• Alice Neel, Victoria and the Cat, 1980, oil on canvas, 39 3/4 x 25 1/2".

    Alice Neel: Painted Truths

    Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
    1001 Bissonnet
    May 21–June 13

    Whitechapel Gallery
    77 - 82 Whitechapel High Street
    July 8–August 17

    Moderna Museet | Stockholm
    October 10–January 2

    Curated by Jeremy Lewison and Barry Walker

    Though Alice Neel (1900–1984) could sometimes appear matronly (she played a bishop’s mother in the 1959 Beat film Pull My Daisy), she was a political radical and a bohemian whose portraits questioned social and artistic categories with enduring acumen. While she mastered the figural distortions developed by modernists before her (limbs like pulled taffy, faces with not-quite-level eyes, oversize heads heavy with psychic burdens), she rendered her subjects with a sincerity that modernists typically feared. The MFA’s sixty-eight-work retrospective spans more than fifty years of painting and includes subjects that range from a nursing woman to a family in Spanish Harlem, from a cowlicked Robert Smithson and a toothy Frank O’Hara to a man named Joe Gould sporting an impressive three penises.

  • Maurizio Cattelan, Ave Maria, 2007, polyurethane, metal, clothes, paint, dimensions variable.

    Maurizio Cattelan

    The Menil Collection
    1533 Sul Ross Street
    February 12–August 15

    Curated by Franklin Sirmans

    Maurizio Cattelan has been described as a conceptual artist, a curator, a publisher, and a smart-ass. “Comedians manipulate and make fun of reality,” he has remarked. “Whereas I actually think that reality is far more provocative than my art.” In recent years, Cattelan (with longtime collaborators Massimiliano Gioni and Ali Subotnik) has busied himself with the “doorfront” Wrong Gallery and with curating the 2006 Berlin Biennial. His show at the Menil Collection focuses on sculptures first shown in Europe in 2007—for instance, Ave Maria, a trio of saluting arms that extend from the wall—as well as four new works. During the exhibition’s run, a selection of Cattelan’s pieces will be situated in galleries throughout the museum among works from the collection. Love to love a smart smart-ass.