previews

  • “SUFFERING FROM REALNESS”

    Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA)
    87 Marshall Street
    April 19–January 1

    Curated by Denise Markonish

    Many have staked their claim to the term realness, from the most piscine of drag queens to the scariest of political hobgoblins, whose “alternative facts” continue to wreak havoc on our already beleaguered reality. “Suffering from Realness” does not resolve to make the situation any less complicated. This group exhibition at MASS MOCA will feature works from seventeen artists who are carefully dissecting our messy, fact-challenged times—such as Cassils, whose (quite literally) muscular takes on gender and sexuality via performance, sculpture, and photography simultaneously beguile and bludgeon, and Wangechi Mutu, a maker of supernaturally gorgeous images and objects that propel notions of blackness into the farthest reaches of the imagination. The title of the exhibition is taken from a lyric in a song by Jay-Z and Kanye West, the latter of whom befuddles us all with his—ahem—singular interpretations of history.

     

  • Louise Bourgeois, Nature Study (Velvet Eyes), 1984, marble, steel, 26 × 33 × 27". © The Easton Foundation; VAGA, NY.

    LOUISE BOURGEOIS

    Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA)
    87 Marshall Street
    May 28–May 28

    Curated by Susan Cross

    An event of singular importance is scheduled this spring at MASS MoCA—a decade-long installation of three monumental marbles by Louise Bourgeois, each weighing several tons and occupying a sprawling measure of floor space reinforced by steel supports, with an additional aluminum sculpture on five-year loan. One of the colossi on display, Untitled, 1991, comprises two marble slabs wedged together. The work incarnates a team of mythic personages, their heads rising above a stylized frieze of the sea, whose curling waves seemingly allude to Poseidon and riff on the Pergamon Altar, which depicts the battle of the giants against the Olympian deities. For Bourgeois, an artist who was uniquely committed to the psychoanalytic origins of her art, such figures dwell within both the realm of the gods and that of the unconscious. Might Untitled not be read as a parable of the battle Bourgeois herself fought against the Greenbergian Cubism-onward-to-abstraction paradigm of modernist art? Here, again, Bourgeois is seen sculpting the great contrarian alternative to that repressive, patriarchal sequence.