previews

  • Kurt Schwitters (right) with Edith Thomas and Bill Pierce at Cylinders Farm, Ambleside, UK, ca. 1947.

    “Schwitters In Britain”

    Tate Britain
    Millbank
    January 30 - May 12

    Curated by Emma Chambers and Karin Orchard

    We all know the Merzbau—the multiroom environment created by the Hannover Dadaist Kurt Schwitters in the decade before his 1937 flight from Germany—but how many of us are familiar with the Merz Barn, the artist’s continuation of this seminal project, begun in England’s Lake District just months before his death in 1948? This and other little-known work from Schwitters’s final decade, including more than 150 collages, assemblages, and sculptures made during his English exile, will be the focus of “Schwitters in Britain,” which opens at the end of the month. Supporting himself through the sale of Sunday paintings, the artist nevertheless remained committed throughout these years to the practice of collage, utilizing both natural and man-made materials from his new surroundings. Tate Britain’s presentation, which will also feature contributions by contemporary artists exploring his legacy, promises a new perspective on this multifaceted—and multinational—artist.

  • Gerard Byrne, A Man and a Woman Make Love, 2012, multi-channel projection, color, video, 19 minutes.

    “Gerard Byrne: A State of Neutral Pleasure”

    Whitechapel Gallery
    77 - 82 Whitechapel High Street
    January 17 - March 8

    Curated by Kirsty Ogg

    Gerard Byrne’s practice is a gently vertiginous one: We construe the present, the Irish artist suggests, in relation to a past we know only via suspect representations. Accentuating this—sometimes through his actors’ inappropriate accents—Byrne engineers video installations that wonkily restage conversations pulled from broadcasting and magazine archives. He brings Brechtian unraveling and tangled temporality to bear on historical evidence that has been, to some degree, theatricalized or mediated at its source: an acted version of a future-predicting 1963 Playboy roundtable among twelve well-known science-fiction writers in 1984 and Beyond, 2005; a 1920s discussion involving a group of Surrealists, restaged as a television play in front of a studio audience, in A Man and a Woman Make Love, 2012. The latter, shown at Documenta 13, receives its UK premiere in this survey, alongside six other film installations and Byrne’s parallel strand of photographic works.

  • Juergen Teller, Pettitoe, Suffolk, 2011, C-print, 10 x 16".

    “Juergen Teller: Woo”

    ICA - Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
    The Mall
    January 23 - March 17

    Curated by Gregor Muir

    If there is a conflation in photography today among the private, the public, and the unabashedly commercial, such anxiety can partly be tracked to the success of Juergen Teller, whose career skyrocketed in the mid-1990s with the distinctly overly lit, awkward but glamorously posed, comic but almost aggressively intimate portraits of models, musicians, and friends that he produced for advertising, editorial, and art contexts without modifying his style. As much environmental studies of outsize eccentricity as they are portraits of the weird and the beautiful, Teller’s works are now the subject of “Woo,” the artist’s first solo exhibition in London in more than a decade. Expect iconic shots of Björk and Kate Moss, highlights from Marc Jacobs campaigns, and, in a prime example of the photographer’s ability to bridge the public and the personal, the inclusion of both a 2009 triptych of Vivienne Westwood in the nude and selections from a series featuring his elderly mother wandering around the English woodlands.

  • David Bowie wearing striped bodysuit designed by Kansai Yamamoto for the Aladdin Sane tour, 1973. Photo: Masayoshi Sukita.

    “David Bowie Is”

    Victoria and Albert Museum
    Cromwell Road
    March 23 - July 28

    Curated by Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh

    Always changing, ever evolving, David Bowie actualized the shift from young mod Brit to full-blown icon of pop, a stamp on people’s minds even now, as the exhibition title’s “is” reminds. Culling some three hundred items from the David Bowie Archive, including costumes, set designs, storyboards, films, diary entries, instruments, handwritten lyrics, and album art, the V&A will show an array of Bowies—from sixteen-year-old David Jones to Ziggy Stardust spaceman to impresario of glam rock and the New Romantics to late-’90s Alexander McQueen–cloaked “earthling”—all under a single roof. An accompanying catalogue explores how Bowie shaped fashion, with essays addressing his polymorphous musicality, his extreme charades, and his encounter with William S. Burroughs, which brought him down from space and back to the street.