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.

Jean Stamsta, Orange Twist, ca. 1970, wool, synthetic yarn, wood, 43 × 103 × 43". From “Fiber: Sculpture 1960–Present.” © Estate of Jean Stamsta.

“Fiber: Sculpture 1960–Present”

Through January 4 2015
Curated by Jenelle Porter

In 1986, Mildred Constantine, Neda Al-Hilali, and Mary Jane Jacob organized an exhaustive traveling exhibition titled “Fiber R/Evolution.” It included such luminaries in the field of fibers as Sheila Hicks, Anne Wilson, and Claire Zeisler, and it unapologetically reinforced craft’s relationship to gender and women’s work. Nearly thirty years later, “Fiber”features many of the artists represented in the breakout ’86 show (including Hicks, Wilson, and Zeisler) but expands its purview to include a broad range of generations, nationalities, and conceptual approaches, as represented by thirty-four artists who engage in the material processes of the craft. The catalogue, which includes an essay by the new director of New York’s Museum of Arts and Design, Glenn Adamson, will flesh out the implications of fiber’s political and conceptual “r/evolutions.” Travels to the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH, Feb.–May 2015; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Aug.–Oct. 2015; Des Moines Art Center, IA, Nov. 2015–Jan. 2016.

Michelle Grabner

Sarah Charlesworth, Patricia Cawlings, Los Angeles, 1980, gelatin silver print, 78 × 42". From the series “Stills,” 1980.

“Sarah Charlesworth: Stills”

Through January 4 2015
Curated by Matthew Witkovsky

In 1980, when Sarah Charlesworth first showed her “Stills,” six-and-a-half-foot-high black-and-white photographs of falling figures, they seemed huge and out of place. Photography was then not widely shown in museums, and no one made big pictures. But Charlesworth, steeped in Pop art and Conceptualism, presciently grasped the visual seduction of photographs and the political impact of their circulation. For “Stills,” she appropriated Andy Warhol’s own 1964 copy of a found photograph of a man plummeting from a building. And digging into newspaper archives, she found dozens of similar images, which she then rephotographed. The complete series of fourteen panels is being shown for the first time, accompanied by a catalogue authored by Witkovsky. Though not the retrospective Charlesworth has so long deserved, this exhibition will serve to introduce new audiences to the late artist’s rigorous dissection of photography’s “decisive moment,” here understood as the medium’s always-frustrated attempt to stop time and to cheat death.

Brian Wallis

Anne Collier

Through March 8 2015
Curated by Michael Darling

Anne Collier’s photographs court frankly affective content: album covers showing a fragile Marilyn Monroe or a narcissistic Jean Marais in Cocteau’s Orphée; self-help cassettes containing advice about coping with anger, guilt, and despair; twin snapshots of azure ocean where her parents’ ashes were scattered. But Collier’s treatment of such artifacts is dead calm and distanced—a matter of flat planes, empty grounds, images rephotographed and repurposed to analytic ends. Her “Woman with a Camera” series, 2006–, depicts magazine photographs of celebrities (Faye Dunaway, Jacqueline Bisset) wielding chunky, phallic camera equipment. Much of Collier’s recent work adverts to predigital visual culture. For her first major solo exhibition, the artist will present some forty works from 2002 onward; the accompanying catalogue will include essays by Darling, Whitney curator Chrissie Iles, and novelist Kate Zambreno. Travels to the Aspen Art Museum, CO, Apr. 2–July 15, 2015; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Sept. 26, 2015–Jan. 10, 2016.

Brian Dillon

“Mark Rothko’s Harvard Murals”

Through July 26 2015
Curated by Mary Schneider Enriquez

Art, science, collaborative innovation, the risks and responsibilities of patronage—you couldn’t invent subject matter more fitting for the inaugural exhibition of the Harvard Art Museums this fall following Renzo Piano’s extensive renovation. “Mark Rothko’s Harvard Murals” will present a set of paintings commissioned by the university for its Holyoke Center penthouse dining room. In 1962, Rothko made six abstract panels, each almost nine feet high; five were hung. Reflecting his interest in creating a space rather than its decoration, he also consulted on the walls and fiberglass curtains for the room’s ample windows. Despite these measures, the paintings quickly deteriorated and by 1979 were banished to dark storage. All six will reemerge, alongside thirty-two studies from 1961–62 and with the benefit of some conservation magic: The Harvard Art Museums and MIT Media Lab developed software that creates “compensation images” for projection over the canvases to virtually (and fleetingly) restore their original color. Light, once a vandal of the works, now plays the hero.

Prudence Peiffer

Devo, University of Illinois, Chicago, October 16, 1981. From left: Jerry Casale, Bob Casale, Mark Mothersbaugh, Alan Myers. Photo: Paul Natkin.

“Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia"

Through May 1 2015
Curated by Adam Lerner

Every band I have ever known has had at least one artist in its entourage; somebody has to make the posters and the album covers. For Devo, an absurdist punk-rock band formed in 1972 whose members were influenced by the aesthetics of Russian Futurism, just about everyone in the group was an artist—including Mark Mothersbaugh. The artist’s first retrospective shows us—with works dating from the 1960s to the present, including photocollages, kinetic musical sculptures, 30,000 underground-comics-style works on paper, and even a double-ended car—that Mothersbaugh is not only a great film composer (note his collaborations with Wes Anderson) but a polymath artist. A publication with contributions by Lerner, Anderson, and Shepard Fairey, among others, will further explore the artist’s life and his oeuvre, which ranges from mail art to the music of Pee-wee’s Playhouse. Travels to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, June 21–Aug. 30, 2015; Cincinnati Art Museum and Contemporary Arts Center, Oct. 7, 2015–Jan. 5, 2016.

Josiah McElheny

Paul Strand, Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, 1931, platinum print, 5 7/8 × 4 5/8". © Estate of Paul Strand.

“Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography”

Through January 4 2015
Curated by Peter Barberie and Amanda Bock

Not since the 1971 retrospective held at this very museum has a full-blown reevaluation of American photographer and filmmaker Paul Strand been attempted. Now, drawing heavily on a trove of recently acquired prints and lantern slides, the Philadelphia Museum presents Strand not as a revanchist who retreated from modernism after making his radically abstract compositions of 1915–17, but rather as a humanist who believed in the inherent modernity of keen observation and straightforward presentation of the world as it exists. Accompanied by an extensive catalogue, this exhibition of some 250 photographs and three films spans Strand’s career, from his Pictorialist origins and brilliant experiments of the 1910s and ’20s through the extended portraits of places—from Mexico to Ghana—that occupied him from the ’30s through the ’60s. Travels to the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, Mar. 7–May 17, 2015; Fundación MAPFRE, Madrid, June 3–Aug. 30, 2015; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Mar. 19–July 3, 2016.

Malcolm Daniel