• Cindy Sherman, Untitled #413, 2003, chromogenic color print, 46 x 31 1/8".

    Cindy Sherman

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
    11 West 53rd Street
    February 26–June 11, 2012

    Curated by Eva Respini

    Since the mid-1970s, Cindy Sherman has been continually reinventing and photographing herself––as a paper doll or a movie character, wearing Comme des Garçons or displaying too many nips and tucks. Whatever guise she assumes, whether looking gorgeous or weird, Sherman is always and never herself. At the time she made her “Untitled Film Stills,” 1977–80, she was persona non grata at the Museum of Modern Art’s Photography Department; when MoMA acquired the full set of “Stills” in 1995, they had become canonical postmodern artworks––thanks in large part to the thoughtful attention of feminist critics. Now the museum is mounting a full-scale retrospective of more than 180 photographs from all the major series, accompanied by a catalogue with a conversation between Sherman and John Waters and essays by Respini and critic Johanna Burton.

    Travels to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, July 14–Oct. 7; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Nov. 3, 2012–Feb. 10, 2013; Dallas Museum of Art, Mar. 17–June 9, 2013.

  • John Chamberlain, Hano, 1970, mineral-coated polymer resin, 30 x 37 x 34".

    “John Chamberlain: Choices”

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York
    1071 Fifth Avenue
    February 24–May 13, 2012

    Curated by Susan Davidson

    Too sweet for Minimalism, too hard for Pop, John Chamberlain’s assemblages still give pause. That caesura is his signature: He forced the dream of aerodynamic speed into confrontation with gravity––and with the massive industrial edifice that was and is our world’s vast trammel. Torquing the car part into dense, anticompositional crushes and folds, Chamberlain overturned the two-dimensional “drawing in space” of David Smith’s welded sculpture and offered instead a resolute engagement with substance, whereby the promise of virtuality and mobility is always freighted with matter, the fast sheen of metal-flake lacquer and clear topcoat always slowed into a viscous solid. This retrospective of approximately one hundred works, updating the artist’s major Guggenheim survey of 1971, will make us look longer still at Chamberlain’s extraordinary experiments with visual incident in his enamel automobile-finish pictures, his knots and planes in urethane foam or vacuum-coated Plexi, and his recent large-scale works in foil.

    Travels to the Guggenheim Bilbao, Mar.–Sept. 2013.

  • Lutz Bacher, Pipe Organ, 2009-2011, tin, paint, speakers, four pipes, and a Yamaha organ, dimensions variable.

    Whitney Biennial

    Whitney Museum of American Art
    99 Gansevoort Street
    March 1–May 27, 2012

    Curated by Elisabeth Sussman and Jay Sanders

    This living, evolving iteration of the Whitney Biennial (perhaps the last to appear in the famed Breuer building) will give us the American classic in a versatile and fluctuating format: Painting and sculpture installed in an open-plan design such that the idiosyncrasies of the museum’s near-windowless brutalist shell will dictate spatial relations; meanwhile, a designated cinema space––programmed in consultation with Light Industry founders Thomas Beard and Ed Halter––will displace the usual warren of looped-video viewing rooms, allowing invited filmmakers to host screenings of their own work along with that of their influences. Expect to make repeat visits––not just for the films but also for a throng of music, theater, and dance projects planned to take over the fourth floor. Who’s to say whether these structural and programmatic innovations are enough to channel America’s recent revolutionary rumblings, but at least for the spring, the work of the fifty-some artists featured here may well radicalize the Whitney.

  • Julia Dault, Untitled 17 (11:00 am – 4:00 pm, January 20, 2011), 2011, Plexiglas, Formica, Everlast boxing wraps, and string, 80 x 66 x 52".

