previews

  • E.L. Kirchner, Street, Berlin, 1913, oil on canvas, 47 1/2 x 35 7/8".

    E. L. Kirchner

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
    11 West 53rd Street
    August 3 - November 10

    Curated by Deborah Wye

    Following last year's presentations of “Dada” at MoMA (which featured, in part, Berlin rabble-rousers like George Grosz, John Heartfield, and Raoul Hausmann) and the Metropolitan Museum's survey of Neue Sachlichkeit Verism, “Glitter and Doom: German Portraits from the 1920s,” along comes the work of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner to complete something of a Berlin trilogy. Looking back from the Weimar years to the eve of World War I, this exhibition will present, for the first time together in New York, seven of the Berlin streetscapes Kirchner painted after moving to that city in 1911. MoMA's in-depth look at Kirchner's claustrophobic and sexually charged scenes (with nearly eighty supporting works on paper) will coincide with “Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Selections from the Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies” at LACMA, opening this month and featuring a selection of books and prints from the full sweep of the artist's career.

  • Maurizio Cattelan, Untitled, 2007, taxidermied horse skin and fiberglass resin, 118 1/8 x 66 7/8 x 31 1/2".

    “After Nature”

    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    July 17 - September 21

    Curated by Massimiliano Gioni

    Dystopian sentiments run through “After Nature,” a “visual novel” plotted around two other narratives: W. G. Sebald's 1988 prose poem that gives the show its title and Werner Herzog's And a Smoke Arose (2008), a reedit of one segment of his documentary Lessons of Darkness (1992), in which the Kuwaiti desert blazes in the 1991 oil fires like some strange planet. Bringing together roughly ninety works made since 1894 that similarly evoke entropy and ruin, the exhibition both anthologizes prophetic visions and produces its own. Here, marginal works come center: Eugene von Bruenchenhein's finger paintings of mushroom clouds hang alongside Dana Schutz's exploded compositions; Reverend Howard Finster's sermons accompany Tino Sehgal's enactments. After, in this case, means something more imitative than temporal; the works are meant to offer views onto the natural order to come.

  • Hordon Cherry Lee Architects, Micro Compact Home, 2005, Munich.

    “Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling”

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
    11 West 53rd Street
    July 20 - October 20

    Curated by Barry Bergdoll and Peter Christensen

    It makes every kind of sense in the world! Why can't people build homes to the sleek, innovative, high-precision standards of the world's leading industries? Homes like trains, cars, jets! Every architecture critic keenly senses the stinking dishonesty of the “skeuomorph”—limp suburban real-estate fakery aping “Tudor” and “Tuscan.” Imagine the modernist joy of ditching those sentimental relics, defying the terrors of the local homeowner's association, and assembling cheap, steam-cleanable, authentic housing generated by the muscular vigor of the mass-production line! So they've all tried it. Frank Lloyd Wright. Thomas Edison. Bucky Fuller. Even the Muji firm. The world is littered, according to the exhibition's time line, with nearly two centuries' worth of failed prefab. But will the need for “sustainability” finally blast prefab out of the trailer park and into mass acceptance?

  • Untitled (Jay Johnson, London), 1973, black-and-white Polaroid, 4 1/4 x 3 1/4".

    “Polaroids: Mapplethorpe”

    Whitney Museum of American Art
    99 Gansevoort Street
    May 3 - September 14

    Curated by Sylvia Wolf

    In her essay for the publication accompanying the Whitney's upcoming presentation of Robert Mapplethorpe's Polaroid work, curator Sylvia Wolf illuminates the infamous artist's “lifelong passion for using the camera to penetrate appearances.” If the metaphor seems too perfect, given Mapplethorpe's best-known, hypersexual subject matter and allusions, its valences nonetheless acquire unexpected subtlety in this exhibition, which focuses on an underexamined early body of work. Bringing together roughly one hundred Polaroids produced between 1970 and 1975 (many being shown for the first time), the selective survey evidences Mapplethorpe in the making. Here already are the artist's most persistent tropes: faces, flowers, and phalli. Yet these are marked with a tender eye, no less “penetrating” but nonetheless surprisingly fleeting, sometimes even shy.

  • Paul McCarthy, Bang-Bang Room, 1992, wood, steel, electric motors, linoleum, and wallpaper, dimensions variable.

