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.
“Future Funk Fashion” will present three decades of work by an artist who traversed both counterculture and mainstream fashion to emerge as one of the most illuminating illustrators and photographers in the history of style. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City, the prolific Lopez (1943–1987) had a career as fierce and captivating as his bright illustrations, mixed-media works, and Polaroids. He was at the center of fashion campaigns for Versace, Valentino, and Yves Saint Laurent, and his illustrations in Women’s Wear Daily, Vogue, and the New York Times ushered in a stunning, sexually liberated, and youth-centered style, inspiring a generation of designers, including Anna Sui and Marc Jacobs. Icons such as Grace Jones, Jerry Hall (whose big break came through collaborations with Lopez), Tina Chow, Joey Arias, and Josephine Baker will all make an appearance via his images. And while this visual archive brims with a creative spark that documents a moment that has passed, Lopez’s genius rests in how this work is and always will be the future.
We know Diane Arbus for her square-format photographs of “freaks” and “normals,” taken in the 1960s, with which she created an inimitable style of personal confrontation with her subjects, markedly different from that of her “new-document,” street-photographing contemporaries. What we know less about are her beginnings, after she worked as a stylist for her fashion-photographer husband Allan Arbus, who gave her a camera when she was just eighteen. More than one hundred of the photographs she took with a 35-mm camera between 1956when she numbered a roll of such film “#1”and 1962, which marked the beginning of a decade of iconic Rolleiflex work, will be on view at the new Met Breuer this summer. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue of photographs largely drawn from the Metropolitan’s massive archive of Arbus’s prints, with essays by the curator and researcher Karan Rinaldo.
Geoffrey Farmer succinctly noted, some months back, “My work appears to me as wreckage”articulating the formal-pileup effect of his exploded-collage installations, the air of obsolescence emanating from the vintage print media he uses so pointedly, and even the way his hundreds of Frankensteined cutouts swarm like the undead and stand at attention. He captures that intoxicating Benjaminian sensation that we experience when faced, like the angel of history, with the quantities of accretion and devastation that constitute the stuff of the archive and “progress.” Monumental, room-size stagings of the miniature, including Boneyard, 2013, and The Surgeon and the Photographer, 2009–13, will be featured in this survey of Farmer’s recent paper sculptures, a mostly medium-specific presentation with the notable exception of a computer-generated algorithmic slide show. An artist-driven publication, with a text by the curator, will accompany the exhibition.
Writing in 1896 about the relationship between photography and perception, Henri Bergson urged, “Call up the Leibnizian monads: Each is the mirror of the universe.” No artist has taken up this directive like Liz Deschenes. Rejecting the camera as a technology for imagemaking, the artist refuses photography’s traditional vocation as a machine of the visible. And yet the loss of optical reference in her abstract works means anything but a loss of connection to the world. Deschenes’s installations sensitize the spectator to the complex and often elliptical vectors of mediation that exceed the axis of mere representation, establishing monadic resonances between inside and outside that are by turns phenomenological, architectural, sociohistorical, and institutional. In this case, the institution will be the ICA Boston, whose midcareer retrospective for Deschenes includes more than twenty works and covers two decades of her remarkable production.
“Invisible Man” traces the artistic collaborations between photographer Gordon Parks and novelist Ralph Ellison (an avid recreational photographer who utilized photographic metaphors in his writing) via forty-five photographs; numerous related objects, including archival manuscripts; and an insightful catalogue. The show foregrounds their unpublished pictorial essay from 1948, “Harlem Is Nowhere,” which frames images of the neighborhood as both “document and symbol.” This collaboration focused on Harlem’s free, nonsegregated mental health clinic, which Ellison described as “a three-color camera capable of overlaying multiple dimensions of experience.” Also included is Parks’s photographic essay for Life, “A Man Becomes Invisible,” 1952, a striking series of surrealistic images that matched the emotional tenor of Ellison’s Invisible Man, published that same year. Illuminating both the parallels and divergences between Parks’s and Ellison’s work, this show promises a new perspective on the pair’s joint use of photography during the civil rights movement, a period of heightened attention to the rhetoric of images.
Kerry James Marshall’s art has long been read against the backdrop of the civil rights struggles of African Americans. Working within a self-imposed program of never painting a white figure, the sixty-year-old artist has spent decades offering a much-needed corrective to blind spots in Western pictorial traditions, while simultaneously representing histories too often left untold. The current climate of Black Lives Matter activism provides a devastating new lens through which to survey the Chicago-based artist’s work. Encompassing thirty-five years of Marshall’s oeuvre, and accompanied by a catalogue featuring essays by the exhibition’s curators, LA MoCA curator Lanka Tattersall, and poet and literary historian Elizabeth Alexander, “Kerry James Marshall: Mastry” could hardly be more urgent. It is one of few upcoming exhibitions that promise to make waves beyond the art world. Travels to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Oct. 25, 2016–Jan. 30, 2017; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Feb. 26–June 17, 2017.