• Jeff Koons, Popeye, 2003, oil on canvas,
108 x 84". From the series “Popeye,” 2002–.

    Jeff Koons, Popeye, 2003, oil on canvas,
    108 x 84". From the series “Popeye,” 2002–.

    “Jeff Koons: Popeye Series”

    Serpentine Galleries
    Kensington Gardens
    July 2–September 13, 2009

    Curated by Julia Peyton-Jones, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Kathryn Rattee

    Just in time for Popeye’s eightieth birthday, the Serpentine unveils a survey of Jeff Koons’s work dedicated to the Depression-era spinach guzzler. Although 2008 alone witnessed major Koons shows in Chicago, New York, Berlin, and Versailles, this will be the artist’s first museum exhibition in London and the first comprehensive look at the ongoing “Popeye” series of sculptures and paintings, begun in 2002. The titular sailor stars in but a few of these works, which are more frequently populated by inflatable animals and a bodacious Playboy bunny. While the lustrous, candy-colored icons from “Celebration,” 1994–, may have captured the lion’s share of Koons’s recent public attention, the lesser known “Popeye” series comprises some of his most inventive oil paintings and trompe l’oeil sculptures, which take his abiding preoccupation with the readymade to mind-boggling new heights.

  • Richard Long, Circle in Africa, 1978.

    Richard Long, Circle in Africa, 1978.

    Richard Long

    Tate Britain
    June 3–September 6, 2009

    Curated by Helen Little and Clarrie Wallis

    Following hard on the heels of Long’s 2007 Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art survey, this major retrospective is the artist’s first large-scale show in London in nearly twenty years. Curators Helen Little and Clarrie Wallis have assembled about eighty of Long’s stone sculptures, expansive mud wall drawings, photographs, and text-based pieces to trace the development of his practice, from early, iconic land interventions such as A Line Made by Walking, 1967, to new work. Significantly, the venue—Tate Britain, as opposed to Tate Modern—could lead visitors to a lazy view of Long as an English pastoralist. However, the show’s scale, Long’s formal diversity, and his perspicuous responses to encounters with nature and culture should allow for that reading to be countered, suggesting a far wider reach and relevance to his practice.

  • Hans Haacke, Monument to Beach Pollution, 1970, color photograph.

    Hans Haacke, Monument to Beach Pollution, 1970, color photograph.

    “Radical Nature: Art and Architecture for a Changing Planet, 1969–2009”

    Barbican Art Gallery
    Barbican Centre Silk Street
    June 19–October 18, 2009

    Curated by Francesco Manacorda

    If the classic English garden is an artwork of landscape representing an idealized, pastoral nature, curator Francesco Manacorda’s exhibition in the heart of London promises to offer a landscape of artworks reflecting a nature that is every day less natural and more aberrant. The Barbican will present more than eighty works, in a variety of media, by twenty-five artists and architects—from Joseph Beuys, R. Buckminster Fuller, Hans Haacke, Robert Smithson, and the Ant Farm collective to a younger generation of practitioners, including EXYZT, Heather and Ivan Morison, R&Sie(n), Philippe Rahm, and Simon Starling. By extending the installation onto the surrounding grounds, Manacorda and co. will necessarily provoke thoughts about the radical (and threatening) artwork that nature itself has become.

  • Lilian Lijn, Sky Never Stops, 1965.

    Lilian Lijn, Sky Never Stops, 1965.

    “Poor. Old. Tired. Horse.”

    ICA - Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
    The Mall
    June 17–August 25, 2009

    Curated by Mark Sladen

    Decades ago, Joseph Kosuth famously dismissed young upstarts like Vito Acconci as doing “concrete poetry,” not true Conceptual art. But the visual experiments with language made by such progenitors of the genre as Augusto de Campos, Eugen Gomringer, and Emmett Williams nevertheless filtered out into the art world, where, perhaps to Kosuth’s dismay, they firmly took root. Titled after the 1960s literary journal founded by Scottish artist-poet Ian Hamilton Finlay, “P.O.T.H.” looks back at this tradition through a contemporary lens to assemble a diverse array of poetic, typographic, and textual works, from wall painting to sculpture, by nearly twenty artists and writers, including Carl Andre, Ferdinand Kriwet, and Frances Stark. A dedicated publication of text-based work will accompany the exhibition.

  • Eva Hesse, Image 5: Studiowork, 1969.

    Eva Hesse, Image 5: Studiowork, 1969.

    “Eva Hesse: Studiowork”

    The Fruitmarket Gallery
    45 Market Street
    August 5–October 5, 2009

    Camden Arts Centre
    Arkwright Road
    December 11, 2009–March 7, 2010

    Curated by Briony Fer and Barry Rosen

    Eva Hesse’s test pieces occupy a peripheral place in writings on the artist. As small as curios and variously shaped in latex, Sculp-metal, wire mesh, and wax, among other materials, they are typically seen as mere studies for the “major” works. It would seem that no aspect of Hesse’s art and life has escaped scrutiny: The artist’s drawings, her German works, and her paintings have each inspired recent shows, and it was almost inevitable that, like the croquetons of Seurat, Hesse’s test pieces would receive their due. Fortunately, the driving force here is Briony Fer, whose previous writings have thoroughly revised our understanding of process in postwar art and in Hesse’s work in particular. Neither merely monographic nor thematic, the show is that rare event: an exhibition generated by an idea.

  • Rachel Harrison, Indigenous Parts V, 1995–2010 (detail), mixed media, dimensions variable.

    Rachel Harrison, Indigenous Parts V, 1995–2010 (detail), mixed media, dimensions variable.

    Rachel Harrison: Conquest of the Useless

    Bard Center for Curatorial Studies
    Bard College PO Box 5000
    June 27–December 30, 2009

    Whitechapel Gallery
    77 - 82 Whitechapel High Street
    April 30–June 20, 2010

    Brash, dispersed, hyperassociative yet precise, New York–based artist Rachel Harrison’s work exacts virtuosity from cultural excess with wit and elegance to spare; one can see why her first major survey (starting at the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College, then reconfigured for Portikus, Frankfurt, and the Whitechapel, London) was initially titled “Consider the Lobster,” which comes from an essay by the late David Foster Wallace. Several installations and a selection of sculptures and photographs made since 1995 compose the bulk of the show, which is accompanied by a catalogue with essays by curator Tom Eccles, Jack Bankowsky, Iwona Blazwick, and David Joselit. The second part of the exhibition in the Hessel (and not traveling) took a different tack, with Eccles and Harrison collaborating with six artists—Nayland Blake, Tom Burr, Harry Dodge, Alix Lambert, Allen Ruppersberg, and Andrea Zittel—in curating works from the Marieluise Hessel Collection.