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.

“Mark Rothko’s Harvard Murals”

HARVARD ART MUSEUMS
CAMBRIDGE, MA
Through July 26
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"

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART DENVER (MCA DENVER)
DENVER
Through May 1
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

“Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals”

CARNEGIE MUSEUM OF ART
PITTSBURGH
Through February 16
Curated by Linda Benedict-Jones

Maybe because Duane Michals never studied photography, he’s always felt free to take liberties with the medium, bending it to his will and his whim by staging scenes, building narrative sequences, creating multiple exposures, and writing and painting on and around his images. His pictures—dealing with death, dreams, love, beauty, friendship, and the imagination—are unfashionably sincere, subversively playful, and hard to resist. Curator Linda Benedict-Jones, drawing from the Carnegie’s broad holdings of Michals’s output, presents more than 160 pieces made between 1954 and 2013, including examples of Michals’s vivacious editorial work for Vogue and Esquire. The catalogue includes essays by Max Kozloff, Allen Ellenzweig, William Jenkins, and others, while an eclectic group of paintings, drawings, photographs, and prints, (Goya to Kertész) from Michals’s own collection, displayed alongside the show, will provide another sort of insight into the artist’s way of seeing. Travels to the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, Mar. 2015.

Vince Aletti

“Carl Andre: Sculpture as Place, 1958–2010”

DIA:BEACON
BEACON, NY
Through March 2
Curated by Yasmil Raymond and Philippe Vergne

In Carl Andre’s own telling, his sculpture has occupied three distinct phases: “sculpture as form” (the carved beams of 1958–59), “sculpture as structure” (the stacked constructions of 1959–65), and “sculpture as place” (the horizontal arrangements of bricks and metal plates of 1966–2010 for which he is best known). This long-awaited retrospective, the artist’s first in the US in more than thirty years, aims to trace the contours of these developments with some fifty works produced between the late 1950s and early 2000s. Yet the show promises much more: Accompanied by a scholarly catalogue, it will feature roughly 165 of Andre’s concrete poems, as well as a selection of his little-known “Dada Forgeries”—“minor” pun-infused readymades largely inspired by Duchamp, an artist Andre once declared himself against.

Travels to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, May 7–Oct. 12, 2015; Hamburger Bahnhof—Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, May 7–Sept. 25, 2016; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Oct. 20, 2016–Feb. 12, 2017.

James Meyer

“Picasso/Dalí, Dalí/Picasso”

DALI MUSEUM
ST. PETERSBURG, FL
Through February 16
Curated by William Jeffett and Juan José Lahuerta

A dual retrospective comparing the paintings, drawings, and sculptures of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí—wildly disparate artists who incarnate Spain’s Loyalist/Falangist divide—is a counterintuitive but brilliant notion. The young and foppish Dalí met Picasso in 1926 (a crystallizing moment for Surrealism), when the latter’s classicism and aestheticized Cubism were all that Dalí’s sublime handpainted dream photographs and “paranoiac-Critical” method sought to replace. With the conclusion of the Spanish Civil War in 1939, Picasso remained in Paris, committed to an existential version of Surrealism, while Dalí took off for a long, immensely successful stay in the US. This exhibition, co-organized with the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, brings together some seventy-five works from numerous museums and private collections (and boasts a catalogue with essays by the curators and by independent scholar Charles Miller). It may well bind wounds that once seemed impervious to healing. Blockbuster ahead! Travels to the Museu Picasso, Barcelona, Mar. 19–June 28, 2015.

Robert Pincus-Witten