    The Generational

    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    February 15–April 22, 2012

    Curated by Eungie Joo

    Differentiated from its predecessor by a late-Foucault-meets-Cedar-Tavern title––“The Ungovernables”––this sophomore edition of the New Museum Triennial assembles a globe-spanning coterie of thirty-plus artists and collectives. One can expect to find a gamut of artistic approaches arrayed here––from Danh Vo’s diasporic flaneurism to Public Movement’s totalitarian charades to Abigail DeVille’s explosive decoupage. Additionally, Joo will introduce a number of long-gestating projects to the exhibition’s format, including residencies by Wu Tsang, Adrián Villar Rojas, and Shaina Anand. While remaining for the most part younger than Jesus, the identity- and community-based practitioners gathered in this installment seem poised to redirect a stream of vanguardist interest away from the last Generational’s digital playgrounds and toward a program of erudite investment in discourse-rich subject formations.

  • “Wu Guanzhong: Abstraction and Tradition”

    Asia Society | New York
    725 Park Avenue
    April 25–August 5, 2012

    Curated by Melissa Chiu

    The radicalism of Wu Guanzhong (1919–2010) was befuddling: He both advocated and opposed formalism. In the 1980s, he resurrected formalism to depoliticize and wrest Chinese painting from its Maoist-era servitude to state ideology. His revisionism, however, went beyond repudiating overpoliticized art to challenge the very tradition of ink painting, with the shocking assertion (anathema to many) that “brush and ink come to naught!” The born-again formalism that Wu envisioned sought to liberate ink painting from its fetishism of ink-and-brush synergy and expand its repertoire to include pointillism, linearity, and planarity, among other qualities and techniques. Purists bemoan such abstraction within the medium, but like it or not, the energy unleashed by Wu is here to stay, as evidenced by Asia Society’s major tribute to the artist––a retrospective of roughly forty paintings and drawings spanning the three decades following his beginnings in the 1970s, which will be supplemented by a catalogue with multiple scholarly essays.

  • Jesús Rafael Soto, Sans titre (La ficelle-matière transformée) (Untitled [The String-Transformed Material]), 1961 paint on wire and wood, 35 3/4 x 35 3/4 x 7".

    “Soto: Paris And Beyond, 1950–1970”

    Grey Art Gallery
    100 Washington Square East New York University
    January 10–March 31, 2012

    Curated by Estrellita B. Brodsky

    If what set postwar France’s most ambitious artists apart was their grappling with painting’s potential as a generative site for aesthetic forms, perceptual models, and social experiences, then it is high time to reassess the “kinetic” contributions of the Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto. At the Grey Art Gallery, approximately fifty works made in the twenty years after he moved to Paris in 1950, including a dozen of his “Vibrations,” will evidence Soto’s experiments with painting’s hybrid condition as a material surface provoking immaterial effects, as a static object inducing arbitrary incidents, and as a flat support conjuring three-dimensional phenomenological possibilities. By exacerbating these paradoxes, Soto helped redefine the spectator as an active participant, perhaps anticipating the contestation of power that marked the events of May ’68. Brodsky’s and Sarah K. Rich’s catalogue essays will expand on Soto’s dialogue with contemporaries such as Yves Klein and Jean Tinguely.

  • Gran Fury, The Four Questions, 1993, printed flyer, 20 x 24".

    “Gran Fury: Read My Lips”

    80WSE Gallery, NYU Steinhardt School
    80 Washington Square East
    May 20, 2013–March 17, 2012

    Curated by Gran Fury and Michael Cohen

    In 1993, the AIDS-activist art collective Gran Fury produced a modest poster that asked four simple questions––among them, DO YOU TRUST HIV-NEGATIVES? and WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? It was a despairing time: ACT UP? was in disarray, no treatment breakthroughs were on the horizon, friends were dying. Two years later, the development of protease inhibitors changed everything for many of us, with the result that the present generation is mostly ignorant of that terrible time. Now Gran Fury has reunited to mount a comprehensive survey of the works that, starting in 1988, were the public face of ACT UP––especially in the art world. (A piece called Control was made for the pages of Artforum in 1989, The Pope and the Penis for the 1990 Venice Biennale.) The 80WSE exhibition includes reprinted posters and contextual material, and its eighty-seven-page catalogue will include a reprint of my own interview with the collective together with other conversations and writings by the artists themselves.