaustive midcareer retrospective will provide a welcome opportunity to see how it all adds up, whether it does, and even whether it should. Travels to the Brooklyn Museum, New York, Apr. 4–July 13, 2008; and other venues.

  • Kori Newkirk, Bam Bam, 2003, pony beads, artificial hair and metal brackets, 91 x 60".

    Kori Newkirk

    The Studio Museum in Harlem
    144 West 125th Street
    November 14 - March 9

    Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA)
    490 East Union Street
    June 1 - September 14

    Curated by Thelma Golden

    Visitors to the Studio Museum this fall may find more than just their eyesight engaged; an installation in the lobby emits the distinctive aroma of pomade, one of Kori Newkirk’s favorite materials. The pungent new site-specific project kicks off a decade-spanning selection of approximately thirty-five works by the Los Angeles–based artist. Newkirk’s droll, trenchant explorations of identity politics, racial stereotyping, and personal history are also represented by a number of his signature beaded-curtain pieces, sculptures and photographs involving basketball and the body, two videos (Bixel, 2005, and a new work), and a selection of neon sculptures. The substantial catalogue features an essay by curator Thelma Golden alongside contributions from art historian Huey Copeland, MCA Chicago associate curator Dominic Molon, and artist, curator, and scholar Deborah Willis. Travels to the Pasadena Museum of California Art, June 1–Sept. 14, 2008.

  • Hallway of Lawrence Weiner's Bleecker Street studio, New York, 1988. Photo: Tom Warren.

    Lawrence Weiner

    MOCA Geffen Contemporary
    152 North Central Avenue
    April 13 - June 14

    Whitney Museum of American Art
    99 Gansevoort Street
    November 15 - February 10

    Curated by Donna De Salvo and Ann Goldstein

    In the fall of 1968 my wife, Eleanor, and I were living in a small tract house in Solana Beach, a little beach town about twenty miles north of the Mexican border. We were newcomers to Southern California, so we were pleasantly surprised by the unexpected visit of three members of the New York art world—Seth Siegelaub, Joseph Kosuth, and Larry Weiner, who hung around for lunch and some gossip before they took off for Tijuana, where Larry was going to toss a carton of cigarettes across the border, a Fluxus-type performance that was a realization of his scenario text:

    AN OBJECT TOSSED FROM ONE COUNTRY TO ANOTHER.

    It somehow seems appropriate that just as visitors to the Museum of Modern Art are enjoying the vaulting ambition and the visceral disturbance provoked by traversing the massive torqued-steel environments of Richard Serra, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles are preparing a comprehensive retrospective of the work of the Conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner, whose signature works consist mainly of casually displayed brief pieces of text. If the Serra works deploy copious technical and material resources to produce a purely physical effect, the Weiner works deploy spare and elegant linguistic resources to produce an intellectual and poetic effect.

    But what form do the Weiner pieces take, and how do they work? In a gallery they usually appear as a few printed words stenciled on or affixed to the wall; simple, sometimes enigmatic, phrases, offering something to think about but providing few clues as to how to go about that thinking. Take a typical 1995 piece: two juxtaposed phrases—

    BALLS OF WOOD BALLS OF IRON

    —positioned at angles to each other fairly high on the gallery wall. The two materials named emerge from different levels of technology, both slightly archaic. So is the phrasing. Are balls of wood the same as wooden balls or wood balls? Does the of call attention to the production process? The material? Someone might say, “She was carrying three balls of wool.” But what native English speaker would say, “She was carrying three balls of wood,” outside of a fairy tale or a nursery rhyme? “She had three balls of wood / that told her where she stood.” What are wood balls good for? Not billiard balls or bowling balls. Croquet, maybe. Door handles. Newels. Finials. Buttons. balls of iron is easier. Ancient Chinese Baoding health balls. They’re hollow. You hold three in your hand and try to make them spin. If you get them spinning the right way, they produce different musical tones—melody leading to circulatory health.

    Or maybe the words suggest a pawnshop or a chain gang.

    But these readings are as slippery as rain and evaporate fairly quickly. Take an object tossed from one country to another. In 1962 it could have read as an ironic invitation to think of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now it could suggest a case of extreme rendition—a Canadian citizen kidnapped by the CIA and flown to Syria for torturing. But “tossed” is a casual term, unlike “hurled,” and less energetic or violent even than “thrown.” So perhaps the most meaningful reading would invoke this casualness more directly, even while taking into account the relation between countries, for which the passage of anything from one to another almost immediately suggests borders and contraband and anything-but-casual concerns with immigration. In Weiner’s Conceptualism, the individual readings are meaningful, but it’s the notion and value of the casual, the invitation to find meaning through the casual operation of the mind, that counts.

  • Richard Prince, Untitled (labels) (detail), 1977, one of 4 color photographs, each 20 x 24".