    Paul McCarthy

    Whitney Museum of American Art
    99 Gansevoort Street
    June 26 - October 12

    Curated by Chrissie Iles

    Lest we forget Piccadilly Circus, Paul McCarthy's 2003 video performance as George W. Bush, a president who likes to get naked and paint with his face, the artist—who has also recently enjoyed both a traveling retrospective of his work, organized by the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, and his own curatorial coup at the CCA Wattis in San Francisco—will now take over the Whitney's third floor, further confirming the decidedly new world order. Timed to coincide with the museum's Buckminster Fuller exhibition, the presentation highlights McCarthy's affective relationship to built space, in the form of two early films and three architectural installations: Bang-Bang Room, 1992, which riffs on McCarthy's childhood home in Utah; Mad House, created specially for this exhibition; and Spinning Room, a fun house of mirrors and ontological dissembling conceived of in 1971 but debuting here.

  • Willem de Kooning, Gotham News, 1955, oil on canvas, 69 x 79".

    “Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940–1976”

    Albright-Knox Art Gallery
    1285 Elmwood Avenue
    February 13 - May 31

    The Jewish Museum
    1109 Fifth Avenue
    May 4 - September 21

    Saint Louis Art Museum
    One Fine Arts Drive Forest Park
    October 19 - January 11

    Curated by Norman L. 158eeblatt

    Although Abstract Expressionism is hardly undertheorized, this exhibition nevertheless promises a fresh take on those fabled denizens of Tenth Street. Featuring fifty seminal works by thirty-one stalwarts, including Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, and Lee Bontecou, the show contextualizes postwar cultural production between the Holocaust and the blithe likes of Levittown. By placing unprecedented emphasis on contemporaneous academic criticism and the mass media, this show—organized in collaboration with the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and with a catalogue featuring contributions by curator Norman L. Kleeblatt, Mark Godfrey, Caroline A. Jones, and others—claims the persistent centrality of social history.

  • Norman McLaren, Blinkity Blank, 1952, still from a color film in 16 mm, 5 minutes 15 seconds.

    “Drawing on Film”

    The Drawing Center
    35 Wooster Street
    July 25 - July 24

    Rose Art Museum
    415 South Street, MS 069 Brandeis University
    September 24 - December 16

    Curated by João Ribas

    “Direct” filmmaking, in which the filmmaker, instead of using a camera, draws, paints, scratches, or in some other way directly manipulates the film stock to create an image, is a small but significant tradition in experimental filmmaking. Although a number of direct films are well known (Len Lye's seminal Colour Box [1935], for example), the corpus is rarely surveyed as a whole, which this exhibition usefully aims to do. Some twenty works made since 1935 by about a dozen artists, ranging from acknowledged masters of the form such as Lye and Norman McLaren to more recent practitioners Richard Reeves and Jenny Perlin, will be screened on a loop six times each day. Two film installations (by Jennifer Reeves and Jennifer West) will be installed for one week each. Travels to the Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA Sept. 24–Dec. 16.

  • Risaku Suzuki, Kumano, 1997, chromogenic print.

    “Heavy Light: Recent Photography and Video from Japan”

    International Center of Photography Museum (ICP)
    250 Bowery
    May 16 - September 7

    Curated by Noriko Fuku and Christopher Phillips

    Despite the predominance of cosmopolitanism and mass-media images in 1990s Japanese art, certain artists captured the specificity of contemporary Japanese experience. This exhibition features some eighty photographs and videos by thirteen artists who came of age during the ‘90s and who work in a vernacular vein. Offering an alternative to the prevailing characterization of today's Japanese art as “neo-Pop,” the presentation will show, for example, how the work of Daido Moriyama and Yasumasa Morimura has been transformed in younger artists’ work, like Naoya Hatakeyama's and Risaku Suzuki's disorienting landscapes and Miwa Yanagi's and Tomoko Sawada's staged photographs playing with constructions of Japanese female identity. Travels to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, summer 2009; and other venues.

  • Ardeshir Mohassess, Today's martyrs demonstrate in honor of tomorrow's martyrs, 1978, ink on paper, 18 x 24".

