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.

“Albert Oehlen: Home and Garden”

NEW MUSEUM
NEW YORK
Through September 13
Curated by Massimiliano Gioni and Gary Carrion-Murayari

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously quipped that a first-rate intelligence is marked by the ability to hold two opposed ideas simultaneously and still function. By this measure, Albert Oehlen clearly ranks among the most intelligent artists working today. Over the course of more than thirty years, Oehlen has assaulted traditional ideas of painterly subjectivity and taste while producing works of almost classical formal balance and (dare it be said) beauty. “Home and Garden” (to be accompanied by a catalogue featuring essays by Gioni, Mark Godfrey, and Anne Pontégnie, as well as an interview with the artist) uses the conceit of oppositions between interior and exterior to frame the artist’s ongoing dialectical approach. Amassing two floors’ worth of works from the early 1980s to the present, this show gives its subject his long-overdue New York museum debut and promises a healthy dose of Oehlen’s particular—and influential—brand of painterly intelligence.

Jordan Kantor

“Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television”

THE JEWISH MUSEUM
NEW YORK
Through September 20
Curated by Maurice Berger

Kennedy-era FCC chairman Newton Minow wasn’t referencing T. S. Eliot when he called commercial television a “vast wasteland”—or was he? The mixed-media exhibition (and accompanying catalogue) “Revolution of the Eye” argues that, particularly in its formative years, network TV was a modernist form. The show draws on some 260 art objects, artifacts, and clips from the late 1940s through the mid-’70s; artists range from ex-Dadaists (Duchamp, Man Ray) and Pop stars (Lichtenstein, Warhol) to the great vulgar modernist Ernie Kovacs, with guest appearances by Dalí and de Kooning. Sampled TV includes Op-inflected Kodak commercials, the pop surrealism of The Twilight Zone, the pop Pop Batman, and Winky Dink and You, the original interactive TV show that inspired countless children to draw on their TVs and George Landow to make underground movies. Travels to the Nova Southeastern University Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Oct. 17, 2015–Sept. 28, 2016, and other venues.

J. Hoberman

Grete Stern, Autorretrato (Self-Portrait), 1943, gelatin silver print, 8 3/4 × 11". © Estate of Horacio Coppola.

“From Bauhaus to Buenos Aires: Grete Stern and Horacio Coppola”

MOMA - THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
NEW YORK
Through October 4
Curated by Roxana Marcoci and Sarah Meister with Drew Sawyer

This spring, MoMA will host the first large-scale exhibition to grant international visibility to the photographs of Grete Stern and Horacio Coppola. The transatlantic journey of these creative partners (and, at one point, spouses) demonstrates that before the paralysis of Europe during World War II, avant-gardes emerged simultaneously in various metropolises of the world, eradicating the notion of periphery. Stern and Coppola left a Bauhaus closed by the Nazis to land eventually in Buenos Aires, where they hosted Argentina’s “first” exhibition of modernist photography and ran a commercial studio. Stern, in particular, conceived of feminist images that echoed the era’s widespread disenchantment with patriarchal societies. On view will be 250 original photographs and photomontages, 40 typographic works, 26 photobooks and periodicals, and four 16-mm films (many of which have never been exhibited), while the catalogue provides new translations of the artists’ writings, as well as essays from the curators and scholar Jodi Roberts.

Andrea Giunta

Zanele Muholi, Collen Mfazwe, August House, Johannesburg, 2012, gelatin silver print, 34 × 24".

“Zanele Muholi: Isibinelo/Evidence”

BROOKLYN MUSEUM
NEW YORK
Through November 1
Curated by Catherine J. Morris and Eugenie Tsai

As South Africans commemorated twenty years of postapartheid democracy last year, Johannesburg-based photographer Zanele Muholi was documenting the violence that persists against the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities. The series “Faces and Phases,” 2006–14, for example, like much of the work of this self-described “visual activist,” measures the distance between the liberties enshrined in South Africa’s lauded constitution and the sexual violence and hate crimes that continue to be committed against local women, especially black lesbians. Following on the heels of Muholi’s recent showings at the 2013 Venice Biennale and Documenta 13 in 2012, this exhibition draws together nearly ninety of her photographs, videos, and installations since 2007 under the theme of isibinelo, a Zulu word suggesting evidence to behold or an example to witness.

Leora Maltz-Leca

“Arlene Shechet: All at Once”

INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART
BOSTON
Through September 7
Curated by Jenelle Porter

For more than twenty years, Arlene Shechet has rigorously worked at the material limits of plaster, paper pulp, and glass. In the past ten, she has also—and with increasing concentration—explored the possibilities of clay. Her experimental work in ceramics demonstrates a fierce aptitude for uninhibited, even overelaborate, sculptural form. Artists such as Jessica Jackson Hutchins and William O’Brien are indebted to Shechet’s ongoing interrogations of brash color, texture, and mischievous display tactics, including mash-ups of functional objects with idiosyncratic figurines. “All at Once,” the sculptor’s first survey exhibition, will showcase some 150 objects created over two decades, including Was Still, 2011, a wonky bronze- and blue-glazed globe that sits slouched on a tower of stacked white bricks, and Can Can, 2012, a delicately cast white Meissen porcelain sculpture reminiscent of a dense clump of confectionery papers.

Michelle Grabner

Gordon Parks, Shoes, Fort Scott, Kansas, 1950, gelatin silver print, 14 × 11". © The Gordon Parks Foundation.

“Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott”

MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON
BOSTON
Through September 13
Curated by Karen Haas

Even before photojournalist, director, and author Gordon Parks was “Gordon Parks,” his biographical arc—youthful escape from the black quotidian followed by loving, professional return—seemed as much his subject as whatever might be before his lens. Parks was born in segregated Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1912; in 1950, he went home as Life magazine’s first black photographer to capture the adult circumstances of his elementary school classmates. His document of the pre–Brown v. Board moment wasn’t published (Life covered General MacArthur’s 1951 canning by Truman instead), but curator Karen Haas has recovered it in the form of forty-one select prints and a more expansive book introduced by renowned author Isabel Wilkerson. Most striking may be the reminder of how painfully unsettled Parks’s physical and psychic geographies remain for us. Fort Scott sits just southeast of Topeka, site of the “board” in Brown v. and only “4 h 40 minutes without traffic,” Google Maps assures us, from Ferguson, Missouri.

Gary Dauphin