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.
Having taken on artistic labor and the legacy of the part-object in contemporary sculpture, Helen Molesworth turns her curatorial acumen to the formidable artistic legacy of Black Mountain College, an experimental hothouse of multidisciplinary artistic innovation that existed for just over two decades. Not only is the exhibition to feature more than 260 contributions by almost a hundred artistsincluding John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Gwendolyn and Jacob Lawrence, and a host of equally celebrated and lesser-known figuresbut it will also incorporate a range of performances. A restaging of Cage’s legendary first Happening, Theater Piece No. 1, 1952, will take place throughout the show’s run. Given the importance of cross-media artistic collaborations in today’s art world, a look back at Black Mountain, complemented by a substantial catalogue, could not come at a more auspicious time. Travels to the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Feb. 21–May 15, 2016.
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 bysurprise!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.
From her celebrated video My Best Thing, 2011, to recent works integrating her Instagram posts, Frances Stark has been exploring the kinds of relationships that might spark up between an artist and strangers, whether on far-flung continents or in nearby LA neighborhoods that can feel just as distant. Entwining her personal circumstances with her works in ways that feel necessary (and never spectacular or crudely confessional), Stark presents a new model of what it means to be an artist today. This hometown survey will include Stark’s projections and videos along with her mainly paper-based work of the 1990s and 2000s, showing that Stark has always asked questions about the artist’s place in the worldabout how the life of the studio relates to financial and familial pressures, how to use and abuse texts to extract the poetic from the instrumental, and when, why, and how to turn from shaman to showman.
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 retrospectivewhich begins with the artist’s breakthrough 1992 video installation Oo Fifi, Five Days in Claude Monet’s Garden, Part 1 and Part 2will 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 habitatincluding, foremost, the gallery. Travels to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Oct. 2016–Jan. 2017.
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.
For more than a decade, Shannon Ebner has explored the shifting relationship between topographic and typographic form. Found patterns become accidental glyphs or pictographic systems, highlighting the simultaneity of seeing and reading, while homemade alphabets fashioned of cinder blocks or cardboard and wood probe the line separating sculpture from the written word. Ebner’s exhibition at the ICA will focus on the ongoing series “Black Box Collision A,” begun in 2013thirty-one large-scale photographs, each depicting the letter Ashown all together here for the first time. Culled primarily from advertising and commercial signage, the isolated letterforms acquire formal and affective charges quite independent of their original communicative efficacy. Also on view will be a new video edited in collaboration with Erika Vogt and with a score by Alex Waterman, new cinder-block sculptures, and the artist’s book Auto Body Collision (2015). The accompanying catalogue will feature texts by the curator, Bruce Hainley, Laura Hoptman, and Eileen Myles.