• “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    1000 Fifth Avenue
    May 10 - October 8

    Curated by Andrew Bolton

    Sometimes the edgiest, most controversial thing is something very old indeed, and the Met’s Costume Institute deserves kudos for its nerve in mounting this exhibition. Folks have long been fascinated by, or worried about, the blur between the sacred and the merely sacerdotal. Federico Fellini’s 1972 movie Roma includes an ecclesiastical runway show, with models sporting miters and chasubles for an obviously dissipated clerical audience. Fashion is an art, if not Art—though it’s seldom accorded the dignity of a Michelangelo—and has always referenced the Renaissance and the Baroque as templates for chic power, glamour, imperiousness, even the glimmer of divine inspiration. The uniforms of nuns and priests provide source material for New York’s ever—dependable Basic Black, but this exhibition is less concerned with the basics. Rather, cardinal red and papal extravagance outstrip the banality of clothes. Balenciaga and McQueen could be heuristic antipodes for ecclesiastical opulence.  

  • “Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams”

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
    11 West 53rd Street
    May 26 - January 1

    Curated by Sarah Suzuki with Hillary Reder

    The idiosyncratic sculptor Bodys Isek Kingelez, who died in 2015, made detailed miniatures of urban structures—first buildings, and later entire cityscapes—inspired partly by Kinshasa and other cities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and partly by his own fertile imagination of more elegant, efficacious, and progressive ways of living. The work is less Afrofuturism than documentation of an alternative present, tracking the period when the country was called Zaire, under the kleptocratic dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, and its convulsive trajectory ever since. The bright colors and ludic energy recall certain other Congolese artists—Chéri Samba, for instance—but Kingelez, who came to European notice in the influential 1989 Paris group exhibition “Magiciens de la terre” at the Centre Pompidou, was his own man: an urbanist and dreamer whose understudied oeuvre makes an unexpected but fascinating choice for a major MoMA retrospective.

  • Mary Corse

    Whitney Museum of American Art
    99 Gansevoort Street
    June 8 - November 25

    Curated by Kim Conaty

    Given Mary Corse’s consistent, multi-decade creative output, this museum survey, the artist’s first, is “long overdue”—really a tired euphemism for the consequences of exclusionary gender politics (and a belated apotheosis of art from the Southland, and not just, though especially, for women). The exhibition promises to assemble exemplars from her early shaped canvases, freestanding sculptures, and light encasements made with Tesla-coil-based generators of Corse’s own design, as well as of the nontechnological but still perceptually fugitive White Light paintings, begun in 1968, and the Black Earth works that she started after moving from downtown Los Angeles to Topanga Canyon in 1970. This exhibition will showcase Corse’s experiments with the legacies of modernist painting, but will also foreground her use of decidedly unconventional materials (e.g., metallic flakes and glass microspheres) to open modernism’s often-hermetic surfaces to place, light, time, and possibility.

  • Reza Abdoh

    MoMA PS1
    22-25 Jackson Avenue at 46th Avenue
    June 3 - September 3

    Curated by Klaus Biesenbach, Negar Azimi, Tiffany Malakooti, and Babak Radboy

    Before his death from AIDS in 1995 at just thirty-two, Iranian American theater director Reza Abdoh had developed a multimedia practice that crossed formal experimentation, provocation, and a commitment to political action. In maximalist productions with his company, Dar a Luz, staged in abandoned spaces in Los Angeles and New York, Abdoh drew on oneiric fantasies, sadomasochism, queer club culture, and the legacy of the avant-garde to subject his audiences to a sensory assault. This collaboration between MoMA PS1 and Bidoun will be the first large-scale retrospective of the artist’s work, and will include Abdoh’s engagement with video as well as contextualizing materials and an installation based on his 1991 production Bogeyman, described by one contemporaneous critic as “a raucous, angry exorcism of relationships and assorted fears, shadowed by the Big One: the plague of AIDS.” Travels to KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, February 2–April 29, 2019. 

  • “Thomas Bayrle: Playtime”

    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    June 20 - September 2

    Curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Gary Carrion-Murayari, and Helga Christoffersen

    Given the prescience and range of Thomas Bayrle’s half-century-long career, it is astonishing that the German artist has never had a New York museum survey. This spring, the New Museum presents a comprehensive selection of Bayrle’s work, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, wallpapers, prints, early computer-based art, videos, and 16-mm films, as well as examples of his experiments in advertising, fashion, commercial display, and political activism. From his early “super-forms”—densely composed images in which he combined smaller units to build large-scale figurative works—to his recent sculptures created from automotive engines, Bayrle’s multi-decade explorations of consumption and political desire have never been more resonant. Accompanied by a catalogue with essays from scholars and curators including Mark Godfrey and Christine Mehring and an interview between Bayrle and curator Massimiliano Gioni, this show promises to make the work’s relevance—and its poetic depth—crystal clear.   

  • Carol Rama, Le tagliole (The Traps), 1966, red fox hide and enamel on canvas, 23 5/8 × 19 3/4".


    New Museum
    235 Bowery
    April 26 - November 30

    Curated by Helga Christoffersen and Massimiliano Gioni

    Just two months after the widely traveled European retrospective “The Passion According to Carol Rama” closed in Turin, the first New York survey of the late Italian artist’s work opened at the New Museum. While it’s a shame “The Passion” didn’t cross the Atlantic, “Antibodies”—which features 175 works and an accompanying catalogue with essays by Italian writer and curator Lea Vergine and LA-based critic Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer—more than makes up for the loss. Spanning seven decades, the exhibition covers the full range of Rama’s practice, from the frank and fantastic eroticism of her early watercolors of the 1930s and ’40s, to the abstract abjection of the ’60s “Bricolages” and latex “vulnerable organisms,” to the carnality of her late-career figuration, embodied here in, for example, the mixed-media series “La mucca pazza” (The Mad Cow), ca. 1996–2001. “Antibodies” thus offers New York audiences a comprehensive—and long-overdue—consideration of Rama’s provocative representations of sexuality, illness, and the body.