• Dan Walsh, Threshold, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 70 x 70". From the Whitney Biennial.

    Whitney Biennial

    Whitney Museum of American Art
    99 Gansevoort Street
    March 7–May 25

    Curated by Stuart Comer, Anthony Elms, and Michelle Grabner

    In its final year uptown, the Whitney presents three Biennials in one, giving a floor to each of a trio of outside organizers. Michelle Grabner, artist and impresario of the Suburban in Oak Park, Illinois, will usher in painting and sculpture with special attention to craft; ICA Philadelphia curator and WhiteWalls publisher Anthony Elms will cast an editor’s eye on cultural production; and MoMA’s Stuart Comer will top it all off with expertise in film and performance. Though this parfait-style exhibition may prove difficult to pin down, one inclination clearly emerges across all three tiers: a preference for seasoned careers over fresh, emergent pluck; of the 103 participants, all but nine were born before the Reagan era, and many boast institutionally weighted CVs. With offerings by imprints (Semiotext[e]), writers (Susan Howe), musicians (Pauline Oliveros), and those in a category of their own (Charlemagne Palestine), the Biennial will, once again, take the temperature of the contemporary.

  • Benedetta, Sintesi delle comunicazioni aeree (Synthesis of Aerial Communications), 1933–34, tempera and encaustic on canvas, 10' 7 1/2“ x 6' 6 3/8”. From “Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe.”

    “Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe”

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York
    1071 Fifth Avenue
    February 21–September 1

    Curated by Vivien Greene

    The Italian Futurist movement was launched in 1909 with its belligerent leader F. T. Marinetti’s proclamation “Art can be nothing but violence, cruelty, and injustice.” Given the fashionability of social inclusion in art today, Marinetti’s dictate is a bracing reminder of a darker, more radical tradition of artistic activism. The Guggenheim’s survey of the movement will not only be sweeping—with more than three hundred works that cross the boundaries of art, architecture, design, film, literature, sound, and performance—but will be the first of its kind in the US. The exhibition and scholarly catalogue will document how the Futurists aimed at “reconstructing the universe” through intermediality as well as mechanized warfare, tracing the “heroic” years leading up to World War I and the fascist period of the 1920s–40s, when artists pressed on with their formal innovations in defiance of the times’ rappel à l’ordre.

  • Robert Heinecken, Recto/Verso #2, 1988, Cibachrome print, 8 5/8 x 7 7/8".

    “Robert Heinecken: Object Matter”

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
    11 West 53rd Street
    March 15–June 22

    Curated by Eva Respini and Drew Sawyer

    With the revived currency of appropriation in contemporary art, the work of Robert Heinecken is once again undergoing reassessment. Arriving eight years after his death in 2006, MoMA’s survey of the artist’s photography-based practice is the largest since his retrospective in 1999 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. “Object Matter” includes approximately 140 works from the early 1960s to the late ’90s—the breadth of the LA artist’s darkroom experimentations and extensions of the photographic medium into sculpture, painting, printmaking, collage, and installation. Heinecken’s ironic humor and the important questions his conceptualism asks in its adoption of mass-media (including pornographic) imagery are themes taken up as well in the show’s comprehensive catalogue. Even those familiar with the art of this restless “para-photographer” may now come to see his focus on the human body—deemed retrograde in the ’80s—as altogether prescient. Travels to the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Oct. 5, 2014–Jan. 17, 2015.

  • Paweł Althamer

    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    February 12–April 20

    Curated by Massimiliano Gioni and Gary Carrion-Murayari

    Over his roughly twenty-year career, Polish artist Paweł Althamer has fashioned a singularly thoughtful and intuitive body of work, body being the operative word. Despite the varying mediums he has adopted—sculpture, video, installation, and diffuse forms of social praxis (from leading ceramics workshops to flying more than 150 of his Warsaw neighbors, clad in gold space suits, to Brussels)—the corporeal remains at the heart of Althamer’s endeavor. In addition, his first US retrospective includes a new iteration of The Draftsman’s Congress, an expansive drawing with an open call for participants, originally realized at the Seventh Berlin Biennale in 2012 (organized by Althamer’s sometimes collaborator Artur Żmijewski, who contributes an essay to the New Museum catalogue, as does Joanna Mytkowska, director of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw). This survey of Althamer’s works in all mediums should at last allow us to perceive the nuances of his multifarious project.

  • Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Ugolino and His Sons, 1865–67, marble, 77 3/4 x 59 x 43 1/2".

    “The Passions of Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux”

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    1000 Fifth Avenue
    March 10–May 26

    Curated by James Draper

    Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s controversial sculpture has become synonymous with the Second Empire, the regime he served so well. His portraits captured its glittering women and self-made men, Napoléon III among them, while editioned spin-offs from his monumental public works—such as La Danse, carved for the Paris Opera in 1869—made them available to the bourgeois connoisseur. The great public pieces will inevitably be absent from this exhibition (co-organized with Paris’s Musée d’Orsay), but its sheer scale—more than 160 sculptures, paintings, and drawings (particularly revealing of Carpeaux’s mind at work)—will help to fill the hole. As for the catalogue, no comprehensive account of the sculptor’s art and career has been published in English in nearly three decades. One can only hope that the show’s breathless title does not herald greater hyperbole to come. Travels to the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

  • “Other Primary Structures”

    The Jewish Museum
    1109 Fifth Avenue
    March 14–August 3

    Curated by Jens Hoffmann

    Hailed as a founding moment of Minimalism, the exhibition “Primary Structures,” organized by Kynaston McShine at the Jewish Museum in 1966, stressed the importance of seeing things as presented rather than as made. Less remembered is its subtitle, “Younger American and British Sculptors,” which suggested that Minimalism was a distinctly transnational movement based on shared artistic commitments. “Other Primary Structures” again foregrounds Minimalism’s internationalism—this time by including twenty-six artists from what were once considered the art world’s margins. The sculptures of Lygia Clark, David Medalla, and Susumu Koshimizu, for example, provocatively resonate with, and occasionally refuse, the concerns nearest to Minimalism’s still-beating heart. The exhibition—which will occasion a reissue of the 1966 catalogue and the publication of a new volume—will no doubt elicit broader questions of comparison and its viability in fleshing out the ever-elusive ideal of a genuinely global art history.

  • Maria Lassnig, Selbstporträt expressiv, 1945, oil and charcoal on fiberboard, 23 5/8 x 18 7/8".

    Maria Lassnig

    MoMA PS1
    22-25 Jackson Avenue at 46th Avenue
    March 9–June 1

    Curated by Peter Eleey

    Austrian-born Maria Lassnig traveled from Paris to New York in 1968, in midcareer, to leave behind not only the continent of Europe but also its fundamental misunderstanding of her “body-consciousness paintings” as a form of expressionism. Embraced today for her defiant attitude, Lassnig garnered a Golden Lion at last year’s Venice Biennale for a lifetime of work that cuts to the bone. Assembling some fifty paintings from private and public collections as well as from the artist’s studio—together with a selection of her watercolors and rarely screened experimental animations—Eleey focuses on the groundbreaking self-portraits Lassnig has been making for over seven decades, which translate interiority and corporeal experience into radical, vulnerable, and sometimes sarcastic pictures. Organized in collaboration with the Neue Galerie Graz, Austria.

    Translated from German by Alexander Scrimgeour.