    Ardeshir Mohassess

    Asia Society | New York
    725 Park Avenue
    May 23 - August 3

    Curated by Shirin Neshat and Nicky Nodjoumi

    Since the 1960s, Iranian caricaturist Ardeshir Mohassess has lent his gaze to the absurdities of political life in his native Iran. Precious little has escaped his artful scrutiny; his pen has detailed the hypocrisy of the gluttonous Qajar dynasty of the nineteenth century, the abuses of the shah's secret police in the '60s and '70s, and the doublespeak of the architects of the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Mohassess's deceptively simple black-ink drawings provide an acidic chronicle—at once ironic, funny, and sad—of the social and cultural history of a country ill at ease. Having been prodded to leave Iran in the mid-'70s, he has since filtered his work through the lens of exile. Co-organized by New York–based Iranian artists Shirin Neshat and Nicky Nodjoumi, this presentation comprises sketchbooks from the mid-'50s and some seventy drawings, most from the '70s and '80s. A rare sort of artist finally gets his due.

  • Kehinde Wiley, Ibrahima Sacho, 2008, oil on canvas, 26 x 22".

    Kehinde Wiley

    The Studio Museum in Harlem
    144 West 125th Street
    July 16 - October 26

    Curated by Christine Y. Kim

    All the world's a stage, and Kehinde Wiley merely a player. For his exhibition at the Studio Museum, where he was in residence from 2001 to 2002, the Brooklyn-based painter presents ten canvases from his series “The World Stage,” 2006–, for which he casts himself as an anthropologist and moves to various cities in order to parse the local customs. China was first, and now West Africa (India, Brazil, and other locations to come). The works in this show place young black males against richly patterned backgrounds, the artist's signature conceit, although here the subjects are from Lagos, Nigeria, and Dakar, Senegal, and borrow poses from the cities' public sculptures. Rendered with Wiley's characteristic finesse, the men enjoy sumptuous features, wear beads and sportswear, and make eyes at their audience.

  • Markus Copper, Kursk (detail), 2004.

    “Arctic Hysteria”

    MoMA PS1
    22-25 Jackson Avenue at 46th Avenue
    June 1 - September 15

    Curated by Alanna Heiss and Marketta Seppälä

    This exhibition, organized by P.S. 1 director Alanna Heiss and Finnish Fund for Art Exchange director Marketta Seppälä, aims to chart the overlap between inner and outer landscapes in contemporary Finnish art through some thirty works made since 1972. Many of the show's sixteen artists work in time-based media, and film, video, and sound installations will feature prominently. Participating artists such as Salla Tykkä and the Finnish Screaming Men's Choir are known on the international scene; a greater number, among them the Pink Twins, sculptor Markus Copper, and Tea Mäkipää (who will exhibit a video shot using a camera affixed to a reindeer's antlers), will be relatively new to New York audiences. A program of musical performances, part of the museum's annual Warm Up series, will accompany the show.

  • Agnes Denes, Wheatfield—A Confrontation: Battery Park Landfill, Downtown Manhattan—with New York Financial Center, 1982, documentary photograph.

    “Decoys, Complexes, and Triggers: Feminism and Land Art in the 1970s”

    SculptureCenter
    44-19 Purves Street
    May 4 - July 28

    Curated by Catherine Morris

    Alongside the jetty is the tunnel—not spiraling spectacle but subterranean breach. Both forms were equally important for Land art, yet the latter seems especially to have resonated with women artists, structuring works such as Alice Aycock's Simple Network of Underground Wells and Tunnels, 1975, and Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels, 1973–76. This exhibition surveys the projects of Aycock, Holt, and eight other artists, providing a much-needed excavation of works that gesture less toward the sublime than the surreal: Agnes Denes's Wheatfield—A Confrontation, 1982, and Mary Miss's screens and veils from the '70s invoke ecological and mathematical systems as well as narrative and allegorical ones. Catherine Morris assembles eleven sculptures (many not shown since the '70s), alongside models, drawings, and documentation of site-specific projects, aiming to deepen rather than restrict this terrain.

  • Marlene Dumas, The Woman of Algiers, 2001, oil on canvas, 78 3/4 x 39 1/2".

