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.

“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

“Marvelous Objects: Surrealist Sculpture from Paris to New York”

HIRSHHORN MUSEUM AND SCULPTURE GARDEN
WASHINGTON, DC
Through February 15
Curated by Valerie Fletcher

This comprehensive survey will include more than one hundred works of Surrealist sculpture by some twenty artists based throughout Europe and the US in addition to an unanticipated selection of Man Ray’s rayographs, shots of “La Poupée” by Hans Bellmer, and transgendering photographs by Claude Cahun. So extensive an overview necessarily includes automatic, biomorphic works such as Jean Arp’s Shirt Front and Fork, 1922, and Henry Moore’s Stringed Figure, No. 1, 1937, as well as parallel efforts by Noguchi and Calder. This biomorphism counters Surrealism’s equally marked strain of free association as revealed by Dalí’s Lobster Telephone, 1936, even as David Smith’s Saw Head and Chain Head, both 1933, illuminate the germ of an incubating Abstract Expressionism. Last, inviolate mutism is emblematic in Duchamp’s found objects. Small wonder that Surrealism’s iconoclastic and poetic sprawl retains its appeal.

Robert Pincus-Witten

Agnieszka Polska, I Am the Mouth II, 2014, HD video, color, sound, 5 minutes 45 seconds. From “Suspended Animation.”

“Suspended Animation”

HIRSHHORN MUSEUM AND SCULPTURE GARDEN
WASHINGTON, DC
Through March 12, 2017
Curated by Gianni Jetzer

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 technologies—motion capture, ever more detailed 3-D visualization—shapes 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 flexibility—witness 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.

Martin Herbert