U.S. Museum Exhibitions

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.

Carlos Cruz-Diez, Physichromie 321–B (detail), 1964, triptych, plastic, cardboard, acrylic, wood, overall 2' × 11' 11 3/8". From “The Illusive Eye: Op Art and the Americas in the 1960s.”

“The Illusive Eye: Op Art and the Americas in the 1960s”

EL MUSEO DEL BARRIO
NEW YORK
Through April 30
Curated by Jorge Daniel Veneciano

Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, El Museo del Barrio (in partnership with the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Buenos Aires) will revisit the Museum of Modern Art’s 1965 exhibition “The Responsive Eye,” with the stated ambition of presenting the history of Op art from a Latin American perspective. The show includes some seventy paintings, sculptures, and environments produced during the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s by some fifty artists, including Julio Le Parc, Carlos Cruz-Diez, and Jesús Rafael Soto (who refused to participate in MoMA’s show) as well as several others whose “origins” are not South American—e.g., Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely. Yet many Latin American artists of the time strove to be universal, such that the necessity of a geographic perspective invites paradox. Surely the catalogue, with essays by the curator, MACBA director Aldo Rubino, Ariel Jimenez, Luiz Camillo Osorio, and Rocío Aranda-Alvarado, will engage this very issue.

Kaira M. Cabañas

“Laura Poitras: Astro Noise”

WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART
NEW YORK
Through May 1
Curated by Jay Sanders

In 2013, filmmaker Laura Poitras became the message bearer for Edward Snowden, who contacted her to share documents revealing the NSA’s covert global-spying activities; their interaction formed the core of Poitras’s Oscar-winning documentary CITIZENFOUR. Poitras screened and discussed pre-Snowden research on US-government surveillance in the 2012 Whitney Biennial and returns this spring to mount her first solo museum exhibition, for which she will create a series of immersive spaces from a personal archive of materials related to her ongoing investigations of post-9/11 America. Poitras has long stressed the role of storytelling in her filmmaking, and this show promises a narrative experience for attendees, whose exploration of the space will be guided by distinctive architectural interventions. Not your typical exhibition catalogue, the accompanying publication, Astro Noise: A Survival Guide to Living Under Total Surveillance, will be a collection of original works from contributors including Hito Steyerl, Trevor Paglen, Ai Weiwei, Jill Magid, and Snowden himself, with a free version to be distributed at events internationally.

Ed Halter

“Agitprop!”

BROOKLYN MUSEUM
NEW YORK
Through August 7
Curated by Catherine J. Morris, Saisha Grayson, Jess Wilcox, and Stephanie Weissberg

Titles with exclamation points can come off like they’re trying too hard. This exhibition, however, might merit such enthusiasm, as its innovative premise connects past and present through a consideration of shifting definitions of propaganda. Twenty recent art and activist practices such as those of Chto Delat, Marina Naprushkina, and Dyke Action Machine will be placed alongside five case studies from earlier in the twentieth century, including considerations of the NAACP’s campaign against lynching and of Soviet feminist agitation. With its focus on graphic design, newsprint, and posters, “Agitprop!” could illuminate how specific shared formal strategies have resonated across time and place, as well as reveal quite local aesthetics. Collaboratively organized by Morris and the staff of the Sackler Center, the show will mutate and expand over the course of its eight-month run.

Julia Bryan-Wilson

Kathryn Andrews, Coming to America (Filet-O-Fish), 2013, stainless steel, paint, found object, film props, 104 1/4 × 54 × 43".

“Kathryn Andrews: Run for President”

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART | CHICAGO
CHICAGO
Through May 8
Curated by Julie Rodrigues Widholm

While Chicago is the birthplace of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the adopted hometown of POTUS no. 44 Barack Obama, the title of LA-based Kathryn Andrews’s first solo museum show in the US refers to a presidential campaign by—surprise!—Bozo the Clown. Fifteen seductive yet chilling sculptures, made since 2011, many of which amend certified movie props (among other political footballs thrown from the collective unconscious), will be appointed to a wild exhibition narrative for which Bozo’s largely forgotten 1984 bid serves as a backdrop. No clown rides alone, and the red-nosed candidate will be joined by an ensemble that includes Richard Nixon, Mr. T, Nancy Reagan, McDonald’s Captain Crook (who pirates Filet-O-Fish sandwiches), and Sammy Davis Jr. A catalogue with contributions by pundits Widholm, Kristine Stiles, and Hamza Walker (in conversation with Andrews) thickens the plot.

Michael Ned Holte

Diana Thater, Delphine (detail), 1999, five-channel digital video projection (color, sound, infinite duration), nine monitors, light filters, dimensions variable.

“Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination”

LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART (LACMA)
LOS ANGELES
Through February 21
Curated by Christine Y. Kim and Lynne Cooke

Cackling temple monkeys and frolicsome dolphins, star-crossed dung beetles and dancing honeybees. For more than two decades, Los Angeles–based artist Diana Thater has produced immersive installations that combine scientific inquiry and perceptual magic to ponder the ways in which animals animate and interact with their environments. Accompanied by a catalogue, this full-scale retrospective—which begins with the artist’s breakthrough 1992 video installation Oo Fifi, Five Days in Claude Monet’s Garden, Part 1 and Part 2—will be the most comprehensive of Thater’s work yet and a homecoming of sorts for the artist. As ever, Thater’s elaborate projections, linked flat-screen displays, and careful manipulations of natural light will point to ways that humans, too, are animals occupying a habitat—including, foremost, the gallery. Travels to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Oct. 2016–Jan. 2017.

Andrew Berardini

Noah Purifoy, Hanging Tree, 1990, mixed media, 52 × 40". © Noah Purifoy Foundation.

“Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada”

LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART (LACMA)
LOS ANGELES
Through February 28
Curated by Franklin Sirmans and Yael Lipschutz

This exhibition reevaluates the vital yet understudied practice of Noah Purifoy (1917–2004), an artist and activist whose melding of collage and community outreach would influence numerous succeeding practitioners. Born in Alabama, Purifoy moved in 1950 to Southern California, where he would execute his signature 1966 exhibition “66 Signs of Neon,” whose works Purifoy and others crafted from the debris of the previous year’s Watts rebellion, and the sprawling constellation of assemblages (1989–2004) that comprise his Joshua Tree Outdoor Desert Art Museum. “Junk Dada” will feature a selection of modes from Purifoy’s diverse oeuvre, from collages to sculptures to installations, and promises to assert his importance within histories of the found object. The accompanying catalogue will include an interview with Purifoy; essays by colleagues, critics, and historians; and a never-before-published portfolio of the artist’s photography.

Huey Copeland