The following guide to museum shows currently on view is compiled from Artforum’s three-times-yearly exhibition preview. Subscribe now to begin a year of Artforum—the world’s leading magazine of contemporary art. You’ll get all three big preview issues, featuring Artforum’s comprehensive advance roundups of the shows to see each season around the globe.
Talk of the Björk retrospective always raises eyebrows. Yes, it’s a risky crossover thing, but even if it goes a little astray, it’ll be coolpromiscuously collaborative, fashiony, and strange. The visionary Icelandic pop star has for more than two decades brought experimental aesthetics to stadium stages and dance charts, always matching her prolific and innovative musical output with striking, otherworldly visual material and an evolving persona. Appropriately, this exhibition will present a complex narrative of her career, blending biography and fiction in an account written by the artist and author Sjón Sigurdsson. “Björk” will include sound, film, and video works as well as instruments, costumes, and a new 3-D installation. Curator Klaus Biesenbach will author a catalogue for the show, which is sure to be this spring’s museum blockbuster.
Choosing the moment of Indian independence and its fiftieth anniversary as the temporal anchors for this show, curator Lokhandwala will draw together works in a variety of media for an expansive exhibition of modern and contemporary Indian art. Works by major figures including painters M. F. Husain, S. H. Raza, and F. N. Souza are sure to be among the highlights. Perhaps the greatest challenge in mounting such an exhibition is to relieve the art of the burden of cultural representation and instead to explore, in all their complexity, questions about art, modernity, and globalization that span the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and transcend the Indian context. Related themes that were examined by Lokhandwala and colleagues in a symposium in 2012, when the exhibition was being conceptualized, will be revisited in a forthcoming publication with contributions by Iftikhar Dadi, Geeta Kapur, Saloni Mathur, and Rebecca M. Brown, among others.
Laurie Simmons’s sustained investigation into both physical and psychological artificefrom the figurines and miniaturized architectural environments pictured in her early photos to her later deployment of anatomically accurate “love dolls” as actors in oddly poignant domestic dramas around her own homehas a certain conceptual and spatial trajectory to it, and her decision in recent years to begin working with human subjects represents a logical, intriguing turn in her provocative practice. Characteristically looking to trouble questions of identity and presentation, the photographs in “How We See” build on a suite of portraits the artist first exhibited last year, for which she drew on the cosplay form known in Japan as kigurumi. The recent, large-scale images depict a series of “doll girls” with wide, Margaret Keane–style eyes carefully painted on their closed lidsmodified bodies located at the uncanny point where the “natural” comes in contact with the emerging technologies and habits of posthumanist self-representation.
Among the most subtly erotic images in all cinema is the slow-motion shot of Maggie Cheung wearing an iridescent cheongsam that shimmers red to green as she ascends the stairs in Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love (2002). Working with his longtime production and costume designer, William Chang, Wong is the artistic director for “China: Through the Looking Glass,” a collaboration between the Met’s Costume Institute and its Department of Asian Art. The exhibition will showcase decorative objects and clothes from three centuries of Chinese history, as well as fashions by Western designers inspired by Chinese design and imageryfrom Paul Poiret and Mainbocher to Chanel and Charles James, from Saint Laurent and Balenciaga to Dries Van Noten and Paul Smithmore than forty in all. There will be films, but also theatrical and musical performances and an accompanying publication with contributions from Wong, designer John Galliano, and numerous scholars.
The decade preceding the Russian Revolution witnessed productive interchange between German and Russian artists, and Munich was a major hub for the imagining and development of an alternative to Parisian modernism. Artists such as Wassily Kandinsky and Alexei von Jawlensky congregated there, informed and inspired by their French colleagues but also allied with their German counterparts in an embrace of Central European and Eastern particularity. “Russian Modernism” promises to be eye-opening for US audiences more familiar with the German-Soviet exchanges of Constructivism. This earlier chapter is equally fraught with tensions between nationalist and internationalist agendas: The exhibition’s challenge will be to address the artists’ politics as well as the breach that occurred during World War I, when Russians were forced to leave Germany and any remaining ties had to be maintained over enemy lines. The catalogue features essays by scholars including Jane Sharp and Vivian Endicott Barnett.
Between 1900 and 1960, an estimated five million African Americans migrated from Southern states to urban centers in the North, a process accelerated in 1915 by the wartime industrial boom. In a series of sixty tempera panels created in 1940–41, Jacob Lawrence captured in striking color and form the experience of these individuals on the move. The paintings, usually split between MoMA and the Phillips Collection in Washington, DCthe show’s organizers, in collaboration with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culturewill be reunited this spring for the first time in two decades. Scholar Henry Louis Gates has argued that the Great Migration caused the emergence of a new culture, and Lawrence’s images bear witness to the massive social, political, and demographic transformations of the period. Seeing the paintings alongside contemporaneous responses in painting, photography, literature, and music will highlight Lawrence’s series as a trenchant reformulation of historical accounting in the modern period.