previews

  • “BASQUIAT’S ‘DEFACEMENT’: THE UNTOLD STORY”

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York
    1071 Fifth Avenue

    Curated by Chaédria LaBouvier with Nancy Spector and Joan Young

    This woefully timely exhibition takes Basquiat’s rarely shown painting Defacement (The Death of Michael Stewart) as its inspiration. Created in 1983 as a response to the killing of the artist Michael Stewart by New York City transit police, after he allegedly tagged a subway station in the East Village, Basquiat painted Defacement directly on the wall of Keith Haring’s studio. In addition to paintings by Basquiat, the exhibition will include works addressing the murder by Haring, George Condo, David Hammons, and Lyle Ashton Harris, as well as paintings and drawings by Stewart himself. Dealing with structural racism, black history, protest, street art, and the mythos of the 1980s art world, “Defacement” suggests that that era’s art and politics remain a fecund terrain for excavation.

  • “LUBAINA HIMID: WORK FROM UNDERNEATH”

    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    June 26–September 22

    Curated by Natalie Bell

    The title of Lubaina Himid’s first solo museum show in the US—taken from the directive language of health-and-safety manuals—has a double resonance. The Tanzania-born artist, primarily a painter, has long given high-chroma form to occluded histories of black Britons and the ugly reverbs of colonialism and the slave trade; for this she won the Turner Prize in 2017, at the age of sixty-three. Unfreedom is also countered in formal terms: Himid’s codified groupings of black figures, arranged formally as in eighteenth-century English paintings (think William Hogarth), manifest both as theatrical flotillas of freestanding cutouts and as daubs on formal crockery, while her flag-like fabric works are illuminated by texts from lodestars including Audre Lorde, Essex Hemphill, and James Baldwin. In New York, where the artist will debut a new body of work, expect Himid to fold together painting, sculpture, textiles, and sound, with an emphasis on the psychological undercurrents of both language and architecture.

  • “CAMP: NOTES ON FASHION”

    The Met | Metropolitan Museum of Art
    1000 Fifth Avenue

    Curated by Andrew Bolton

    Dandiacal is such a marvelous word—it sounds like a portmanteau of dandy and maniacal. Andrew Bolton uses it to describe a frock coat designed by Alessandro Michele for Gucci that, for this exhibition, will be installed next to a regal full-length portrait of Oscar Wilde (painted by Robert Pennington ca. 1884) wearing a similar item of clothing. Though most people think of camp as a mincing pink beast in marabou feathers, I like to imagine it as a glittering black widow with diamond fangs, a supple creature that threatens to fatally upend the straight and self-serious aspects of our culture. This grand presentation at the Met’s Costume Institute, featuring roughly two hundred pieces from designers such as Edda Gimnes, Gareth Pugh, Jeremy Scott, Donatella Versace, and Vivienne Westwood, promises to unveil the myriad marquise-cut facets of the term that Susan Sontag famously dragged up from the gayest of ghettos and into our contemporary lexicon.

  • “PHENOMENAL NATURE: MRINALINI MUKHERJEE"

    The Met Breuer
    945 Madison Avenue

    Curated by Shanay Jhaveri

    Adopting fiber as her medium in the late 1960s, Mrinalini Mukherjee created singular knotted-rope sculptures composed of undulating folds, soft crevasses, and drooping protuberances. Teetering between figuration and abstraction, her efflorescent forms revel in the sublime fecundity of nature; undeniably sexual, they also echo classical Indian sculpture. In the mid-1990s, Mukherjee shifted to ceramics, and subsequently to bronze, and this comprehensive exhibition includes sixty works in all three media, ranging from a never-before-shown 1972 fiber piece to a majestic bronze completed a week before her tragically premature death at age sixty-five in 2015. Mukherjee’s aggression-tinged bronzes seem to channel nature’s growing malevolence, as our calamitous actions hurtle us toward our own extinction. A monograph edited by curator Shanay Jhaveri will accompany the exhibition and will feature texts by art historians Naman Ahuja, Deepak Ananth, Emilia Terracciano, and Grant Watson alongside previously unpublished archival material.

  • “THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ALVIN BALTROP”

    Bronx Museum of the Arts
    1040 Grand Concourse
    September 7–February 19

    Curated by Sergio Bessa

    Documenting the West Side Piers from 1975 to 1986, Alvin Baltrop’s photographs of nude sunbathing, gay sex, s/m, cruising, artmaking, crime, and death chronicle an era of deindustrialization. Bodies and buildings hide each other, dissolving the boundaries between their divergent forms. An important record of queer and trans history, the Bronx Museum’s retrospective—featuring 120 photographs, archival materials, and a catalogue with contributions from Douglas Crimp, Hilton Als, and curator Sergio Bessa—will also provide audiences an opportunity to gauge Baltrop’s acuity with 35-mm film, his chosen medium. Baltrop’s small-scale work commands us to look closely, often at figures who themselves are searching for something (or someone) amid the crumbling architecture of the piers. Their voyeurism becomes Baltrop’s, which becomes our own—a collapsed line of sight connecting past and present.