previews

  • Mike Kelley and Michael Smith, A Voyage of Growth and Discovery, 2009, production still.

    Mike Kelley and Michael Smith

    West of Rome Public Art at the Farley Building
    Various Locations
    May 26–August 26, 2010

    SculptureCenter

    September 13–November 30, 2009

    Curated by Emi Fontana

    Both Mike Kelley and Michael Smith are known for works in performance and video art, and both consistently return to the dark substrata of American popular culture for aesthetico-conceptual inspirational dread. This show, organized by SculptureCenter together with West of Rome Public Art in Los Angeles, features a new collaborative installation by Kelley and Smith, A Voyage of Growth and Discovery, 2009. In addition to an eighteen-foot-high baby made from junk, and a playground, the installation features a four-channel video that stars Smith’s character Baby Ikki visiting the Burning Man festival—the perfect place for a mute, ambiguously sexed toddler.

  • Arshile Gorky, The Betrothal, 1947, oil on canvas, 50 5/8 x 39 1/4". © 2009 Estate of Arshile Gorky/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

    Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective

    Tate Modern
    Bankside
    March 17–May 3, 2010

    MOCA Geffen Contemporary
    152 North Central Avenue
    June 6–September 20, 2010

    Philadelphia Museum of Art
    26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
    October 20, 2009–January 10, 2010

    Curated by Michael Taylor

    When he took his own life in 1948 at age forty-four, Arshile Gorky was not only in the prime of his career but also in a sweet spot in the history of American art. No less a deft draftsman than a dazzling colorist, the artist had addressed advanced painting’s imperative at the time head-on: to work through the legacies of Picasso and Surrealism and arrive at a personal, abstract vernacular. The results, as they say, are history. Gorky’s large canvases, which remain emblematic of the New York School, will join sculptures, drawings, and prints in this 180-work retrospective, introducing to a new generation a seminal figure for whom painting’s stakes were a matter of life and death.

  • Allen Ruppersberg, The Never Ending Book Part 1/The Old Poems, 2007, mixed media. Installation view, Art Unlimited, Basel.

    Allen Ruppersberg

    ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
    Bergamot Station G1 2525 Michigan Avenue
    September 12–October 19, 2009

    Curated by Constance Lewallen

    Once described by Allan McCollum as “a love letter to the ephemeral and to memory,” Allen Ruppersberg’s work has moved restlessly among media for more than forty years. He is now a hero to many younger artists, although this exhibition, titled “You and Me or the Art of Give and Take,” is his first major US museum show since 1985. It presents ten older collages and drawings along with two new large-scale installations. One of the latter, The Never Ending Book Part 2/Art and Therefore Ourselves, 2009, is a stage-like environment filled with more than fifteen thousand pages of images photocopied from volumes in Ruppersberg’s library, which viewers are invited to rummage through and make selections from to create their own unique “books.” Accompanying the show, a catalogue/artist’s book mimicking a 1950s travel guide features essays by curator Constance Lewallen and Greil Marcus.

  • Charles Burchfield, The Night Wind, 1918, watercolor, gouache, and pencil. © The Museum of Modern Art.

    Charles Burchfield

    Burchfield Penney Art Center
    1300 Elmwood Avenue
    March 5–May 23, 2010

    Hammer Museum
    10899 Wilshire Boulevard
    October 4, 2009–January 3, 2010

    Whitney Museum of American Art
    99 Gansevoort Street
    June 24–October 17, 2010

    Curated by Robert Gober

    The eye for selection and sensitivity to space evident in Robert Gober’s sculptures and installations were last directed to curating in 2005, when the artist chose items from the Menil Collection in Houston to accompany his own work. Now Gober has assembled a full-fledged survey devoted to watercolorist Charles Burchfield (1893–1967), whose visions of the American scene are by turns ecstatic and morbid, mystical and bleak. The exhibition presents ephemera from Burchfield’s life (doodle-filled journal pages, correspondence with his early supporter Alfred H. Barr Jr.) alongside seventy-four watercolors. Psychedelic avant la lettre, the paintings feature plants, stars, insects, and dilapidated houses that melt or radiate shimmering coronas; a vocabulary of synesthetic marks lets the landscapes breathe, buzz, and hum their lost innocence.

  • John Baldessari, God Nose, 1965, oil on canvas, 68 x 57".

    John Baldessari

    Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA)
    Plaça dels Angels, 1
    February 5–April 25, 2010

    Tate Modern
    Bankside
    October 13, 2009–January 10, 2010

    Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
    5905 Wilshire Boulevard
    June 20–September 12, 2010

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
    11 West 53rd Street
    October 17–January 9, 2010

    Curated by Leslie Jones and Jessica Morgan

    “Pure Beauty” seems a funny name for a retrospective of an artist who cremated all his paintings in 1970 and voided the photographed faces of dozens of Hollywood starlets with signature colored spots, but of course an unsettlingly ironic humor runs through Baldessari’s career. This expansive exhibition should connect the proverbial dots with more than 130 works from five decades of collage, video, installation, and—yes— painting. In Los Angeles the artist’s influence looms (conspicuously) large. Accompanied by a catalogue with essays from Bice Curiger, David Salle, and ten others, Baldessari’s first British retrospective should reveal how far his pioneering brand of California Conceptualism extends.