    Richard Prince

    Walker Art Center
    725 Vineland Place
    March 22 - June 15

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York
    1071 Fifth Avenue
    September 28 - January 9

    Curated by Nancy Spector

    Richard Prince has in recent years become one of the inescapable artists of our time—a fascinating development, given that for years his work seemed to appeal to only a coterie, whereas some of his Pictures peers quickly secured critical approbation and visibility. Prince now reigns as one of the most influential figures for young artists drawn to his cunning amalgams of grunge and glamour, conceptual spark and pop-cultural savvy. This retrospective includes some 175 of the artist’s works, among them his “Gangs” photographs, “Nurse” paintings, and “Hoods” sculptures. The catalogue includes essays by curator Nancy Spector and Jack Bankowsky and interviews by Glenn O’Brien with Phyllis Diller, Kim Gordon, and other cultural luminaries, who allegedly form a composite adumbration of Prince’s themes with regard to mass-cultural connoisseurship. Travels to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Mar. 22–June 15, 2008; Serpentine Gallery, London, Summer 2008.

  • Martin Puryear, Ladder for Booker T. Washington, 1996, ash and maple, 36' x 22 3/4“ (narrowing to 1 1/4” at top) x 3". Photo: David Wharton.

    Martin Puryear

    Modern Art Museum | Fort Worth
    3200 Darnell Street
    February 24 - May 18

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
    11 West 53rd Street
    November 4 - January 14

    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
    151 Third Street
    November 1 - January 25

    National Gallery of Art
    Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
    June 22 - September 28

    Curated by John Elderfield

    Martin Puryear’s sculpture has long been celebrated for its ability to hover between Shaker-like minimalism and Surrealism. Trained in carpentry, Puryear is acutely sensitive to materials, particularly wood, crafting absurdist biomorphic constructions that are often suavely linear but at times dense and compact. Some hang breathlessly in space, as though holding a pose, even as they recline on the floor like odalisques. This retrospective of some forty-five sculptures, spanning 1977 to the present, may show that Puryear’s peculiarly warm and homey oeuvre conjures afresh the uncanniness of the organic, while the objects’ openness evokes the expansiveness of American space.

  • Barbara Sukowa at the PERFORMA05 Grand Finale, 2005. Photo: Paula Court.

    Performa07

    Various Venues
    134 Bowery–272 Bowery
    November 1 - November 20

    Curated by RoseLee Goldberg

    For three lively weeks in November, performances will be popping up all over New York at some thirty venues, including the Judson Church, historic home of the Judson Dance Theater; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In keeping with the philosophy of Performa’s founder and director, RoseLee Goldberg, author of the standard history of art-world performance, the second edition of this biennial focuses on live works by more than seventy artists, most known primarily for their work in other media. Expect to see events juxtaposing film, video, sculpture, or installation with live performers, including musicians and dancers. The heart of the program is a series of performances commissioned from Carlos Amorales, Nathalie Djurberg, Japanther, Isaac Julien, Daria Martin, Kelly Nipper, Adam Pendleton, Yvonne Rainer, and Francesco Vezzoli, some of whom will be working in the live form for the first time.

  • Jasper Johns, Flag, 1958, pencil and graphite wash on paper, 8 7/8 x 12". © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

    “Jasper Johns: Gray”

    The Art Institute of Chicago
    111 South Michigan Avenue
    November 3 - January 6

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    1000 Fifth Avenue
    February 5 - May 4

    Curated by Douglas Druick and James Rondeau

    Neither black nor white, but gray—the gray in affective states of “quietude” and “anticipation,” and in memory of those feelings; the gray that includes all expressive coloration—is the topic of this major exhibition of the work of Jasper Johns. And it is a truly significant approach to the art, which dwells in the semantics of conceptual skepticism as it ranges from grisaille to gray scale. Curators Douglas Druick and James Rondeau have selected 138 paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings from 1955 to the present to show Johns’s dedicated study of gray and to argue that through this approach we may come to understand more broadly his aesthetic concerns. The catalogue features essays by the curators and Richard Shiff as well as an interview with the artist by Nan Rosenthal. Travels to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Feb. 5–May 4, 2008.

  • Olafur Eliasson, Beauty, 1993, mixed media, installation view, AROS, Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark, 2004. Photo: Poul Perdersen. © Olafur Eliasson 2007 / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY / COPY-DAN.

    Olafur Eliasson

    Dallas Museum of Art
    1717 North Harwood
    November 9 - March 15

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
    11 West 53rd Street
    April 13 - June 30

    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
    151 Third Street
    September 8 - February 24

    Curated by Madeleine Grynsztejn

    Few artists produce work as conceptually rigorous and simultaneously crowd-pleasing as Olafur Eliasson, who makes art in which capital-P Phenomenology traffics freely in fun-house aesthetics. His 2003 Weather Project illuminated nearly two million visitors at Tate Modern with a spectacular artificial sun, but US museumgoers have had precious few opportunities to experience firsthand the viewer involvement so central to Eliasson’s practice. Now, this midcareer retrospective—twenty-two of the artist’s sculptures, photographs, and installations made since 1993—promises to make up for lost time. The catalogue features essays by curator Madeleine Grynsztejn, Daniel Birnbaum, Pamela M. Lee, and others, as well as a conversation between Eliasson and Robert Irwin. Travels to the Museum of Modern Art and P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, Apr. 13–June 30, 2008; Dallas Museum of Art, Nov. 9, 2008–Mar. 15, 3009.