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.

“After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India 1947/1997”

QUEENS MUSEUM
NEW YORK
Through June 28
Curated by Arshiya Lokhandwala

Choosing the moment of Indian independence and its fiftieth anniversary as the temporal anchors for this show, curator Lokhandwala will draw together works in a variety of media for an expansive exhibition of modern and contemporary Indian art. Works by major figures including painters M. F. Husain, S. H. Raza, and F. N. Souza are sure to be among the highlights. Perhaps the greatest challenge in mounting such an exhibition is to relieve the art of the burden of cultural representation and instead to explore, in all their complexity, questions about art, modernity, and globalization that span the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and transcend the Indian context. Related themes that were examined by Lokhandwala and colleagues in a symposium in 2012, when the exhibition was being conceptualized, will be revisited in a forthcoming publication with contributions by Iftikhar Dadi, Geeta Kapur, Saloni Mathur, and Rebecca M. Brown, among others.

Chanchal Dadlani

Laurie Simmons, How We See/Liz/Coral, 2014, ink-jet print, 70 × 48".

“Laurie Simmons: How We See”

THE JEWISH MUSEUM
NEW YORK
Through August 9
Curated by Kelly Taxter

Laurie Simmons’s sustained investigation into both physical and psychological artifice—from the figurines and miniaturized architectural environments pictured in her early photos to her later deployment of anatomically accurate “love dolls” as actors in oddly poignant domestic dramas around her own home—has a certain conceptual and spatial trajectory to it, and her decision in recent years to begin working with human subjects represents a logical, intriguing turn in her provocative practice. Characteristically looking to trouble questions of identity and presentation, the photographs in “How We See” build on a suite of portraits the artist first exhibited last year, for which she drew on the cosplay form known in Japan as kigurumi. The recent, large-scale images depict a series of “doll girls” with wide, Margaret Keane–style eyes carefully painted on their closed lids—modified bodies located at the uncanny point where the “natural” comes in contact with the emerging technologies and habits of posthumanist self-representation.

Jeffrey Kastner

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

Doris Salcedo

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART | CHICAGO
CHICAGO
Through May 24
Curated by Madeleine Grynsztejn and Julie Rodrigues Widholm

Doris Salcedo has spent much of the past thirty years exploring how the banal trappings of domestic life might bear the traces and traumas of those who lived amid them. Although the resulting sculptures address the cycles of political violence that have scarred her native Colombia, they are never dependent on the knowledge of specific events, operating instead by means of an unsettling embodiment of absence. This first retrospective of Salcedo’s career brings together a comprehensive selection of her sculptural production since the late 1980s alongside her newest works, which trade in the heavy solidity of concrete-filled armoires and chairs for the fragility of rose petals and raw silk. The exhibition will be accompanied by a new film documenting Salcedo’s site-specific installations and a catalogue with contributions by the artist, Elizabeth Adan, Katherine Brinson, and Helen Molesworth. Travels to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, June 26–Oct. 14.

Megan Sullivan

Jos De Gruyter and Harald Thys

CCA WATTIS INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS
SAN FRANCISCO
Through April 18
Curated by Anthony Huberman

In Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys’s unnerving, darkly comic videos, characters sit mutely, assault one another, or comment glumly on unsatisfactory vacation experiences. These low-watt individuals could have produced the artists’ intentionally pedestrian drawings, depictions of sex scenes, urban views, vehicles, dinosaurs, etc., which feel similarly blank. The Belgian pair’s first US exhibition presents a new video, a work composed for organ (to be performed in a local cathedral), and steel sculptures elaborating on their earlier White Elements, 2012–, masklike white physio-gnomies (and functioning fountains) that could be public sculpture in Thys and de Gruyter’s world. Yet this art suggests that its emotional evacuations might be elective, a means of escaping a confining state apparatus via comfortable numbness. Therein—sidestepping liberal pieties, approving self-hobbling—lies its real challenge. Travels to MoMA PS1, New York, May 3–Aug. 30.

Martin Herbert

“Man Ray: Human Equations”

THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION
WASHINGTON, DC
Through May 10
Curated by Wendy Grossman, Adina Kamien-Kazhdan, Edouard Sebline, and Andrew Strauss

In 1936, Man Ray photographed plaster, wood, string, and papier-mâché models of mathematical formulae housed in the Institut Henri Poincaré in Paris, creating pictures that André Breton thought of as representing the crisis of the object. Living in Hollywood during the 1940s, Man Ray used these hermetic images for a group of bluntly illusionistic paintings he called “Shakespearean Equations,” titling them after Shakespeare characters. The triangles and T squares of Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical paintings are their forebears, and they signal a revived introspection spurred by the Second World War. Co-organized with the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, this show will present more than one hundred related pieces; a selection of the canvases will appear alongside their photographic sources and a number of the original mathematical models. Travels to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, June 11–Sept. 20; Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Oct. 20, 2015–Jan. 23, 2016.

Robert Pincus-Witten