    Marlene Dumas

    MOCA Geffen Contemporary
    152 North Central Avenue
    June 22 - September 22

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
    11 West 53rd Street
    December 14 - February 16

    Curated by Connie Butler

    By the artist's own design, Marlene Dumas's paintings and drawings flirt with ambiguous meaning and slippery narrative. Such open-endedness has been reflected in the critical reception of her work, which has been understood alternately as confessional, expressive, process-based, and demonstrative of theories of feminism, race, and global dislocation. Midcareer surveys often pull even the most recalcitrant art into focus, and this exhibition of sixty paintings and twenty-five drawings of the South African–born, Amsterdam-based artist should either consolidate existing interpretations or open onto new ones. Organized thematically and by series, and in association with MoMA, the show offers a singular chance to see a collection of refreshingly multifarious work. Travels to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Dec. 14, 2008–Feb. 16, 2009.

  • Buckminster Fuller, US pavilion for the 1967 International and Universal Exposition, Montreal.

    “Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe”

    Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)
    220 East Chicago Avenue
    June 1 - September 1

    Whitney Museum of American Art
    99 Gansevoort Street
    June 26 - September 21

    Curated by Michael Hays and Dana Miller

    The atomic age is fading on its grainy analog newsreels, so it’s high time for the twenty-first century to place Buckminster Fuller in a romantically tinted retrospective. He’s quite an appealing figure, the space-age Thoreau, puffing like a summer breeze through the cold war.

    Until his thirties, Fuller was a gabby, overbright college dropout, a sometime meatpacker and sheet-metal worker with a Yankee tinker’s streak. Then bankruptcy and the death of a child provoked a mystical experience, a Whitmanesque self-reinvention in which “R. Buckminster Fuller” suddenly appeared in a Greenwich Village café as an autodidactic, self-appointed expert on everything.

    The danger signs of classic crankhood glow all over Fuller—for instance, he creates a tetrahedral “Dymaxion” geometry no one else can grasp—yet his mental breakthrough taps an awesome core of creative energy. On meeting him, people from all walks of life swiftly conclude that they are in the presence of a powerful, visionary seer. They are right.

    And this guru is benign and generous, not an exploitative cultist. Rare among bohemian intellectuals, Fuller lacks radical politics and longhair affectations. “Bucky” is a limpidly placid one-man world-saving machine. Devoid of institutional credentials, he’s a miniature academy: an architect, engineer, designer, physicist, geometer, and poet, whose main occupation is explaining how to operate reality.

    First, kindly artists befriend him. Then designers come to appreciate his out-of-the-box approach. Engineers discover his patents and wonder who thought up such alien innovations, and how. Architects are annoyed by his cocksure, philistine critiques yet pleased to have a new creative arsenal of geodesic strusses and tresses.

    Students adore the man. On the conference circuit, he’s mesmerizing. Finally, in the 1960s, when the conventional wisdom has been tossed up into midair and is falling like pick-up sticks, his books start selling in droves. Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth and Utopia or Oblivion (both 1969) are Fuller’s masterpieces, books so far-out that they achieve escape velocity. R. Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller has become the ultimate space-age techno-utopian.

    Unlike his peer Timothy Leary, a scientist who imagined that lysergic acid was transformative, Bucky is not a one-trick pony. He has moved from autodidact to polymath in one long, blistering surge of omnivorous intellectual exploration and has answers for everything. He is not so much a Renaissance man as an entire alien civilization. In the ’60s, he has found a decade that suits his freakish gifts.

    He’s the American beau ideal of a ’60s guru: nonviolent, nonideological, nonrevolutionary, drug-free, neatly dressed in a suit, with horn-rims, and close-cropped hair; he is optimistic yet thunderous, can-do yet contrarian, a firm believer in the scientific method, yet questioning received wisdom in ways that seem to offer broad, smooth paths into a radically transformed world.

    The world in the twenty-first century is certainly not what Fuller imagined, yet his legacy lives—it stretches from his great-aunt, noted transcendentalist Margaret Fuler, straight through Fuller disciple Stewart Brand, Brand disciple Kevin Kelly (of Wired magazine fame), and about one million ranting Internet techno-enthusiasts muddling disciplinary boundaries with their weblogs and search engines.

    If they knew themselves better, they would surely make a point of knowing him.

    “Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe” will feature approximately 220 models, videos, photographs, and works on paper and the only extant Dymaxion car (a fuel-efficient vehicle designed by Fuller). The catalogue includes, among other items, essays by the curators and by Harvard University architecture historian Antoine Picon. A symposium about Fuller takes place at the Great Hall at Cooper Union on September 12 and 13. For more information, click here.