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.
Animated film has come a long way since J. Stuart Blackton’s pioneering Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906), with its crude sequences of goofy chalkboard drawings. An evolving palette of digital animation technologiesmotion capture, ever more detailed 3-D visualizationshapes not only mainstream culture but, increasingly, the work of artists (and the oft-unsung technicians to whom they outsource their production). “Suspended Animation” brings together Ed Atkins, Antoine Catala, Ian Cheng, Josh Kline, Helen Marten, and Agnieszka Polska, an international hexad whose practices are differentiated enough to suggest not only computer animation’s pervasiveness but also its flexibilitywitness Atkins’s emotive avatars adrift in an uncanny valley, Cheng’s simulations mutating in real time, Polska’s fluent digital-psychedelic effects, and Marten’s loquacious skeuomorphic crossbreeds. In spite of these individual approaches, expect a shared responsiveness to the digital age’s manifold crises, from the specter of surveillance to the collapse of distinctions between virtual and physical realities.
“The World According to CPLY” offers the first comprehensive exhibition in the US of the self-taught artist known as CPLY (pronounced “SEE-ply”). A painter of bawdy, cartoonish, and often politically barbed scenes, Copley was also one of the most important collectors of Surrealist art and, briefly, a dealer in it: In 1948, he opened a Beverly Hills gallery with his brother-in-law, which, financially unsuccessful, closed after six months. Two decades later, Copley launched S.M.S. (Shit Must Stop), a periodical consisting of prints, multiples, and sound recordings that sought to bypass the commercial art world by making works widely available at a modest subscription rate. In addition to all six of the S.M.S. portfolios, which include contributions by Marcel Duchamp, Bruce Nauman, and Yoko Ono, among many others, the Menil show will feature more than one hundred of Copley’s figurative paintings and works on paper from the early 1950s through the ’90s, as well as selections from the artist’s personal collection. Travels to the Fondazione Prada, Milan, Oct. 2016–Jan. 2017.
Mark Flood is a Pop artist with punk-rock roots, gnarly and deliriously twisted, and this show’s misspelling of “Greatest Hits” is obviously intended. To grate: to irritate or annoy, to rub or wear away, to make a harsh rasping sound. That’s what Flood’s been doing all along, wielding a poison pen in his wickedly inspired writing and using an X-Acto knife like a scalpel to dissect modern life. This survey of nearly fifty works made over the past thirty years brings together fractured collages that eviscerate celebrity, and paintings that rattle the basest drives of society by perversely encouraging themwith phrases like ASK YOUR DRUG DEALER IF YOUR HEART IS STRONG ENOUGH FOR SEXUAL ACTIVITY. No wonder the museum will offer “age-restricted tours.” Flood’s popular-with-collectors “lace” paintings will also be on view. As beautiful as they may be, their abraded surfaces conjure not only the friction of his previous work, but a whole history of painting that commands, “Destroy the picture.” In Flood’s universe, to collide the “best of” and the “worst of” is simply to ask: What’s the difference? A catalogue with essays by Arning, Alison Gingeras, Scott Indrisek, Carlo McCormick, and El Topito should have a field day with that one.
The museum debut of Mark Bradford’s Receive Calls on Your Cellphone from Jail, 2013, an expansive installation of mixed-media paintings featuring text that evokes the roadside signage advertising bail bonds and the like, reflects on the rule that prohibits inmates from placing collect calls to cell phones. Originally mounted in 2013 as a set of 150 panels that covered all four walls of a nine-by-nine-by-nine-foot gallery at White Cube, London, the work will be reconceived for this occasion as a grid of thirty-eight panels on one wall, arranged in two horizontal rows in a sixty-foot span. This show thus extends the artist’s trenchant critiques of the built environment into the bleak landscape of the American prison complex. Representing less the jail cell’s infrastructure than its indignitiesparticularly that which circumscribes the daily experience of the incarceratedit also, somewhat more than implicitly, critiques a system in which blacks are jailed at six times the rate of whites.
“Ordinary Pictures” will investigate the pervasive relevance and versatility of stock photographyimages often constructed as tropes and produced expressly for commercial usethrough the postwar Conceptual art practices that appropriated and repurposed it as a means of cultural critique. Included are some thirty artists, many of whom do not (or did not) consider themselves “photographers” in the formal sense of the term, and whose backgrounds, interests, and outputs vary dramatically: Works by Ed Ruscha, Sturtevant, and Andy Warhol will mingle with those by Robert Heinecken, Sarah Charlesworth, Steve McQueen, Larry Sultan, and Wolfgang Tillmans, among others. Supplemented by a catalogue featuring essays by Eva Respini, Thomas Beard, and Lane Relyea, the show promises an in-depth rumination on the inverse function of art itselfand on every work’s potential to perform as both concept and cliché.
Doing humble things to humble objects is at the heart of Hong Kong–born, Taiwan-based Lee Kit’s practice. Lee’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States surveys a decade of the artist’s understated investigations of the expanding contiguity between art and everyday life. Spanning a diverse range of media, from modest configurations of handpainted cardboard supports to a thirteen-channel video installation of stacked monitors depicting common household products (I can’t help falling in love, 2012), the show demonstrates Lee’s foregrounding of the nondescript as central to what makes lived experience so psychologically specific. Especially compelling is the artist’s engagement with scale, both in terms of the relationships created through the juxtaposition of differently sized objects and the frameworks of spatial organization to which he (and we) are persistently, and often irrevocably, subject.